Rep. DesJarlais to Newsmax: Fingers Pointing in Many Directions on Afghanistan

The three Pentagon leaders testifying before the House and Senate Armed Services Committees assigned blame in many directions about the failures with the Afghanistan withdrawal, but nobody is claiming accountability for what happened, Rep. Scott DesJarlais said on Newsmax Thursday. 

“I’m glad that they came to answer questions because we’re looking for accountability on this,” the Tennessee Republican said on Newsmax’s “National Report,” about the testimony from Gens. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Kenneth McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command; and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. “It seems like they’re pointing fingers and in several directions.” 

The military leaders seemed to be pointing to the State Department or to President Joe Biden, who “didn’t take their best military advice on several things.”

Meanwhile, the State Department is “saying other things and not giving answers,” said DesJarlais, and Biden has said the “buck stops with him, and it seems as if he wants to blame President [Donald] Trump.”

Meanwhile, sources with direct knowledge of a briefing have blamed the State Department for waiting too long to order the operation out of the Kabul airport, according to an Axios report, and DesJarlais said it does seem like the department was “running the show.”

He noted that the GOP’s ranking committee member Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., spent time during Wednesday’s hearing establishing that the State Department decided to abandon the Bagram Air Field. 

“I think in their best military judgment, they would have known that Bagram would have been a more strategic location to conduct this evacuation,” said DesJarlais. “What’s frustrating was all three of them stated that they knew the Afghan army was going to fail. It was a matter of if, it was a matter of when, they just didn’t see it coming as quickly, which doesn’t make any sense, either because we’ve been covering that in the months leading up to the failure in the fall of Kabul.”

Further, the intelligence on the ground said the Taliban’s army was advancing rapidly, but Biden “was more fixated on his imagery of ending the war on 9/11, that he had tunnel vision and he was not going to listen to the best military advice.”

He added that he thinks the three generals are doing their best to cover for Biden, as they serve at the pleasure of the president. 

“None of it really adds up when you look at them saying, well, this is what we told him to do and President Biden goes on TV and says no, none of my generals told me that we needed 2,500 men. All of them are sitting there telling us that’s exactly what they told him, so either he lied to the American people or it wouldn’t surprise me as a physician if he just simply forgot, considering his behavior in the media.”

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