On Tuesday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin refused to appear and testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the disastrous U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, prompting the committee’s chair, New Jersey Democrat Senator Robert Menendez, to blast him for his non-appearance and threaten to subpoena Austin if he refused to testify in the near future.
Menendez stated, “I’m very disappointed that Secretary Austin declined our request to testify today. A full accounting of the U.S. response o this crisis is not complete without the Pentagon, especially when it comes to the complete collapse of the U.S.-trained and funded Afghan military. His decision not to appear before the committee will affect my personal judgment on Department of Defense nominees. I expect the Secretary will avail himself to the committee in the near future, and if he does not, I may consider use of committee’s subpoena power to compel him and others over the course of these last twenty years to testify.”
Democrat Senator Bob Menendez says he’s “very disappointed” that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin refused to testify today, and threatens to subpoena him. pic.twitter.com/1QbcdFImM0
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) September 14, 2021
“Senate Foreign Relations Chair Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) is among the senior lawmakers already suggesting that the administration lied to Congress about the capabilities of Afghan military and security forces that failed to stave off a Taliban insurgency,” Politico reported on Tuesday, adding, “The Senate Armed Services Committee will get its first chance to grill Gen. Scott Miller, commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan until July, on the topic at a closed hearing on Tuesday. Public hearings with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley, and U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Frank McKenzie are slated to begin Sept. 28.”
Critics from both sides of the political aisle are determined to examine the decision to transfer control of Bagram Airbase, the main military airfield in Afghanistan, to the Afghan army before U.S. troops were totally withdrawn.
Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) asserted, “When the dust settles, I suspect most of the blame will fall on Biden. I do think someone needs to be held accountable, but we need to do our due diligence before we determine whether that person is the secretary of state, secretary of defense, chairman of the Joint Chiefs or the national security adviser.”
The Daily Wire reported on August 22 that Austin would not reveal what recommendation he had given President Biden regarding the withdrawal from Afghanistan:
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin admitted during an interview on Sunday that some people who have desperately tried to get to the airport in Kabul have had “tough encounters” with the Taliban. During an interview with ABC News host Martha Raddatz on “This Week,” Austin refused to divulge the recommendation that he made to President Joe Biden about what course of action the president should take with regard to leaving U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Austin also refused to make a prediction about what will happen in Afghanistan in the future.
“You’ve got tens of thousands of people out there, desperate to get to the airport, surrounded by the Taliban,” Raddatz said. “So, why can’t the U.S. send convoys out there?” “If you have an American passport, and if you have the right credentials, the Taliban has been allowing people to pass safely through,” Austin claimed. After pushback from Raddatz, Austin admitted, “There’s no such thing as an absolute.”
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