Botched Afghanistan Retreat Has Weakened Our Fight Against Terrorism

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding foreign policy:

“One year ago yesterday, the Biden Administration announced its withdrawal from Afghanistan had reached a halfway point.

“Analysis after analysis has confirmed what was clear to many of us in real time:

“The President’s shoddy plans for a reckless pull-out were doomed to disaster from the start.

“Back in February, an Army investigation found that in the run-up to President Biden’s botched retreat, his senior national security and diplomatic advisers were ‘not seriously planning for an evacuation’ and not paying attention to ‘what was happening on the ground.’

“Last month, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction blasted the Administration’s bad judgment before Congress. He explained that removing U.S. military and contractor support to our Afghan partners was, ‘the single most important factor’ in the collapse of Afghanistan’s resistance to the Taliban.

“It’s not just that this giant policy failure should have been foreseeable to the Biden Administration. It was, in fact, foreseen. Experts spent months warning the President’s policies would create chaos. I spent months saying the same things.

“Now many of the worst predictions about the aftermath are coming true before our eyes. Our country and our partners are facing needlessly heightened risks from terrorists because of how the Biden Administration botched Afghanistan.

“And yet, the Administration is still in denial. In a letter to Congress yesterday, the Commander in Chief claimed the United States ‘remains postured to address threats’ to both our homeland and our interests ‘that may arise from inside Afghanistan.’

“But the reality is that Pentagon leaders have been clear about the dramatic ways the withdrawal has limited our ability to identify, target, and strike terrorists in Afghanistan. 

“The former commander of U.S. Central Command says that forcing U.S. air assets to travel longer distances to reach Afghan airspace means severely limiting the time they can spend actually performing counterterrorism missions. Just as predicted.

“A brand-new report from the Lead Inspector General for our ongoing counterterrorism operations further confirms that the Biden Administration’s mistakes have put us way behind the curve.

“Without human intelligence or bases in country, the United States is already suffering from less insight into emerging terror threats. Our sources are drying up. Just as predicted.

“We haven’t conducted a single strike against a terrorist target in Afghanistan since the last U.S. military personnel left Kabul. And that isn’t because there aren’t any terrorists there. As the IG report confirms, it’s because of, ‘logistical challenges and limited intelligence.’

“The Taliban-Haqqani government in Kabul is not just a state sponsor of terrorism. It is literally a government made up of terrorists and kidnappers, with deep ties to al Qaeda.

“Even as the Biden team continues to pretend that over-the-horizon operations are not inadequate in Afghanistan, they are implicitly acknowledging that same insufficiency in other theaters. Last month, President Biden redeployed U.S. troops to Somalia, reestablishing a limited but real presence intended to help local partners prevent their country from becoming a terrorist haven.

“So President Biden’s own actions in Somalia give the lie to his false claims about Afghanistan.

“In point of fact, the longest-term vision about counterterrorism this White House has managed to lay out is their obsession with someday shutting down the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

“I have yet to hear any coherent plan for what the Administration intends to do with the dangerous killers currently held there.  

“Will they continue to rely on third countries to detain terrorists? That’s the strategy that made possible the Taliban’s massive jailbreak of thousands of hardened terrorists from Bagram after this Administration fled Afghanistan.

“Does the Administration intend to send terrorists to Syria, to be held indefinitely by a non-governmental entity like the Syrian Defense Forces? In that case, how long is the Biden Administration prepared to remain in Syria, to make sure that ISIS, Hizballah, or the Assad regime can’t facilitate another giant jailbreak?

“The American people and our coalition partners deserve a clear, coherent counterterrorism strategy that leaves our homeland safer and our partnerships stronger.

“The Biden Administration is providing exactly the opposite.”