House Foreign Affairs Committee holds Afghanistan withdrawal hearing

Elina Shirazi and Devan Markham

WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are still searching for answers about the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021, and they hope to receive some Tuesday.

Two of the nation’s top military officials from that time — former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman retired Gen. Mark Milley and former U.S. Central Command and Department of Defense Commander retired Gen. Kenneth McKenzie — will testify Tuesday before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Last year, Milley called the withdrawal a “strategic failure.”

Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, plans to call out the Biden administration for how it handled the withdrawal.

In McCaul’s remarks, obtained by NewsNation ahead of Tuesday’s hearing, the chairman says the committee’s investigation has uncovered repeated instances of the White House refusing to listen to warnings about the situation on the ground in Afghanistan.

The chairman will also address the need for the Defense Department to release documents about a U.S. sniper who said he saw a suicide bomber who detonated an explosive at the Kabul airport, killing 13 U.S. service members.

McCaul will also say that the committee has learned the State Department did not request an emergency evacuation until after Kabul was surrounded.

Last month, McCaul threatened to hold Secretary of State Antony Blinken in contempt of Congress for a “failure to turn over all the required documents related to the withdrawal.” McCaul backed down after Blinken agreed to send the documents.

For some, Tuesday’s hearing hits close to home.

Mel Ghani, the nephew of former Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, spoke with NewsNation about the moment U.S. troops and his uncle fled their country.

Mel Ghani said he witnessed the Taliban take over.

“The Biden administration’s other biggest stain on their history will be Afghanistan. There is no doubt about that,” Mel Ghani said. “Their timely exit was not timely at all. They left in the peak fighting season of the Taliban and left several U.S. bases to the Afghan government in the middle of the night.”

While there has been scrutiny on both sides, President Joe Biden has hammered home that he does not regret his decision in Afghanistan.

Two and a half years after the bombing at the airport, Gold Star families say they are still waiting for answers and accountability from the Biden administration.

Gold Star families previously said the Biden administration hasn’t been transparent about the attack and accused U.S. officials of putting politics ahead of their children’s lives.

McCaul and other Republican lawmakers invited some of those parents who lost their children during the Afghanistan withdrawal to the State of the Union earlier this month.

The father of a Marine who died in the Kabul International Airport bombing was arrested and faces charges after interrupting Biden’s address, shouting “Abbey Gate” and “United States Marines.”

McCaul has since called for the charges against Steve Nikoui, 51, to be dropped.

Steve Nikoui’s son, Marine Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, was just 20 years old when he was killed in the bombing along with 12 other American service members and 170 Afghan civilians.

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