Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, and Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., both expressed dissatisfaction on Sunday with the unfolding of the chaotic military withdrawal from Afghanistan nearly one year ago that led to the death of 13 U.S. service members.
The bipartisan pair of congressmen reflected on the approaching one-year anniversary of the Afghanistan withdrawal during an appearance on CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” saying the Biden administration should have handled things differently.
“I certainly don’t think the withdrawal had to go as it did, and the loss of American lives during the withdrawal, and the degree to which it took months and months, and we continue to try to help people escape from Afghanistan, I think could have been handled differently,” said Schiff, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
“There was a complete lack and failure to plan,” McCaul, a ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told CBS News’ Margaret Brennan. “There was no plan and there was no plan executed. And to your point, even beforehand, I think the State Department probably didn’t have the resources it needed to carry out an evacuation of this size and enormity.”
“The biggest one, Margaret, for me, having lived through it, being in the classified space, listening to the intelligence community tell the story about this is going to be imminent, it’s going to fall sooner rather than later — the military told us the same thing,” McCaul continued. “And then we went to State and they paint — and the White House — a very rosy picture. There’s a disconnect between, you know, intelligence on the ground and what the White House is doing.”
Biden’s pullout of U.S. troops in Afghanistan faced widespread global backlash after Taliban insurgents retook the country in a matter of days on Aug. 15, 2021, essentially winning the war 20 years after their ouster by U.S.-led forces. Just a month earlier, Biden had told Americans that the likelihood of a Taliban takeover was “highly unlikely.”
On Aug. 26, 2021, during the U.S. military’s mass evacuation at the Kabul airport, suicide bombers killed at least 183 people, including 13 U.S. service members. The evacuation required significant cooperation from the Taliban to complete and ended a day ahead of the deadline on Aug. 30, leaving behind thousands of U.S. citizens and tens of thousands of Afghan allies, despite Biden’s promise days earlier to “get them all out.”
Earlier this month, Biden took a victory lap after ordering the CIA drone strike in Kabul that killed al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, who along with Osama bin Laden were the masterminds behind the 9/11 attacks, saying it validated his decision to pull out of Afghanistan.
Republicans, however, have argued that Zawahri’s presence in the Afghanistan capital is proof that terrorists have regained a foothold in the country.