Home India Flights Hotels Shopping Web Hosting Education Pdf Books Live TV Music TV Kids TV Filmybaap Contact Us Advertise More From Zordo


Menendez skewers Austin no-show at Afghan testimony

1 week ago 24

Senate Foreign Relations Chair Bob Menendez on Tuesday threatened to subpoena Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin after the Pentagon chief declined to appear at a hearing on the Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The New Jersey Democrat suggested that he could oppose Pentagon nominees based on Austin’s no-show at Tuesday’s hearing, which featured testimony from Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“A full accounting of the U.S. response to this crisis is not complete without the Pentagon — especially when it comes to understanding the complete collapse of the U.S. trained and funded Afghan military,” Menendez said.

“I expect that the secretary will avail himself to the committee in the near future,” he added. “If he does not, I may consider the use of the committee’s subpoena power to compel him and others to testify.”

In a statement, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Austin “regrets that conflicting commitments made that appearance impracticable.” Austin is scheduled to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Sept. 28. That panel, along with its House counterpart, is the committee with primary jurisdiction over the Pentagon on Capitol Hill, whereas the Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs panels oversee the State Department.



Still, Menendez’s subpoena threat reflects his frustration with the chaotic and deadly U.S. exit from Afghanistan, which he characterized on Tuesday as “clearly and fatally flawed” in its execution and one that requires accountability.

“I supported the decision to eventually withdraw our military from Afghanistan,” he said. “I have long maintained, however, that how the United States left mattered. Doing the right thing in the wrong way can end up being the wrong thing.”

Menendez has long been hawkish on foreign policy, often putting him at odds with those in his own party, including President Joe Biden. For example, Menendez and Blinken clashed during the Obama presidency when Blinken was involved in crafting the Iran nuclear deal and the detente with Cuba, both of which Menendez opposed.

The New Jersey Democrat sought to use Tuesday’s hearing as a way to examine not just the State Department’s missteps, but also the seminal decisions made by the Pentagon in the weeks and months leading up to the swift collapse of the Afghan government at the hands of the Taliban.

This rapid collapse laid bare a fundamental fact — that successive administrations lied to Congress over the years about the durability of Afghan military and governing institutions,” Menendez said. “And we need to understand why.”

During Tuesday’s hearing, Blinken told Menendez that the Biden administration began to prepare for a potential worst-case scenario in Afghanistan in the spring and summer of this year — an effort that included a “surge” of resources toward the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program, which allows Afghans who aided the U.S. military to seek entry to the U.S.

“Should we not have started earlier, should there not have been a bigger surge?” Menendez asked.

Blinken reiterated the Biden administration’s position that nobody thought the Afghan government would collapse in a matter of days. He also said that the administration believed that the U.S. embassy in Kabul could continue to operate past the military withdrawal date of Aug. 31 in order to ensure that all Americans, U.S. legal permanent residents and SIV applicants could leave the country.

“What we did not anticipate was that 11-day collapse of the Afghan security forces. That’s what changed everything,” Blinken said.

The State Department has already acknowledged that thousands of SIV applicants and SIV-eligible Afghans were left behind in Afghanistan — an issue that animated lawmakers who raised concerns about Taliban fighters seeking retribution against those vulnerable Afghans.

Blinken said the department is “still tabulating” the exact number of SIV applicants who still need to leave the country, and that that number depends on how many of the 124,000 people the U.S. evacuated from the country in August were SIV applicants. The number of U.S. legal permanent residents still in Afghanistan is “in the thousands,” Blinken added, and around 100 Americans remain in the country who wish to leave.

During testimony on Monday before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Blinken defended Biden from bipartisan criticism about the withdrawal, insisting that the president “inherited” a difficult situation from former President Donald Trump’s administration.

That included a Trump-brokered diplomatic agreement with the Taliban that set withdrawal deadlines, included troop caps, and resulted in the release of 5,000 prisoners in Afghanistan. As a result, Blinken said, Biden faced a choice of whether to escalate the war or draw it down.

“We inherited a deadline. We did not inherit a plan,” said Blinken.

Lara Seligman contributed to this report.

Read Entire Article