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tv   Secretary of State Testifies on Afghanistan Withdrawal  CSPAN  September 13, 2021 9:02pm-2:16am EDT

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father of jack, bobby, and teddy kennedy. it is a new book titled the investors. her book is about joseph p kennedy's senior time as ambassador to great britain 1938 to 1940. >> historian susan ronald, listen wherever you get your podcasts. ♪
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>> next, secretary of state antony blinken testifies before the house foreign affairs committee on u.s. withdrawal from afghanistan. this is the first of two appearances before congress this week. >> good afternoon. please keep yourself muted when you're not speaking. as a reminder, you will wait to
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be recognized. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. [gavel] >> the committee on foreign affairs will come to order, without objection, the chair is authorized to declare a recess of the committee at any point. all members will have five days straight state -- submit statements, and questions for the record. subject to the list, or the limitation of the rules. please have your staff emailed the previous the mentioned address or contact full committee. as a reminder to all members,
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please keep your video function on at all times. even when you are not recognized by the chair. members are responsible for muting and on muting themselves. consistent with house rules, staff will only new members as a -- as appropriate when they are not under recognition, to eliminate background noise. we are now waiting to bring up the secretary. >> i am here, mr. chairman.
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>> thank, mr. secretary. before i make my opening remarks , mr. secretary, thank you for being here. given this topic, the importance of this topic, and this committee's constitutional responsibility of oversight, i wanted to ask you whether or not you would be willing to stay to answer all members questions. we want all members have the opportunity coming --, knowing this is the first time we are having some testimony in regards to pulling out since august 31 of this year. would you have the ability to stay to answer all members questions?
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>> mr. chairman, i'm prepared to stay until every member has had an opportunity to ask a question. >> we thank you for that. i see we have a quorum, i now will recognize myself for opening remarks. we meet today to evaluate the united states withdraw from afghanistan and the series of policies from the past 20 years that led to the events of august 2021. mr. secretary, it is good to have you back for our committee, a third time since you have been secretary. thank you, we appreciate your recognition of the important role it plays in providing oversight on the executive. i want to start today by citing some numbers. 800,000. the number of americans are served with the u.s. military
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afghanistan since 2001. 2461, that is the number of american military personnel died in afghanistan, including the 13 brave americans who were killed facilitating the evacuation of 100.4 thousand people -- 124,000 people over the course of two weeks. the number of afghan forces killed in the conflict. 47,245. the number of afghan civilians killed since 2001. 20. that is the number of years we have been fighting in afghanistan. a war that has gone on for almost 20 years, is a disaster. disentangling ourselves from the war in afghanistan was never going to be easy. for my friends to presume a claim solution for the withdraw
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existed, i would welcome what exactly a smooth withdraw from a messy, chaotic, 20-year war looks like. i've yet to hear the clean withdraw, i do not believe one exists. are there things the administration could have done differently, absolutely yes. as always. for the state department to evaluate how can better evacuate americans when events unravel quickly. i look forward to hearing from the secretary how the state department continued -- plans to continue the evacuations of the americans remaining afghanistan one to come home. as well as a -- evacuate those afghans who worked alongside us for 20 years. however, it is important to separate cynicism from criticism -- divorced from the realities on the ground in afghanistan.
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we've heard some criticize the decision to close bagram, which they claim would've been better suited for evacuation. as though it would've been easier to evacuate hundreds of thousands of people from an airfield 40 miles outside of kabul. others criticize this vision -- criticize the decision not to keep counterterrorism force in the country. they have to get -- the trump administration sidelines the afghan government to cut a deal with the taliban. what was the trump administration negotiated a deal with the taliban one month after the abduction of navy veteran. over those protests when sector -- president trump and secretary pompeo agreed to withdraw all
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troops by may 21, 2020. trump steele forced the afghan government to release 5000 prisoners, and offered international legitimacy to the taliban. it was a deal that failed to required the taliban to separate from al qaeda terrorists and did not require the tell band to stop attacking the afghan government. the deal altered the political order of the country. some may say trump's agreement was conditions based, that it was different, that came with a stronger condition. that is simply not true. the choice before president biden was between a full withdrawal in the surging of thousands of americans to afghanistan for an undefined time, to argue that there was a third option, a limited troop
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presence with the safety of our personnel could be preserved, in my mind is a dust fantasy. had we not removed american troops from afghanistan, we would've left them in the middle of a rapidly deteriorating war zone, with no assurance they would be spared by the taliban. many of those critical of the administration's admit -- evacuation ethics are just -- failed to offer feasible alternatives. once again, we are seeing domestic politics injected into foreign policy. the tell's quick take over of provinces, afghan security forces laying down their arms and president ghani's abrupt departure from the country he led, has made this all the more clear that we can no longer occupy afghanistan, and that the
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present's decision to bring our troops home was the right one. closing this chapter of the u.s. afghanistan more is a difficult one. i budget authorize the war back in 2001. after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. in the 20 years since, i have seen how this complex cost the lives of countless americans, afghans and our partners. what makes it all the more difficult as this is a work that should have ended 19 years ago. our hubris, our unwillingness to negotiate gotten away that victory. these are our troops, but only by examining these will we be able to see what went wrong afghanistan. the task before us on this committee, one that i've committed to making, was for the past 20 years, we will be
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talking to individuals from the bush administration, from the obama administration, from the trump administration, as well as the biden administration. i now recognize mr. mccall for his opening statement. >> thank you, mr. chairman, i want to think the secretary also for agreeing to stay until every member has been heard. i think every member has a right to ask questions on such an important topic. over the last several weeks, we witnessed afghanistan rapidly fall to the taliban. in the chaotic aftermath that followed. it did not have to happen. but the president refused to listen to his own generals, and the intelligence committee warned him precisely what would happen when we were through. this was an unmitigated disaster of epic proportions. i never thought in my lifetime that i would see an unconditional surrender to the
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taliban. for weeks our offices were flooded with requests to help people get out of afghanistan. requests that were coming to us because the state department failed to provide help. then the unimaginable happened, on august 20 6, 13 american servicemen and women were brutally murdered by isis-k, trying to help americans -- american citizens and our afghan partners escape the taliban. two days ago, we commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11. while we mourn the loss of almost 3000 innocent people, the taliban at the same time celebrated by raising their flag over the presidential palace. days before, they emblazoned their flag on the wall of our united states embassy,
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proclaiming the defeat of the united states of america. shockingly, the white house has described the taliban regime as businesslike and professional. let us meet a few of these professionals, the so-called new and improved taliban. the acting prime minister, when the tell band founding leaders. it is also sanctioned by the united nations and sheltered osama bin laden for years. the infamous members of the taliban five, released from guantanamo under the obama administration, also all hold senior positions in the new government. finally, the worst, acting interior minister. he is responsible for overseeing policing and counterterrorism. he is also wanted by the fbi.
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is the head of the brutal haqqani network with close ties talk to -- close ties to al qaeda. as currently sanctioned by the united states. most of the noon improved taliban leaders held the same or similar positions they held prior to 9/11. we are now at the mercy of the taliban's reign of terror. all while a dark veil of straw real law covers -- sharia law covers afghanistan. the right suites help secure for afghan women and girls have been stripped away in a matter of weeks. this, in my judgment, is not only disgraceful, it also dishonors the men and women who served our nation so bravely. mr. secretary, the american people do not like to lose, especially not to the terrorists. that is exactly what has happened. this is emboldened the taliban
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and our adversaries. the taliban, a designated terrorist group, now equipped with american weapons. that most countries in the world , just a few weeks ago, thousands of terrorists, the worst of the worst were all released from prisons as the taliban overran the country. the situation we find ourselves in is far worse in my judgment is a former chairman of homeland security committee, far worse than pre-9/11. to make matters worse, we abandoned americans behind enemy lines. we left behind the interpreters, who you come up mr. secretary, and the president both promised to protect. i can summarize this in one word. betrayal. the america i know keeps its promises. the most important promise in our military is no man left
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behind, no one left behind. you broke this promise. unfortunately, it was not the only promise is administration broke. in april, president biden promised quote we will not conduct a hasty rush to the exit, and we will do it responsibly, deliberately and safely. that promise was broken. in july, the president said, quote, there's were to be no circumstance or you see people being lifted off the roof of the united states embassy in afghanistan. that promise was also broken. our standing on the world stage has been greatly diminished. our enemies no longer fear us, and our allies no longer trust us. our afghan veterans are questioning if there sacrifice was worth it. for those veterans that are
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watching this today, i have a message for you. your service was not in vain, it is because of your heroism that we have not witnessed a large-scale attack by the terrorists since 9/11 in the last 20 years. for that, ice age all of you, thank you. we are here today to better understand how this administration got it so wrong. i hope you will directly answer our questions, mr. secretary, so saintly, because we have quite a few. with that, mr. chairman, i yield back. ? chairman yields back. i now recognize the -- four one minute. >> obviously this is not going to be an easy hearing.
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there will be a lot of questions back and forth. we will do some more oversight. decisions are made on, i want to preface -- my district has the largest afghan refugee population in the country. we submitted over 10,000 names of u.s. citizens, visa holders, family members, etc.. about close to 30 u.s. citizens, still afghanistan. we have got to do everything we can to get those folks to safety. i look forward to working with you and your staff and others to make sure we do not leave folks behind. i look forward to your trust my. without i yield back. >> i turn to the ranking member,
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mr. shaaban for one minute. >> this administration fumbled pullout from afghanistan may be the worst foreign affairs disaster in american history. you have essentially surrendered that country and its people to the good graces of the taliban. and the taliban does not have good graces. it is now a haven to terrorists. as mr. mccall stated, our allies may not trust us as much. rs -- our enemies may not fear us as much. the majority of american people wanted to leave afghanistan, but not like this. pulling our troops out before civilians, abandoning americans behind enemy lines, as well as thousands of afghans that worked with us and fought with us, and their families.
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about 20 million leap -- women and girls love to be burglarized once again by the taliban. this is a disgrace. >> thank you. now i will introduce our witness. secretary of state antony blinken was sworn in on january 26, 2021. this will be the third time he will testify in front of the committee. we are grateful for his appearance before us today. i now recognize the witness for his testimony, which i understand will be a little longer than five minutes. given that he will be here for all of our questions, i think it is important for his statement
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to be heard in its entirety. secretary, i now recognize you. >> thank you. thank you for today. i welcome this opportunity to discuss our policy in afghanistan including where we are. and where we are going in the weeks and months ahead. for 20 years, congress has conducted oversight and provided funding for the mission in afghanistan. i know from my own time how invaluable a partner congresses. as i said when i was nominated, i believe strongly in congress's traditional role in policymaking. i'm committed to working with you on the path forward for afghanistan and to advance the interests of the american people. on this 20th anniversary of 9/11, as we honored the nearly
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3000 men, women, and children who lost their lives. we are reminded why we went to afghanistan in the first place. to bring gesture -- to bring justice to those who attacked us and to ensure that it would not happen again. we have achieved those objectives long ago. osama bin laden was killed in 2011. al qaeda's capabilities were a decade ago. al qaeda's capabilities were degraded significantly, including its ability to plan and operate. $1 trillion spent, it was time to end america's longest war. when president biden took office he inherited an agreement to remove all remaining forces from afghanistan by may 1 of this year. as part of that agreement, the previous submission asian prepped the afghan government to release 5000 taliban prisoners.
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meanwhile, it reduced our armed force presence to between 500 troops. in return -- 220 500 troops. --2500 troops. in return, the taliban agreed to stop attacking u.s. and partner forces and refrain from threatening afghanistan's major cities. they continued on checkpoints and districts, as well as the major roads connecting them. by january of 2021, the taliban was in the strongest military position it had been in his 9/11 and we had the smallest number of troops on the ground since 2001. as a result, president biden immediately faced a choice between ending the war or escalating it. had he not followed through on his previous commitment, attacks on our forces and those of our allies, would resume, and naftali bennett's major assault
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on major cities with commence. that would have required sending more u.s. forces into afghanistan to defend itself and prevent a taliban takeover. taking casualties, and with at best the chance of restoring a stalemate and remaining under fire indefinitely. there is no evidence that staying longer would have made the afghan security forces or the afghan government anymore resilient or self-sustaining. if 20 years and hundreds of billions of support in and training would not suffice, why would another year. there's nothing are strategic competitors or adversaries would like more than for the united states to re-up the 20 year war and remain bogged down in afghanistan for another decade. i was in constant contact with
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our allies and partners to hear their views and factor them into our thinking. when the president announced the withdrawal, nato immediately embrace it. we were intentionally focused on the safety of americans in afghanistan. in march, we began urging them to leave. in total, between march and august, we sent 19 specific messages without warning, and with offers to help, including financial assistance to pay for plane tickets. despite this effort, at the time the evacuation began, we were so thousands of american citizens in afghanistan, almost all of them we evacuate by august 31. many were dual citizens, living in afghanistan for years. deciding whether or not to leave
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the place they know as home was incredibly wrenching decision. in april, we began drawing down our embassy ordering , nonessential personnel to depart. we also used this time to significantly speed up the processing of the special immigrant visas for afghans who had worked for us for these past 20 years. when we took office, we inherited a program with a 14 step process based on a statutory framework enacted by congress involving multiple government agencies. a backlog of more than 17,000 applicants. there had not been a single interview in the sib program --siv program that went back to march of the program was in a 2020. stall. within two weeks of taking office we restarted the interview progress in kabul.
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one of the first executive orders by president biden directed us to renew the program -- review the program to find the delay and process applications more quickly. the spring i sent additional , resources to the program. expanding the team in washington from 10 to 50 and doubling the number of communicators in our embassy in kabul. we sent more consular officers to process these applications. i we had reduced the waiting may, time by more than a year. even in june we continued to issue visas. we were issuing about 100 special immigrant visas a week more than 1000 per week in august. when are evacuation and relocation efforts began.
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that emergency evacuation was sparked by the collapse of the afghan severe -- security forces and government. throughout the year, we were constantly assessing the staying power and considering multiple scenarios. even the most pessimistic assessment not predict that the government forces in kabul would collapse while u.s. forces remain. as general milley and his staff of said nothing i or anyone else , saw indicated a collapse of this army and this government in 11 days. nonetheless, we planned and exercised a wide range of contingencies. because of that planning, we were able to draw down our embassy and move our remaining personnel to the airport within 48 hours. the military were placed on standby for president biden were able to secure the airport and start the evacuation within 72 hours. the evacuation itself was an extraordinary effort. under the most difficult
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conditions imaginable by our diplomats, military, by our intelligence officials. they worked around the clock to get american citizens, afghans who helped us citizens of our , allies and partners and on -- at risk afghans off to the united states order transit locations that our diplomats had arranged and negotiated in multiple countries. our consular teamworks 24/7 to reach out to americans who could still be in the country, making 55,000 phone calls, sending 33,000 emails and they are still at it. an isis-k attack killed 13 service members working the gates. killing and wounding scores of afghans. these american service members gave their lives so that other lives could continue. in the end, we continued on the -- completed one of the biggest airlift's in history, with
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124,000 people evacuated to safety. on the military mission in august 31, afghanistan officially ended and new diplomatic mission began. some served as transit hubs, some of for evacuees for a longer. of time. i want to recognize these from congress as well. condors -- congressman fitzpatrick worked with the state department through reunite and afghan family in new jersey. congresswoman jacobs worked across party lines to draw attention to cases of legal permanent residents and afghans at risk. your emails, your calls, they made a real difference in getting people out and we continue to use the lists and
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information you provide in the next phase of the mission. let me briefly outline with the -- what the state department has done over the last couple of weeks and where we are going in the days and weeks ahead. we moved our diplomatic operations from kabul to doha. many of our key partners have joined us there. we are continuing our relentless efforts to help any remaining americans, of what does as well as afghans and citizens of partner countries to leave afghanistan's if they choose. this past thursday, a charter flight departed kabul and lended indo hall. on a second flight carrying u.s. friday, citizens and others departed afghanistan. these flights are the result of a coordinated effort between united states, qatar and turkey to start the flights.
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additionally, i half a dozen american citizens have left afghanistan by an overland route with our help. we are in constant contact with the american citizens in afghanistan who told us they wish to leave. some declined to be on the first flights on thursday and friday, for reasons including needing more time to make arrangements, going to remain with extended family or medical issues the precluded traveling last week. we will continue to help them and help any american who wants to leave and afghans to who we have a special commitment us as we have done in other countries where we have evacuated our embassy. hundreds or thousands of americans remain behind. for example, in libya, syria, venezuela, yemen, and somalia. there is no deadline for this mission. we are focused on counterterrorism.
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the taliban is committed to prevent terrorist groups from using afghanistan as a base for external operations that could threaten the united states and our allies, including al qaeda and you know -- and isis-k. we will hold them accountable for that. that does not mean we will rely on them. we will remain vigilant in monitoring threats and maintain robust antiterrorism efforts in the area. we do that around the world will -- where we do not have lj forces on the ground. we continue our intensive diplomacy with allies and partners. we initiated a statement, joined by more than half the world's countries, as well as the united nations security council resolution, setting out the international community's expectations of the tobin government. we expect the child manton -- the tile man to ensure freedom of travel, to make good on their
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commitments of terrorism. to uphold the basic rights of the afghan people including women, girls, and minorities. to set up a permanent government. for legitimacy and support, the taliban seeks from the international community will depend on his conduct. we have organize contact groups with key countries to ensure that the international community continues to speak with one voice on afghanistan and administer our combined influence. we will continue to support humanitarian aid to the afghan people consistent with sanctions that will not flow through the government, but through independent organizations like ngo's and u.n. agencies. today we announced united states is providing nearly 60 million dollars -- $60 million in humanitarian assistance to the people of afghanistan to meet her clinician needs, addressing
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production concerns of women, tilden, and minorities and help children go back to school. the united states has provided $350 million to the afghan people this year. and ram stein, i toured the facility where afghans we evacuated our being processed before moving on to their next destination. i spent some time at the dulles expo center where more than , 45,000 afghans have been processed after arriving in united states. it is remarkable. it is remarkable to see what our diplomats, our military, and employees from other civilian agencies across the u.s. government have been able to achieve in a short time. they met in a norm is human need. they coordinated food, water, sanitation for thousands of people. they are arranging medical care including the delivery of babies. they are reuniting families who were separated and accompanying minors.
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it is a powerful testament to the skill and passion and dedication of our people. we should all be proud of what they are doing. as we have done throughout our history, americans are welcoming families from afghanistan into our communities and helping them resettle as they start their new lives. that is something to be proud of us well. thank you for listening. i look forward to your questions. >> thank you for your testimony. i will now recognize members for five minutes. pursuant to house rules, all time yielded is for the purpose of questioning our witness. i recognize the members by may seniority, alternating between democrats and republicans. please note, i will be strict in enforcing the five minute time limit for questions. i do not want members to ask questions for five minutes and
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then not lead the secretary time to respond. when addressing your questions, please keep in mind that the five minutes is for questions and answers. i will start by recognizing myself. you mentioned an area of concern i know is shared by all. the status of american citizens, green card holders and those who are to be evacuated. can you tell us how many of them remain in the country and it is -- what is our plan to facilitate their evacuation now? >> thank you. as of the end of last week, we had about 100 american citizens in afghanistan who had told us they wish to leave the country. i want to emphasize this is a
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snapshot in time. it is a moving picture. stepping back, to know precisely at any given moment in time how many american citizens are in any country is something we cannot now. americans are not required to register when they go to a foreign country or if they reside there. from the start, we have been engaged in an intense effort to identify every american citizen that we could. to be in contact with them and work with them if they wanted to leave. we also benefited greatly from information provided by congress to help us fill out this picture. as of last week there were about , 100 who we were in contact with who expressed an interest to leave. we offered seats on the planes that got out last week to about 60, 30 came forward and used those seats.
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what happened at any given moment is that people are making decisions hour by hour. as i said, these are incredibly wrenching decisions, because for the most part, this is a community of people who have been residing afghanistan follow their lives. it is their home. they have families. it is hard for them to make that decision. that is the group we are working with. what also happens is as people identify themselves as american citizens in afghanistan who wish to leave. they get added to the picture. we get information from you, from ngo's, veterans groups about people reporting to be , americans in afghanistan. we immediately seek to contact them, to engage with them, to find out if they are in afghanistan.
