Afghan Withdrawal Debacle Was Even Worse Than We Knew, No Plan AT ALL

No Biden Plan, Made On The Fly

Taliban special force fighters gather inside the Hamid Karzai International Airport after the U.S. military's withdrawal, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. The Taliban were in full control of Kabul's airport on Tuesday, after the last U.S. plane left its runway, marking the end of America's longest war. (AP Photo/Khwaja Tawfiq Sediqi)

Hours of closed-door testimony from three top State Department officials shed new light on the “unprecedented” situation in the final days of the US presence in Afghanistan as the officials were rushed to the country with virtually no time to prepare and no established emergency evacuation plan in place when they arrived.

The three officials, John Bass, Jim DeHart and Jayne Howell, were all plucked from unrelated assignments and rushed into Afghanistan in the hours after Kabul fell to the Taliban due to their extensive experience in Afghanistan.

The transcripts of their interviews with the House Foreign Affairs Committee, obtained exclusively by CNN, are the latest tranche of more than a dozen interviews conducted by the committee as a key part of Republican Chairman Michael McCaul’s ongoing investigation into the 2021 evacuation that involved the deaths of 13 US service members.

McCaul is planning to put out a report later this year that includes overall takeaways from the interviews, as well as State Department notes the House Foreign Affairs Committee has received from the agency’s own review of the withdrawal. Biden administration officials expect that the report will be timed with a political motive: to bring the Afghanistan withdrawal back to the fore during the heat of the presidential election.

The new details paint a picture of the chaos outside the Kabul airport and the ad-hoc nature of the evacuation, something that top US military generals suggested could have been mitigated if the State Department had called sooner for a “noncombatant evacuation operation” – known as a NEO – for remaining US citizens in Afghanistan.

“It is my assessment that that decision came too late,” Gen. Mark Milley, the now-retired Joint Chiefs chairman, said at the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing last month. The State Department has continued to publicly defend its decision making around the NEO as well as the ending of the war.

Click here for CNN’s full report on the disaster