Confronted with scenes of anguish after the Afghan military collapsed and Afghan citizens face abandonment, Democratic lawmakers are castigating President Joe Biden for his lead role in orchestrating the tragedy that has unfolded.
“This is a crisis of untold proportions,” Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier of California told NBC News. “This is an intelligence failure.”
Although less than two months ago, President Joe Biden said that the U.S. exit from Afghanistan would not resemble the panic-stricken escape from Saigon in 1975, Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell of Michigan said it looked to her as though history was repeating itself.
“It does feel like the fall of Saigon today, I’m not going to lie,” she told NBC on Sunday.
“To say that today is anything short of a disaster would be dishonest. Worse, it was avoidable,” Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts said in a statement issued Sunday.
The former Marine who fought in Iraq noted that after months of insisting the Biden administration evacuate those who will be targeted for death by the Taliban for collaborating with America, “my worst fear has become realized: That ultimately this effort would distract from what is truly needed, an immediate evacuation.”
“The fact that, at this hour, we have not even secured the civilian half of Kabul Airport is testament to our moral and operational failure. We need to rectify this immediately. America and our allies must drop the onerous visa requirements where a typo can condemn an ally to torture and death, and the military must continue the evacuation for as long as it takes,” he said.
Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Florida told Politico that having worked at the Department of Defense, “I know what a planned drawdown looks like. I know what an orderly departure looks like. I’m disappointed that this is the way in which we are withdrawing.”
Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez of Texas shared his criticism on Twitter.
“There’s no way to hide it. The situation in Afghanistan is another shame on this admin. Withdrawal was never going to be easy but it didn’t need to come to this. The US must do everything in its power to help our partners & allies to safety & protect our national security,” he wrote.
There’s no way to hide it. The situation in Afghanistan is another shame on this admin. Withdrawal was never going to be easy but it didn’t need to come to this. The US must do everything in its power to help our partners & allies to safety & protect our national security.
— Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (@RepGonzalez) August 15, 2021
A Sunday call from Biden administration officials to brief lawmakers led to one Republican saying the administration failed.
“It is overwhelmingly clear to me that this has been a cascade of failures at the Defense Department, with the intelligence community and within our political community,” Republican Rep. Peter Meijer of Michigan told The New York Times. “And nothing on the call gave me the confidence that even the magnitude of the failures has been comprehended.”
— Democrats Voice (@VoiceDemocrats) August 15, 2021
One expert said there is no way Biden can paint the exit from Afghanistan as a win.
“The White House was clearly blindsided and unprepared for the speed of Afghanistan’s collapse. Even Biden allies will not try to claim this as a job well done or say this is what they had planned. After all, nobody would have planned for a last-minute evacuation that was just thrown together out of necessity,” Brian Klaas, a professor at the University College London, told Politico.
“Whether the policy was right or wrong,” Klaas said, “the execution was clearly botched.”
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