- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 21, 2021

House Republican Rep. Ted Budd is taking aim at the Biden administration’s move last month to scrub government websites of reports which detail the equipment that the U.S. military provided to the Afghan security forces throughout the 20-year war, some of which has been seized by the Taliban.

The North Carolina lawmaker said the administration is attempting to gloss over its “monumental failures while withdrawing from Afghanistan” by removing the lists and has introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, the annual defense policy bill, to make the lists public again.

“My amendment simply restores some accountability to the taxpayer-funded equipment that President Biden left behind,” Mr. Budd said. “Taxpayers paid for this equipment, and they deserve to know how much of it is now in the hands of hostile Taliban forces.”

Earlier this month, officials from the Government Accountability Office confirmed that they removed close to 400 reports on Afghanistan from U.S. government websites, including comprehensive lists of U.S. military gear provided to the Afghan security forces.
The officials said the reports were removed to prevent the Taliban from identifying Afghans who had supported the U.S. throughout the war.

But Mr. Budd said he is skeptical of the administration’s explanation.

“The Biden administration’s attempt to cover up their monumental failures while withdrawing from Afghanistan is outrageous and must be reversed,” he said.

GAO officials quickly restored approximately 300 reports online after an initial review. Close to 75 documents remained under review as of Sept. 1.

A GAO spokesperson said Tuesday that 64 reports remain off-line. The agency recently cleared 35 reports for reposting and expects them to go back online later this week. 

The turnover of U.S. military equipment to the Taliban became one of several hot-button issues following the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Republican lawmakers especially became furious when it was revealed that arms meant for the U.S.-aligned Afghan security forces had ended up in the hands of the Taliban. The list of hardware included, among other items, Black Hawk helicopters, small arms and biometric equipment used to vet U.S. partner forces.

In the days following the collapse, social media posts showed Taliban forces carrying U.S. weaponry and posing before aircraft and other equipment provided by the U.S. military.

Early estimates of the total dollar value of turned-over equipment were disputed. All told, The Washington Post found that the U.S. provided more than $80 billion in materiel and training to the Afghan war efforts dating back to 2001, but only a relatively small fraction of that total constituted the weapons, helicopters vehicles, and equipment abandoned by U.S. troops in last month’s hurried evacuation.

Mr. Budd‘s amendment is one of several hundred that the House is slated to begin considering this week for the defense bill.

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