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and if they want to leave, this is a picture that will continue to change over time. that is the rough population we are working with. >> thank you. i know that the trump administration's deal with the taliban meant that there were 2500 troops remaining. at any time did the biden administration consider to renegotiate the deal with the taliban? >> the taliban made abundantly clear in public and private statements, to us, to others in the world, that was going to hell this -- pulled us to the deadline the previous administration negotiated. it made clear if we move past the deadline, it would resume the attack it had stopped on our
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forces, our allies and partners as well as commence the onslaught on the cities that we have seen in recent months. that was exactly the choice that president biden faced, whether to move forward with the agreement and the deadline or return to war with the taliban and escalate, not end the war. with the president did do was to take some risk in extending past me one, the time to withdraw forces so we could do it in the safest and most orderly way possible. >> we know that there are government hard-liners in the new taliban group. their commitment to share power with other social group excludes women and minorities. how does the appointment of the
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new government factor into the administration's strategy to engage? >> the interim government named by the taliban falls short of the market was set by the international community for inclusivity. that is to have a government that was broadly representative of the afghan people. not just the taliban. to include women, which this government does not. as it has been noted, we have been clear. when it comes to engaging with that government or any government to be named on a more permanent basis, we are going to do so on the basis of whether or not it will advance our interests. the expectations we set and the
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international committee has set, for the ongoing treatment of travel for a government that , makes good on the taliban's commitments to combat terrorists for afghanistan to not be used as an agent for launching attacks against other countries. to support the basic rights of the afghan people, including women and minorities. that is the basis on which we approach any afghan government. >> i now yield for questions to mr. mccall. >> mr. secretary, in the weeks before the fall, the surrender to the taliban, i was on the phone with high-ranking officials at state, dod, white house, to save lives. we had americans who could not get out, we had interpreters who could not get through the perimeter of the taliban.
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they were left behind. they will be executed. and they have a bull's-eye on their back. we had four buses of afghan girls, orphans at the american university school of music that sat there for 17 hours when i was told the state department would not lift the gate to let them in. even though they had an aircraft waiting. will you guaranteed to this committee now that we are at the , mercy of the taliban, can you guarantee it to this committee we will get them out? >> thank you for every effort you made as well as other members of this committee to help people in need, to help them get out. those are deeply appreciated and going forward, we continue to look to you. i had men and women in the just -- in the state department who raise their hands from around
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the world and ran into the building. they went from posts around the world into that airport to help people get out. they were serving at the gates alongside our brothers and sisters in uniform. including the 13 who gave their lives trying to pull people in as necessary or to walk them in. to do anything they could to bring american citizens, to bring afghans at risk, to bring the nationals of our partners and others into the airport. >> time is limited. >>'s importance or. >> we also think the service and those who worked in operation pineapple, dunkirk, those are heroes as well as the state department officials. my last question, bagram went down, the embassy went down, and we went dark. we have no eyes and ears on the ground, we have lost
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intelligence capability in the region. that includes russia, china, and iran. this is a national security risk as china moves in. they may take over. this over the rising capability i believe is exaggerated. it is not a viable option, it is to our away. did you negotiate with countries like pakistan or to she does stand to put our isr capability there. my last question is it true that president putin threatened the president of the united states, saying he could not build intelligence capabilities in the region? >> this is an important question, one that in its detail and substance, i think we need to take up in another setting, for reasons you appreciate. you know this very well given your focus and expertise on the issues. this has metastasized
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dramatically in the last 20 years in places like yemen, libya, iraq, samaria, -- syria, somalia. with much different capabilities in 20 years ago and dealing with that threat. in many countries around the world we deal with it with no u.s. boots on the ground. we have lost some capacity for sure in not having boots on the ground in afghanistan. we have ways, we are very actively working on that, to make up for that, to mitigate for that, to make sure that we have eyes on the problem. what i would propose -- >> i would like to work with you. if we cannot see what is happening on the ground, we cannot respond to it. the threat is going to get worse, not better. we have to have that capability. let me ask you one last question, we have the planes grounded.
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the taliban seems to be holding these planes up. are you currently negotiating with the tell ben with respect , to these americans who are trying to get out on these planes? are you negotiating with the taliban on the issue of legitimizing them as a real government? >> not only has come up virtually the entire international community, including the united nations security council resolution, has made clear what we expect and insist on from the taliban. if they want to seek any legitimacy or support, that includes -- starts with, freedom of travel. we have been intensely engaged with turkey and qatar to get the airport in kabul up and running again, which is now the case. we started to get flights out last week, with american citizens on board.
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there been charter flights there for some time that have not been allowed to leave. we want to see those flights leave, we need a process but in place to allow those flights to move. we are working on that every day. >> thank you, i yield back. >> mr. secretary, we requested a secure briefing, we want your assurance to schedule this briefing in the immediate future. >> yes, absolutely. >> i know are -- recognize the congressman from california for five minutes. >> thank you for reminding us americans were not required to register if they were in afghanistan. i hope my colleagues will support my resolution for citizens to be required to register if go to a war zone.
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he sought between 20. were president donald trump announced we would be out by may 1 2021, force the release of 5000 of the taliban best fighters, and created the circumstance where there was not even a credible possibility that we would engage in force to support the afghan government. there are those who say we should get out all of our afghan allies, all those who face oppression from the taliban. i would point out that the afghan army, together with all of its veterans over 20 years, together with other families, you are talking about millions of people. while the taliban may be harsh to the girls, music students, orphans, imagine how harsh it will be to a girl whose father was in the afghan army, trying to kill the taliban. administration took over, the
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american people made it clear we had to get out in 2021, the afghan government, some thought had a chance to fight to a stalemate, but by spring, those closest to us, those most in no were demanding visas to get out, flee as quickly as possible. they were asking for guns, to build trenches around kabul, they were demanding needs, making videos about how they were going to be killed. when they started to flee, that started a stampede, there's simply no way the administration could have an orderly or successful stampede. it seems absurd in retrospect to think the average afghan would fight in the trenches, while seeing those were best connected, desperate to flee in a matter of days. secretary, when you came into office on june 20 -- january 20,
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we were committed to pulling everyone out in three months. did the trump administration leave a pile of notebooks as to how to carry out that plan? did we have a list of which afghans we were going to evacuate? did we have a plan to get american small over afghanistan to kabul, how meticulous was the planning for the trump administration's declared withdrawal? >> we inherited a deadline, we did not hear a plan? -- we did not inherit a plan. >> no plan at all? it was controversial when we gave up five taliban, not the most meritorious of american fighting men. but the trump administration gave 5000 of the taliban's top
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fighters back to the taliban. what did we get for that? other than empty promises that were broken? >> the deal that the previous administration struck, involved committing to remove all u.s. forces from afghanistan by may 1 of this year. in addition, as that deal was being negotiated and put into effect, pressing the afghan government to release these 5000 prisoners, many of whom went back to the battlefield. at the same time, getting from the taliban, to commitments, one, not to attack our forces or allied forces during the time of the agreement, from the time it was reached until may 1, as well as not to go to major cities.
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and to take steps to ensure that afghanistan would not be used by al qaeda or any other terrorist -- >> one more question. we were criticized for not getting our weapons out, our weapons were given to the afghan military, they were all over the country. is there way to disarm the afghan government without being seen by the world -- was there a way without casualties to go all over afghanistan and grabbed the trucks and tanks, etc.? >> a lot of excessive equipment was handed over to the afghan security and defense forces. that week supported and trained and equipped for 20 years to take on some of that. when those forces collapsed, and the space of about 11 days, some of that equipment wound up in the hands of the successor forces, the taliban.
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our folks worked very hard to disable or dismantle equipment that we still controlled before we left afghanistan. what we see now, is much of the equipment that was left behind, including in the hands of the afghan forces, that fell to the tell bank about much of it, based on what i understand from our colleagues at dod is inoperable or soon will be, because it has to be maintained. it is not a vein rate strategic value in terms of threatening us or afghanistan's neighbors, but does give the taliban uniforms and guns and some other equipment that is now their hands. >> i now recognize congressman from tennessee for five minutes. >> mr. secretary, you testified you encouraged americans to leave the country.
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simultaneous with that, or statements you made, including by president biden that afghan military capability was 300000 and strong. that they had the best training imaginable. i would say they were misled. you do not mention withdrawal can -- conditions or placed by pres. trump on an exodus from afghanistan. i do have evacuees especially inf
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the fact that reliable information on some, perhaps many, who got parole was not available to conduct a background check? are you concerned the taliban they have vetted its members as evacuees? i visited our base recently with some other members of congress and our governor and asked a number of questions. i was concerned about the vetting or lack thereof and the fact that about 70% strong in our case and we will go up to 13,000 -- they can leave if they would like. they are free to leave. it is not clear whether they would return but they are free to leave.
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finally, one of the profoundly negative consequences outside afghanistan has been china and taiwan. the state-controlled chinese communist party media including global times and i greeted every day. there are saturated with messages that give off surrender to beijing because the united states will --abandon them, too. that is what it is saying. if you could start with the first question, i would appreciate it. sec. blinken: i will address all of those. with regard to the phone call, i am not going to comment on a week -- purportedly leaked print -- transcript. i can tell you what the president said in that conversation with then-president is what he was saying in public. it is this. the issue is not the capacity at that point of the afghan government and afghan security forces to hold the country interval kabul.
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it was there well and whether they had a plan to do so and we were concerned they were not demonstrating that will or that planet. he pressed the president on the need to consolidate his forces against military advice from our military leaders to make sure he could defend the places that needed defending and not overstretch those forces. he needed to bring people together. that is what he said. rep. smith: it is a transcript -- is it untrue? sec. blinken: i am not commenting on any purported leaked transcript. i'm telling you what based on my knowledge of the conversation the president said and what he said is what he said in public. with regard to american citizens remaining behind, the ones we are in contact with -- we have 500 people on a task force and teams dedicated to them to be in regular contact. i have not heard from those people, that concerned rate --i
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cannot say if there any american citizens who are not in contact with or do not know of who may have been versed -- mistreated in some fashion in afghanistan. with regard to background checks and this is very important and you are right to focus on it. a those checks are continued using all of law-enforcement, intelligence, security agencies to do that. so that we can make sure we are not letting anyone into the country who could pose a threat or arrest. it is exactly lap balance that is so important -- that balance
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that is so important. we ought to bring afghans into the united states if they are at risk. we have an obligation to our citizens' security. as i said earlier, whatever conversations that are being made and conversation -- newspapers is propaganda. there is nothing china would like more to remain bogged down for another 10 to 20 years in afghanistan. that would have been against our strategic interest and in china's interest. thank you. rep. meeks: gentlemen's time has expired. i now recognize the representative from you -- these are just charge a -- new jersey. >> thank you for being with us for the third time and i want also to say thank you for the work the state department has done in getting people including of one family that were united
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in this country. my hat goes off to people who work so hard. the taliban seems to be having a complete hold in the country. i understand there are other groups in afghanistan. how fragile or how firm is the taliban's hold on this country adn do you see that breaking apart? sec. blinken: that's an
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important question and it is hard to predict with certainty. the country is in so many ways as you pointed out fractured among different groups and different ethnic groups. north, south, east, and west. different actors that maybe supporting one group or another and for the taliban to fully consolidate, control, that remains an open question. it is also why ironically it would be profoundly and it's about -- taliban interest to put forth an inclusive and representative government because to the extent it does not, to the extent that everyone other than the taliban is left out, that is only likely, whether tomorrow or next year or thereafter, to cause those left out tried to assert one way or another. their rights and needs. all of that, i think, is an open question at this point. one last thing i mentioned the
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country itself is in desperate straits. the u.n. estimates half the population is in need of humanitarian assistance. we had severe now -- malnutrition, health problems, covid-19, droughts, etc. there, too, the taliban has a big problem on its hands and of course it is generating very little revenue. in order to deal with that, all of which i might add is the international community -- gives the international community leverage going forward. >> i also read where they are running out of food and annexed few months? sec. blinken: that is correct. we have seen a terrible drought, growing nutrition problems. it is one of the reasons that we think it is so important to make sure that regardless of anything else, we and other countries find ways to continue
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humanitarian assistance to the people of afghanistan. he committed additional funds to do that. there was a conference called by the united nations that is ongoing and we can and will do that consistent with the sanctions in our laws by directing assistance through ngos and united nations agencies, not through the government. we need to do everything we can to make sure the people of afghanistan do not suffer anymore dan is already the case. >> i would like to see if we could help afghanistan with food, aid, but we extract certain commitments from them before we just give them food. i want to commend the country of columbia. they have saved thousands of afghanistan's inner vetting them. is that accurate? sec. blinken: there are a number
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of countries around the world that have made those commitments that are either serving a street the countries or serving as resettlement countries. taking in afghans as refugees and we deeply appreciate countries that have agreed to do that. >> i have no more questions, chairman. rep. meeks: the chairman yields back. i now recognize representative joe wilson of south to thank out ally of columbia with helping the afghan refugees. in my service on the foreign affairs committee, the global terrorism subcommittee, the nato parliamentary assembly, and the helsinki commission, i have been impressed by american forests -- foreign service diplomats worldwide.
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their dedication to service has inspired me and that is why i'm shocked that your actions superseding military advice reading to the surrender in afghanistan to be a safe haven for murderous terrorists. bryden and harris have opened the southern borders, stopping the ball of -- wall of president -- president donald trump. that allows terrorists to enter american neighborhoods and suicide bombers to murder as many americans as possible. in american history, emily's have never been at a greater risk of attack at home then today as the global war on terrorism is not order -- over. it has it -- has been moved to american high. -- homes. with 12 visits by me across afghanistan to thank the national guard troops, they were commanded by -- i know firsthand they appreciated serving with their afghan brothers.
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i saw the united states agency for international development success in building six schools -- building schools, hospitals, bridges, and roads. my beliefs have been expressed by the new york post editorial board on september 1 and that is, "six lies joe biden told about afghanistan." how can any american believe what biden says after he has lied so blatantly? if there are american citizens left, we will stay until he gets out. he admits americans are stranded in afghanistan. lie. we are making the same commitment he said to afghanistan's who assisted america. an official confessed that the majority of afghans did not make it out of kabul. lie. the united states stands by its commitment that we have made to vulnerable afghans such as women leaders and journalists.
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truth: team biden did not ensure journalist made it to safety. lie: no parallels to vietnam. truth: not even a month later, the helicopter was flying over the american embassy. lie: biden vowed to continue -- continue to provide support to the afghan army. truth: the afghan military could not operate. lie: july 8, biden added that the likelihood is going to be that taliban are overrunning everything highly unlikely. truth: biden new the taliban were overtaking the afghan government and asked afghani to lie about it whether it is true or not. the advance military equipment led to the terrorists as
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comparable to all of the military equipment we provided to israel since 1948. the countries have suffered most from islamic extremist terrorist attacks. andrea -- india, israel, and america are in danger. we must never forget the may 8 bombing in kabul where islamic extremist terraces slaughtered over 80 innocent young girls. you should have change course then because of the gruesome, revealing fact. the murders of that attack will have a safe haven to attack american families at home. your bizarre abandoning of bagram airfield led directly to 13 marines murdered in kabul. you should resign. i yelled back. rep. meeks: mr. secretary, we only had 43 seconds left of five minutes, so your response -- i know you will not be able to
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answer many of the questions that was put forward by representative wilson, but if you choose, you have 43 seconds of which to respond for whichever questions were asked to you. sec. blinken: thank you, mr. chairman. let me simply thank the member for his support for the men and women of the state department. i appreciated that -- part of the statement. thank you. rep. meeks: i now recognize representative gerry connolly of virginia with the president of the nato parliamentarian assembly for five minutes. rep. connolly: mr. chairman, thank you. i guess i would say to my friend from south carolina if i were the member of congress who
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committed one of those grievous acts in the state of the union address on the president of the united states, mr. obama, was our guest to shout out you lie, i might take more care about enumerating another -- other alleged lies in the hearing with the secretary of state. mr. secretary, what we are listening to on the other side of the aisle is sort of a salad mix of selective facts and a lot of amnesia in the salad dressing. the history of instability in afghanistan did not begin on august 14 of this year, did it? >> it did not. rep. connolly: am i correct that you could trace direct routes to 1978 when there was a communist coup and the president of
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afghanistan was assassinated in the presidential palace clear -- palace. is that correct? sec. blinken: it is. rep. connolly: one year later, the soviet union decided to invade afghanistan. is that correct? sec. blinken: it is. rep. connolly: 10 years later, the soviets left afghanistan because they had mounting and unsustainable military casualties and felt they were engaged in a process that could not be one. is that correct? sec. blinken: it is. rep. connolly: meanwhile, because the united states decided once that happened it would disengage primarily from afghanistan, groups like the taliban it 12 years in which to create political power. is that correct? sec. blinken: it is. rep. connolly: in 2000 one, we reentered afghanistan in response to the tragedy we just remembered, twenty-year
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remembrance this week, and we rolled up the taliban by making alliances with various militia groups in the north and moved south until day lost control of the country in that year in 2001. is that correct? sec. blinken: it is. rep. connolly: the purpose of our involvement was to defeat al qaeda because the taliban were harboring this verily and terrorist group that had attacked america. is that correct? sec. blinken: that is correct. rep. connolly: wouldn't be fair to say we achieve that objective? sec. blinken: it would. rep. connolly: would it be fair to say the leader of that group who masterminded the attacks of 9/11 was fixed -- killed by the united states specially trained military unit? sec. blinken: that is correct. rep. connolly: what happened ultimately on august 14 has lots of history. i know it is convenient to
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pretend that did not happen and i know that we want to give it ourselves the pleasure of attacking a political leader of the other party and so let me engage in that to -- too. i will assert the events of august 14 had the direct antecedent with a bad decision by president trump and secretary pompeo in 2018. to elevate and legitimize the taliban in qatar by bringing the face-to-face negotiations. that tragedy was compounded exponentially by an unbelievable decision to exclude the government of afghanistan. sensibly, we were defending them. excluding them from those negotiations. is that an accurate statement? sec. blinken: that is what we inherited. rep. connolly: the afghan government was in fact excluded from the negotiating table by
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the trump administration. is sec. blinken: that not correct? sec. blinken:sec. blinken: that is essentially caressed -- co c rect. rep. connolly: were there any known terrorists or declared terrorists among those 5000 people released with the >> almost certainly, yes. >> are concerned about terrorists is selective and limited to prison ship. i yield back. -- prison ship -- partisanship. >> i recognize the ranking member of the asia correlation for five minutes -- before asian -- prolieration. >> they were executing the
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evacuation according to the plan. was part of the plan to rely on the taliban to ensure the safety of americans flamed the country? that is what happened. -- fleeing. >> through the spring and summer , the president said look at every contingency for dealing with our drawdown. >> we relied upon the taliban to be our security? we had to get our military personnel and over 150 afghan civilians killed by relying upon them. they did not provide good security. we should not have relied on them. >> the afghan security forces and government collapsed in 11 days. we executed the plans we had in place to drawdown our embassy, move it to the inner -- airport. they got evacuation flights out
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in 72 hours. >> we relied upon at the airports. president biden has laid the blame on the evacuation debacle on afghanistan and others rather than on himself where it belongs. he blamed president trump, as we have discussed to some degree, basically claiming that he was following that policy. he has not hesitated to disregard every other major trump policy like the southern border, the keystone pipeline, paris climate record, iran deal, mexico city policy and on and on. this is the one policy he had to follow. do you understand why this is hard to fathom for a lot of people? >> i think that is perhaps hard to fathom more people just don't understand is that the agreement reached by the previous
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administration required us to leave by may 1. in return, they stop attacking our forces and partners. it did not commence an onslaught of the afghanistan city. had we not followed on these commitments, those attacks would have resumed. we would have re-up to war in afghanistan for another 5-20 years. i recognize that a lot of people don't understand that. don't know the agreement reached in the choice that the president faced for me first. >> when he was not blaming trump, he -- may 1. where we had suffered not suffered a single death in a year and a half and that is a wonderful thing, the afghan military forces had lost about 3000 of their military personnel during that time. wasn't it unfair to those 3000 afghans who lost their lives
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fighting in that time? >> congressman, many afghan soldiers fought with incredible bravely -- bravery and gave their lives. you are right. as an institution, after 20 years of investment by the u.s. and international community, hundreds of billions of dollars, equipment, support, is training and it it collapsed in 11 days. >> we went into afghanistan in the first place because the taliban had harbored al qaeda and they attacked us on september 11. 20 years later, we have them back in charge of their and they have billions and billions of dollars worth of our equipment and our weaponry and once again, we are a haven for terrorists. how is this not a debacle of monumental proportions? >> as we were discussing
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earlier, al qaeda, the group that attacked us on 9/11 long ago was vastly degraded to the point where it is currently not capable in the assessment of our agencies of conducting an attack against us or others. the taliban should member as well, what happened the last time as it did, harbored al qaeda and engaged in an attack against us. it knows the consequences of continuing to do that. it has made commitments to not allow that to happen. we are not relying on those commitments as we discussed earlier. we are being in place what we do in countries around the world we don't have roots on the ground which is an over the horizon capacity of the reemergence of
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any threat from al qaeda and the means to do something about it. >> the time has expired. i now recognize recognize ted deutch of florida who is chair of the committee on global counterterrorism. >> i appreciate you being here today. we do need to look back. and also look forward. the reality is we have a taliban government. terrorist groups surging, potential threats to u.s. interests remain. it is true that we are not the world eastman that we know that a strength -- isis-k and al qaeda threaten americans in the homeland, abroad and the region. middle east and north africa were changed in the aftermath of 9/11. with the rise of these affiliates. we cannot trust the taliban to keep them at bay.
