The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expressing his disappointment with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for not agreeing to testify about the withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said on Tuesday, “I’m very disappointed that Secretary Austin declined our request to testify today. A full accounting of the U.S. response to this crisis is not complete without the Pentagon. Especially when it comes to understanding the complete collapse of the U.S. trained and funded Afghan military.”
“His decision not to appear before the committee will affect my personal judgment on Department of Defense nominees. I expect the secretary will avail himself to the committee in the near future, and if he does not, I may consider the use of committee subpoena power to compel him and others over the course of these last 20 years to testify,” he added.
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.@SenatorMenendez: "I'm very disappointed that Secretary Austin declined our request to testify today…I may consider the use of committee subpoena power to compel him and others…to testify." pic.twitter.com/QMaspQ4cV6
— CSPAN (@cspan) September 14, 2021
The hearing comes after the U.S. completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan last month, as IJR reported.
The Biden administration was criticized for the execution of the withdrawal after the Afghan military and government rapidly collapsed and the Taliban took over the country.
Last month President Joe Biden admitted that the collapse of the Afghan government “did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated.”
“So, what’s happened? Afghan political leaders gave up and left the country. The Afghan military collapsed,” he said, adding, “If anything, the developments of the past week reinforced that ending military involvement in Afghanistan now was the right decision. 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.”
During testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Monday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken argued, “There’s no evidence that staying longer would have made the Afghan security forces or the Afghan government any more resilient or self-sustaining.”
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