WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden addressed the nation Tuesday about his decision to end America’s longest war and stood firmly by his decision despite strong pushback over the chaos during the last two weeks in Kabul after the Taliban takeover.
“I was not going to extend this forever war,” Biden said. “We’ve been a nation too long at war. If you’re 20-years-old today, you’ve never known an America at peace.”
Biden responded to sharp criticism over sticking to the Aug. 31 deadline for troop withdrawal.
“Leaving by Aug. 31 is not due to an arbitrary deadline,” Biden said. “It was designed to save American lives.”
Biden said they started reaching out to Americans in Afghanistan in March about leaving and said contact was made 19 times.
Biden said 90 percent of Americans who wanted to leave Afghanistan have done so and said most who remain there have dual citizenship or deep roots in the country.
“We completed one of the biggest airlifts in history with more than 120,000 people evacuated to safety,” Biden said.
The Biden administration has not given an exact number of how many Americans are still left in Afghanistan, only saying there are fewer than 200 there.
It has led to sharp criticism from Republican leadership.
“Never in my lifetime would I have ever believed America would have an administration knowingly make a decision to leave Americans behind,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
Republicans in Congress condemned the Biden administration for the bloodshed and pointed to the killing of 13 American service members in a suicide bombing.
“That showed gross negligence on the part of the administration for sticking to that arbitrary Aug. 31 date,” said Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.)
Our Washington News Bureau sat down with Crawford, who is an Army veteran and a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Crawford said he was part of an intel briefing by the Biden administration last week about the situation in Afghanistan.
“They were woefully ill-prepared and deliberately evasive and so we’re not getting a full account of what has taken place,” said Crawford.
Crawford questioned the accuracy of the number of Americans still left in Afghanistan being reported by the Biden administration.
“I think there are significantly greater numbers than they’re reflecting in their reporting not to mention the SIVs (Special Immigrant Visas) and other qualified applicants for evacuation,” said Crawford. “I think the numbers are grossly understated.”
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