New York Post

GOP vs. remote Blinken on evac debacle


Secretary of State Antony Blinken phoned it in — literally and figurative­ly — Monday for his first appearance before Congress since the chaotic Afghanista­n withdrawal, testifying virtually from his office at the State Department rather than making the short trip to Capitol Hill while providing few answers to probing questions about the botched bug-out.

Among the key questions Blinken failed to answer:

What he did in response to a socalled State Department “dissent cable” from July that warned the Afghan government could collapse quickly once US troops were withdrawn.

Whether the US government is negotiatin­g with the Taliban to allow flights believed to be carrying dozens of Americans and hundreds of Afghan allies out of the war-torn country.

Whether the United States will recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanista­n.

Whether Americans left behind in Afghanista­n had been “mistreated in some fashion” by the Taliban.

Blinken acknowledg­ed under questionin­g from Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) that while he did not know the exact number of green card holders still in Taliban-held territory, “the best estimates are that there are several thousand.” He believed about 100 American citizens were still in Afghanista­n as of this past weekend.

In between questions, he and Democrats leading the House Foreign Affairs Committee repeatedly insisted that the collapse of Westernbac­ked security forces in the face of a Taliban offensive, and the subsequent bloody withdrawal of US forces that claimed the lives of 13 members of the military, was former President Donald Trump’s fault.

America’s top diplomat spent the approximat­ely five-hour hearing behind his desk in Foggy Bottom, irritating at least one Republican lawmaker.

“Mr. Blinken, assuming it isn’t classified, can you tell us where you are today?” asked Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.).

“Yes, I’m at the State Department,” Blinken confirmed.

“Oh, couldn’t be bothered to come down here and see Congress?” Perry shot back. “All right, that’s great.”

Blinken replied that his “understand­ing” was that Congress was not in session, drawing an angry rebuke from Perry.

“I’m right here, Mr. Secretary,” Perry answered. “So is the chairman and ranking member. We’re here!”

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, kicked off the GOP’s questionin­g by calling the evacuation of Afghanista­n an “unmitigate­d disaster of epic proportion­s.”

“Over the last several weeks, we witnessed Afghanista­n rapidly fall to the Taliban in the chaotic aftermath that followed. This did not have to happen,” McCaul said.

“But the president refused to listen to his own generals and the intelligen­ce community,” McCaul told Blinken.

McCaul went on to accuse the State Department of failing to help American citizens, green card hold

ers and Afghans who assisted USled NATO forces during the 20-year war against the Taliban, telling Blinken that congressio­nal offices were overwhelme­d by pleas for help in the final days before the last US forces left Afghanista­n on Aug. 30.

From that point, Republican­s on the committee blasted away at

Blinken and the Biden administra­tion. Zeldin said the withdrawal had been “fatally flawed and poorly executed,” while Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) said it had been a “disgrace.”

“I believe that you, sir, should resign,” Zeldin told Blinken at the end of his questionin­g. “That would be leadership.”

 ??  ?? STRAIGHT TO VIDEO: Secretary of State Antony Blinken testifies to the House via video Monday.
STRAIGHT TO VIDEO: Secretary of State Antony Blinken testifies to the House via video Monday.

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