ICYMI: Sullivan Discusses Briefing on Biden’s Botched Afghanistan Withdrawal
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), spoke at a press conference yesterday with seven of his Senate colleagues after participating in a classified briefing with testimony from General Austin Scott Miller, the former commander of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, regarding the Biden administration’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan. Sen. Sullivan also discussed the briefing with Bill Hemmer and Dana Perino on Fox News Channel’s America’s Newsroom this morning.
Below is a transcript of Sen. Sullivan’s portion of the press conference.
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think as we all came back from recess—I don't want to speak for all the other senators here—but I can tell you, back home in Alaska, this was the number one issue that everybody was raising. I have never seen my constituents more upset, more mad, feeling that the country is humiliated and asking, ‘Where is the accountability?’
“We are beginning that accountability process and these hearings are going to be important. Keep an eye on one issue as we do these hearings: The military's credibility versus the Biden administration's credibility, because we are seeing the clearly evolving strategy of the Biden administration, which is to blame Trump and to blame the generals and to continue to claim that this was what President Biden said was ‘an extraordinary success.’ Everybody in America, everybody in the world, knows that this was not an extraordinary success.
“You may have seen this cover (from) The Economist: ‘Biden's Debacle.’ It goes into just how badly this is going to harm America's foreign policy interests strategically for years to come. But this is going to be tough for the military, because we're going to ask them to be honest (and) to keep the credibility of the military, which is very much at stake as their highest priority.
“They're going to be asked the questions—what they think about statements from this President and this administration, such as: this (withdrawal) was ‘an extraordinary success’; Al Qaeda has been wiped out in Afghanistan; our NATO allies were fine with the August 31 deadline; we have over-the-horizon capability to keep us safe. Every one of those statements is not true. We're going to be asking our military members to weigh in on these statements.
“I will say, General Miller was asked a lot of these today and I would say, as expected with someone with his record of service to his country, he did a very admirable job. But it's just beginning. Those are going to be the important issues. Thank you.”
Below is the full transcript of the senator’s interview on Fox News Channel.
Perino: Senator Dan Sullivan is a member of the Armed Services Committee and a former assistant U.S. secretary of state. Let me ask you, sir, first, if you could explain to people why the hearing was closed and the testimony was behind closed doors. There might be a very good reason for that. We would love to hear it. And what are you able to tell us about what he said, given that it was behind closed doors?
Sullivan: Dana, a lot of these hearings are behind closed doors for classified reasons, in terms of the information that the generals are sharing with the committee, but we intend to have General Miller in an open session, General Milley, the CENTCOM Commander, General Mackenzie, and Secretary Austin in an open hearing soonut what I can tell you is that it is becoming increasingly clear that the military advice to President Biden last spring was to not go to zero troops in the country. He rejected that. But, more importantly, some of the military advice also predicted the chaos that we're seeing right now. He rejected that. President Biden rejected that even though he was forewarned. And, again, I think this foreign policy fiasco, given that he was given this advice, these predictions of chaos, is something that President Biden solely owns.
Hemmer: And Antony Blinken likely agreed with that when he said at the beginning of the public hearing yesterday that all calls ultimately come from the Commander in Chief. That's true.
Sullivan: Yes, but what's interesting, they say that the President has been saying, “The buck stops with me.” But look at Blinken’s testimony. What is he doing? He's essentially blaming President Trump, he's blaming the uniformed military, and then he's continuing to say that the operation in Afghanistan was “an extraordinary success.” That's what President Biden said. The problem with that, of course, is that nobody believes it. No American believes it. Our allies don't believe it. Certainly the terrorists don't believe it. So, again, this is a foreign policy fiasco that President Biden owns. What we're going to do with these hearings is have accountability, responsibility, and finally try to get this administration to level with the American people. They've been telling a lot of untruths over the last several weeks. We need to get to the bottom of all of this.
Perino: Senator, it does seem to me you can look over the past few weeks, and what we were literally seeing with our own eyes, and the people we were talking to on the ground were telling us a very different story than what you were hearing from the administration. In some ways, you can see that the administration is trying to turn the page. They would rather talk about “Build Back Better” and anything else than this issue, but they seem very detached. I'm curious what you hear from constituents. You have a pretty heavy national security constituency there in Alaska. What are they saying?
Sullivan: Dana, that is a great question. I mentioned this to General Miller yesterday. I've never seen my constituents, who are very pro-military—Alaska is more veterans per capita than any state in the country—they are livid. They are so mad. They want accountability. I've never seen an issue where my constituents are so mad and some of it goes exactly to the issue that you just raised. The President has been coming out, (and) his administration, over the last several weeks, (saying) things that are blatantly not true. He said that we're going to get every American out who wants to get out of Afghanistan. That wasn't true. He said that Al Qaeda is gone from Afghanistan. That isn't true. He said that our allies were fine with the August 31st deadline to leave. That wasn't true. He said that we have this great over-the-horizon capability. It's been dramatically diminished. For all of these reasons, people are seeing this administration come out and just tell blatant untruths from literally what they're watching on TV and it's frustrating and that's why people want accountability and they want these hearings to dig deep.
Hemmer: Okay, just one last point here. The President said repeatedly that he listened to the advice of his commanders, especially on Bagram and all that stuff. But you're saying today that General Miller is going to testify publicly. So we will hear from him directly and we'll find out in real time, correct?
Sullivan: That's correct. And I think we're going to see increasingly, particularly the advice that was given to the President last spring from his military advisors, was not to leave, not to go to zero. And, if you do go to zero, the chaos that we're seeing right now was likely going to happen. People need to know that because President Biden rejected that and he owns this foreign policy fiasco for that reason.
Hemmer: Senator, thank you for your time. Dan Sullivan, a Republican from Alaska, back with us today. Thank you.
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