Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has condemned President Joe Biden for his handling of the situation in Afghanistan that led to the fall of the government in Kabul to the Taliban.
In an interview with Fox News on Friday, Pompeo called the Biden administration’s efforts to evacuate Americans from the country “a debacle of significant proportions.”
“Today, what President Biden said frankly made it worse. I didn’t hear a single thing from him today that would have given comfort to those families. There’s still no plan to get these Americans back. I didn’t hear a single thing that would give comfort to the very allies you spoke about,” Pompeo said.
“This is a debacle of significant proportions. We haven’t seen anything like this, the United States, in an awfully long time. America has the tools to fix this,” Pompeo added. “Our military could certainly figure out a way to go get these folks back and to destroy some of these billions of dollars in equipment that we left behind, but it’s going to take American resolve and leadership, and President Biden has refused to show this for the entire time.”
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told congressional lawmakers on Friday that Americans who are trying to leave Afghanistan have been beaten by Taliban fighters, according to several people who participated in the meeting.
During the briefing call, Austin described the reports of Taliban beatings as “unacceptable,” but he did not provide details on how the US military would ensure Americans’ safe passage to Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
The Pentagon chief declined to “rule in or out” the possibility of American troops moving beyond the Kabul airport to protect Americans and others from the Taliban.
Austin’s remarks to House members contradicted Biden’s assessment made earlier on Friday, in which Biden said his administration was not aware of Americans having trouble getting through Taliban checkpoints and to the airport in Kabul.
Biden has come under intense scrutiny for the chaotic exit of the military from Afghanistan, and his failure to provide a safe passage for US citizens and some Afghans from Kabul.
He has suggested that he would keep troops in Afghanistan beyond August 31 if the evacuations weren’t completed by then.
Austin also refused to rule out any options when it comes to the possibility of sending in additional troops to Afghanistan.
The US president had repeatedly vowed the withdrawal from Afghanistan would be orderly, deliberate and safe and that there were no circumstances that Afghanistan would suddenly fall to the Taliban, after 20 years of war and occupation.
The Pentagon has evacuated about 7,000 people since Saturday and has deployed more than 5,200 troops to the Kabul airport. Biden has ordered the deployment of up to 7,000 American troops to Kabul in total.
Biden said earlier that the US was “considering every opportunity and every means by which we could get folks to the airport,” amid reports that the Taliban are trying to prevent safe passage there.