OAN Brooke Mallory
UPDATED 3:00 PM – Wednesday, April 19, 2023
A government watchdog claims that Biden’s botched pullout from Afghanistan has left tens of thousands of Afghan allies behind, and the president’s efforts to rescue and relocate them are being undercut by “bureaucratic dysfunction and understaffing.”
“The U.S. promised to resettle its allies in safety, but the United States is failing,” stated the stark assessment from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).
The SIGAR 2023 High-Risk List report was published on Wednesday, which details the significant threats to the $8 billion that the United States has given to the Afghan people after its withdrawal in August 2021.
The report was released as Afghanistan experiences a “humanitarian catastrophe” brought on by the violent Taliban government, which seized power after the United States withdrew.
The hearing is titled “The Biden Administration’s Disastrous Withdrawal from Afghanistan, Part I: Review by the Inspectors General,” and it is taking place before Congress on Wednesday. Inspector General John Sopko and watchdogs for the Defense and State Departments, as well as the U.S. Agency for International Development, will be the participants testifying.
They will be providing legislators with updates on their individual analyses of how the Biden administration handled the pullout, which resulted in the deaths of 13 U.S. service members and the displacement of thousands of additional Americans and Afghan allies.
James Comer (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, said in an announcement regarding the hearing on Wednesday that, “…this Administration not only continues to offer justifications for the self-inflicted humanitarian and national security catastrophe, but senior officials are actively obstructing meaningful congressional oversight.”
The White House has denounced GOP-led criticism of its approach to the Afghan conflict as “politically motivated” and charged Congress with failing to move legislation that would increase the number of people eligible for special immigration visas to resettle Afghan nationals.
“When President Biden made the decision to finally bring our troops home and end the 20-year war that cost us countless lives and tens of billions of dollars a year with no end in sight, he also committed to safely evacuating tens of thousands of Americans and to welcoming Afghan allies who worked alongside the U.S. throughout the war, including by surging resources to improve the processing of special visas that had been all but stopped by the Trump Administration,” said White House Spokesman Ian Sams.
“Instead of supporting these successful efforts to evacuate Americans and give Afghan allies safe harbor, MAGA House Republicans are refusing to acknowledge their own history of opposing efforts to aid Afghan allies and are turning their backs on those who risked their lives alongside American service members for two decades in Afghanistan by opposing and delaying legislation like the Afghan Adjustment Act, revealing that these hearings are nothing more than political stunts solely aimed at attacking the President,” he maintained.
According to the SIGAR report, Biden gave U.S. allies assurance that they would not be forgotten about, just one month before the Afghan government fell. On July 8th, 2021, Biden decaled, “There is a home for you in the United States if you so choose, and we will stand with you, just as you stood with us.
“However, the United States has left most of its allies behind, and it will take a year, on average, until each family reaches safety,” the report says.
According to the most recent data, 175,000 Afghans are still awaiting the processing of their Special Immigration Visas (SIVs) or refugee petitions by the U.S. government. Only around 20% of SIV candidates have received visas from the United States as of late September 2022, according to SIGAR.
Relocating and resettling every SIV applicant might take more than three decades.
SIGAR found numerous issues with the SIV program, including “chronic understaffing, reliance on antiquated IT systems, and inadequate interagency coordination.”
The report emphasized the requirement for the government to strike a balance between “expeditious processing” for refugees and screening for threats to national security.
According to the study, “The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General documented problems with vetting Afghans admitted to the United States in the fall of 2021, including two Afghans who were later determined to be national security threats and put into removal proceedings.”
The report also exposes that an American has been charged, while two other Americans have admitted to fabricating the paperwork needed for Afghans to apply for visas.
More than $8 billion in U.S. aid to the Afghan people is exposed to multiple risks. Some of these risks include waste, fraud, abuse, poor management, and mission failure, according to SIGAR. This money is “at greater risk than ever before,” due to the Taliban meddling in NGO and UN operations.
The previous reports from SIGAR, which were published in 2014, 2017, 2019, and March 2021, precede this fifth High-Risk List. It is the first report to be made public since U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The White House presented its own review of the departure from Afghanistan earlier this month, which primarily accused former President Donald Trump and his administration with limiting the evacuation’s terms.
“President Biden’s choices for how to execute a withdrawal from Afghanistan were severely constrained by conditions created by his predecessor,” stated the White House review.
Trump was accused in the dossier for allegedly encouraging the Taliban by starting peace negotiations without first contacting regional allies and partners of the United States. It also stated that Trump was concurrently reducing the American military’s presence in Afghanistan through a series of drawdowns throughout 2020.
“The Taliban were in the strongest military position that they had been in since 2001, controlling or contesting nearly half of the country,” said the White House.
“While it was always the president’s intent to end that war, it is also undeniable that decisions made and the lack of planning done by the previous administration significantly limited options available to him,” said John Kirby, the White House national security spokesman.
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