Marking the 20th anniversary of the launch of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst—a combat veteran who served in the Global War on Terrorism—spoke on the Senate Floor to outline the grave consequences of the Biden Administration’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan.
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Senator Ernst’s full remarks are below:
“Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of the launch of the U.S. military offensive in Afghanistan against the Taliban and al Qaeda in response to their ruthless attack on America.
“As a result of our nation’s resolve, and the sacrifice and service of our brave men and women over the past two decades, Osama bin Laden is dead and our homeland has been guarded against additional large scale terror attacks.
“And up until President Joe Biden’s sloppy and poorly planned exit from Afghanistan, al Qaeda and the Taliban were on the run.
“But today, due to the decisions of President Biden, the radical extremists that sponsored Osama bin Laden and partnered with al Qaeda, who are responsible for the deadliest terrorist attack in history, are back in power.
“How did we get here?
“It became apparent at last week’s Armed Services Hearing after I questioned our top military leaders that President Biden made a completely unconditional withdrawal.
“The president simply looked at the calendar and saw what he thought would be an easy political victory, and decided we would be out of Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
“Another fact that became clear after the hearing last week is that President Biden causally dismissed the sound advice of his own military leaders.
“He discounted the tactical and strategic value of keeping a small force in place to defeat the terrorists.
“Then, to cover for those mistakes, President Biden misled the public about the advice he was given and refused to take.
“So let’s be clear about what happened as a result of the president ignoring his own general’s recommendations.
“He abandoned American citizens behind enemy lines, left strong allies and partners to fend for themselves against the Taliban, tarnished America’s reputation, and created the conditions that led to the devastating loss of 13 brave American servicemembers.
“He stubbornly led our country into the most disastrous diplomatic and military debacle in modern American history.
“Those now in control of Afghanistan are a Who’s Who of international terrorists.
“Nearly half of the members of the new Afghan government are on the UN Security Council’s Terrorism Blacklist – that’s the UN folks, their Terrorism Blacklist – including the acting prime minister and both of his deputies.
“At least two principal members of the Haqqani Network, which is a U.S. designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, are in the highest positions of the Taliban’s new government.
“The Minister of the Interior is on the FBI’s Most Wanted List.
“His uncle, the Minister of Refugees, is designated a terrorist by our government.
“Together the US government values the reward for their arrests at $15 million.
“The Biden Doctrine put America’s Most Wanted back in charge of a terrorist training ground and increased the risk of attacks against our homeland.
“And we didn’t leave the terrorists empty handed either.
“In our rush for the exits, we left tens of billions of dollars’ worth of military weapons and gear behind which is now in the hands of the enemy.
“We can expect to encounter this tactical equipment again on the battlefield, but being used against us.
“Here are just a few numbers: 600,000 weapons, 22,000 Humvees, and more than 200 aircraft.
“Folks, we left America’s Most Wanted with America’s Best Weapons.
“But it’s not just weapons and military capabilities.
“President Joe Biden left behind our own citizens…stranded in a foreign country governed by known terrorists.
“And as much as the Administration wants to act like this is all in the past, and we’ve closed the book on Afghanistan, it’s just not reality.
“Right now we have American citizens stranded in Afghanistan.
“Let that sink in for just a moment, folks.
“Americans and our Afghan partners who worked with us over the past two decades – interpreters and translators – they’re are sitting ducks for the Taliban.
“When we ask for an accurate accounting of who and how many are still left, the Pentagon points the finger at the State Department who then goes radio silent.
“The Administration is downplaying the evils of the Taliban, and its refusal to state hard facts is stunning.
“The chorus of praise from the State Department and the White House calling the Taliban ‘businesslike’ and ‘professional’ would be comical if it wasn’t so horrifying.
“If using Kabul’s soccer stadiums to publicly execute dissidents, overseeing the legal rape of young girls through child marriage, and settling disputes by chopping off hands and feet is how the Taliban does business, then President Biden is right, they are truly pros.
“General Mark Milley admitted the exit was ‘a strategic failure’ in his testimony last week.
“Folks, that’s an understatement.
“President Biden and his top foreign policy advisor Secretary of State Antony Blinken have serially failed to own up to this fiasco.
“Someone must take responsibility for this colossal failure.
“As we uncovered again last week, President Biden’s decisions led us here, right back where we began.
“Both General McKenzie and General Milley testified last week ‘al Qaeda is still at war with us’ and within the year they ‘could be reconstituted with aspirations to attack the U.S.’
“During Joe Biden’s campaign, he promised a return to normalcy.
“Little did we know that meant a return to vulnerability…and an America that is less safe from the terrorists that attacked our homeland twenty years ago.”