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you travel to doha to have talks as an allies in our continued counterterrorism world. what do you assess to be the operational capacity there and how is the administration going to hold them to their commitment to make sure that al qaeda and other terrorist groups are unable to unable to use that soil to plan attacks and -- on us and our allies? >> as per discussing earlier, as you know, the terrorists have missed asset size significantly from -- mestastasized significantly from 9/11 from many other countries in that area and in africa as well. we have to make sure we are focused everywhere.
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that is a possibility and resourced appropriately and we are. in a number of those places, we do not have boots on the ground but we find ways to deal with that threat including with over the horizon capability in the case of afghanistan, the current assessment of the intelligence community was that long ago, al qaeda was so significantly degraded that it is no longer in a position to conduct externally directed attacks. we will remain hypervigilant about any reemergence of that threat. we will work closely with the present other countries to be in a position to do that. the chairman referenced earlier that we hope and expect in the near future to do some ossified briefings on this because there are a number of things that would not be appropriate to discuss in this setting. >> we shape your commitment to ensuring those classified
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briefings occur. the war in afghanistan was the first mission in the history of nato arising out of the vindication of article five. 50 members sent troops. 36 had troops there at the time of the drawdown. they invested political capital and funds and certainly troops. often, they gave their lives as well. the criticism we have heard from some of our allies was that there was not adequate consultation and coordination with our nato allies. we have heard them say this week that there was others. they doubted. we have administration that wanted to go it alone. a president who failed to appreciate and often criticize the importance of nato allies
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while embracing put. if you could also mention and speak to at a time when democratic values are at -- being threatened and at risk in some new places around the world. if you can speak to the parts of the transatlantic relationship and assure that those allies of ours who have raised concerns about how we went about pulling out of afghanistan and failing to coordinate with them as we did? >> you are so right to point to our allies and partners who stood with us on 9/11 and all the days and times thereafter. you're right about how an attack on one it is attack on all in our defense for the first time, something i will never forget and i suspect no one on this videoconference today will ever forget.
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we determined that when it came to afghanistan, we went in together and we would leave together. i engaged and we engaged in intense consultations powered nato nurse before the president made his decision. going to brussels for a special session of the north atlantic councils and listening intently to every single partner, relaying what we heard directly to the president, factoring it into our thinking and planning. i spent more time in brussels in person or virtually in any other place since i got this job. working closely with these allies and partners. on the day that his decision was announced, i was back in brussels with the secretary of defense. nato immediately and unanimously door's that -- endorsed that can -- decision. in our conversations, people brought various perspectives to
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the table. each recognized that given the deadline that existed, our forces had to depart by may 1 negotiated by the previous administration that the alternative, should we choose to stay was for the taliban to resume attacks not just on us, but on our partners and allies. in as well as to engage in his countrywide offensive. to re-up the war. and endorse the proposition we would leave together and that is exactly what we worked on doing. i know from talking to many allies and partners, the terminus solidarity we saw at the kabul airport, working to help each other so we could get out our fellow nationals, afghans above helped each of us and our embassy personnel. i heard a lot of gratitude from
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allies and partners about the work our folks did in making sure that we could live or on that commitment to them. from my perspective at least, there was tremendous consultation with allies and partners throughout this process. going forward, right now, we are deeply engaged with them at nato and other organizations on working together on the way forward to collectively fold the taliban to the -- hold the taliban to its commitments. >> i now recognize scott teri of pennsylvania for five minutes. >> assuming it is not classified, can you tell us where you are today? >> i am at the state department >> -- department. >> couldn't be bothered to come down here. great. >> i was told that the house is
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not in session. >> we are here. at any point, that they block american citizens from leaving afghanistan. >> none? your testimony is that they did not block any american citizens living off, stan. >> -- f -- leaving afghanistan. >> you do block anybody? >> how many afghans not meeting the qualifications of siv have been brought to the u.s.? prior -- how many came here that have not met the qualifications for special immigrant visa? >> we are in the process -- >> >> how many. ? >> we will have brought a total
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of approximately 60,000 by the end of the month. >> that have not met the process standards? >> some of them will be through that but all of them, regardless , we'll go through's rigorous security checks. >> it was nice before we brought them here. mr. secretary, our refugees had to be vaccinated before coming here? >> they are vaccinated in the u.s. before they are resettled into the u.s. >> none of them are allowed to leave these resettlement communities that are allowed to leave at any time they want. none of them are leaving unless they are vaccinated. is that your testimony? >> they are and vaccinated. >> before they leave? >> that is my understanding. >> is if the policy of the u.s.
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to take hard earned tax dollars and pay terrorist organizations? >> it is not. >> your testimony earlier was that we are sending taxpayer dollars to afghanistan right now for humanitarian relief. who are we sending that to you? >> ngo's and agencies using that assistance, not to the government. >> not to the taliban government. how are you accounting for that? how are you making sure that the taliban government is not receiving that? >> as we do around the world in places of conflict where we provide assistance, working through the u.n., ngo's, long tested methods to make sure -- >> is your understanding that over the past 20 years, the u.s. taxpayers have paid pakistan, who use that money to support the taliban, isis-k and other
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groups for the past 20 years, is that not true? >> there is a long history we should look at together about the involvement of pakistan. >> i think we should no longer pay pakistan and we should pay india. i just have a couple more questions for you. how long was your recent interview with the fbi and was it a deposition? >> i don't know. >> are you saying you have not had a recent meeting with the fbi since becoming secretary of state? >> i am not sure what you are referring to. i'm happy to take that up with you off-line. >> the state department turn over documents to the fbi related to hunter biden or the blue states strategies corporation? >> you will have to -- >> you have no knowledge of this? are you saying you have not had an interview with the fbi?
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>> it is not appropriate for me to comment on any legal pleadings with the department. >> i'm not asking you to comment on that. have you been interviewed by the fbi since becoming the secretary of state? >> i will not comment one way or another on any legal proceedings or not. that may or may not have happened. >> let me remind you that the topic is afghanistan. that is what we are here for. >> the secretary refuses to answer questions about afghanistan so figured we talk about something he should be familiar with heavy such a alter your testimony from last year's investigation regarding this topic? >> gentlemen's time has expired. let meet for the record may clear: this is a hybrid hearing. just as members had an option to come or to be other places. the secretary, also, is a hybrid
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hearing because we are not in session. >> mr. chairman. point of inquiry if i could. just for my edification, was it expressed to the secretary that he had a choice of either one or was he invited to come here or was he alerted to remain there? i only ask because i think we all agree that if he could have been here in person, it would have been better. if it was an option or for whatever reason, i want to make sure it is clear that the secretary has done no wrong even though many of us would prefer him to be here. >> it was an option. i made it as one as i have done with every member. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> are recognize the representative from california it was a chairman on africa's mobile health and human rights for five minutes. >> thank you, very much.
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thank you secretary for attending this hearing and for your patience with running up with the theatrics of my colleagues on the others of the aisle. i want to thank you again for spending the time and a green -- agreeing to take our questions. the department -- departure has given unprecedented insight into our foreign policy. in addition to displaying the dedication and professionalism of our military and our partners, it has shown how a 20 year effort and billions of dollars have really raise questions about what the return of investment is. that we desired in terms of sustaining peace and stability in afghanistan. the assumption of power by the taliban as effects on the most vulnerable segments of the population, especially women and children.
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we are concerned that it will reverse any gains realized in the last two decades. my first question, yes or no, the agreement from the last administration include protection for girls and women? sen. blinken: not to my knowledge. >> many people are concerned about their status in afghanistan under the taliban. the restrictions on education, movement, political under their regime paints a grim picture. i would like to know how they will work with partners to support women's rights and the rights of ethnic and would just minorities? sen. blinken: one of the truly great achievements over the progress made by women and girls in afghanistan. one of the things we should be proud of is the support, leading
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support we gave to that when it comes to access to education, health care, the workforce, entrepreneurship, those gains were significant. the leading contributor. i was in kabul in april. i sat with a number of women who had benefited from our assistance, including women who had become leaders in their parliament, media, ngo's, etc. i heard their profound concerns of the future. when i was at delhi and ram stein, talking to people evacuated from there, i woke to woman and girls who voice their concerns about the futures as well as people who were still in afghanistan. we have an ongoing commitment to use every tool at our disposal,
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assistance to do whatever we can to support women, girls, minorities in afghanistan. the assistance we announced today will go in that direction. in regards to women and girls in particular, given the fragility of the situation. i will name a senior official here to focus entirely on the ongoing effort from the united states government and in coordination with other countries to support them. >> will the administration expand the license to offer these programs in afghanistan? how will that take place and which partners ucs continuing to work with? sen. blinken: in short, that is what we are looking at. we have issued a license to make sure the assistance can go forward. we are looking to see if that can be expanded, consistent with
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our sanctions and national security to allow appropriate assistance to get it to those who need it. >> who approves that license? sec. blinken: the treasury department is responsible for the licenses. we do not do this in coordination and consultation with others in the government and as well, the white house. >> which partners on the ground are we working with? sec. blinken: we can get you the list. we have a number of ngos that remain active in afghanistan. there are, i believe a couple of u.s. ngos active international. and you and agencies. i met with the head of the u.n. humanitarian program if you days ago. we spent a lot of time talking about how this can continue to go forward and what were the
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mechanisms put in place to make sure that it was getting to the right people and being used effectively. >> her time has expired. i recognize the representative from california for five minutes. sec. blinken: before we get into the tougher part of this, i want to thank you for the effort that has done on by the men and women by both the state department and the department of defense. a lot of independent actions that occurred to help get people out in the aftermath of the withdrawal. i would not be doing my job if i did not ask some tough questions. one of them is up here on this board. it is straightforward. a response i received from the state department says to my staff when we asked about continued work to get people out. make contingency plans to leave when it is safe to do so. that do not rely on u.s.
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government assistance. how do we square the fact that in an official response i waited weeks work, we do not have any assurance for assistance but that when people get out, typically, they are lauded by the state department as success stories? that includes an 80-year-old couple that was announced to of gotten out when in fact, we saw no real assistance by the state department, had to find out it was a nongovernment flight and get these two american citizens onto them, onto that flight? we still have a number of others. in a nutshell, how do i explain, do not rely on the u.s.? do we or do we not rely on the you -- u.s. or blue passport holder american citizens who want to get out. sec. blinken: the answer is yes, absolutely. i cannot see it from here.
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with whom was that made? >> we will give it to your staff without it getting fully disclosed. sec. blinken: i welcome following up with your team and staff to make sure that we are following up on that particular request. i got here because i really want to express deep appreciation to congress. this i have here a very lengthy document of all of the inquiries we received. on people have come to you seeking assistance. all of which has been added to our database and efforts. if somebody is not getting the response, please come back to us and let me know and i'll be happy to help with few -- work with you on that. >> if i could go through a few dates at a few statements, on july 8, the president was asked if he listened to the
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intelligence assessment that the afghan government was likely to collapse, he answered that is not true. they are not -- they did not reach that conclusion. in other words, they had not reach that conclusion. i believe that we will find that as of july 8, he misspoke. he also said that the likelihood that there is going to be the taliban overrunning everything and only the whole thing -- country was unlikely. the taliban was reported to have 85% of the country. on august 12th, the wall street journal reported that on july 13, you received in urgent dissent memo from tony three u.s. wart members morning that the advances of the taliban and the -- if you knew in fact, a
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major portion of people in the embassy leave that they were going to quickly overrun. on august 18, the president said that the intelligence means do not say back in june or july that in fact, this was going to collapse as it did. the embassy told you in july that it would. the question really is: how do we regain confidence in the state department and its spokespeople, yourself included, and the president if we cannot square what we received both publicly and privately that indicate some of those statements i just read, including ones by the president are not supported by the facts? sec. blinken: thank you. as you know from tracking this as well, throughout the year,
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assessments were made of the resiliency of the afghan government, security forces and the possibility of the pallet -- taliban taking over the country. this is typically done in a series of different scenarios. in the worst-case scenario throughout the spring, it is fair to say that the assessment was that they would hold onto the country well into next year, 2022. at some point in july, there was an assessment that it was more likely than not that that timeframe was down to the end of the year course as things fully unraveled, that changed. to my knowledge, nobody predicted the unraveling before our forces and embassy left afghanistan on that date.
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the general of the joint chiefs said nothing that i or anyone else saw indicated a collapse of the government and security forces in 11 days. the director of now -- national intelligence said the days leading up that intelligence agencies do not say it was imminent. this unfolded more quickly than we into separate it. -- anticipated. there are many more i can share with you. in regards to the dissent channel. that is something i am out of. it is a can -- tradition we have. i read every such table, i respond to it and factored it into my thinking and actions. that tabled an update the collapse of the government before our departure. it was focused and rightly focused on the work we were doing to get afghans at risk out of the country. and pressing to speed up that effort. as it happens, a number of things suggested in that
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important table were things that we were in the process of doing. the next day, it came in on the 13th of july. on the 14th, we launched our operation allies refuge which had been in training for some time as well as the task force to help those in the siv program to get them out and relocate them which was not a part of the program. that was important thing i'm grateful for and grateful that we have a process at the state department where people can clearly express their views and differences on policy, or recommendations on policy. that is usually important. >> i recognize the rep then there from massachusetts and chair of the subcommittee on europe, energy, and cyber for five minutes. >> thank you for your service and as head of the department of state for our country. i want to thank all of your people for the work that you have done.
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basically, side-by-side with our military, risking their lives and helping people evacuate. it is the most dangerous situation. my sincere appreciation to everyone who was a part of that. i'm also glad that you reinforce, as my conversations have, a renewed commitment and strength that is there with our transatlantic allies going forward. on our mission to not just be in the region but worldwide through the counterterrorism efforts. i must say this though, this is a time of reassessment. as we go forward, with lessons learned and embarking on a new mission, we try to do the best in that area. there is one relationship that has always troubled me a great deal. certainly, over the last couple decades that is our relationship with pakistan.
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pakistan played in active and by so many accounts, and negative role in afghan affairs for decades. from the very beginning, its inception, they helped branding the name taliban. by 2005, when they were reconstituting in east and south afghanistan and importantly, across the border in pakistan, and as pakistan and their inter-services and intelligence agencies had such strong ties with the network responsible for so many things, including the death of some of our soldiers and even recently, when the taliban took over in the last month, their prime minister claimed that they had broken the
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shackles of slavery. we used to always adhered diplomatically that we have a complement dustup -- complicated relationship with pakistan. i would say that it is often duplicitous. as we go forward in the region, dealing with our counterterrorism mission. how do we reassess that relationship? how will we learn from their actions and when we go forward, what do we do? what are some of the big issues we should have, stakes in the ground we should have in dealing with pakistan anyway we are -- have acted over the decades? sec. blinken: you are right to comment on the role they played in the last 20 years and before it. it is one that is hedging its
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bets constantly. it is one that involves harboring. members of the taliban including the haqqani's. it is one involved a different points. cooperation with us on counterterrorism and so there are a number of things that have come into play. it has a multiplicity of interests, something in clear conflict with ours when it comes to afghanistan. it is focused as well on india and the role that india is playing in afghanistan and it looks through it and that prism as well. all of these things have influenced what it has done on many occasions, detrimental in support of those interests. going forward, what we are looking at, what we have to look at is insistence that every
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country to include pakistan and make good on the expectations that the international community has. on what is required of a tele-band led government if it is to receive any legitimacy of any kind or any support going forward to include safety and travel, making its commitment to not allow afghanistan to be a haven for terrorism and upholding the basic rights of the afghan people, including women, girls, and minorities. allowing humanitarian assistance. allowing for a more representative government. pakistan needs to line up with the broad majority of the international community. in working with -- towards those ends and upholding those expectations. >> the gentleman's time has expired.
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>> thank you for your work. we will continue to work. >> the gentlemen's time has expired. i recognize the representative from illinois for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman and for being here. it is very important. throughout this debate, i think it is important to remind people that the trump administration failed in the set up the biden administration felt in the execution of this. i want to make it clear that mr. secretary, we support members of the state department and their heroic action in the evacuation. the broader point is that they never should have been put in a place where they had to act heroically. we found ourselves, many times, we talk about bagram and leaving that, i think it is important to include that. there were moments where they could've couple properly.
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they were moving in as early as they did. we put them in a position where they had to act heroically. we should not ask that of our state department employees even though we appreciate that they did. it is important to point out that there is a lot of blame on the afghan military. i as a military man myself, wish that they would've help. keep in mind, very to that, there were assessment saying it was only a matter of time before the whole place collapsed. we had built a military and our own image that relied on airpower. relying on logistics and then we pulled our logistics and air power support from the afghan military. as they received letters to mattel been saying we will kill your family because the u.s. is vacating, as much as i would love for this just taken a stand heroically, i don't even know many of our allies military who
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could have stood in those conditions on that kind of an onslaught. let me ask you, you talk a little bit of the taliban legitimacy and we will see how they act. alaska a question. and not sure what changed. at the beginning of this, we talked about a worldwide coalition that did not recognize tele-band. and now, this is on the table. is the taliban the legitimate government of afghanistan get out if not, would you consider what they have done to be a coup d'etat? sec. blinken: let me start by thanking you for your strong words and support of the men and women of the state department. i appreciate them. i appreciate you saying them. with the taliban and your question, it is de facto government of afghanistan. those are just the facts. >> i don't mean to interrupt.
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is there any discussion of an afghan government in exile vice president even if the president left? this to mean, appears to be in armed military coup against a legitimate right to govern afghanistan? sec. blinken: i will certainly look to say -- see what the lawyers say. where i sit, this is one side of an civil war getting the upper hand. >> let me ask a couple questions about that. if you look at new key players in the regime, with the current deputy prime minister who was there during a rack. current foreign minister who is her counterpart who is the minister of culture information during the 9/11 attacks. your designated terrorists in key positions that are responsible. we look at that list and those
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who defend al qaeda but committed crimes against vulnerable populations. you can look at that and say this is the same regime that failed to hand over osama bin laden 20 years ago. have these individuals committed to denouncing al qaeda, dismissing the haqqani network and execute in the attacks against them should they organize another terrorist attack? sec. blinken: in the agreement secured by the previous administration, the taliban, now represented by these individuals may commence for afghanistan to not be used as a launching ground for externally directed terrorism, whether by al qaeda or anybody else. the big question now is whether they will make good on that commitment. we cannot rely on them to do that, even if we insist that they do. >> thank you, sorry to cut you off but number one, we would
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absolutely need to execute any attack against al qaeda that we can. secondarily, because i'm running out of time, let me stress the importance of the state department working hand-in-hand in a public and private weight with these ngos made up of former veterans that are doing stuff that unfortunately, the government commit longer do good let me encourage you to give you top cover and provide the assets necessary to get these people out. and q, mr. chairman. i yield back. -- and. sec. blinken: they're doing a remarkable work. i met with about 75 veterans organizations and groups virtually about a week ago. i deeply appreciate that many veterans on this community and what other organizations are doing and work closely more together on that. thank you. >> i recognize the representative from rhode island for five minutes.
