Journalist who witnessed fall of Saigon calls Afghanistan a ‘human tragedy’
Jim Laurie, a journalist who covered the fall of Saigon in 1975, discusses the ‘tragic’ Taliban takeover that has left many, including journalists, stranded in Afghanistan.
Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee demanded President Biden provide Congress with a plan to prevent terror groups from using Afghanistan as a “safe haven” after the Taliban takeover, while criticizing his response to the worsening security and humanitarian situation unfolding.
The top Republican on the committee, Rep. Mike Rogers, along with his GOP colleagues on the panel, wrote a letter to the president on Tuesday, slamming his strategy with regard to Afghanistan.
“For months, we have been asking you for a plan on your withdrawal from Afghanistan. You failed to provide us with one and based on the horrific events currently unfolding in Afghanistan, we are confident that we never received your plan because you never had one.”
The Republicans said that the crisis unfolding in Afghanistan “could have been avoided if you had done any planning.”
“Pretending this isn’t your problem will only make things worse,” they wrote.
The GOP lawmakers said they are “gravely concerned” that the “void” left in Afghanistan will be “rapidly filled by terror groups.”
“The Taliban now control the country. Al Qaeda used Afghanistan to plot and execute the 9/11 attacks and other acts of terrorism,” they wrote. “You cannot let this happen again.”
“As such, we request that you immediately provide Congress with your plan to prevent terror groups from using Afghanistan as a safe haven to recruit and train the next generation of terrorists,” they continued. “We demand to know how and from where our ISR, counterterrorism, and conventional forces will be used to disrupt the formation for terrorist operations.”
They added: “Mr. President, this crisis is happening on your watch. We are simply asking: what is your plan for Afghanistan?”
The letter was signed by Rogers, and his GOP colleagues, including Reps. Mike Gallagher, Michael Waltz, Mike Johnson, Joe Wilson, Don Bacon, Scott DesJarlais, Rob Wittman, Stephanie Bice, Jim Banks, Elise Stefanik, Blake Moore, Austin Scott, Jerry Carl, Sam Graves, Ronny Jackson, Scott Franklin, Jack Bergman, Vicky Hartzler, Mark Green, Pat Fallon, Michael Turner, Lisa McClain, Liz Cheney, Trent Kelly and Doug Lamborn.
The letter to the president comes after he addressed the nation on Monday, saying he stands “squarely behind” his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan after having a presence for 20 years, while admitting that the fall of the country to the Taliban “did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated.”
Biden placed blame on the Afghan leadership for the country’s plight, saying that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had refused advice to negotiate and erroneously insisted Afghan forces would fight.
“American troops cannot, and should not, be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves,” Biden said Monday, adding that the U.S. has given “every tool they could need.”
“We gave them the chance to determine their own future,” he said. “What we could not provide them was the will to fight for that future.”
Biden has authorized 6,000 U.S. troops to deploy to Afghanistan to assist in the evacuation of U.S. personnel and Afghan allies, as the Taliban pushes to restore the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan – the formal name of the country under the Taliban rule before the militants were ousted by U.S.-led forces in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. The attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, were orchestrated by al Qaeda while it was being sheltered by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The president, on Monday during his address to the nation, outlined the current mission for the U.S. military in Afghanistan, saying it would be “short in time, limited in scope and focused on our objectives: get our people and our allies as quickly and as safely as possible.”
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