The Biden administration may have dramatically undercounted the number of US citizens stuck in Afghanistan at the end of the US military’s withdrawal, a new report suggests on Monday.
More than 800 Americans were rescued by the State Department from ‘behind enemy lines’ in the year since the US pulled out of Kabul on August 30, 2021.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in September of that year that less than 100 Americans were still within Afghanistan’s borders and trying to escape.
The conflict-ridden country had fallen to the Taliban on August 15, just four months after President Joe Biden followed through on Donald Trump’s deal with the terror group to withdraw.
Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee are releasing a report that suggests a ‘failure to plan’ on the part of Biden and his State Department ‘led to chaos and confusion’ in the withdrawal.
A preliminary copy of the report was obtained by DailyMail.com.
It sheds new light on how under-prepared the administration was for the withdrawal, including having just 36 consular officers to deal with the thousands of Afghans trying to escape at the height of the operation.
Republicans also reveal security concerns that stem from elite Afghan fighters with no pathway to safety from the West being forced to seek shelter in Iran – some bringing sensitive military technology like vehicles with them.
The withdrawal effort was also ‘so disorganized’ that officials in Vice President Kamala Harris’ and First Lady Jill Biden’s offices reached out to veterans’ groups for help getting people to the airport.
Taliban take to the streets during a national holiday celebrating the first anniversary of the Taliban takeover on August 15, 2022 in Kabul
The 118-page report from Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee outlines lingering national security threats stemming from the US withdrawal
The White House dismissed the report as ‘partisan’ and said it was ‘riddled with inaccuracies’ in a rebuttal statement.
The National Security Council pointed to Trump’s agreement with the Taliban having ‘weakened our partners in the Afghan government’ as setting the stage for the precarious situation.
But Republicans’ report accuses the Biden administration of lying to Americans at home about the deteriorating state of affairs at the time.
‘The Committee Minority also has compiled proof senior Biden administration political appointees repeatedly misled the American public about the situation on the ground in Kabul, issuing wildly pollyannish statements about progress at the airport and the Taliban’s cooperation in carrying out the evacuation,’ the report states.
‘Administration officials made these statements despite press reports showing an utterly chaotic situation on the ground in Afghanistan and at the hastily assembled transit locations around the world.’
Biden received bipartisan criticism for the chaotic operation, which was rocked when an ISIS-K suicide bomber detonated outside of Hamid Karzai International Airport, killing nearly 200 Afghanis and 13 US service members.
House Republicans heard testimony from former officials who believe the attack could have been prevented if US forces were in charge of security outside of the airport rather than the Taliban.
The report suggests US officials did not take up the Taliban’s August 15 offer to have ‘greater control of security in Kabul.’
Among its findings is testimony from officials who say that if US troops had controlled security in Kabul – as the Taliban offered on August 15 – the ISIS-K terror attack outside of the airport may not have happened
‘In addition, if U.S. troops had not been penned into the airport, the crowds outside the gate would not have been packed so closely together, a situation that contributed to the high death and injury count,’ it states.
But lawmakers warn of lingering US national security risks even a year after the withdrawal.
Chief among them is the ‘significant’ number of Afghan Special Operations Forces fighters, many of whom were trained to operate US-made weaponry alongside American troops, who were forced to flee to Iran.
Their extensive knowledge of and cooperation with US forces made them high-value targets for the Taliban.’
‘The Taliban are reported to have already engaged in reprisal killings aimed at former members of the Afghan security forces, particularly the Afghan commandos who frequently fought alongside U.S. troops,’ the report states.
Republicans believe that the roughly 3,000 who escaped to Iran did so because they saw no help coming from the US government.
Former CIA paramilitary officer Mick Mulroy told Foreign Policy Magazine: ‘I think most of the Afghans that were in the commandos and other special units were really close to the American.’
‘But if you had no option and the only place you could go to escape the Taliban was Iran, and they’re the ones that are going to pay your bills and be able to take care of your family, they’ll be hard pressed not to take that opportunity because they really have no options,’ Mulroy said.
The last planes carrying US troops left Afghanistan on August 30, 2021 – ending a 20-year occupation
They could now be coerced into giving valuable military intelligence to Tehran.
Some of the elite fighters are eligible for the P1 visa pipeline with the White House’s Operation Allies Welcome.
Of the refugees that made it out of Afghanistan, just 25 percent were women and girls – despite the Biden administration’s promise to help them amid the Taliban’s oppressive regime.
Some 1,450 Afghan children were evacuated without their parents, with ‘many’ yet to be reunited.
The White House’s National Security Council said Monday: ‘This partisan report is riddled with inaccurate characterizations, cherry-picked information, and false claims.’
‘It advocates for endless war and for sending even more American troops to Afghanistan. And it ignores the impacts of the flawed deal that former President Trump struck with the Taliban,’ the administration said.
GOP Rep. Michael McCaul, the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Sunday that his report reflected no error on the intelligence community’s part – placing the lion’s share of the blame with Biden and Blinken.
‘The problem was the White House and and- and State Department putting their head in the sand, not wanting to believe what they were saying, and therefore not adequately planning,’ he said on CBS News’ Face The Nation.