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sec. blinken: you explained that you inherited a agreement with a deadline but no plan. a backlog of 17,000 siv's and to evacuate both americans and afghani's -- afghani people. he kept his word. i agree it was the right thing to do. all today's hearing is focused on the withdrawal, i think it would be a mistake to this site on the long arc of the last 20 years. i hope congress will have an opportunity for its own self reflection. the question about the evacuation, you are cut off when trying to explain the vetting process. could you finish that answer about what the state department did buy vetting people getting evacuated from afghanistan? sec. blinken: i heard the
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chairman say at the outset that this committee among other things will be focused on the 20 year history of our engagement in afghanistan. with regard to the venting -- vetting and our -- vetting. stick a program that was in a dead style and put it into -- stall. >> could you say what you did because i have two more things i want to ask. sec. blinken: simply put, when they come out of afghanistan, they go to transit countries. we negotiated countries to transit them and we do security
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screenings there. we sent customs and border patrol agents to those countries. give law enforcement, security agencies all their, doing vetting. biometrics, bio information. and then they come here. before they are settled anywhere , they are at our military bases. any vetting continues there. under authorities that have asked congress for, the vetting and background authorities will continue so if anything comes up, we can continue. >> as you know, the lgbtqia community is extremely runnable to punitive actions. it is important that we take steps to ensure that those subjected to violence or worse because of their sexual orientation and gender are safe. counsel of equality and other support groups released a 10 point plan to protect those
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refugees. have you seen these plans and is the administration ready to implement it? is it consistent with the presidential memorandum of early 2021 that speaks of the responsibility to help afghan refugees that make it to other places as outlined? sec. blinken: thank you for putting the spotlight on their committee in afghanistan and the threat they find themselves under. this is something we are focused on. i have not personally seen the report. i want to make sure that my team has. i thank you for sending it to us. >> i look forward to following up on that. the brown university cost of war project has compiled a sobering list of figures as it relates to post 9/11 conflict including afghanistan. trillions of dollars spent. 900,000 lives lost. over 2000 americans and 38
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million people displaced around the world. the war in afghanistan one on for 20 years, leading to extraordinary costs in terms of dollars spent, lives lost and political capital. taking stock of this, what you think are the most important lessons after 20 years in afghanistan and 20 years of post 9/11 conflict we should learn? sec. blinken: i think will have to come together to do just that. to look at the lessons and then reflect those lessons and what we do together going forward. to my mind at least, one of the lessons is while we were effective in dealing with terrorist threats to our country and eliminating them which we did very successfully, the idea of using military force to remake a society is something that is beyond our means and capacity. we need to think really hard about whether we want to engage in these enterprises going
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forward your -- forward. i believe that study concluded that on the basis of $2 trillion being spent on afghanistan in the last 20 years when you include cost, that averages out to $3 million a day for 20 years. i know people will say that was not the case a couple years ago. had we not ended the war and brought our people home, we would have reacted. with the renewed attacks against the taliban, and then those costs would have gone right up again and we have to ask ourselves hard questions about whether that is the right way to spend our money. >> i recognize the representative from new york for five minutes. sec. blinken: mr. secretary, one of my colleagues claimed earlier that the last administrations agreement with the taliban was unconditional. that was false. in fact, you started to outline
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some of those conditions and you are stopped. to recap, the last administrations agreement with the taliban was conditions base, correct? sec. blinken: the conditions you refer to included a commitment to not allow afghanistan to harbor outwardly directed terrorists. let me be clear. >> the questions is was it a conditions based agreement? sec. blinken: they were so loose, with particular to these -- >> be aware that the president said in the transcripts of his george stephanopoulos interview that he would have withdrawn from afghanistan regardless of that prior agreement? sec. blinken: yes, that is right. not necessarily in the time, place, and minute which we did which was close -- put on us.
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>> the president said the likelihood that there would be the taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely. that is a very different prediction then what the intelligence community was saying. where did the president get the highly unlikely estimate from? sec. blinken: as the intelligence community has said. in concluding before the taliban takeover, nobody was take -- predicting the rapidly -- rapid collapse. throughout the year, the intelligence community look at a range of scenarios, worst-case about the durability [indiscernible] highly unlikely from, again, based on what the intelligence community was saying and the military. they said nobody anticipated that the government or security forces would collapse in 11
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days. >> it would be good if you're giving answers consistent which ones we were getting behind a briefing that we had with you and others. what is a number of americans in afghanistan as of the last update you received? sec. blinken: going back to this weekend, we had about 100 american citizens in contact with us who were seeking to leave afghanistan. those are the ones we are working with. >> do you have an exact number. sec. blinken: i cannot give you an exact number. it is a snapshot at any given moment. as of the last update, it was 100. >> hop how many green cardholders? -- how. sec. blinken: that is something we don't keep track of. if they hold a green card, we tell them to let us know. we estimate there are several
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thousand in afghanistan. >> how many siv applicants? sec. blinken: those are numbers we are working on right now as people come out, some in the u.s. already, some others at these transit points. the overwhelming majority of afghans who have come out are afghans at risk in one way or another. some will be siv applicants. others will be eligible for refugee visas. others will be at risk in some fashion. we are putting those numbers together and we should have that in the next couple of weeks. >> this was fatally flawed, poorly executed, we had a loss of service members. we should not have been operating on a arbitrary deadline. what we should have done is tell the taliban that we will leave afghanistan when we are done ringing every last american home. not operating off of in arbitrary date. we should not have been relying on them to provide security at the airport. we should not have been allowing
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billions of dollars of u.s. weapons to get turned over to afghanistan. the administration should not have been lying to the american public. the white house press secretary is talking to the press and saying they are not stranded even though we know that they are. i am concerned that this administration, with the competency is exposing a vulnerability that other countries like north korea testing long-range missiles, iran with uranium enrichment. what a bout if china, russia, hamas, and the taliban continued to press forward because we have an administration that cannot confront an adversary, understanding they do not respect weakness. the only respect strength. it is greatly unfortunate, the consequences, i believe that you should resign. that should be leadership. i yield back. sec. blinken: to the contrary, i believe there is nothing our strategic veterans like china
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and russia or even our adversaries like iran, north korea, would like more than four president bite into re-up the war in afghanistan for many years to be bogged down in that conflict. nothing they would have liked more. we are now able based on this decision to end the war after 20 years, to ensure that a third generation of americans not have to fight and die there. while bringing one of 25,000 people out. we are now in a much better position to confront the challenges and threats we face in 2021. >>'s time is expired. i recognize the representative from california. the chair of the subcommittee on asia, pacific, central asia and nonproliferation for five minutes. sec. blinken: once again, i want to reiterate our thanks as a committee for appearing before us and answering every question and giving them a chance.
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that is not something your predecessor did. i agree with present -- the president's decision to withdraw. i think most of the american public agrees with that. i sat in many hearings and sat in many classified briefings as we look at various scenarios of what that looks like it what the capabilities of the government were and unfortunately, the worst-case case scenario played out there at the images we saw coming out were painful. i want to thank the men and women in the military and state department, i think the logistics of the airlift and getting the numbers american citizens, visa holders, vulnerable afghans out in a short amount of time was remarkable.
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i think we all mourn the loss of lives of civilians but also the 13 men and women who served our country. there will be time, where did our estimates go wrong? at this moment in time, knowing that we still had american citizens there, knowing we had vulnerable opt outs, i want our focus to be getting those folks, the safety holders and i won't ask you to guarantee a commitment to get everyone out. what i will ask is working with my office in the various congressional offices that we will use every resource we can in a difficult situation in a challenging situation on the ground to do the best job possible. to get every american citizen,
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visa holder and vona blackened out to safety. can i get that promise? -- vulnerable afghan. sec. blinken: yes, i will do that. >> thank you. your men and women and elsewhere, implying circumstances have been readily available. we have submitted over 10,000 names, just given the size of our population and community secondly, we have not talked about this, as i mentioned earlier, we have the largest afghan refugee population in the country and we are proud of that. we welcome these men and women. we got great resettlement agencies working with folks but we also have real challenges because of the folks arriving after being vetted here. many of these folks are coming
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out of humanitarian crises that do not have the resources available. i know we will be working on something to help provide the resources to help get medical resources, visa resources, and wrap up your staffing -- staffing at the state department. i hope that the democrats on this committee and everyone in the house and senate overwhelmingly support the elemental requests that will be coming. hopefully, within the next few weeks to provide those resources. when i talk to our veterans community, many that are serving in afghanistan are wondering about that service. the one thing we can do to make them whole is to welcome these folks that work side-by-side, and do everything we can to get
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those folks to safety. those coming and help them reassemble their lives. mr. secretary, i would imagine that is coming. we have heard some of the things that the president asked for. are there specifics from your vantage point, with the men and women who have worked for you, that you see on the horizon? sec. blinken: let me say quickly. we will look for support from all of you on this and particularly, if you things. for afghans who are paroled into the united states to receive the same benefits that refugees do so they have ongoing support. the ability to work and get benefits they would not otherwise get. would like for them to apply for a green card after one year of being in the u.s.. there will be funds requested to
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support the efforts we have already made at the different transit points will re-encourage significant expenses as well as reap -- relocating people, process them and etc. that is coming. we need to get this done quickly in the cr. we just have a few weeks to do it. i welcome your support and everyone support for that. thank you. >> i recognize the representative from missouri for five minutes. sec. blinken: i represent the people of missouri's second congressional district. today, i am also here on behalf of the family of lance corporal jared schmidt of our region. let me tell you about this heroic and selfish -- selfless lung man. he was 20 years old. when he lost his life on a terrorist attack at the airport in kabul. just days before joe biden
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arbitrary deadline of august 31. he was passionate about his military service. he was totally committed in making a difference as a u.s. marine and got his parents permission to enlist at 17 years old. i do not believe that this hearing will allow us to truly understand why he and his fellow military servicemen and women were killed on august 26. his family, their family and all americans deserve answers. i am outraged to hear this administration claim it's retreat from afghanistan, the surrender was a success. how could anyone-- how could an3
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precious young men and women losing their lives was a success ? i'm not asking for my own peace of mind. i'm asking on behalf of the families. they are burying their sons and daughters this week. they deserve accountability, transparency, and answers. the biden administration outsourced the security of our military stationed at the kabul airport to the taliban. it was a total betrayal. you put the lives of our men and women in the hands of a brutal terrorist organization after you claimed that the taliban would never even be in charge of the country. you said we would never leave americans and allies behind.
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lie after lie. president biden wanted out at any costs in the costs, sir, was 13 american lives, 85 billion dollars in equipment, the bagram airbase, the united states embassy, our credibility with the allies and the afghans who stood and fought with us and our national security and safety of our homeland. make no mistake, mr. secretary, the biden administration's egregiously inept withdrawal has left america in the world a much less safe place 20 years after september 11. secretary blinken, will you
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honor these families and give the american people the answers they deserve and give the american people the answers they deserve in the wake of this disaster? you said the taliban made it clear that we had to withdrawal. the taliban made it clear or they would escalate. now we hearing testimony president putin was dictating our counterintelligence. and you tell us nato made us do it. trump made us do it. the taliban made it clear. do you take any responsibility for this disastrous withdrawal, or do you still want to call it a success? >> look, congresswoman, i'm responsible for the decisions i make and responsible for the
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actions of the state department. i'm responsible for looking at any lessons to be taken from those decisions and actions and i'm also responsible for being accountable for those decisions. if you let me finish -- >> [indiscernible] >> the way am accountable is doing exactly what i'm doing today. to you and through you to the american people, hold myself accountable. we made the right decision in ending america's longest war. we made that right decision in not sending a third generation of americans to fight and die and afghanistan. we did the right thing by the citizens working feverishly to get them all out and buy 100 and 25,000 afghans to bring them to safety and now we are working to do the right thing to hold the taliban into the expectations of the international community to make sure that people can continue to travel freely, that the rights of afghans are upheld
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and that they make good on counterterrorism agreements. >> i hope -- [indiscernible] >> the gentlewoman's time has expired. i now recognize the senator castro. >> thank you for your work in the work of the devoted employees at the state department. i want to talk to you for a second about a way that congress can be helpful in your work. the 9/11 commission report held that only 56% of the bush administration's senior national security positions were filled at the beginning of september of 2001, impeding its ability to respond to crises. today, only 26% of the state department senate confirmed positions are filled. this isn't because president biden hasn't presented nominees, it's because a single senator has thrown a tantrum and blocked these nominees from getting about an prevented national security positions from being
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filled. i'm going to ask you a few yes or no questions regarding important staffing at the state department. do we have a senate confirmed assistant secretary of stabilization operations who would inform policy in war zones like afghanistan? >> we do not. >> do we have a senate confirmed assistant secretary of state for south central asian affairs who would cover central in south afghanistan? >> we do not. >> do we have a confirmed secretary of state work east asian affairs who would guide u.s. policy towards china, a country deeply involved in south asia? >> we do not. >> for african affairs? >> we do not. >> european and eurasian affairs? >> we do not. >> international organization affairs, narcotics, law
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enforcement, cultural affairs? >> we do not. >> for each of these positions president biden has nominated a candidate. the candidate has testified in front of the senate foreign relations committee, been vetted and recommended by that committee for a vote, only to be delayed by a hold by senator ted cruz of my home state of texas. this has delayed many other positions as well and is denying you the team that you need to advance our nation's interests abroad and protect our own national security. despite this, the state department rose to the occasion. 100 20,000 people were successfully afghan -- evacuated from afghanistan over a short time in one of the biggest humanitarian operations the united states has ever seen. but the work continues and having senate confirmed people in these positions will be critical as we marshal our
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allies for what comes next in afghanistan. i want to ask you, mr. secretary, as you have done this very hard work and your people are stretched thin, because the senate has not confirmed these nominees, what would you say to senator cruz, single-handedly blocking key appointments and jeopardizing national security? >> i would simply ask the senator and the senate to move forward in confirming our nominees, virtually all of whom went through the senate foreign relations committee and were sent to the floor and that is where they now lie. to your point, we need all these people. we need them to do the business of the united states. to advance the interests of the united states at this critical time. i hope very much that we can work through this very, very quickly and i would hope that the senate can get our nominees confirmed. >> thank you, mr. secretary.
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pakistan, for the record, i want to follow-up on that line of questioning about pakistan. they have harbor taliban leaders over the years. as my colleague noted pakistan is currently a non-nato ally of the united states, giving it and if it's like privileged access to u.s. arms sales. based on their past actions and our conversations today, given the longtime support for the taliban, is it time for the united states to reassess that relationship with pakistan and reassess the status as an -- major non-nato ally? >> thank you.
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for the reasons you cited as well as others, this is one of the things we will be looking at in the days and weeks ahead, the role that pakistan has played over the last 20 years and the role we would want to see it play in the coming years. >> thank you. >> the gentlemen's time has expired. i now recognize the representative from florida for five minutes. >> as the leaked transcript that you referred to says, did president biden work with the coward exiled president of afghanistan to manipulate intelligence about the taliban? >> what he said in private is what he said in public, the issue wasn't whether afghanistan have the capacity to withstand the taliban, whether they have the will in the plan to do so.
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>> it's incorrect. he did not urge -- it's a lie, it's a fault, he did not work to tamp down the intelligence on the taliban? >> absolutely not. >> the transcript is incorrect? >> that's your testimony here today? >> the intelligence that we have discussed at some length about what the assessments were in the taliban and their capacity to take over the country. >> everybody looking for an explanation about what happened and how the administration got it so wrong needs to look at that is the most likely explanation, asking the president to manipulate the intelligence of what was going on and i will tell you the 13 families that deserve most to hear the honest answers on that is these families. marine lance corporal nick hooey . page, his family deserves to know if that's why they are missing their son because intelligence was manipulated.
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lance corporal mccullough, wife expecting their first child. sister said he was going to be the best dad ever. they deserve to know if that's why everything went so wrong. marine sergeant nicole g, 24 -- 23 years old. you can see her there holding a young child. their family deserves to know. marine lance corporal david espinoza. just 20. the family deserves to know if that's why everything went so wrong, because the intelligence was manipulated. humberto sanchez, 20 two. mother said my kid was a hero. that's what the mothers had that's why everything went wrong , because the intelligence got manipulated. jared smit, 20 years old, family deserves to know if that's why everything went so wrong. hunter lopez, 22, son of
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sheriffs, planning to follow in their footsteps. their family deserves to know, because y'all worked to manipulate the intelligence of what was going on on the ground. staff sergeant hoover, his family said i love you, son. check in on us. we will try to make you proud. they deserve to know if that's what happened, if that's how everything went so wrong in afghanistan. rosario pichardo, the family deserves to know if that's why everything works -- went so wrong, you all worked to manipulate the intelligence. marine corporal dylan moreau lowe, 20, family said that he always had a smile on his face and was the kindest percent. they deserve to know, because you all manipulated intelligence. staff sergeant mouse, the ultimate honor he could give was to give back to his country. he would not sorry and would not regret it. that's what his family said.
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they deserve to know if resident biden manipulated intelligence and that's what led to everything going so wrong. just 22, the navy corpsman deserves to know if that's why everything went so wrong. we deserve hearings on what's going on with that leaked transcript and why there are others that remain in afghanistan. the navy event -- veteran who disappeared, we deserve to know what's going on with his release. i do not believe whatsoever what you are saying about the administration not working to manipulate that intelligence. to me that is the most logical, the most logical explanation of how a cell many in the intelligence community got this so wrong about what was going to happen in afghanistan. why it somehow seem logical for president biden to leave the most advanced military weaponry,
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why someone would not speak out against that, if they were getting false intelligence from the top down and in my opinion that his aid and comfort to the enemy and i wonder if you are complicit in this as well and i find it hard to believe that president ayden would do this without you being aware and we deserve better answers with that are hearings and i don't believe a word that you are saying. >> simply put -- >> i don't wish to hear your lies. i'm not listening to you and no one should listen to your lies. >> the gentleman will suspend. the gentleman's time has expired , the gentleman's time has expired, the secretary can answer the question. >> i didn't ask him the question. >> the gentleman's time has expired. >> he lies in front of the camera.
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i expect the secretary to live up to the -- >> the gentleman's time has expired. >> people need to use -- >> the gentleman's time has expired. we are here to hear from the secretary. >> not lies. >> the gentleman's time has expired. >> if you wish, you may answer the question. >> we don't need to hear lies. >> thank you, to respond briefly, what the congressman said is simply wrong. period. every member of this committee has been apprised of the intelligence assessments throughout the year. you know what they were and what they are and we will continue to provide those assessments and briefings in the weeks and months ahead. you heard the chairman of the joint chiefs say he has not seen anything that indicated to him or anyone else that the afghan
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government and military would collapse in 11 days. the director of national intelligence has said that even in the days leading up to the taliban takeover, intelligence agencies did not say that collapse was imminent, it unfolded more quickly than anticipated, even in the intelligence community. i could go on. what has been said and alleged is not true. >> i now recognize the gentlewoman from nevada. i now recognize her for five minutes. >> it all adds up. >> the gentleman's time has expired and the gentleman will cease immediately. >> he proved to the point. >> the gentleman will cease immediately. >> he proved the point. thank you. >> i now recognize the gentlelady from nevada, representative titus, for five minutes. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman, mr. secretary, for
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being here. >> i want to go back to a point about the delhi agreement. could you discuss for us the impact you think the agreement may have had on the morale of the afghan defense forces and on the unity of the afghan government. >> that agreement committed the united states to leave afghanistan by may 1 of this year and so that certainly factored into the thinking and concerns of the afghan government and of the afghan security forces. the extent of that impact, hard to know for sure, but certainly it had to factor into their thinking and into their concerns. >> i believe so. perhaps leading to that quicker than realized collapse that occurred that we didn't anticipate. couple of other questions. we have been hearing about
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domestic and foreign journalists being abused by the taliban, and also some of the ngo and health care workers, just nongovernment humanitarian workers. i wonder if there is anything going on, any talks between the u.s. and our international partners of how to defend them so that they are sure to be able to continue their work once we are gone. >> very much so. two things. one, we have been working very hard to make sure that basic humanitarian assistance can still get into afghanistan working with and through united nations agencies and putting in place mechanisms to make sure the assistance is used in the way that we intended it to be used, to the benefit of the afghan people, not the taliban let government. second, we have been working full-time around the world to bring country after country on board, with the expectations we
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are setting to include upholding the basic rights of the afghan people to include women and minorities, that we have put in place a un security council resolution around the world and to an extent that the taliban is looking for any kind of legitimacy or support from the international community, that will not be forthcoming in any fashion if it is not making good on those basic expectations and on commitments they themselves have made. going forward, their conduct will define their relationship with the rest of the world. >> thank you. they seemed legitimate, i know, but one of the challenges they are facing is the economy. that's not new, that had already
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existed. we see pakistan and china rapidly positioning themselves to take advantage of this destabilized economy. i wonder how that is going to impact the u.s. and international relations, especially in light of the world bank and the international monetary fund with its distributions around afghanistan. could you talk about that? >> you are right to point to that and the fact of the matter is though that there is a security council resolution that should bind russia and china in their conduct going forward. the international community over the last years provided about 75% of the afghan budget. needless to say, that's been frozen. international financial institutions are not going forward with their own assistants or the ability for afghanistan to engage in financial transactions.
