News & Politics

GOP Leaders Demand a 'Gang of Eight' Briefing on Afghanistan Disaster. Here's Whose Head Might Be on the Chopping Block.

GOP Leaders Demand a 'Gang of Eight' Briefing on Afghanistan Disaster. Here's Whose Head Might Be on the Chopping Block.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Republican congressional leaders have sent a letter to President Biden requesting a classified briefing for the so-called “Gang of Eight” on the ongoing debacle in Afghanistan.

The “Gang of Eight” includes the Democratic and Republican leadership in the House and Senate as well as the ranking members of the House and Senate intelligence committees. The members are briefed in special circumstances where the president determines that informing the entire Congress would risk national security.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell asked for the classified briefing on Thursday.

“It is of the utmost importance that the U.S. Government account for all U.S. citizens in Afghanistan and provide the necessary information and means of departure to all those Americans who desire to leave the country,” said the letter from the two Republican leaders.

According to Fox News, topics to be discussed include:

  • The number and location of U.S. persons currently located in Afghanistan, and the methodology to determine such a number and location;
  • The Taliban’s security posture inside Kabul and the ability of U.S. persons to safely travel to Hamid Karzai International Airport from inside the city;
  • The status of discussions with the Taliban to ensure the safety of U.S. persons;
  • The ability of the U.S. Government to communicate with U.S. persons in country;
  • The Administration’s plan to evacuate U.S. persons outside of Kabul who cannot travel safely to the city; and
  • The number of U.S. persons unaccounted for in the country and the potential reasons why such individuals have not been reached.

In addition to the classified briefing for the leadership, there will be several other congressional hearings. Republicans will look to go on the attack over the botched withdrawal and Democrats will seek to deflect, deflect, and deflect. Rep. Gregory Meeks, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, says he has invited both Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to testify.

Related: Biden Is Tougher on GOP Governors Who Defy His Mask Guidance Than He Is on the Taliban

“The situation in Afghanistan is rapidly changing and it is imperative that the administration provide the American people and Congress transparency about its Afghanistan strategy,” Meeks said.

The Hill:

In addition to Meeks, the House Armed Services Committee is also “in the process of scheduling closed briefings for Members to receive most current information,” Monica Matoush, a spokesperson for the panel, told The Hill in an email Wednesday.

Matoush added that Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) — who she said supports the “decisions made” and “rationale” from Biden — is “in contact with [White House] and [Department of Defense] officials” and is urging administration officials “to do everything in their power to safely evacuate” U.S. personnel, Afghan nationals who aided the U.S. military and their family members as well as Afghans who could be targeted by the Taliban.

Meanwhile, Republicans want some heads to roll. And Biden may very well give them what they want.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who had voiced support for Biden’s April announcement that he would withdraw U.S. troops, on Wednesday called for Biden’s defense and policy teams to resign — an apparent first among Senate Republicans. But GOP senators more broadly are demanding public hearings to determine what went wrong.

Republicans on the Foreign Relations Committee sent a letter this week to Menendez asking to hear directly from Blinken.

“We need to hear from Secretary Blinken directly, to understand why the State Department was so ill prepared for the contingencies unfolding before us and what it will take to get the State Department back on track,” they wrote.

Both Austin and Blinken are probably safe. But the firing squad is forming in front of national security advisor Jake Sullivan. It’s certain that someone is going to have to pay for this clusterfark and Mr. Sullivan’s head appears to be on the chopping block.