State Department IG launches probe of Biden’s Afghan bugout: report

0
13



The State Department’s acting inspector general informed lawmakers Monday that her office is looking into several aspects of the Afghanistan withdrawal fiasco — including the thousands of US allies believed to have been left behind in Taliban-controlled territory, according to NBC News.

Diana Shaw told the heads of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the House and Senate intelligence committees that her office’s probe will focus on issues including the State Department’s Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program, the processing and resettlement of Afghans in the US and the evacuation of the American Embassy in Kabul as the Taliban approached the Afghan capital in mid-August.

Politico reported earlier Monday that Secretary of State Antony Blinken ordered the review in a memo issued Friday. Ryan Holden, a spokesman for the inspector general’s office, told the outlet that “it is inaccurate to say that these projects are investigations. We indicated to Congress that these projects will be reviews.”

The State Department watchdog’s work is the latest examination of the chaotic pullout, which ended Aug. 30 and is believed to have left hundreds of American citizens and green card holders behind in addition to thousands of Afghans who aided US-led forces in their 20-year war against the Taliban, along with their families.

In recent weeks, the Pentagon has announced reviews of a botched Aug. 29 drone strike in Kabul, which killed 10 Afghan civilians including a US-linked aid worker and seven children. The Defense Department inspector general’s office is also examining the Pentagon’s screening process for Afghan refugees and whether the department has “adequately planned and provided support for the relocation of Afghan nationals.”

The drone strike was ordered in response to a suicide bombing carried out by the ISIS-K terror group outside Hamid Karzai International Airport that killed 13 US service members and 169 Afghans. The murdered Americans were attempting to process thousands of Afghans who had shown up at the airport looking for precious seats on flights out.

On Friday, State Department spokesman Ned Price said that at least 129 US citizens and 115 green card holders had been flown out of Afghanistan since Aug. 31. He did not say how many remain, but insisted that “our commitment to Americans, to [legal permanent residents], to Afghans to whom we have a special commitment, is as strong as ever. And we are continuing to work with them and to facilitate the departure from Afghanistan, again, for those who wish to leave.”

The State Department has not given an official count of Afghan allies left behind, but organizations working to resettle them in the US have said the number could be as high as 75,000.

Meanwhile, the State Department announced Monday that Zalmay Khalilzad was stepping down from his post as special representative for Afghanistan after more than three years in the role, to be replaced by his deputy Thomas West.

Khalilzad, a former ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the United Nations during the George W. Bush administration, helped negotiate a cease-fire agreement between the Trump administration and the Taliban in February 2020. President Joe Biden has repeatedly used that agreement to justify his order to pull troops out of Afghanistan, saying his hands were tied by the pact.

In May, Khalilzad told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that he believed fears that Afghanistan’s security forces would melt away before the Taliban without American support were “mistaken.”

“The choice is between a long war and a negotiated settlement,” the envoy told lawmakers. “I hope the Taliban and other Afghan leaders make the right choice.”

Three months later, the Taliban took Kabul. 



Source link