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so, all of that is on the ledge when it comes to what we can do to have the taliban meet the expectations set by the international community when it comes to how it conducts itself. >> thank you, mr. secretary. i yield back. >> gentlelady yields back. i now recognize representative fitzpatrick of pennsylvania, of europe, energy, the environment and cyber, for five minutes. >> just to get to the core of your philosophy on national and international security, do you believe in the maxim and precept of the stronger that we exert ourselves overseas, the safer we are here in america? peace through strength? >> i believe the stronger we are at home the stronger we are at seas and that requires unity,
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coming together, making investments in ourselves and i hope we can see those forward together. second, to your point around the world, it requires absolutely having the strongest military and defense in the world and it requires using all the tools at our disposal to include diplomacy, economic tools and political tools, cultural tools. all of that is in the mix and all of that defines our strength in the world. >> you believe that what the world witnessed over the last several weeks in afghanistan was american strength? >> i believe they witnessed the president ending a war that had gone on for 20 years. >> did they witness american strength? >> they witnessed an extra ordinary effort that no other country could or would have made under the most extreme conditions, bringing out 125,000 people out to safety, making sure that we stood by allies and
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partners to help them get out as well. the things we heard from them around the world is that no other country could or would have done what we did. >> i recently left ukraine. a few days ago i returned. >> hold off, we are having technical problems. i don't see the secretary on, we should be able to see him visually and i want to make sure that you get all the time to answer the questions you are putting forward. >> can you hear me? >> we hear you but we don't see you. >> it looks like the image is frozen here. >> let's see if we can fix that, i want to make sure that mr. fitzgerald gets all his time. fitzpatrick, i meant to say. >> how is that? >> ok. i don't have a visual of the secretary. now? >> my time? >> yes, let's give mr.
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fitzpatrick. how much time when i stopped? when i stopped, continue the questions you had asked when i stopped. four minutes? ok. we can resume. >> i just returned from ukraine two days ago. my next stop will be taiwan. these people are scared to death. they are scared to death. can we get you on the record telling the committee, the congress, the nation that we will unequivocally and unapologetically do whatever it takes to have the back of our friends in ukraine and our friends in taiwan? in the event of russian aggression and in the event of chinese aggression? >> absolutely, we stand by commitments to both countries. >> we will do whatever it takes to defend them? >> we will stand by our commitments under the taiwan relations act and of the commitments we have to ukraine, including by the way, commitments that presiden
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zelensky discussed and put out just about a week, maybe two weeks ago. >> i can tell you that they are scared to death and they are questioning the commitment of this country and i will take you at your word that we will do whatever it takes. next question, not talking about the arms and munitions, but talking about the heavy equipment, the humvees, the blackhawk helicopters, this is all gps track, we can identify this. why don't we destroy it now? >> thank you. let me say this, i know my colleagues from the defense department joint chiefs, etc., will have an opportunity to speak to you, to speak to congress in the weeks ahead. they are the experts on this. about since 2004, roughly, something like $80 billion in defense articles have been provided to afghanistan. >> sir, i'm only asking you about the gps tracking.
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we know the location of the equipment falling into the hands of terrorists. are we going to destroy it or not? >> much of it is an operable or cannot be operated and will soon be in operable because it cannot be maintained and there is nothing of strategic value, as i have seen from my colleagues, that would threaten us or afghanistan. having said that, i'm not the expert and i would defer to my colleagues at the pentagon. >> do you believe that america in any way should ever capitulate to terrorists? >> absolutely not. >> do you believe that allowing caliban to run perimeter with american troops on the inside relying on the taliban to keep us safe with american citizens on the outside of the perimeter relying on the taliban to get in, do you believe that is capitulating to terrorists? >> the reality is the government and after -- afghan national security forces collapsed. the reality is the taliban took
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over kabul and much of the country. that was the reality we were dealing with. the judgment of all of us, starting with military commanders and people on the ground, was that our job was to work to get as many people out as possible, american citizens, afghans at risk, because the taliban controlled the city and that required some coordination. >> to an 18-year-old afghani girl who maybe watching the hearing today born after 9/11 who knows nothing of what it's like to live under taliban rule, who had hopes and dreams and was in school to be a female journalist to help women and young girls rise up in afghanistan who now feel betrayed by the actions of this administration, what is your message to her? >> i spoke to a number of young afghan women, including 18, 19, 21-year-olds, just about a week ago in delhi and in germany.
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they had relocated. we talked about their futures and the futures of afghan women and girls. >> under the taliban? >> we talked about the ongoing commitment the united states and countries around the world have two do every thing we can to support those women and girls going forward. >> the gentleman's time has expired and direct -- recognize representative ted lieu of california for five minutes. >> thank you for your public service, secretary. when i served my active duty in the u.s. air force, i participated in operation pacific haven, where we failed to lift kurds out of iraq were read worked with the state department and it was a difficult mission and i want to commend you, the state department, and u.s. personnel who executed an evacuation of
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120,000 people under immense danger. a remarkable feat that all of youi also want to honor the 13 marines they gave their lives in service to our country. i want -- what i want to ask you about is the document that started all of this. the february 29 document, 2020. that document was negotiated by the trump administration with the taliban, correct? sec. blinken: that is correct. that is correct. rep. lieu: under that document, it had a very specific date for withdrawal of all u.s. forces. sec. blinken: that's correct. rep. lieu: i'm going to redo what the document says, because i think my republican colleagues need to hear this and the american people. on the first page of the february 29, 2020 agreement that the trump administration signed with the taliban it states, the united states is committed to withdrawal from afghanistan all military forces of the united
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states if allies and coalition partners, including non-diplomatic civilian personnel, private security contractors, advisors, and supporting services, within 14 months following announcement of this agreement. that is a very specific timeline. sec. blinken: it is. rep. lieu: in fact, it gets even more specific. it says in the first 135 days, the united states, its allies, and the coalition with -- will withdrawal forces from five military bases. dave donald trump do that? sec. blinken: he did. rep. lieu: when you read this document, let's be clear, this is a surrender document. donald trump surrendered to the taliban. he said, we are leaving afghanistan, we are not coming back, and we will not fight you anymore. our -- our republican colleagues want to say it is conditions based. they didn't want you to talk about the conditions. the main condition is that the
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taliban was going to stop attacking u.s. forces. rep. lieu: that is correct -- sec. blinken: that is correct. rep. lieu: do you know how many u.s. forces died in the trump presidency in 2017? approximately 14. died in 2080, the second year of the -- in 2019, the third year of the trump president, do you know how many u.s. forces died in afghanistan? approximately 21. the republican colleagues say hey, for a whole year and a half, u.s. forces did not die. that is because the taliban stopped attacking u.s. forces because of this agreement. sec. blinken: that is correct. rep. lieu: if the biden administration said hey, just kidding, we are not leaving afghanistan, the taliban would have started attacking u.s. forces again. sec. blinken: that is correct. rep. lieu: donald trump withdrew over 15,000 u.s. troops at the height in afghanistan during his
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presidency, down to 2500 by the time president biden inherited office. sec. blinken: that is about right -- right. i think he had 13,500 when the administration started, down to 2500. rep. lieu: donald trump executed not only the surrender agreement, but also 80% of the surrender of the withdrawal. and he left you all with nearly 2500 u.s. troops in the taliban was still meeting their conditions. sec. blinken: that is correct. rep. lieu: they literally put in a box that you have to withdraw all u.s. forces, or they would start attacking our forces again. sec. blinken: attacking our forces and engaging in an offensive against afghanistan cities, which they refrained from. rep. lieu: reason we don't see that the tile -- the intelligence was manipulated is because the trump administration will not have agreed to a specific date, if they knew the afghan government would collapse 11 days after that.
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sec. blinken: that stands to reason. rep. lieu: in fact, it was a bipartisan, you can call it not understanding, but this is happening over 20 years. that we were getting a session -- it turned out not to be that accurate. sec. blinken: i believe that is correct. certainly i saw that from my previous service in government. rep. lieu: great. let's be clear here. it was donald trump who signed and negotiated the surrender agreement that releases 5000 taliban prisoners. sec. blinken: it did release 5000 prisoners. rep. lieu: donald trump, the administration, signed the agreement, negotiated it, executed it, and president biden completed withdrawal. that is what happened. >> the gentleman's time has expired. i now recognize representative tim burgett tennessee for five minutes.
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rep. burchett: thank you, mr. chairman. this is a picture of a sergeant. from my local paper. i want to redo something that his mama said this weekend at his funeral. it was a god loving man, he died helping people, he died doing what he loved to do. he was one of the 13 souls lost. while over 100,000 people couldn't escape the taliban, sadly, the death of the sergeant, and his fellow heroes, was entirely preventable. if your department and this administration had a plan and it had not been so flat-footed in afghanistan, there would have been no need to have 6000 additional soldiers in that country to secure the airport. you have stated that every contingency was planned for. clearly, the rapid collapse of the afghan government was
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something that you had not planned for. their blood is on your hands and this administration, sir. i call on you to resign. i gild the remainder of my time. >> he yielded to me, can i go ahead? inc. you, mr. chairman. -- thank you, mr. chairman. >> i now represent -- i now recognize -- >> he yielded his time to me. >> yes, you may proceed. >> mr. secretary, yes or no, and i do mean yes or no, is there taliban a terrorist organization? sec. blinken: the taliban has been designated as a terrorist organization, that is correct. >> are you aware that news reports last week show that the taliban has already set up a school to teach suicide bombers, are you aware of that reporting? sec. blinken: i have not seen
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that report. if you would like to share it, please do. >> i will absolutely do that. thank you very much. you guys keep talking about insinuating that you will make a -- an agreement with the taliban. if there are a terrorist organization, if they have people in their organization on the fbi's watchlist, if they have leadership that is known to be terrorists and you have said they are a terrorist organization, what makes it right to even negotiate with these people? sec. blinken: anything we do will be for purposes of advancing the interest and national security of the united states. those interest, among other things, involve ensuring people can continue to travel freely out of afghanistan, including remaining american citizens. rep. green: very much related to that moment -- that point -- mr.
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secretary, i'm reclaiming my time. on that note, you have said, and we have said, in your department has said, and the dod has said to people who are sitting over there, that we are all gone, they should destroy their documents because the taliban are searching them and killing them with those documents. you say you've got a plan to get those people out of their, but they cannot get on an airplane without documents, you have nobody over there to print them documents. how will they get out of there? what is your plan if they have no documents? your people told them to destroy the documents. dod said destroy the documents. we have told them because we are talking to hundreds of them on the phone, u.s. citizens, siv's, what is the plan? sec. blinken: we did not tell people to destroy documents. although i understand some people did, for understandable reasons in many cases. rep. green: we've got the pictures of the dead bodies. i can show you the pictures -- the videos of friends of mine are videoing and sending to me.
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i can send this to you. they are destroying those documents because they don't want to wind up on a dirt road bleeding to death. what is the plan to get those individuals who have no documents now out of that country? sec. blinken: the plan is this. first, the taliban led government has made commitments to recognize documents to exit the country to include u.s. passports, to include green cards, to include visas. for those who have those documents, we are working with other partners including qatar. rep. green: i mean for the people who don't have documents. you just said it was understandable that they would destroy those documents. what are we doing for the people who don't have documents? sec. blinken: we are putting in place exactly that. a mechanism to make sure we can get people the documents they need in order to leave the country. i'm happy to take that up in a different setting to go into more detail. rep. green: ok. you are insinuating it might be classified. we can do that.
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considering that the agreement between the taliban and afghan governments, that the president keeps talking about, everybody keeps talking about this agreement between the taliban and the afghan governments, that they are just following them, we are following the agreement, looks like my time is about to expire. i will see you in a few minutes when it is my turn. thank you, mr. secretary. sec. blinken: thank you. >> i recognize representative susan wild of pennsylvania for five minutes. rep. wild: thank you, mr. chairman. we received word and my office this weekend that one of my constituents pennsylvania seven, an american citizen has been successfully evacuated from afghanistan and is safely in qatar. she is a wife and mother, and i want to thank you in the state department officials who work so hard with my team to ensure the successful outcome. i hope for many more. mr. secretary, like all of my
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colleagues here, i have been working with my team to assist vulnerable afghan allies who work shoulder to shoulder with service members from our communities. i have to say over the course of the evacuation, it was beyond heartbreaking to see that in a vast majority of cases, the afghan allies we were trying to assist were not getting out or receiving any useful information, even with members of congress getting involved. although i will also say parenthetically, there may have been situations where members of congress were not particularly helpful or were getting in the way. i apologize for that on behalf of this body. at the same time, i want to recognize the extraordinary efforts behind what was the largest airlift in american history. it is a testament to our service members, first and foremost, as well as the administration. what i want to ask you is what concrete steps is the state department taking now to accelerate processing time for siv, p2, and other applications
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for vulnerable afghan allies? and what steps is the department taking to improve communication with offices here in congress when it comes to time sensitive cases involving our afghan allies? sec. blinken: thank you personally, but thank you so many members of this committee who have been working with us on as ivs and other afghans at risk, getting information to us, working to follow up. we are deeply, deeply grateful for that. we want to make sure we continue to do that and work on these cases. as we discussed before, in the first instance, we inherited a program that was in a deep freeze. we got a back up second and third gear. well before the collapse of the government, we went from issuing 100 visas a week to 1000. and we were working with congress to try to streamline and make more efficient this program. as you know, there are 14 steps
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involving half a dozen agencies that are required by law or by the different and lamenting roles that came into place as a result of that law. , having said all of that going forward, a few things. we have about 20,000 people in the siv pipeline. that has basically been the number for a long time. it has accumulated over many years, and it stayed more or less in that area because more people even today continue to start the application process. as you know, the most critical moment in the application process is what is called achieve admission approval. that is the point at which people are found to be -- in fact eligible for the program, they meet the requirements. of all of the people applying to the program, 40% don't make it through chief admission approval because it turns out that they don't qualify.
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some of that is because they don't have the necessary documentation required by law to demonstrate their eligibility. much of that is because of the many people applying for siv's, the majority, well over the majority, worked for dod contractors primarily. these are not the interpreters and translators. these are folks who work for contractors or subcontractors, getting a letter demonstrating they provided faithful service can be very difficult. especially if the contractor went out of business. we need to find a way to deal with that and to work with all of the other agencies to make sure they have the appropriate records. let me fast forward to your question. we have about 4000 or so people who are at the achieve admission approval stage right now, and we are going to work to get them through that in the coming weeks. then we have another roughly 4000 who already have chief admission approval. there are a number of other
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steps mandated by law that go into this including interviews, fingerprinting, etc. we are looking to see how we can expedite all of that while keeping security foremost in our minds, move people to third countries, to finish whatever processing is necessary, and then bringing the united states. we need to come to you to work on ways that we can make this program even more efficient and more streamlined beyond what we were able to do over the last nine months. rep. wild: thank you so much. mr. chairman, i yield back. >> the's time has expired. i recognize representative mark green from tennessee, and ranking member of the subcommittee of the western hemisphere. rep. green: thank you, mr. chairman. sec. blinken, your credibility would be a lot greater if you at least did own something. the xyz something.
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yet you follow the lead of your president and you blame everybody else, it is not your problem, it's trump, it's somebody else. you would have -- let me give you an example. you had no plan or a horrible plan to get people into the gate. just get them through the gate. my colleagues and i had hundreds of people on the phone that were u.s. citizens, sitting at the gates, and they couldn't get in that is a failure on you. either to plan or you had a horrible plan, but those u.s. citizens couldn't get through the gate. just own it. get some credibility. own it. you keep telling us that the dod and president biden had no idea that the taliban would be so successful. the collapse of the afghan forces. and then you want us to believe you when you say the russians and the chinese are not -- are empowered by this. that kills your credibility by
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saying hey, we failed to predict that this would happen. nobody had an idea that they would collapse like that. and then you say, but i assure you, the russians on the chinese are not and powered by this, and we are supposed to believe you. i've already talked about the documents. they not kingdom. i'm -- the united kingdom. i'm sure you are aware it went viral a member of parliament in the united kingdom on the floor of the house of commons, tom to connect, basically called the withdrawal, president biden's withdrawal, shameful. in said -- and said they should reconsider how dependent they are on the united states. yet you sit here today and tell us that nato was completely fine with everything. you all coordinated everything with nato and it was all good. that is what you have communicated to me, at least. and yet, a member of parliament
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is saying it was a shameful withdrawal on the floor of the house of commons, our greatest ally. the headline of the condo lists a few weeks ago -- of the economists a few weeks ago said bidens debacle. i'm not sure nato will agree with you that they were in on this together. now, i will say this, it is against the law, they nine states law, -- the united states law, to give material aid to a terrorist organization. you said earlier when i asked you if the taliban was a terrorist organization, you said yes. $85 billion, i would consider that material aid to a terrorist organization, mr. secretary. and yet here we are. but wait, you admitted we had no idea the taliban would be so successful, we had no idea that the afghans would fail like this.
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well, that's your fault. that is your administrations fault. i guess maybe it is the intel community's fault, that is what you are really saying. hey cia and all the other guys, you failed to give us good intel, we had no idea this was going to happen. we are supposed to trust you when you tell us other things about the chinese and the russians. considering rumors of isis -- i'm sorry, isi's support for the taliban, have you guys reached out to india as a possible staging area for the over the horizon forces? i'm talking north west india as a potential. because we all know qatar and doha, the other places are too far, kuwait, all of that. what about north west india? have you reached out or thought about that? sec. blinken: let me just say generally, we are deeply engaged with india across the board. with regard to any specifics about the horizon capabilities
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and the plans we put in place, we will continue to put in place, i would rather take that up in a different setting. i think the chairman referenced about at the start of the hearing. rep. green: i appreciate you saying that. i'm glad to at least know there is an opportunity to talk about that. i think from my standpoint, it is an opportunity we should seize. i would like to go back to the documents and give you a few seconds to talk about that. i want to hear your plan for those individuals, if you can today, and if you can't, fine, we will talk about it behind closed doors. i'm very concerned about people who destroyed documents. can you elaborate on that? sec. blinken: i really appreciate that. i just want to assure you that i would rather have this conversation in a different setting. that we are putting in place plans to make sure people can get documents that they need and documents that the taliban says it will recognize to allow them to leave the country.
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i would be happy to pursue that conversation. rep. green: thank you. i guilt. >> i now recognize representative dean phillips of minnesota for five minutes. rep. phillips: thank you, mr. chairman. mr. secretary, i'm one of 20,000 goldstar children from the vietnam war. i'm now joined by 5000 more goldstar children from iraq and afghanistan. i just want to acknowledge all of my brothers and sisters who have had to watch the events of the last month that so sadly looked so strangely familiar as it relates to the fall of saigon 50 years ago. i also want to honor the service of many of my colleagues, many who serve on this committee, including my friend brian mast, who just about gave his entire life to our country. i honor all of you. i want to start with that. let me assure you, it has been difficult, heartbreaking, and disappointing to watch the last number of years and the last month.
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but i have to say i'm terribly disappointed in my colleagues, some of them, on this committee today. i think it is embarrassing, i think it is counterproductive, and i think it is shameful, frankly. i don't hold republicans accountable for my father's death even though he died in a republican administration. i hold richard nixon, congress accountable as well and many other individuals. i just ask this paired of this committee returned to our core job. mr. secretary, you have spoken about lessons learned for both our country, not terribly specifically. i would welcome you to cover that again. what specifically did we learn, what should we have learned collectively and also personally? what have you learned? what might you do differently as you look back over the last number of months in preparation for this exit? sec. blinken: thank you very much. thank you for what you said. and thank you for the question. i think we all have to take stock of the last nine months and the last 20 years.
