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ICYMI: Hearing Highlights the Dangers Posed to the U.S. Homeland by the Biden Administration’s Catastrophic Afghanistan Withdrawal

April 19, 2023

ICYMI: Hearing Highlights the Dangers Posed to the U.S. Homeland by the Biden Administration’s Catastrophic Afghanistan Withdrawal

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence, led by Chairman August Pfluger (R-TX), heard firsthand testimony from national security experts on the dangerous consequences to U.S. homeland security from the Biden administration’s deadly and chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021. Witnesses in the hearing included the Honorable Nathan A. Sales, former Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Simone Ledeen, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East, Colonel (Ret.) Christopher J. Douglas, United States Marine Corps, and Jonathan Schroden, PhD, the Director for the Countering Threats and Challenges Program and Special Operations Program Center for Naval Analyses.

In the hearing, Chairman Pfluger received confirmation from every witness that the withdrawal from Afghanistan was chaotic despite efforts by the Biden administration to deny and downplay what happened. Multiple witnesses also testified that no one from the Biden administration has been held accountable for the catastrophic withdrawal, which led to the death of 13 U.S. servicemembers and at least 170 Afghans in an ISIS-K orchestrated terrorist attack.


WATCH: Subcommittee Chair Pfluger Questions Witnesses on Weapons Left Behind in Afghanistan Withdrawal

In his opening line of questioning, Chairman Pfluger asked Ambassador Sales about the dangers posed to the homeland by the “$7 billion worth of” U.S. weapons and other military equipment left behind enemy lines by the U.S. and our allies after the withdrawal:

W]hat is al-Qaeda, what are other violent extremists groups able and most likely to do with that equipment?”

Ambassador Sales answered:

“Well, the fear is that they will turn it against us and our allies and use the equipment that we provided to the Afghan government to wage war against the U.S. and our allies. Keep in mind that al-Qaeda is still using AK-47s from the Soviet era. We are going to be dealing with this problem for a long time to come.”

In his second round of questioning, Chairman Pfluger asked Dr. Schroden about his previous commentary on the Biden administration’s final report on the Afghanistan withdrawal and who is responsible for the ensuing chaos:

“You publicly criticized the Biden administration’s report on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, particularly you stated the administration’s report was not an objective attempt to identify or summarize lessons learned. You said it is a political document designed to deflect blame and you also said at the end of the day, Biden as president made the call and the disastrous withdrawal occurred on his watch. Is that true?

Mr. Schroden replied affirmatively: 

“Yes, that is true.”


WATCH: Rep. Bishop Examines the Threats Posed by an Open Border Following Botched Afghanistan Withdrawal

In response to a question by Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Accountability Chairman Dan Bishop (R-NC) about the possibility of the Southwest border crisis allowing terrorists, now emboldened from the chaotic withdrawal, to enter the United States,
Ambassador Sales said:

“We’ve seen a dramatic spike over recent years in the number of known or suspected terrorists that have been apprehended coming across the Southern border…and those are just the ones we know about.”

Rep. Bishop then turned his questioning to Ms. Ledeen, highlighting DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ failure to grasp the dangers posed by the Biden administration’s refusal to enforce our nation’s laws: 

“I asked Secretary Mayorkas back in April of last year, ‘how do you know that none of the 2.6 million, including the 600,000 gottaways—you don’t even know who they are, and you know 41 [at that time] on the terrorist watchlist have been encountered. How do you know that those individuals aren’t a source of terrorism?’…What about you, Ms. Ledeen, are you comforted by the Secretary of Homeland Security’s certitude that we face no risk among those hundreds of thousands of people entering the United States without ever contacting authorities, that it is not a material terrorism risk?”

Ms. Ledeen answered:

“I am increasingly concerned given the sheer number of people that are crossing over…Those first couple of planes that took off from Kabul Airport were full of people who had not been vetted, and subsequent vetting actually showed that some of them had in place IEDs and appeared on our biometrics, so I have very grave concerns about this.”

Rep. Eli Crane (R-AZ) asked Ambassador Sales about the likelihood that the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan emboldened our adversaries:

“Are you aware that shortly after our disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan that Russia invaded Ukraine?…Are you aware that China flew a spy balloon over the entire U.S.?…Do you see any connection between the weakness and incompetence that we showed in Afghanistan and some of these other world events that I just mentioned?”

Ambassador Sales answered:

“A weak America invites aggression, a weak America invites instability. To the extent the United States appears weak on a world stage, that’s not only bad for our homeland security, it’s not only bad for our national security and foreign policy interests, it’s bad for the stability and security of the whole world.” 

Subcommittee on Emergency Management and Technology Chairman Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY) quoted General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and asked Ambassador Sales about whether he agreed that the botched withdrawal allowed the complete Taliban takeover of Afghanistan:

“With the withdrawal of U.S. forces completed in August of 2021, the Afghan national defense and security forces no longer had the capability to defend themselves and were demoralized furthermore by statements from the United States that our commitment to partnering with them was over.”


After Democrats attempted to downplay the dangers of terrorists possibly evading apprehension at our wide-open Southwest border in the aftermath of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, Ambassador Sales pointed out:

“Remember, it was just 19 hijackers who were able to pull off the 9/11 attacks…I think the American people would generally agree with me that if almost 100 known or suspected terrorists are able to come into the United States…that would be of concern and it would raise the further question of how many others are getting in that we were not able to catch and that we don’t know about.”