Steube Gives Remarks at House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing, Demands Answers from Secretary Blinken on U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Greg Steube (R-Fla.) today gave remarks during the House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing evaluating the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan. Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken testified before the committee and answered questions regarding the aftermath of our withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“And as we sit here today, we still have citizens and SIVs stuck in Taliban hands, despite Biden promising to stay and get them all out. And thanks to you (Sec. Blinken), our enemy knows exactly who they are and how to find them, and you describe this, and I quote ‘an extraordinary effort.'” Steube said. “I would certainly not describe the deaths of 13 U.S. service members, the deaths of hundreds of Afghans, and the fact that we still have citizens and SIVs stuck behind enemy lines while the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and ISIS K go door to door hunting them down as an ‘extraordinary effort.'”
Following the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, an estimated 100-150 American citizens were left behind. Billions of dollars of U.S. military equipment was also left behind and taken by the Taliban.
Steube recently introduced the Prioritize Evacuation of U.S. Citizens in Afghanistan Act, bipartisan legislation which would direct the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State to submit a plan to Congress regarding the evacuation of U.S. citizens trapped in Afghanistan.
Watch Steube’s full remarks here or below.
“Thank you, Mr. Chariman.
Mr. Blinken even in your opening statement you can’t be honest with the American people. You stated, and I quote, that ‘by January 2021, the Taliban was in its strongest military position since 9-11.’ I’m pretty sure their strongest military position has been during your entire administration, not prior to it.
In fact, their strongest military position since the towers were hit in 2001 was this past September 11th, the 20th anniversary, all of which happened on your watch, not your predecessors. In fact, on April 27th of this year, days before the original deadline negotiated by the Trump Administration, that you and the Biden Administration violated, the Taliban controlled 77 districts in Afghanistan. The Afghan government controlled 129 and there were 194 contested districts. By August 15th, while you and Biden were on vacation, the Taliban had taken and controlled 304 districts and the government only controlled 37. From May to August of this year, while you, the Department of Defense, and the President, did absolutely nothing, the Taliban gained 227 districts in Afghanistan, in just 4 months. You can’t claim ignorance to what was going on there and you can’t blame the Trump Administration for your failure.
I served in Iraq, and I’m well aware of our capabilities. Your administration and the White House was seeing in real time, what was happening in Afghanistan, and you did absolutely nothing to stop it. In fact, you did what you could to conceal the facts. Biden himself tried to get President Ghani to lie about what was happening on the ground. Biden told Ghani that quote: ‘the perception around the world and in parts of Afghanistan, I believe, is that things aren’t going well in terms of the fight against the Taliban, and there’s a need, whether it is true or not, there is a need to project a different picture.’
That was on July 23rd, before you all went on vacation, so you knew exactly what was going on there and did nothing to start moving our people and our SIVs out until it was too late and the Taliban controlled the entire nation.
You earlier stated under questioning today, and I quote, ‘We inherited a deadline, not a plan.’ Yet, you didn’t even follow the deadline that you cascade as something you couldn’t do anything about.
This whole blaming the Trump Administration for everything that has happened in Afghanistan is a disgrace. You are the Secretary of State, and Biden has been the Commander-in-Chief since January, not Trump. You and the administration saw what was happening in Afghanistan and you had the ability to deal with it, not Trump. You are responsible for the assets on the ground, and you were responsible for getting our people out. So, I know how you, Biden and other Democrats want nothing more than to blame Trump for all of the problems that you have created but the responsibility for all of this lies squarely on your shoulders and in the lap of President Biden.
Then after Kabul fell, your leadership completely and utterly failed not only our citizens on the ground but our allies that we worked with for 20 years. First your direction was to ‘shelter in place,’ then it was, ‘make your way to the airport, but we cant guarantee your safety on the way there,’ then it was, ‘shelter in place,’ then it was ‘come to the gates,’ then it was ‘leave the gates.’ While all this was happening, you’re handing our list of citizens and Afghan SIVs to the Taliban, a globally recognized terrorist organization, because you were unwilling to go in and get the citizens and SIVs stuck behind enemy lines out.
And as we sit here today, we still have citizens and SIVs stuck in Taliban hands, despite Biden promising to stay and get them all out. And thanks to you, our enemy knows exactly who they are and how to find them, and you describe this, and I quote ‘an extraordinary effort.’
I would certainly not describe the deaths of 13 U.S. service members, the deaths of hundreds of Afghans, and the fact that we still have citizens and SIVs stuck behind enemy lines while the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and ISIS K go door to door hunting them down as an ‘extraordinary effort.’
And if all of that wasn’t bad enough, you spit in the eye of every single service member who served in the War on Terror for the last 20 years by even considering recognizing the Taliban, who we have fought against for 20 years, as a legitimate government. And not only recognize them, but do absolutely nothing while the Taliban takes control of 90 billion dollars worth of US military aircraft, Humvees, weapons, night vision goggles, uniforms, ammunition, and Blackhawks.
And after we’ve rolled over and handed all of that to them, you announce today — with great fanfare and great pride — that you are providing $64 million in new humanitarian assistance to the ‘people of Afghanistan.’ You can’t even get all our people out of the country, but we and the American people are to believe that $64 million of our tax dollars that is sent to Afghanistan won’t fall in the hands of the Taliban or other terrorist organizations who you are relying upon to get our people out of the airport.
Your legacy will be the Taliban flying our Blackhawk over Kabul while someone, maybe a U.S. Citizen, hangs from a rope by his neck. And while that is happening, you are saying that you are working ‘diplomatically’ with the Taliban to get our people out.”