One year after Kabul fell to the Taliba…
RED OAK— A year after Kabul fell to the Taliban, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a veteran of the global war on terror, reflected on the days leading up to and weeks after the anarchic withdrawal of President Biden from Afghanistan. Ernst recalled a number of promises made, and then broken, by the Biden administration.
Click on the photo above or here to watch Ernst’s full remarks.
“I want to direct the Commander-in-Chief to reflect on a series of commitments he made to the American people before and during his reckless exit.
“On August 19, 2021, President Biden promised that American troops would remain on the ground until all Americans wishing to leave Afghanistan were evacuated.
“On August 26, 2021, President Biden promised to hunt down and avenge the deaths of thirteen military personnel killed in action by ISIS in Kabul.
“In a speech at the United Nations on September 21, 2021, the President promised that his administration would hold the Taliban accountable for protecting the rights of Afghan women.
“[…] The Commander-in-Chief broke his word on all three fronts, and American security and prosperity suffered from his broken promises.
“Today in Afghanistan, Americans who want to return home remain left behind, and the administration’s lack of transparency regarding both the number and desire of Americans trapped in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan is alarming. .
“The president and members of his cabinet have repeatedly asserted that the number of Americans who want to leave Afghanistan is around 100 – that number was gushed from September 2021 to the beginning of this year. Americans are still stuck in Afghanistan today.
“There is no getting around this: President Biden has broken his promise to Americans who remain and their families who eagerly await their return.
“Americans have lived and traveled abroad with the assurance that the United States would come to their aid in times of conflict.
“No matter how far, the United States is expected to have its citizens’ backs – our withdrawal from Afghanistan was a hasty approach that greatly damaged that safeguard.
“If the world’s greatest superpower cannot locate and extricate its own citizens from the clutches of seventh-century thugs and warlords, then far greater tests of our sovereignty, security and prosperity will only get worse.
“As we approach the anniversary of the random takedown, there is an open wound that impairs our ability to deter opponents’ actions.
“President Biden has vowed revenge against the terrorists who killed thirteen Americans — including one from my hometown of Red Oak, Iowa — at Hamid Karzai International Airport.
“He said to the American people, ‘America will never rest. We will not forgive. We won’t forget. We will hunt you to the ends of the Earth, and we will – you will pay the ultimate price.
“Again, the Commander-in-Chief’s rhetoric does not match his actions; the U.S. military has not targeted or carried out any counterterrorism strikes against ISIS in Afghanistan since the U.S. withdrawal on August 31, 2021.
“Those who planned the cowardly act remain at large.
“It’s not like ISIS-K is entrenched in the Hindu Kush mountains, far from population centers. At least 26 terrorist attacks, many claimed by ISIS-K, have struck the Afghan people in the metropolis of Kabul since our withdrawal.
“Our enemies don’t hide, but all too often America does.
“We are also stuck with a largely unrealized counter-terrorism strategy on the horizon that has not deterred the resurgence of terrorists or avenged our lost warriors.
“The recent strike by our military and secret operators was welcome and long overdue, but the strike demonstrates a rarely used capability and an all too inaccurate attitude towards terrorism.
“It was President Biden, after all, who said last August that al-Qaeda had left Afghanistan. Clearly that is not the case.
“Ensuring that al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri never harms another American was a necessary action, but the strike raised serious questions about the security situation in Afghanistan.
“The so-called, and much-promised, counter-terrorism strategy on the President’s horizon has not been the deterrent he was promised. Instead, we are witnessing a growing threat emanating from Afghanistan.
“This is the first US military strike in Afghanistan since the United States left on August 31 last year. Meanwhile, ISIL-K fighters are pouring into the country at an alarming rate, while al-Qaeda and the Taliban have clearly been working together for a year.
“At the very least, the Taliban and Haqqani network has given safe haven to al-Zawahiri and his thugs, demonstrating the Taliban’s continued collusion with terrorists.
“An isolated strike does not demonstrate a developed capability to prevent further coordination that threatens American security.
“Not only has the ability of the United States to protect the homeland been badly damaged, but the president’s intent to uphold human rights as a centerpiece of this administration’s foreign policy is also in shambles.
“Last fall, the President repeatedly stated that Afghan women were at the heart of his foreign policy priorities in the region. Yet today, after twenty years of constitutional democracy and civil rights advancements, the Taliban have undone important hard-won gains for Afghan women.
“The Taliban apply a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, prohibiting women from working, attending secondary school and traveling any distance without being accompanied by a male family member.
“More recently, the Taliban demanded that all women cover themselves from head to toe with the burqa.
“Yet it is reported that the President’s team continues to negotiate with the Taliban regarding diplomatic recognition, potential coordination with the U.S. intelligence community, and access to $3.5 billion in Taliban-held currency, despite these actions.
“Expanding formal diplomatic engagement and facilitating access to funding without guaranteed and meaningful freedoms for women and girls will legitimize Taliban rule and further subjugate women to brutal rule.
“Any further effort to cede influence to the Taliban is a sincere reflection of the Biden administration’s failure to address its own human rights hypocrisy.
“The administration’s abandonment of Americans, the failure to bring justice to our soldiers killed in action, the deadpan counterterrorism operations, and the ignoring of the human rights catastrophe they precipitated in Afghanistan have substituted a sound strategy to an ad hoc response of willful neglect.
“And they know it.
“The Department of State and President Biden’s Department of Defense have refused to cooperate with the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.
“The president’s negligence is most profoundly demonstrated by his administration’s lack of control over billions of taxpayer dollars and frozen humanitarian aid funds that ended up in Taliban coffers.
“Given that the Taliban and the Haqqani Network, the two ruling groups in Afghanistan, are Specially Designated Global Terrorists, current law requires the administration to disclose the risk of taxpayers’ money falling into the hands of these two terrorist groups.
“The licenses issued by the Treasury Department over the past year go far beyond acute humanitarian assistance for food and medicine; they expand funding authority for activities ranging from research on endangered species to direct payments to support governing institutions controlled by the Taliban and the Haqqani network.
“I led fifteen other senators to ask the Biden administration to detail the total financial support provided to Afghanistan and an honest assessment of taxes, fees and import duties siphoned off by the Taliban.
“More than six months later, we are still awaiting a full response.
“This is completely unacceptable in light of recent reports that the Taliban authorities are interfering with the delivery of humanitarian aid, despite pledging to the United Nations last fall that they would not.
“The Afghan people continue to suffer from food insecurity as the Taliban reap the spoils of American generosity. Many requests for detailed accounting went unanswered from the Treasury and State Departments.
“Leaving the Americans behind, failing to avenge the deaths of thirteen service members, and abdicating your promises to Afghan women and children does not deter threats from our shores.
“During testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on October 26, 2021, the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy stated that I-K and al-Qaeda intend to conduct operations against the United States, and that I-K could generate that. capacity in six to twelve months and al-Qaeda in one to two years.
“Six months have passed, and we have yet to learn how Team Biden will protect our citizens from this threat at home or abroad.
“Without such a framework, threats to our national security are increasing daily, endangering the lives of Americans at home and abroad.”