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because to reach the point we have reached today, it is an accumulation of decisions, strategies, plans, over 20 years. as well as over the last nine months. and all of that has to factor in. look, my biggest take away is that when it comes to using force, we are very good and very affect at doing that to deal with a terrorist threat to this country, as we have demonstrated time and again. and as we demonstrated after 9/11. and we need to make sure that we always have the capacity to be the most effective country on earth when it comes to that. at the same time, i think one of the hard lessons, at least to me, of afghanistan is even the best intentions, and these were
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really good intentions, to try to remake a society, remake a country in an image that looks a little bit more like what we believe is right, may be beyond our capacity. inserting ourselves into the middle of a civil war and staying there with no prospect of actually creating a decisive effect also was something we need to think really hard about. i think we got to a point in afghanistan, not when it comes to counterterrorism where thanks to the extraordinary courage, bravery, and successive generations now of men and women in uniform, as well as the diplomats and intelligence officials who worked with them, they did a remarkable job in dealing with the people who attacked us on 9/11. but when it came to this much more expensive effort to defeat
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the taliban, and to remake afghanistan, that was a different story, and i think we got to the point where arguably, we knew how not to lose, but we were not capable in that frame of winning. and the reality is it when -- rep. phillips: i have one minute left. i want to reclaim some time. i also want to salute our staffers, staffers and democratic officers, republican officers, early career staffers who have done work to help people evacuate from afghanistan. what i have heard from many is that the court a nation of this effort was very challenging. very quickly, what grade you give the united states of america for its whole of government planning and execution over the withdrawal plan? what grade? sec. blinken: i cannot give it a grade but here is what i can say. i think you are right.
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in this extraordinary situation, we had to do a tremendous amount of work to get to a better place, especially when it comes to coordination. there is a lot of work yet to be done learning from what we did and what we didn't do. going forward, to put us in a better place. so i think from my perspective, it definitely improved. but it did not start from a great place, largely because of the situation that we were in. but here is the question that i hope we can work on together. knowing that, how do we put ourselves in a better position going forward so that we can get that coordination, cooperation stood up more -- much more quickly? rep. phillips: i appreciate your candor and i yield back. >> i recognize representative andy barr of kentucky for five minutes. rep. barr: mr. secretary, let me
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return to the dissent cable. you said you read the july 13 dissent cable prep -- represented. you said you are very proud of that. is that correct? sec. blinken: that is correct. rep. barr: that warning came over one month before the fall of kabul, right? sec. blinken: though cable was, i believe -- july 13. yes. rep. barr: over one month. the cable warned the afghan government was at risk of collapse. your response was "the thoughts of the drafters reflected much of the thinking of the department." you still maintain that to be the case? sec. blinken: the cable did not predict that the government or security forces would collapse before we departed. rep. barr: but the cable did say the afghan government was at risk of collapse and you said that the thoughts of the drafters reflected much of the thinking of the department. by the way, at the same time, the bureau of intelligence
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research into the department was briefing this committee that the taliban was moving quickly toward a takeover of the country. you presumably have access to that same intelligence from inr which corroborated the dissent cable and was alarming two men meet -- too many members of this committee. do you dispute that? sec. blinken: as we have had an opportunity to discuss throughout these many months, there were ongoing intelligence assessments about the durability of the afghan government. rep. barr: these were alarming cables, they were warnings to you. you say they reflected the majority of the position of the department. do you share this intelligence with the president of the united states? sec. blinken: two things on the cable. first, the main focus of the cable was on taking steps to expedite the efforts we were making, the siv applicants and others from afghanistan.
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rep. barr: and the collapse was imminent. did you share that intelligence with the president? sec. blinken: it did not say that the collapse was intimate. rep. barr: did you accelerate the process? sec. blinken: because it expressed real concerns -- rep. barr: d got it too. we knew this was totally avoidable. did you share that intelligence with the president? did you invite them for a shift in strategy as a result of this intelligence? sec. blinken: again, this is not intelligence, it is information analysis assessment. it is coming from our embassy. rep. barr: i know it is intelligence and the cable was analysis. did you share it with the president? sec. blinken: the dissent channel, which is an important tradition in the state department, under its regulations, is shared only with the senior leadership -- rep. barr: you are not answering the question. i want to know if there is a shift in policy and if not, why
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not? i want to know if the president contemplated shifting any part of the strategy when it was very apparent that this strategy of unconditional retreat was failing and it was failing over a month before the fall of kabul. in april, i warned you not to abandon it. little did i know they abide in administration would abandon it before evacuating all of our allies and advanced military equipment, leaving the world's most dangerous airport has the exclusive point ofwho made the n bob graham at that time? sec. blinken: as you know, the military was engaged in drawdown from afghanistan. part of the drawdown was having out of different positions to include bob graham airbase. -- to include bagram airbase. rep. barr: you are telling me the military advised evacuating the airbase or was that a state
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department decision? sec. blinken: we certainly did not make a decision about bagram. the military is charged with doing the planning and the work in any drawdown. they make decisions based on forest protection and security of our men and women in uniform. rep. barr: you say there is nothing the chinese would have wanted more than to stay in afghanistan. is it your testimony that the chinese wanted the united states to remain any the only airbase in the country with a physical border with china? you think that is the chinese position, that they wanted us to keep bagram? sec. blinken: i think the chinese would have liked to see us remain in a war in which we were putting more and more forces -- rep. barr: you think the chinese are celebrating us abandoning
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and airbase, the largest airbase on their border? come on. >> the gentlemen's time has expired. i know recognize recognize ill hunt omar of the -- recognize representative ilhan omar. >> i know it is harder to end a war then start one in this town so i think you and the president for ending our longest war. over the weekend, both of your times and washington post reported that august 29 drone strike that supposedly prevented a car bomb attack at the airport in kabul instead killed samari hammadi, an aid worker and his family. this strike happened when there were a lot of eyes on kabul, but
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it is not unusual for u.s. drone strikes to kill civilians. it is not unusual for the u.s. government to claim it killed terrorists instead. this is coming on the heels of reporting that dod failed to spend a single dollar of the payments that congress had provided for civilian casualties . as congress considers the continuing utility of the 2001 a umf, how can you possibly ensure us -- possibly assure us our drone strikes and over the horizon capabilities will actually reach their targets? sec. blinken: first, when it comes to moving forward, i hope we can take this up in different setting in different session. with regard to the drone strike you are referring to, that is being looked at very carefully.
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by others in the administration so that we understand exactly what happened or what did not happen. no country on earth, no government takes more effort, takes more precautions to try to ensure that anyone other than the intended terrorist target is struck using a drone or by other means. certainly, we know that in the past, civilians have been hurt and have been killed in the strikes and we have two make sure we have in place every possible measure to allow us to continue to use the tool to defend ourselves while avoiding anyone on the civilian side from being hit.
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we also need to look as you said at the authorizations going back to 2001 and 2002. those need to be updated to reflect present realities. rep. ilhan omar: from the state department's point of view, what is the impact of the uncountable civilian harm on our counterterrorism goals? sec. blinken: it certainly runs counter to those goals. whenever there are civilian casualties, whenever there are unintended injuries or deaths, it is not advanced what -- it does not advance what we are trying to do. besides the moral obligation we have two do everything we possibly can to make sure civilians are not harmed or
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killed, it is also true in terms of the mission itself, we want to make sure that does not happen because if people lose faith and confidence in it and particularly in the countries in question, if people see it as a tool to do harm to innocent civilians as opposed to terrorists who are a threat to everyone, that will undermine support for what we are doing. rep. ilhan omar: in your role and previous roles in other administrations, how much of an analysis is being done to look at whether our counterterrorism efforts are actually being counter to the work we are trying to do in ending terrorism around the world? sec. blinken: i would call it very significant. in the obama administration, we spent a lot of time reviewing and modifying all of these
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procedures, all of the safeguards, all of the criteria that went along with using these tools. we have been in the midst of conducting such a review in this administration to make sure to the best of our ability that when we take a strike, we get the intended person and no one else. >> gentlelady's time has expired. i rep -- i recognize represented greg steube of florida. rep. steube: in your opening statement, you cannot be honest with the american people. you state by january 2021, the taliban was in its strongest military position since 9/11. i'm pretty sure there strongest military position has been during your administration. the strongest military position since the towers were hit in
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2001 was this past september 11, 20 anniversary, all of which have on your watch. on april 27 of this year, days before the original deadline negotiated by the trump administration that you and the biden administration violated, the taliban-controlled 77 districts in afghanistan. there were 194 contested districts. by august 15 while you and bite and run vacation, the taliban had taken an controlled 304 district and the government controlled 37. from may to august of this year, while you, the department of defense and the president did nothing, the taliban gained 200 27 districts in afghanistan in four months. you cannot claim ignorance to what was going on and you cannot blame the trump administration for your failure. i served in iraq and am aware of our capabilities. your administration in the white house was seeing in real time what was happening in
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afghanistan and you did nothing to stop it. biden himself tried to get president ghani to lie about what was happening on the ground. biden told him that the perception around the world is that things are not going well in terms of the fight against the taliban and there is a need to project a different picture. that was on july 23 before all of you went on vacation, so you knew exactly what was going on and did nothing to start moving our people out until it was too late and the taliban controlled the entire nation. you stated under questioning today, we inherited a deadline, not a plan. you'd not even followed the deadline. you cascaded something you did not do anything about. this whole blaming the trump administration for everything that has happen in afghanistan is a decrease. you are the secretary of state and biden has been the mentor chief since january. you and the administration so what was happening in afghanistan and you had the ability to deal with it.
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you are responsible for the afghans on the grant. i know how you, biden and other democrats want nothing more than to blaine trump for all of the problems you have created, but the responsibility lies squarely on your shoulders. after kabul felled, your leadership failed not only our citizens on the ground but our allies we worked with for 20 years. your direction was shelter-in-place. then it was they cure way to the airport, but we cannot guarantee your safety on the way. then it was shelter-in-place. then it was come to the gate. while all of this was happening, you are handing our list of citizens and afghan sid's to the taliban, a globally recognized terrorist organization because you were unwilling to get the citizens and sid's stuck behind enemy lines out. as we sit here today, we still have citizens and sid's stuck in
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taliban hands. this despite -- despite the taliban promising to get them out, our enemy knows exactly who they are and how to find them. you described this as an extraordinary effort. i would not describe the deaths of 13 u.s. service members, the deaths of hundreds of afghans in the factory still have citizens and sid's stuck behind enemy lines while the taliban, al qaeda and isis-k go door to door hunting them down as an extraordinary effort. if all that was not bad enough, you spit in the eye of every servicemember served on the war on terror for the last 20 years by considering the taliban -- considering recognizer the taliban as a legitimate government. not only recognize them but do nothing while the taliban takes control of $90 billion worth of military aircraft, humvees, weapons, night vision goggles,
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uniforms and blackhawks. after we rolled over and headed to him -- to them, you announced your providing $64 million in humanitarian assistance to the people of afghanistan. you cannot even get our people out of the country but we are expected to believe $64 million of our tax dollars that should be sent afghanistan will not fall in the hands of the taliban and other organizations who you were relying on to get our people out of the airport. your legacy will be the taliban flying our blackhawk over kabul while the u.s. citizen hangs from a rope by his neck and you are saying you are working diplomatically with a telegram. >> gentlemen's time has expired. i know recognize representative colin allred of texas for five mitts. rep. allred: i respect my colleague who was speaking. much of what he said was not accurate -- everest -- i suspect
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much of what he said was not accurate. if you'd like to respond -- sec. blinken: they would take too long. i respect his service as well. republican, democratic, whether they agree with what we did or disagree. i deeply respect the service. i deeply respect the loss of those extraordinary men and women. the 13 marines who lost their lives. i also deeply respect the laws of the 2641 service members who gave their lives in afghanistan over the last 20 years. i apologize for taking your time but i would simply say that i believe the most important legacy we can leave is to have ended america's longest war. to make sure a third generation of americans does not have to go fight and die in afghanistan as well as having brought hundred 25,000 people to safety under the most extreme area safety -- destroyed dairy -- extraordinary
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circumstances. as well as to deal with the ongoing challenges that it poses. i believe that will be the legacy we are talking about. i apologize for taking your time. thank you. rep. allred: it is extremely difficult to end a 20 year conflict and i think we are seeing that and tempers are running high and they know it has been a long day. would like to help -- would like to thank you for helping a family whose brother lives in my district. he got for unaccompanied children whose mother was already in new york out of kabul as well so i want to thank your team for that success story. as a member of the veteran affairs committee as well as this committee, i want to speak to the many veterans of the afghan war who live in my district.
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i spoke to george w. bush, who is my constituent. we have shielded your fellow citizens from danger. you have defended the beliefs of your country and advance the rights of the downtrodden. in the face of hope and mercy. we have been a force for good in the world. i want to thank all those who have served as well. and of the time i have remaining, two and half years ago, your predecessor, secretary pompeo, appeared before this committee. i know it is not very satisfying to look to the past and think that you are pointing fingers but at that time, i questioned him about the conditions of our withdrawal from afghanistan that he was negotiating in real-time with the taliban. i asked secretary pompeo why he had a previous u.s. policy regarding negotiations with the tele-pan such as insisting they agreed to respect the afghan constitution and cling
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protections for women and minorities and most egregiously, excluding the afghan government from those negotiations almost entirely, undermining that very government in its very own country. secretary pompeo was fairly dismissive of my concerns. i went to draw your attention to the screen here showing an insert of the trumpet administration's deal did not require the -- the trump administrations deal. i want to ask you based on your experience what aspects of the deal you inherited would you have handled differently based on past u.s. policy and the best tip a medic tools that are at our disposal? sec. blinken: hindsight is always 20/20 whether it is for us, whether it is for the previous administration or the ones before. i would say to the extent there was conditionality in that
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agreement imposed on the taliban, it should have gone further. very good to make sure our forces were not being attacked until we withdrew all of our forces. there was little in that agreement that compelled the taliban to negotiate and get to an agreement with the afghan government about the future of afghanistan, a future in which these basic rights and principles were upheld. that was not there. i think that was unfortunate. we can talk about the forces we withdrew in the last few months but in reducing to the extent we did the leverage we had by going from roughly 13 and a half thousand forces down to 2500 forces by the end of the last administration, that made it very challenging to leverage the taliban to make good on what little there was in the agreement to begin with. never mind doing more.
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in fairness, all of this is 2020. i hope we engaged in 2020 hindsight not just for the last nine months but for the last 20 years. there is a lot we need to look at. >> gentlemen's time has expired. i recognize representative dam user -- your presented dan user -- >> you are a long-standing american for matt. your service is -- you are fair and informative. i must state i am very disappointed in your written testimony, your opening comments and answers today, which seemed to me as a series of rationalizations. you are blaming everyone but yourselves and the taliban for this disaster. and you continue to be victimized by wishful thinking.
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blaming the trump frankly is equivalent to me planing a fishing trip months in advance, the day comes to leave, we hurricane comes in, you go anyway and blame me for things going badly. the fact is, these epic mistakes and the ignoring of intel has left a country, this is the reality of today, under a brutal terrorist regime. the world is a more dangerous place. murders continue. i just informed a newspaper of a horrific scene i heard of this morning, somebody being pulled out, an interpreter murdered in front of their children. the children taken. this is a result of these incredible mistakes. 13 americans tragically killed. hundred 24,000 afghans -- 124,000 afghans fleeing for their lives. we have billions in american
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military equipment and pallets of cash left behind in taliban hands. yet you sit and tell us that you did the right thing. that frankly makes us -- kind of scares the hell out of us as to what decisions might be made next. i will start with my first question. are there any conditions where we provide pallets of cash to the taliban? sec. blinken: none that i'm aware of. >> thank you. intel said taliban would likely overrun afghanistan and all the cities as it did. you mentioned general milley a number of times stating how there was no intel stating 11 days. what was the likely scenario that your department, the blighted administration believed -- the biden administration leaved was going to occur after our retreat? sec. blinken: throughout the
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spring and into the summer, if you look back at the intelligence assessments and collective assessments that were made, and typically, you would have a worst-case scenario, best case scenario and scenarios in between. it went from the winter and spring to worst-case scenario, the taliban takes over the country in 18 months to two years after our withdrawal to in july, the end of the year. even right up to the very end as i have said before, to my knowledge at least, no one was predicting the collapse of the government and the security forces in 11 days. yes, it went from 18 months to two years to the end of this year. >> that is getting it very wrong regardless of the information
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available. would the biden administration secure the southern border now we have this serious crisis and it terrorist on the loose worldwide? sec. blinken: we have been working assiduously to secure that border from day one. we are also as we talked about a little earlier with regard to afghans coming in to the united states as you know, there are very significant rigorous vetting procedures in place with customs and border patrol, fbi, cia that are done in these transit countries before anyone comes to the united states and then continue on military bases here, which is usually the first point of landing after dulles airport for people coming from afghanistan. >> just lastly, do you believe terrorist to respond to strength and willingness to use it?
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sec. blinken: terrorist respond to effective counterterrorism. absolutely. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> i now recognize represent of andy levitt of michigan -- recognize representative andy levitt of michigan. >> thanks, mr. chairman. thank you, mr. secretary for helping the president end are longest ever wore -- and our august ever war. for your efforts to airlift so many tens of thousands of americans and never afghans when the afghan government and armed forces felt so precipitously and your patience for having us here today. obviously, you have heard a lot about our concerns today regarding afghans seeking refuge in the united states and elsewhere. what commitment has the
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administration secured from third countries to host afghans for a sufficient duration to allow the administration to process their sid, p1, p2 visas and he military and requests? -- and humanitarian requests? sec. blinken: we have secured a number of agreements that would allow us as afghans come out of the country and these would be sid applicants, these would be potential refugees with several countries where they would go to those countries. we could engage in the processing especially with regard to sid's with a 14 step process. very hard to complete that. there are parts we could not complete remotely in afghanistan so we do need to get them to third countries where we can complete that. sorry?
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>> is the capacity enough or do we need more? sec. blinken: i think the current capacity is enough but that is something we are going to look very carefully at. much depends on the ongoing ability of people to leave afghanistan and to get to these countries. >> let's stay on the topic of afghans whose need -- we need protection right now. u.s. officials have stated our commitment to afghans at risk such as civil society workers, human rights defenders, women's rights activists, journalists and others and that commitment did not end with the withdrawal of u.s. personnel. deciding where to draw these lines is super difficult. who else specifically is the mind -- specifically is the biden administration defining as at risk? sec. blinken: you're right. it is very challenging. in the summer, we put in place a
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so-called p2 category for afghans who did not meet the requirements of the sid program but it would nonetheless work for ngo's, for american news organizations, other institutions but not directly for the u.s. government so they could qualify for the sid. the general refugee program is available to people. if they can get out of afghanistan, which is what we are working on, they can go to a third country and apply for refugee status. we are particularly focused on afghans at risk and the most at risk are people -- by what they have done, by what they said or who they are, could be a real threat from the new government. >> finally, let me return to the
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question of the drone strike in kabul on august 29th, which reportedly killed at least 10 civilians including seven kids. just going from media reports. what i want to ask is, what role is the state department playing in helping to investigate any civilian harm caused in this strike? does the state department have a role in this or is it purely military and intelligence officials? sec. blinken: without going into too much detail, in the first instance, military intelligence is focused on reviewing everything we did. they do that as a matter of course and they are doing that in this instance. to the extent we have any information that comes to us, we would feed it into the review process. >> i hope we can take this up when we have a classified discussion because it happens a
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lot and we have to do everything we can to stop it. with that, thank you so much. >> i now recognize representative claudia tenney of new york who is the vice ranking member for the subcommittee on international development, international organizations and global corporate social impact for five minutes. representative tenney: my son served in the marine corps for eight years. i spent the weekend with marines and goldstar families. there is nothing worse than having someone show up at your door to tell you your son or daughter was killed in action. i know you know that. i want to say to some of our colleagues on this call who do not understand english many feel , referring to this as histrionics and -- i feel the pain of these people appeared i have been with my goldstar
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families for many years. i know you understand that, but my question -- and i want to reference something representative issa had referred to. he referred to communications that our american citizens and others have received that said make contingency plans to leave when it is safe to do so that do not rely on the u.s. government for assistance. notify of your commitment plans. this was >> state department was given to us of the holders. my question to you is can you tell us that these people and i
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prescient those who have been able to get out successfully who have not been assisted who are there in harm's way, will you give us a commitment that are american citizens and our legal permanent residents and others will get out safely? >> just to clarify, again, i invite you to share that with me . here is my understanding. in march we issued 19 separate -- >> no -- >> just to be clear, i believe this is what this belongs to. >> can you just make the assurance that these people will be out safely? i have a assistant family family
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-- i have a citizen family of seven there were told by the state department only one parent can accompany the family home or this to your old home. the other five are left in afghanistan. i want to make sure that all of the family will be not be separated at the afghan border. >> i would be happy to address the question if i could, please. your committed to or may -- bring -- we are committing to bring every american home. >> we have an american citizen who has six family members who are legal permanent residents. we were told only one gets to accompany the american citizen. these are not people who want to leave afghanistan, these are people who are not going to abandon their children. >> can i please answer the
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question? >> i want a yes or no answer. you're taking up my time. >> i am happy to address that because you raise an important question. any american citizen, their spouse and their minor children we are committed to bringing out. that is what the law provides it is also what the other laws provide for. >> i appreciate that. would you agree that it would have been safer to evacuate these people and of -- out of afghanistan? >> had we remained in afghanistan? >> do you think it would have been safer to evacuate -- >> i highly doubt that. having to remain in afghanistan we would have been in a war. >> would it have been safer if
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u.s. service members and allied troops were in afghanistan while we were evacuating these people? >> i missed the last part, could you repeat it? >> do you agree it would have been safer to evacuate the people i described, american citizens, green card holders and others, had we kept the u.s. troops at their and evacuated them later? >> if the defense department, the government, as a whole engaged in the drawdown from afghanistan, the single most important factor was the collapse of the afghan security forces and the afghan government . that is what changed the situation. >> time is expired. i now recognize the vice chair
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of environment and cyber for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. secretary, thank you for being with us today. a first question is afghan alli es. those who are trying to get folks out. it has been a challenging time. none of the lessons, one of the -- one of the lessons, we must always plan for the worst case canaria -- scenario. i would note in your opening remarks who stated that we expect the taliban to ensure freedom of travel, bigger good on commitments come up hand -- upheld the basic rights of women and minorities. i have seen videos of women and girls being beaten by the taliban.
