House Republicans Seek Info on U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan

February 17, 2023

The Republicans-led House Oversight and Accountability Committee on Friday began an investigation into the Biden Administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Committee members sent letters requesting information from White House, Pentagon, State Department, Department of Homeland Security, USAID and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Republicans had tried to start their investigation in August 2021 amid the withdrawal, but were unable to do so because they only had minority control of the House at the time. 

Having taken the majority on January 3, committee Chair James Comer (R-KY) is now giving the various government agencies and the White House until March 3 to respond to its inquiries. Republicans on the committee now also have subpoena power, though they haven’t issued any subpoenas regarding Afghanistan so far. 

Comer and his fellow Republican committee members are requesting all documents, communications and information related to what they call the Administration’s “disastrous” military and diplomatic withdrawal from Afghanistan. 

The Trump Administration had agreed to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan by May 2021. Former President Trump had said in 2020, “Now it’s time for somebody else to do that work.”

However, on April 14, 2021 Biden announced that it was “time to end the forever war,” declaring that all troops would be removed from Afghanistan by September 11 of that year.

In a speech explaining his decision, Biden said he’d “inherited a diplomatic agreement” between the U.S. and the Taliban. “It is perhaps not what I would have negotiated myself, but it was an agreement made by the United States government, and that means something.” He added that final troop withdrawal would begin on May 1.

Amid the largest part of the withdrawal in August 2021, a suicide bombing at Kabul airport killed 13 U.S. service members among the more than 95 total killed and 150 wounded.

That incident, along with the rapid collapse of Afghanistan’s government and military, led to a refugee crisis amid the Taliban’s takeover. 

The U.S. has conceded that it underestimated how quickly Afghan’s military would fall apart.

“U.S. servicemen and women lost their lives, Americans were abandoned, taxpayer dollars are unaccounted for, the Taliban gained access to military equipment, progress for Afghan women was derailed, and the entire area is now under hostile Taliban control,” the Oversight Committee members wrote in their letter.

Biden rarely brings up the withdrawal from Afghanistan, though he forcefully defended it at the time, saying, “I was not going to extend this ‘forever war,’ and I was not extending a ‘forever exit.'”

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