- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 17, 2021

House and Senate Democrats said Tuesday they will hold hearings on the Biden administration‘s mishandling of the government collapse in Afghanistan, a rare inquiry of the president’s actions by his own party.

Rep. Gregory W. Meeks, New York Democrat and House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, said he has asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to testify at a hearing “as early as possible.”

“The situation in Afghanistan is rapidly changing and it is imperative that the administration provide the American people and Congress transparency about its Afghanistan strategy,” Mr. Meeks said in a statement.

He said he wants Mr. Blinken and Mr. Austin to describe “what the administration’s plan is to safely evacuate American citizens, [applicants for special immigrant visas], and other vulnerable Afghans from the country, and to understand our broader counter terrorism strategy in South Asia following the collapse of the Ghani government.”

Sen. Bob Menendez, New Jersey Democrat and Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, also plans to hold a hearing on Afghanistan.

He blamed in part what he called a “wholly inadequate agreement the Trump administration made with the Taliban [that] did not get commitments for the Taliban to break ties with Al Qaeda, nor did it account for the day after our withdrawal.”

“In implementing this flawed plan, I am disappointed that the Biden administration clearly did not accurately assess the implications of a rapid U.S. withdrawal,” Mr. Menendez said. “We are now witnessing the horrifying results of many years of policy and intelligence failures.”

He said the panel will examine U.S. policy in Afghanistan, “including the Trump administration’s flawed negotiations with Taliban, and the Biden administration’s flawed execution of the U.S. withdrawal.”

“The committee will seek a full accounting for these shortcomings as well as assess why the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces collapsed so quickly,” he said.

On Monday, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner, Virginia Democrat, said he would be asking “tough questions” about the rapid collapse of the Afghan government and the evacuation.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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