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there have been night letters that have been posted on doors marking people for interrogation or assassination. i received written testimonies of some of the beatings and targeting that have occurred and murders and beatings that have been documented against those who have helped united states. i begin by asking, have you seen any of these videos? have they made their way to you as well? >> i have seen videos, reports, i have read news accounts. yes and these incidents are deeply disturbing. >> looking towards the future, recognizing that perhaps we should hear and plan for the worst case scenario. it is the department talking through with the contingencies ours -- are in the scenario that the taliban does not do the things that you stated are our expectations and hopes? >> yes.
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>> i want to think every person on the ground, every person who has been so helpful. our present and many in the veterans community who have focused exclusively on ensuring that those help give them alive what have a chance at a better life in the future. i recently sent a letter to you focused on border crossings. i know there has been some progress towards working with border nations about the possibility of them opening the borders. could you comment on what the status is related to the ability to allow people to cross borders? >> i saw the letter and i thank you for a. we have been working -- for it. we have been working with countries to ensure that their borders will remain open overall , that they would remain open to
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american citizens, green cardholders, fisa holders, who seek to leave and or assisting and leaving. we have agreements with the countries that will be the case. the work now is to see people start, with the flights the left kabul, that is starting to happen. >> if any of that changes, ask you keep us apprised. i visited fort pickett which is in my district the operations firsthand. i saw thousands of afghans who made it out of afghanistan. it is a testament to a whole of government approach. standing up, and incredible effort on short notice. on behalf of the communities are present, i want to reiterate the importance of ensuring that the
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interagency team communicates with local governments. i was happy to learn about the health screenings on the ground and the initiation of english language classes. i hope that continues. how long do you anticipate operations will continue to utilize military installations across united states including the one that is in my district? >> thank you. we are grateful for that support , the engagement of the community. i want to make sure that we have the right connectivity, we are talking and coordinating with local community. we have to make sure we have the ability to put people into the resettlement process with rita settlement agencies -- with resettlement agencies and move them as expeditiously as possible. let me come back to you with a better timeframe. we have to do it mindful of
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making sure we complete any security checks. >> i do appreciate the robust security provisions i witnessed when i was visiting. i have run out of time. i push it your time. -- hyper shade your time. -- i appreciate your time. >> i recognize the voice working member of energy and cyber for five minutes. you are muted. please unmute. >> you said -- i speak for
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millions of americans when i say that it was a kick in the gut to see our american military rating in the street with the taliban flag. this has been a hazy withdrawal of u.s. citizens. our offices had to work with veterans on the ground and we cannot get responses in some cases. we have american citizens behind enemy lines. the 13 soldiers were killed, i do not know how anyone can call that a success. it is coming from an administration who has led -- misled the american people throughout the entire withdrawal. you said the taliban is committed to not allowing afghanistan to be used as a base for terrorism. the taliban is a designated terrorist organization itself
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that harbored al qaeda and osama bin laden. the u.s. government has also designated the haqqani network as a terrorist organization. he is now one of the taliban's new cabinet members. we have a $10 million reward for information leading to his arrest. this is a type of weakness and credulity that has gotten us into the situation we are in. the fbi has not questioned the haqqani network. -- truck bombs and that wounded 77 american soldiers. now that we have no presence on the ground in afghanistan how is the administration working to ensure that the same terrorists do not attack americans again? how can we trust, how can you trust the taliban to say they
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are going to do this and actually work to prevent terrorism? what have they told you about rooting out isis-k? who is responsible for those 13 soldiers' deaths? >> it is not about trusting the taliban. it is about holding tim to the commitments they made -- holding them to the commitments they made to the international community. the two groups he pointed to are very important. one is isis-k, the group that killed our servicemen and women in couple weeks ago in afghanistan. one thing to say by the taliban is that they and isis-k are sworn enemies and the taliban have spent the past five years to take more territory to also take territory away from isis-k.
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they remain very much at odds. i think the greater question with regard to isis-k is less whether the taliban has the intent and if it has the capacity to effectively deal with it. it took away virtually all of the territory it held. then you point to al qaeda, the ability of that group to engage in homeland focused terrorist attacks has been dramatically degraded. the assessment of the community right now is that they do not currently have that capacity. we will remain extremely vigilant to detect any reemergence of the capability and take action against it. we have opened the opportunity to go into more detail about that in a different setting. >> i would appreciate that. i am concerned that the government is relying on the taliban for counterterrorism. that should not be something we should even be flirting with. in addition to that, $64 million
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is being reported in a two afghanistan. how can you guarantee -- into afghanistan. how can you guarantee this will not end up into the hand of the taliban like our vehicles out weapons did? -- and weapons did? >> about money and any assistance we provide will not be provided to the government. it is provided to ngos we work with and human agencies. they have tried and true mechanisms in place to make sure that the assistance gets to the people who need it, not to the government. >> isil question that. -- i still question that. i believe we need to be concerned about ngos doing work on the ground. >> your time has expired.
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i recognize their percentage of of pennsylvania for five minutes. -- the representative of pennsylvania for five minutes. >> the airlift was a remarkable and historic in its scale. this process is not without missteps and we have opportunities to draw on lessons and have the ability to move more positively into the future. i think it is important to point out it is appropriate and response ability to ask these students. i do this in the spirit of -- these questions, i do this in the spirit of questions not if there is a democrat or republican in the white house. there has been an opportunity to spread blame all around.
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i can understand the pain and anxiety that many of us are feeling. our pain and anxiety knows no party and no party owns patriotism. here is my first question. in july, the u.s. military left bagram airfield and decided the embassy and evacuated to the airport. what drove the decision to withdraw from bagram and close the embassy? you said it was the dod's decision to vacate bagram but it was your decision and response ability with the embassy. -- responsibility with the embassy. >> you are asking me important question as well as the oversight role which is essential to our system. in regards to bagram, this was part of the drawdown plan for the military. the base was handed over to the
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afghan national security and defense forces on july 2. i leave it to my colleagues to get into the details of that. in essence, as we are drawing down, production is job one. it would've taken -- protection is job one. it would have taken effort to protect bagram. the airport in kabul is a better place to do that from. getting there -- >> i would like to lead into my next question. i want to understand something that many of us remain unclear on which is the timelines that were laid out for both publicly and privately for withdrawal. massively to do with the decision to vacate bagram and the embassy.
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i empathize you were given an agenda and not necessarily a plan from a prior organization. september 11 was announced by which we needed to be gone as was august 31. i was led to believe that speaking about the dates were planning on doing things with something you should not signal to your enemy. why did we do that? was that somehow from the bagram -- did that somehow create the bagram decision? >> we inherited an agreement that we would leave by may 1. if we had not done by that agreement we would have seen a resumption of the war. >> with respect -- there was some adjectives around september 11 i do not understand. >> in doing our work on how to
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deal with may 1, the military told us that in order retrograde in a safe manner, the needed three or four months to do with the right way. the president took a risk in pushing past the may 1 deadline in terms of getting everyone out. making it clear that we were doing that. to meet the commitment that his predecessor had made. you get to september by those 3-4 months that the military needed. >> one september 11 had been decided it was also declared we were on a much more rapid path than september 11 which we pulled up troops that could have been around longer. we ended up having to bring back troops. once -- why did we decide the date and escalate the date?
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i only have seven seconds in my time i will have to come back to that. >> everything changed. the afghan national security courses collapsed over 11 days in august. then we moved into emergency evacuation. it was critical to get american citizens out and afghans at risk out, to make sure that we had control of the airport. to do that as effectively as possible the president had forces on standby for this kind of emergency to make sure that we could go in, secure the airport and get flights moving out of the airport. that is why those forces are on standby and went back in. >> i yield back. >> reach out to percentage of of texas -- i reach out to representative of texas.
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>> [indiscernible] >> you are breaking up. you are breaking up. we cannot hear you, you broke up. >> can you hear me now? >> i wanted to start by saying thank you for getting the afghans out and to the destination. are there any american hostages being held in afghanistan? >> mark, who is of great concern to me and to the entire administration who has been been
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there a couple of years and we were on every single day to bring back home. >> are there any other american hostages being held? >> to the best of my knowledge, no. >> we going to bring mark home now that we have left afghanistan? >> we are doing everything in our power as we have in and the previous administration has been doing. >> where is mark right now? >> i would like to take that up in a different setting. >> would it be fair to say that it is difficult to bring him home now that we have left afghanistan? >> it was difficult because it did not happen over the past couple of years we are determined -- years. we are determined to see it through. >> have you received any classified briefings regarding
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the threat in afghanistan? >> we get briefings on a regular basis. >> lee kicked rise those as positive? -- would you characterize those as positive? or negative as in the third is rising? >> i am happy to come back to you. it depends on what you are looking at. you are looking at our late threats against the homeland and outside of afghanistan, the basic assessment is if groups in question do not have that capacity. that could change and that is why we are being vigilant to see it if it reemerges and do something about it if it does. >> the 9/11 means him and the bin laden museum of the al qaeda, with the taliban's permission -- allowing them to
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travel freely. i find it hard to believe that so much has changed in a 20 year period that the issue has been mitigated. >> i do not have that information, we are engaged in a strongly vigorous -- in a vigorous process involving intelligence security. no one will get to the united states. >> where are they going when they pop on a list, what are we doing with them? >> we have a number of countries we are transiting anyone coming out of afghanistan. that is where the initial checks are done.
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we need more time on those checks to verify something, they stay in place or they move to another location or we have arrangements to make sure we have the time we need to go through all of the checks before they get to the united states. >> we requested to conduct oversight and have been denied. we will continue to press it is not right to be denied that oversight. does the president follow military advice to the letter on the execution of the withdrawal ? >> yes. when it comes to the question of august 31, it was unanimous -- it was the recommendation of the military. all of the commanders on the ground, move forward with
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getting out by the 31st. as they said, if we did not do that, the risk to force and risk to mission would be exponentially high. >> do you feel the united states of america has abandoned our citizens? >> no. on the contrary, -- >> i appreciate your responses and i yield back. >> are presented the -- i recognize the representative from new jersey. >> as someone who is screaming about this from the rooftops at the time, i can count on one hand the number of my colleagues from the other side who joined in expressing any concern about the former president and fighting the taliban to camp david or the shameful surrender agreement that undoubtedly set us on the path to this tragedy.
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if anybody believes that the proofs in administration would have evacuated any afghans to the united states, much less tense of thousands, i would suggest they ask the kurds their opinion of that. those of us who have been consistent are entitled to say it was also a mistake for this administration to pick up where resident from left off -- president trump left off. who are not going to fix what was wrong with afghanistan. it does not mean that we were obliged to sacrifice everything that was right with afghanistan. the sacrifice is profound. the partnership was locked and a terror state has now -- is now upon us. the gains for human rights, mass displacement, the afghans remade the society. it was our withdrawal that has unmade their society.
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what have we gained for this? our troops are not coming home, we need to be honest about that. they are moving to other bases in the same region to conduct the same counterterrorism missions including in afghanistan with no partners on the ground. presumably more civilian casualties. that drone strike in kabul is the next stage of our war. i think this is a philosophical difference will have to rest. i do want to ask about the next stage of this evacuation which i know you are committed. there is one afghan woman in particular i worked to get out. one of the many, and activists, will not name her, she was on a social media, interviewed by the international media, dramatically at risk. she tried to get to the airport,
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a bus had been organized and she was taken off of that bus. the short time we had before august 31 we were never able to make the evacuation of those afghans at risk a priority. the message we got from the state department was if they got to a place they would -- if they got blank, they would be dependent on other groups to get there. whether with this new phase with the airport returning operations, or the state department will proactively prioritize trying to get individuals like that woman's rights activist out,. will the state department reach out to all of the private groups and ngos that have been working
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on this to consolidate and rationalize these lists that they have and you have. will you try to proactively contact these people to get them visas either to the united states or visas we can encourage third countries to give them. what we work proactively -- would we work practically with countries like qatar to arrange for civil rights to the airport -- safe rides to the airport? >> we have to do everything we can to bring some of these lists together so it does not happen. ultimately, to prioritize those who are most at risk. our priorities going forward are of course, are any remaining citizens who wish to leave. also the special immigrant visa applicants who worked side-by-side with us over the years. and afghans at risk. we need to make sure that we are looking at everything so we can
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identify those who are at the highest risk and focus on the population. >> i am hoping or proactive about this rather than putting the burden on them to find a way out of the country. very quickly, i know you searched all kinds of personnel to germany, are you willing to do the same for afghans who were brought by private groups to countries albania -- like albania? >> we want to make sure that we have a place, wherever necessary. the personnel required to process people and make sure that we can do what checks are necessary and help their move to an ultimate this nation. >> i recognize the
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representative from michigan. >> want to do two quick clarifications upon some of the questions my colleagues asked. congressman greene asked whether or not the taliban was a terrorist organization, you said yes. i am assuming you are referring to their listing as a especially designated -- they are not on the foreign terrorist organization. >> that is correct. >> a congresswoman asked and you answered part of this question, but you do not get one component of it. why the deadline had been changed from september 11 which it appears the taliban had consented to and had acknowledged to august 31. i did not hear a response on that front. >> the deadline the taliban make clear they were looking to was august 31. we got that in various ways, in
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various communications. . . . . . . . have we pushed beyond that, -- had we pushed beyond that, we understand the risk of pushing for the august 31 in line leaving it was necessary and understood. i want to get to something we discussed earlier, you mentioned several times the emails that were sent to americans in afghanistan, warning them to leave. i remember getting alarms emails of the state department all of the time. i could understand if they had a little bit of fatigue over being told the sky was falling. there has been changes to verbiage did not come across as much. i am a little bit challenged to swear that with -- square
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that with the delay on visa applicants. we reached out to the administration on april 21, urging them to clear the backlog . i understand logistical hurdles they are. it worked to expedite the process. we were so concerned we are sending these grim emails that americans should have received and let the country immediately, how come we were not moving more quickly. before the first charter flight took applicants out. >> it is a complicated process. with regard to the american citizens, that were there, the warnings were increasingly explicit. we wanted to make sure to the best of our ability, we wanted to have an obligation to the american citizens who were there , to put them on notice and to
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strongly urge them to leave while they were commercial means to do so. with regard to the special immigrant visas, i know your commitment to this, which i deeply appreciate, you are in a massive acceleration of the program. starting from february, not from when things, when a government and security forces imploded food we had a program that was in a dead stall appeared we had an executive order, ordering us to improve it. we went from 100 visas a week to 1000 a week from march to late . -- to late july. we also did the operations allies refuge which flew people out which is not part of the deadline. >> it took so long because we had that concern, with folks behind the scenes and understanding the logistical
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impediments, at which we would have had that task force appointee earlier. it is something we can work on going forward to it i-22 touch upon something you mentioned. -- i wanted to talk about something you touched on. >> it is by means of explanation of why the decision is so hard for some people especially in the case of dual nationals. afghanistan is what they know as home. >> in some of these cases those individuals may not have a wife or husband, maybe not a son or daughter or a brother or sister who is eligible or has been approved. please work to free the planes.
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>> ari recognizer presented if -- i recognize the representative from new jersey. >> he talked about the challenges we face a month ago regarding the collapse of the afghan government. from your assessment, what does the situation with the afghan security forces did not fight or was this a situation that they were not given the orders to fight or give it a strategy to actually implement that? there is a granularity you have on that? >> it is a comfort -- a combination of both factors. the security forces were ill-served by the leadership they had. we throughout the summer, we were pressing and the experts or
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pressing our military leaders -- were pressing our military leaders. with the conversations we had with the president and others to put in place a plan. to make sure they were consolidating their forces to more effectively defend their major cities, couple, and large provincial capitals. in the absence, despite extensive efforts to get them to adopt those plans i think that made it harder on secretive forces who wanted to fight. >> this is going to be one of the most important questions when we look back at this and understand and diagnose where the problems were. a related element to this is the question i have asked. i want to get your take on it. did former president -- did the
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form afghan president secure anything for his people or did he flee as a coward? >> i do not want to cook rice his departure other than to say that combined with -- i do not want to characterize his departure other than to say that it combined with no putting up resistance is what put us into the emergency actuation. -- situation. >> did you have any prior knowledge he was going to flee? >> i spoke to the president when we were in the process of working to organize a transfer of power and have a representative government. to see if he would participate in that. he told me in that conversation was he would come he would go along with that effort.
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if the taliban were not, he would and and i paraphrase, "fight to the death." he left the next day. >> have you had any conversations with the taliban? >> i have not. >> who is the most senior person in the u.s. government talking to the taliban and who is their counterpart on the others -- other side? >> we have made it clear with our organization that any legitimacy they may seek from the international community, any support they are looking for is going to be contingent on their actions. the nature of their relationship that they might have with us or anyone else will be defined by what they do. >> just in terms of what is
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happening right now -- >> we have had a channel with them going back to the previous administration with a team to disengage them politically. with members of the team, they are the ones as well as our mission, the afghanistan affairs mission once the embassy shut down was moved to doha, the one who rents that is also engaging with their political commission members in doha. >> a final question. there is a lot we need to unpack over the course of 20 years. different committees will see different elements, military diligence, etc.. what the administration support an independent commission that would work
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across the different pillars to assess an analysis of what happened? >> i cannot speak for the administration on that. all i can say is we are going to do our hot washes on the last nine months and hope and expect all of us will engage in a review of the last 20 years. >> i recognize the representative of texas, for five minutes. >> thank you. how many members of the state department were killed in couple --kabul? >> none. >> in your earlier testimony you said that members of the state department ran into the airport and were serving side-by-side with the marines at the gate. i appreciate all efforts by the
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state department to rescue american assistance, for you to try to ride the coattails of the 13 brave servicemembers who gave their lives in this effort is shameful. it shows the american people how out of touch to continue to be. >> the men and women of my department or at the gate -- >> this is not a question. >> exactly one week ago four of my constituents escaped afghanistan. the first known to leave the country after your administration abandoned americans in kabul. your officials let this mother at her her three women behind -- and her three children hind. -- behind. a group of patriots facilitated their evacuation. the state department did nothing to help this family, he directed them to go to the taliban checkpoints, the mother eventually had a placed -- had a
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pistol placed to her head. you were vacationing in the hamptons in your diplomats -- and your diplomats were safe in doha. the response from your team is revolting. it takes read it from the brave bidders who risk their lives to bring my constituents home safely. did you even know of this family's existence until you wanted to take credit. >> my team is working to get every american out. they have been putting themselves on the line, they will be plenty of any on the line to do that. i am glad to bring people
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together to do that. . we are making sure that we -- to make sure that they could be received when they got to east pakistan and cared for -- use uzbekistan. i hope going forward we can do even more of that in closer cooperation and coordination to get any remaining american citizens. >> i thank you for coming to the committee meeting, i do thank you for saying the exit time so i -- i do have to say i am disappointed. not only did you risk american
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allies fight withdrawing from afghanistan but in the aftermath you have tried to act as if you have made zero mistakes and there has been an effort to pat yourselves on the back. most americans do not appreciate. her tone deaf approach and your attempt -- your tone deaf approach and attempt to spin the truth is disgusting. you owe the american people an apology could you have ruined any trust we had with our allies and with that i yield back. >> i recognize the president of california -- the representative of california for five minutes. >> thank you mr. chair. the way for staying so that some of us on junior members get a
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chance to ask you questions. i wanted to say that while i have been publicly critical of many of the decisions made around the evacuation, i used to work at the sit department and i have talked to so many former colleagues and friends who were on the ground in kabul who are working tirelessly, night and day. mostly for weeks on end to get people out. it is an incredible to service to the people who work there to say they are not deserving of praise. the people doing the work around the clock deserve to be praised. >> thank you. >> i want two over a letter i sent while i remain committed to working with getting people out of afghanistan with my colleagues.
