Liz Cheney: Biden, Trump to Blame for Chaos in Afghanistan

Rep. Liz Cheney on Monday blamed both the Trump and Biden administrations for the chaos in Afghanistan, accusing them of creating a “dangerous new phase in the war on terror.”

But ultimately, the final decision to withdraw troops completely is President Joe Biden’s, the Wyoming Republican told “CBS This Morning,” a decision she called “disgraceful.”

The Trump administration’s decision last year to negotiate with the Taliban was a “surrender agreement,” the Wyoming Republican said, as it set a date for the U.S. troop withdrawal in a trade for promises from the Taliban, which the insurgents did not meet. 

And while the United States “never should have done that,” Biden “never should have withdrawn forces,” Cheney said. 

“When you look at how we got to this point, certainly there is sufficient blame on both sides,” said Cheney. “We’re watching unfold what it looks like when America adopts a policy of retreat when America adopts a policy of surrender, and it makes us less safe and it’s gonna make the war longer.”

She added that the United States needs to determine “whether our security requires that we have sufficient forces to work with the Afghans… air support, counterintelligence, counterterrorism efforts, to prevent (terrorist) safe havens.” 

Cheney also said she’s concerned for national security, as “Al Qaeda, ISIS and other terrorist organizations now have an entire country that the Taliban controls,” and about the prisoners who were released from custody as the Taliban quickly swept into control of Afghanistan. 

“We know 20 years ago the Taliban was hosting Al Qaeda while they planned the attacks against us,” said Cheney, referring to the 9-11 attacks. “You’ve got prisoners that will not only get back into the battle for the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan but will populate terrorist organizations globally. “

This means the United States has entered a “very dangerous new phase now in the war on terror, created an additional security situation and danger that we simply didn’t need to create.”

Cheney also said she disagrees with Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s assessment that the remaining 2,500 U.S. troops that were in Afghanistan would have been enough to keep the Taliban from taking control. 

“They were holding them back and our airpower, our forces on the ground, our intelligence efforts, all of those things were working together,” the congresswoman said. “We had the agreement that was signed in the Trump administration that began this process of helping to strengthen the Taliban. We invited, or were going to invite, the Taliban to Camp David. Secretary (Mike) Pompeo met with the Taliban, the first U.S. Secretary of State to do that. All of those things led to the moment that we find ourselves at.”

Cheney also called the takeover of Afghanistan “heartbreaking” and said the men and women deployed there over the last 20 years ” helped ensure that we didn’t have any further mass casualty attacks from Afghan territory.”

Going forward, she said the United States must “have a very serious look now at how we’re going to conduct counterterrorism operations around the world, given the heightened threat because of this complete withdrawal from Afghanistan.

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