Bipartisan lawmakers urge Biden admin to release more information on Afghanistan

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Bipartisan lawmakers urge Biden admin to release more information on Afghanistan

In two separate letters, bipartisan members of Congress are pressing the Biden administration for additional information on Afghanistan, particularly the transcript of President Biden’s phone call with former Afghan president Ashraf Ghani and information on the over 116,000 people evacuated by US forces. 

The first letter, sent by over a dozen House Republicans, is demanding Biden release the “complete, uncensored transcript” of his phone call with Ghani to allow Congress to “determine the degree” the president “deliberately misled the American people” leading up to and during the Afghanistan crisis. 

“In the period leading up to the withdrawal, your administration made a series of false assurances to the American people and our allies regarding the situation on the ground,” the lawmakers wrote.

“The contrast between your Administration’s official spin and the reality on the ground revealed a bewildering lack of coherence, strategy, and fundamental transparency. It appeared repeatedly as if your Administration was engaging in a deliberate effort to conceal the truth and mislead the American public.”

President Joe Biden
Bipartisan members of Congress are pressing the Biden administration for additional information on Afghanistan.
EPA

Lead by Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY), the House Republicans cited a recent Reuters report that revealed some transcript and audio of the call. 

Per the report, much of the call was focused on what the president referred to as the Afghan government’s “perception” issue.

“I need not tell you the perception around the world and in parts of Afghanistan, I believe, is that things are not going well in terms of the fight against the Taliban,” Biden said.

“And there is a need, whether it is true or not, there is a need to project a different picture.”

President Joe Biden (R) hosts Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani
More than a dozen House Republicans are demanding Biden release the “complete, uncensored transcript” of his phone call with Ghani.
Getty Images

“This damning phone call further erodes your credibility and the confidence of the American people in your ability to lead,” the GOP representatives said.

“Your disturbing emphasis on ‘perception,’ a term you used four times in the Reuters excerpts of the call with Ghani, over substance and truth demands scrutiny and accountability.” 

In a separate statement, Tenney reiterated her call for Biden’s impeachment, saying the phone call appears “to be only the latest effort by the Biden Administration to deceive and deflect.”

“As additional facts surrounding the President’s mishandling of the Afghanistan withdrawal and intentional duplicity continue coming to light, Biden’s inability to lead is clearer than ever,” she said.

Taliban fighters mobilize to control a crowd rallying to raise the national flag of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan during a rally for Independence Day at Pashtunistan Square in Kabul, Afghanistan on Aug. 19, 2021.
Taliban fighters mobilize to control a crowd rallying to raise the national flag of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan during a rally for Independence Day at Pashtunistan Square in Kabul, Afghanistan on Aug. 19, 2021.
Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag

“I reiterate my call for Speaker Pelosi to begin impeachment proceedings against President Biden immediately. There must be accountability.’

While Republicans have been broadly critical of the Biden administration’s handling of the evacuation, Democrats are also calling for answers on plans to evacuate stranded Americans and Afghan allies in the wake of the president’s decision to formally end the mission by its Aug. 31 deadline — handing the country over to the Taliban. 

In a letter led by Democratic Reps. Jason Crow (D-Colo.), Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) and Andy Kim (D-N.J.), slated to be sent to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the lawmakers call for answers on the steps being taken to ensure the safety of those left in the country. 

“Our immediate goal is ensuring the safety of the thousands of individuals that have contacted our offices seeking to leave Afghanistan, starting first with American citizens and U.S. legal permanent residents as well as SIVs, refugees eligible for P-2 and P-1 status, and other designated Afghans,” the letter, first obtained by CNN, reads.

Protection detail for Khalil al-Rahman Haqqani, a leader of the Taliban affiliated Haqqani network, and a US-designated terrorist with a five million dollar bounty, after visiting the Pul-I-Khishti Mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan on Aug. 20, 2021.
Protection detail for Khalil al-Rahman Haqqani, a leader of the Taliban affiliated Haqqani network, and a US-designated terrorist with a five million dollar bounty, after visiting the Pul-I-Khishti Mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan on Aug. 20, 2021.
Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag

“These are our people, partners, and friends, countless of whom aided the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and protected our servicemembers.

The Democratic lawmakers called for the State Department to maintain its Afghanistan Task Force and “designate a senior official” to lead this next phase of efforts related to diplomacy with allied countries in the region, including diplomacy with neighboring countries and those who may share the burden of resettling Afghans. 

The letter also requests a “breakdown of the more than 116,000 individuals evacuated, including how many individuals are U.S. citizens, U.S. legal permanent residents, SIV applicants, P-1 applicants, or P-2 applicants” and data on how many Americans and allies remain in Afghanistan. 

Both letters come days after the US completed the chaotic troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, which saw the deaths of 13 US servicemembers and nearly 200 Afghans last week. 

Tuesday marked the end of America’s longest war that lasted 19 years and 47 weeks, costing some $2 trillion and taking the lives of nearly 2,500 US troops and about 240,000 Afghans over the years.

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