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White House knocks new GOP report on Afghanistan withdrawal

The White House is firing back at a GOP report slamming the Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan by circulating its own memo arguing the decision strengthened national security and did not compromise the United States’ ability to extinguish terrorist threats. 

The White House memo, which dismisses the GOP report as “partisan” and “riddled” with inaccuracies, lays out Biden’s logic for ending America’s longest war and pushes back on specific claims in the report led by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  

It also reiterates that President Biden inherited the Trump administration’s agreement with the Taliban regarding plans for the U.S. withdrawal from the country.  

“When President Biden took office, he was faced with a choice: ramp up the war and put even more American troops at risk, or finally end the United States’ longest war after two decades of American presidents sending U.S. troops to fight and die in Afghanistan and $2 trillion spent,” White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson writes in the memo, text of which was first reported by Axios and obtained by The Hill.  

“The President refused to send another generation of Americans to fight a war that should have ended long ago — and we fundamentally disagree with those who advocated for miring the United States’ fighting men and women in an indefinite war with no exit strategy,” the memo continues.  

Republicans are reviving their criticisms of the chaotic U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan last August as the first anniversary approaches. Monday marks a full year since the Taliban took over Kabul, ushering in the hasty collapse of the Afghan government.  

The White House memo offers a glimpse of the administration’s defense one year later. It cites the recent successful drone strike that killed al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan as evidence the U.S. can still take out terrorists without American boots on the ground and says the U.S. is better positioned today to confront threats from Russia and China.  

The memo also reminds readers that military leaders like Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said the U.S. would have needed to ultimately increase the troop presence in Afghanistan above 2,500 in order to fend of Taliban attacks if Biden put the breaks on plans to withdraw.  

McCaul’s report, which is being released this week, offers a detailed look at the chaos that transpired last year and criticizes the Biden administration for failing to plan adequately ahead of the withdrawal.  

“There is a disconnect between the intelligence on the ground and what the White House is doing,” McCaul said in an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday, previewing the report.  

In the report, Republicans also spell out intentions to subpoena officials and documents that they claim the State Department has blocked access to if the GOP wins enough seats to take the majority in Congress in the midterm elections.  

In response to claims that the administration was unprepared for the speed of the Taliban takeover, the White House memo says Trump’s agreement with the Taliban “empowered the Taliban and weakened our partners in the Afghan government.” 

The memo says that the Biden administration worked to ramp up approvals for Afghan allies through the special immigrant visa program and performed “extensive contingency planning” in 2021 ahead of the withdrawal.  

Source: The Hill

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