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to make sure we are doing everything we can to deliver humanitarian assistance and urging a general license. i look forward to working with the minister should to make sure that the afghans in need are provided support. we hear today from the one how dire that is needed. -- we heard today from the u.n. how dire it is needed. i know you are so observant, but the lessons of the past decades, especially as someone who has done a lot of work. want to follow up on something you addressed with my colleague, corruption. why was the state department unable to address this issue over 20 years and what can we do to make sure that as we work with other countries and promote good governance around the globe that we are not continuing to
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have the same problem? >> that is a great question. one that i do not have a good answer to. it is a failure of our policy over the last 20 years. one that we need to address. ultimately, that corruption i think, among other things undermined any trust or competence in the government i will -- as well as allegiance to the government. if you are asking afghans to gritty forces to fight for their country and government, when there is that much corruption, it is endemic. it is hard to get the allegiance. you are right to point to that problem. we are putting a special emphasis on the department written large -- at large to combat corruption. we to understand the lessons of afghanistan -- we need to
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understand the lessons of afghanistan. we see this around the world, as a source of instability. >> i look forward to working with you on that. especially looking at the way we do security assistance. no you have been busy, i'm not sure if you've had a chance to read the report. i was wondering specifically on what the imitation plans to applying going forward as we develop in the countries we are working in. our focus in afghanistan was a failure on military certainty and that it 20 years we could not do the development and peace building programs that would have made the rest of the engagement more durable. how do we plan our foreign engagements going forward with realistic goals, course correct, how do we make sure we are building and helping others
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develop. >> i hope i can get my senior team in place to work on just that. were talking about earlier, the most senior officials are stuck in the senate right now. we do need, i have seen the report, have not read the whole thing. this is going to be an important document in informing what we do going forward. how we do it better. again, this is something we will, working with congress on in the weeks ahead. >> thank you, i yield back. >> i recognize the representative of california. 45 minutes. -- for 5 minutes.
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>> i appreciate your patience, it has been a long day. >> i will get right to the point. they withdraw from afghanistan continues to be a disaster as it has been worsened by this administration's response. the issue is not whether we should have withdrawn, it is how we withdrew and the complete lack of accountability from this administration. we left hundreds of americans stranded behind enemy lines, abandoned our afghan partners who fought by our side, left behind 500 journalists from the u.s. agency for global media in afghanistan and left the fate of women and children in the hand of the taliban. let us recognize that many state departments and their employees worked piously over the past --
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tirelessly over the past months. to be a vacuum in the leadership from administration the veterans , ordinary citizens, and congressional offices were forced to step up and in many cases take the lead in helping americans and allies free the country through independent rescue operations. many of these operations, especially -- have met resistance from the state department every turn. we work with marine veterans to evacuate -- he served at arista his life as a translator for the u.s. forces. despite having a pending siv application, he was abandoned by this administration during the evacuation process. he and his wife were killed during the couple --kabul
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airport attack, leaving their two infant sons orphans. they are still applicants and need the state department's help. it is too late to save his life, but we have time to save others. my office and other offices have been working with a third party to evacuate civilians, people that this administration left behind. these groups include americans, afghan partners, and civilians of all nations. this operation, without the help of the state department has secured routes into a neighboring country and has the approval of officials to place people therefore transferred -- there for transport to a third country for processing. without basic support from the state department, this country
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has made it clear that everyone in this group will be sent back to afghanistan to die at the hand of the taliban. they have started moving as we speak and the first group has 60 people in it, 40 of them are children. your team already has all of the necessary information provided. what has been repeatedly refused to provide assistance. i called your office and talk your officials, these people are all doomed if the state does not approve and provide transport to a safe third country. i need your commitment now that your department will approve and provide transport for these people. do i have your word you will make this happen? >> we are committed to working with you and every other member on securing the safe transport
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for people you have identified. we will work directly with you on that. i remind you, we do not control who leaves -- >> you do not understand. if we do not do anything right now even for another day these people are in great danger. i need your commitment now. you are -- you have all of this information, we just need your commitment the will work with them. >> and may be hard to see on the screen, -- it may be hard to see on the screen, here are all of the cases -- this is what we have been working on. >> we are working on every single case to the best of our ability. their turn to put in place a system -- we are trying to put in place a system and to get the
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system moving. >> i hope you have the list my office provided. >> it involves working with different groups and organizations so that we can get this going and get this moving. we are committed to doing that wherever we can. >> i recognize resident if kathy manning of north carolina, the vice chair of the committee of counterterrorism for 20 -- five minutes. . >> thank you for your patience and service on behalf of the american people. prior to this hearing, read the agreement reached between the taliban and the trump administration. president trump agreed to withdraw all troops, partners, civilian personnel by emirate first. he agreed -- by may 1.
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he worked to lift sanctions against the taliban, seek economic collaboration, and refrain from the threat or use of force against afghanistan or intervene in its domestic affair. the taliban agreed to release prisoners, not to allowed -- allow a text of the way out and not allow taliban to foster terrorists in the future. i did not see any demand for the production of afghan women and girls, any guarantee the taliban will prosecute anyone who commits a -- atrocities or afghan men. i do not see any commitment by the taliban to prosecute people who take steps to attack the united states or any of our citizens. the trump administration did not
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leave you with much to work with, did they? critics -- >> unfortunately, the taliban recently announced that they have abolished the ministry of women's affairs, replacing it with the ministry for the propagation of virtue and prevention of vice. certainly this is a worrisome sign. there is a lack of any women in the interim government and representative spanberger g plan to assemble an international coalition to hold the taliban accountable for the treatment of women and girls in afghanistan? can you tell us how you plan to
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monitor safety and ensure the coalition can protect them? sec. blinken: yes. we have already been doing that. we have put together a group of leading countries. i am meeting with about 22 of them, as well as nato, the eu, and the u.s. -- the u.n. on the expectations of the international community when it comes to the taliban's conduct to include of holding the rights of women and girls and minorities. there is a clear understanding enshrined in the un security council resolution we initiated and got past. that has real meaning to it beyond the fact that it is a resolution because there are significant u.n. sanctions on the taliban, there are travel bans and other things that if the taliban is in violation of the un security council resolution, to the extent that
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it wants to see the sanctions lifted or travel bans lifted, that is not going to happen. there are many other points of influence and leverage and overall we have made very clear, not just us, but countries around the world, including many leading countries have made clear the taliban conduct will dictate whether or not they get any support or any legitimacy whatsoever from the international community. that conduct goes, among other things, critically to how it treats women and girls. >> mr. secretary, this committee met over zoom with brave and highly intelligent afghan women who told us they were determined to stay in afghanistan and fight for the soul of their country. these extraordinary women who held important positions in afghanistan, should they find themselves targeted by the taliban -- will we have their backs? will our country be willing to help these women and their families escape to safety? sec. blinken: we will do
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everything within our means to have their backs and so would many other countries around the world with whom we are working. we look forward also to working with you in congress to make sure we have every possible tool to support these women. >> thank you mr. secretary. i know my time is all most up so i just want to encourage you to please do everything you can to speed up the siv processing and provide assistance to those whose documents -- whose passport documents applications were destroyed in the embassy in the tumble of the evacuation. again, thank you for your service. >> i recognize jim costa california for five minutes. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. and thank you mr. secretary for staying the entire length of times all of us could ask your questions and for your service to our country. in listening to the hearing today, i am reminded that we
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tried in america to limit politics at the waters edge, with all the finger-pointing that has been taking place. maybe that is a thing of the past. i would like to focus on the current situation with the b-2 process and the bee ones. we have been trying to work with the state department and frankly have been frustrated -- what is the extent that the administration is flooring options for virtual processing? for humanitarian patrol applicants? sec. blinken: we are looking at all of that, congressman. i would very much appreciate working with you and your office and if that is not happening, we will make sure we fix it. we are looking at everything to figure out, whether it is an siv or p1 or p2, to streamline, expedite consistent with our security. >> a lot of my colleagues have a lot of constituents, and we have
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an ngo group here in california, a sponsor for women and children over the last 13 years. 75% of the positions and nurses are women. excuse me, 30% are women and children. third, great fear. they are minorities in the country. they have been flight -- trying to find a way out. are you considering fast resting the -- fast tracking the b-2 act look -- the b-2 applicants? what is the infrastructure? will you expedite humanitarian patrol petitions? how long is that process? sec. blinken: we are looking at all of that. i want to come back to you and come back to congress on some of the ideas we have for doing that, as well as looking at what
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resources would be needed to do that. i think we are going to need more support and at this goes across the siv program to p1, p2. >> who would be the key person in your office to work with? >> we will have her office follow-up with your office and we will take it from there. >> it has been very frustrated. there almost 200 individuals with their families that have been kind of -- just great frustration, in fear for their lives, frankly. and that was notwithstanding all their great work they've done. so i'm just reminded of the fact that -- it seems like what the state department has maybe not been able to do, and i know you have made a great humanitarian effort in the evacuation, but i am working with other folks and it seems like a modern underground railroad of some kind is taking place, with a lot
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of third parties trying to move people by any means to the uzbekistan border, or tajikistan. how do you see that movie -- continuing echo and with great risk, i might add. sec. blinken: people are doing extraordinary things to help people get out of afghanistan who want to leave, whether it is ngo's, veterans groups, and others. wherever possible. we want to make sure that we are coordinated. we want to make sure we are doing whatever we can to support these efforts. but we are also working to make sure to the best of our ability that we have in place and understanding -- an overall process and understanding that will allow people to leave freely. >> you are processing these p2 applicants and getting some understanding of the taliban is key to that effort. sec. blinken: that's correct.
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>> let me close on the bigger picture. you have been asked this question and please get back to us with this. there are great people in great fear of their lives. last night, cnn did a great presentation -- two hours -- of 20 years of afghanistan. was it worth it? under four different administrations. i remember meeting them the first time in 2010 and i made the same comment -- how do you expect great democratic institutions where corruption in this part of the world is endemic? what are the lessons to learn here? i know you cannot answer it in 10 seconds. sec. blinken: what is exactly what you just cited. when you have corruption corroding everything you're trying to do, it makes it a lot harder if not impossible. that is something we need to follow-up on. >> i look forward to working
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with you. thank you. >> i represent -- i recognize representative vargas of california for five minutes. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. i want to thank the secretary. secretary, i appreciate the words you said, working with the veterans groups in particular. the veterans set up an incredible group here in san diego and did heroic work as they did when they were serving. i hope you continue to work with them and the state department as a whole. they know the interpreters, they know the people who can help them. again, they did a work obviously as soldiers, marines, and they are doing magnificent work now for citizens who try to help us. sec. blinken: thank you for
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underscoring that. we're doing everything we can to work closely with them. as i mentioned, i met with about 75 veterans groups about 10 days ago. our leadership has been engaged with them across the board, as well, as well as the pentagon and others. >> the one thing we have talked around a little bit but have not really hit the square on is the issue of intelligence. obviously this is not a classified briefing. but you did bring up the notion that -- well, the briefing that stated that we thought it would be two years, potentially, 18 months to two years, and then you said this -- and then you said the shortest time would be by the end of this year. how many months with that have been? what is the shortest. ? -- what is the shortest period? sec. blinken: that was an assessment made in july. so four or five months. a six months. >> i read all the classified information and went to all the briefings.
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i do not remove or anything shorter than that. -- i do not remember anything shorter than that. sec. blinken: i don't either but i want to be clear and fair. there will be individuals voices who may point to something different. as you know, you try to do this with worst-case scenarios as well as best case scenarios and other scenarios. you have to look across the board at all this. the question is -- where does the weight of it land? that is what i was referring to. >> however membered this is all the information that i read -- how i remembered this is all the information that i read -- and bc some of it we cannot discuss, but no one said it would collapse in a month. there were some people saying that it might go quicker than six months. but this was a real failure of intelligence. my concern is this. did i believe we could have that same failure of intelligence with iran and its nuclear program in?
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again, -- nuclear program? i think we will wake up one of these mornings and found out our intelligence is very wrong in iran. i think we have a difficult time understanding these religious fanatics and what they would do to either liberate their countries as they see it or to create the weapon of choice as they see it. i do not think we have good intelligence on that and i do not think we understand what they would be willing to do. it very much concerns me. we can look at blame and certainly, i agree with the representative, i was very upset when president trump announced that he had secretly invited the taliban to come to camp david, and then the smiling pictures that we saw. i hope you do not do this. the smiling pictures we saw with pompeo and the taliban and he said he they -- and he said they looked into their eyes and could
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see they were telling the truth. i hope you do not do that kind of crab. -- kind of crap. again, i think our intelligence is lacking. i do not know how to correct that. sec. blinken: this is a collective responsibility. i think all of us, whether it is the intelligence community, the military, the state department, need to make sure we're doing everything we can to provide the best possible assessments and feeding all of the information in and coming to conclusions. i think this is a collective responsibility. that is very important. iran -- there is a lot that goes into that. different things. but when it comes to what we put in place in the agreement that is no longer being adhered to, the jcpoa, we ashley had to, on the ground, -- we actually had to, on the ground, eyes on, inspecting to that is different than assessing intent. >> i do thank you for all the
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work you've done but i think we got it all wrong with our intelligence. i think we could get it all wrong with iran and pay big price. i thank you for your hard work. i yelled back. >> i represent -- i recognize representative brad schneider of illinois for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank you for hosting this critically important hearing. before we go further i want to remember and honor the service and sacrifice of our military and diplomats and others who have served our nation in afghanistan over the last 20 years. as you noted at the top of this hearing, eight hundred thousand people have served in our military operations in afghanistan. thousands have given their lives, including, tragically, 11 marines, one army soldier, and one member of davie, who died at hamid karzai -- and one member of davie, who died at hamid karzai airport last month.
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we ask you -- nevertheless, i know we are all concerned to know that americans and afghani allies remain in afghanistan after our last troops left on august 31. mr. secretary, as you have previously affirmed, our nation remains committed to helping the citizens. i know this bodies counting on your commitment there. please note we are prepared to assist in anyway. mr. secretary, i want to thank you for staying for a very long hearing to allow all of us to have a chance to speak and ask questions. we have covered a lot of ground today. some of it addressing very difficult issues. let's be clear. the current situation in afghanistan and the tragic events of this august where the consequence of policies taking place over 20 years. not the policies or even the events of the previous 20 weeks or even 20 months. we can just to touch on some of those, going back to the very beginning as noted earlier, and
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december 2001, less than three month after the 9/11 attacks, the taliban leader omar reportedly offered to recognize the new government and surrender their arms. but donald rumsfeld rejected that. we can go on into 2010, when we surged hundred thousand troops, but in that president obama said he would begin withdrawing those troops within 18 months, which he did. by 2010, the obama administration came to the sense that there was no military solution and began low-level negotiations with the taliban in 2010. jump ahead to last year, 2020. when the u.s. signed an agreement with the taliban, after donald trump's administration initiated the first high-level direct talks with the taliban. in november of last year president trump ordered the
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drawdown of our troops. january 15 of 2021, the number of u.s. forces was at 2500 troops, the lowest level since 2001. on april 14 of this year, president biden announced that, although he would not have negotiated the deal the previous administration did, he would follow through. the last troops left on august 31. mr. secretary, i would like to focus a little on the agreement struck in 2020. according to the agreement, the taliban was supposed to prevent terrorists from threatening the u.s. and our allies, which of course was a farce given the attack we saw take place over the course of many months. my question is, under that agreement, how many prisoners were released as a condition for negotiations with the taliban? sec. blinken: the previous administration prevailed upon the afghan government to release 5000 prisoners. the taliban released about 1000 prisoners.
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>> did any player leadership role in the taliban takeover of afghanistan? sec. blinken: it appears to be the case that some of them played a significant role in leading military operations in various parts of the country. yes. >> so, jumping forward from the agreement. as you said, it left an agenda without a plan. the previous administration left an agenda without a plan. based on the 2020 agreement, what would have been the implications of keeping u.s. troops in afghanistan beyond the deadline set? sec. blinken: the input cajun's were very clear. had -- the implications were very clear. had the president not made good on the agreement, the attacks on our forces and partner forces would have resumed and the offensive to take over afghanistan cities would have commenced. the result of that would have been, in order to protect ourselves and prevent the
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takeover of the country, we would have had to introduce a substantial number of forces into afghanistan. in effect, restarting, re-upping the war, not ending it. >> to summarize, how do we stay -- how we stayed beyond the deadline, we would have had more troops than 2500. they would have engaged in active conflict with the taliban, likely resulting in casualties to both american forces. causing -- costing both blood and treasure for our country. is that a true statement? sec. blinken: it is. >> my time has expired. again, i implore you, we must do everything we can to bring every american home who wants to come home. all of the special immigrant visa applicants seeking to -- >> your time has expired. sec. blinken: thank you. >> the time has expired. member questions are now concluded.
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i want to first think sec. blinken. -- thank secretary blinken. for his secretary -- for his patients, time today. he has been accessible to this committee and we look forward to continuing the relationship we have, as we utilize our oversight responsibilities. as i close, i think it is important to recognize that our actions have consequences. and many times these actions are not easily reversible. the trump administrations excluding -- administration's excluding the ghani government while excluding -- while including the taliban in negotiations fundamentally alter the power in the country. the deal forced the afghan government to release 5000 prisoners. it was a deal they failed to
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obtain a commitment for a cease-fire or do not attack the afghan government. and it failed to obtain a commitment from the taliban to separate from al qaeda. in exchange, the trumpet ministry should agreed to withdraw all our troop -- the trump administration agreed to withdraw all our troops by may 2021. there was a concert was to this agreement. at consequences -- and consequent is made throughout the 20 years our military was deployed in afghanistan. when i first became chair of this committee, i said the american foreign policy is in desperate need of humility. that includes understanding the limits of u.s. military intervention. at the start of this hearing, i cited how many americans were killed over 20 years of war in afghanistan. but that alone does not capture all the full human cost. those numbers do not capture the
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family members and friends forever changed by this conflict. it does not capture the suffering endured by afghan civilians, trapped in the middle of a civil war. the costs of war are immeasurable. not just the human toll. last year alone it resulted in 17 veteran suicides a day. on average. we cannot ask our servicemembers to fight overseas without a clear, winnable objective. as members of congress, this is our responsibility. and the weeks and months to come -- in the weeks and months to come, we will continue oversight over afghanistan and take a sober look on how we got here for over 20 years of war and how we can prevent making the same mistakes. i also would be remiss if i did not say, thank you, after 20
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years, to all our military and all of dod. thank you to the state department and all our diplomats there. then q -- thank you to usaid, dhs, the dea, the cia, the department of agriculture, the doj, the department of commerce, and of course, our afghan allies, who stood side-by-side with us for 20 years. i want to thank each and every one of them. this is not the end. we will conduct, as i stated earlier, continue our oversight responsibilities, bringing in individuals from the past administrations, as we completely oversee and look back and forward to what has been and
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should be and will be in the future. and with that, this hearing is adjourned. [gavel slams]
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