President Donald Trump left 2,500 troops in Afghanistan. But when Joe Biden came in, he was barred from using money from the Department of Defense budget to reduce the number below 2,000 by federal statute, “without first briefing Congress about the expected impact on U.S. counterterrorism operations and the risk to American personnel” and providing a detailed report, according to the Free Beacon.
He was required to report on ISIS, the Taliban, al Qaeda, the risk for the expansion of terrorism, and the capacity of the Afghan security forces to deal with them all.
Of course, Biden did reduce the troop numbers below that — to nothing — and waived the mandate requiring him to brief Congress in June, that it was important to the interests of national security. Some “mandate,” if he can just waive it. If he had not done so, they could have talked about all the terrorist risk which if it wasn’t clear before, is certainly clear now — with thousands of ISIS-K fighters released from Bagram. Not to mention the al Qaeda and Haqqani cells, as well as the Taliban themselves.
Plus he would have had to give an honest assessment of the Afghan forces. Complying with the law would have been in the interest of national security, not blowing it off. Why did he blow it off — unless it was that he knew he couldn’t justify that decision?
“If we had answers to these questions we might not be in the horrible debacle we’re in now,” said Bradley Bowman, senior director of the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, who in April wrote about the statute and the likelihood that the administration would try to dodge it.
“I think the fact that they used the national security waiver to refuse to answer these questions in the light of day tells me their answers could not have stood up to scrutiny,” Bowman said.
Rep. Claudia Tenney (R., N.Y.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the administration should be held accountable for withholding this information from Congress.
“It is increasingly clear that President Biden never had a plan in place to safely withdraw from Afghanistan, so it is no surprise he never shared it with Congress like the law requires,” said Tenney. “As we work to complete the critical mission of bringing every American and Afghan ally home, we must also be pressing for answers and accountability. I am calling on Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi to begin the impeachment process in the House immediately to determine how this crisis became such a catastrophe and to hold Biden accountable for his failure to lead.”
One congressional aide said Biden disregarded the conditions on the ground.
“Against the advice of the military, the [intelligence community], and our diplomats—as evidenced by the dissent cable—the Biden administration continued its blind rush to the exits without regard for the consequences,” said the aide. “Apart from the collapse of the Afghan government and the humanitarian catastrophe at the airport, we are just now seeing the long-term implications of this rushed withdrawal, to include a renewed terror threat against U.S. interests, the proliferation of captured equipment, and the loss of hard-earned rights for Afghanistan’s women and girls.”
So, he not only screwed up the process of the withdrawal, but he, in essence, actively obstructed people getting to the truth of how problematic his actions would ultimately be. That’s how bad this was.