Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and Secretary of State Antony Blinken had a contentious exchange Tuesday during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Biden’s handlers’ catastrophic bungling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan and continued incompetence. Paul took the opportunity to tell Blinken some home truths, truths that Blinken and his colleagues are certain to continue to ignore, to their peril and ours.
Paul hit Biden’s handlers’ “colossal incompetence” in Afghanistan, and noted that the Biden administration was “holding no one accountable, having everyone circle the wagons.” He added: “To add insult to injury, this week you’ve now released sixty-four million dollars in aid to Afghanistan. Don’t we have some prohibition against giving aid and comfort to the enemy? Now the argument from the Biden administration is, ‘Oh, we’re giving it to charities, and it’s for the good of the people, for poor people, and for women.’ Well, the Taliban has a history of taking this. Throughout their governance, they would take the money. This was a big complaint we had when they were in power the last time. They now have eighty billion dollars’ worth of weapons. Three-hundred and fifty thousand automatic weapons. Are we really naïve enough to believe that we are just going to keep sending charity to Afghanistan and they’re not going to interrupt it? I think that’s a foolish notion.”
Paul made Blinken even more uncomfortable when he asked him: “The guy the Biden administration droned, was he an aid worker or an ISIS-K operative?”
Blinken first tried to deflect the question: “Uh, er, the administration is of course reviewing, that, uh, that strike, uh, and I’m sure that a, you know, a full assessment will be forthcoming .” Paul interrupted: “So you don’t know if it was an aid worker or an ISIS-K operative?” Blinken continued: “Uh, I can’t speak to that, and I can’t speak to that in this setting in any event.” Paul shot back: “So you don’t know or won’t tell us.” Blinken responded: “Uh, I don’t, I don’t know because we’re, we’re reviewing it.”
Paul then moved in for the kill: “Well, see, you’d think you’d kind of know before you off somebody with a predator drone whether he’s an aid worker or he’s an ISIS-K – you see, the thing is, this isn’t just you. It’s been going on for administration after administration. The Obama administration droned hundreds and hundreds of people. And the thing is, there is blowback to that. I mean, I don’t know if it’s true, but I see these pictures of these beautiful children that were killed in the attack. If that’s true and not propaganda, if that’s true, guess what? Maybe you’ve created hundreds or thousands of new potential terrorists from bombing the wrong people. So you’ve gotta know who you’re – we can’t sort of have an investigation after we kill people, we have an investigation before we kill people.”
Indeed. Even the New York Times reported Friday that the drone strike was a manifestation of Keystone Kops-level incompetence, playing out with lethal consequences on the global stage. “Military officials said they did not know the identity of the car’s driver when the drone fired, but deemed him suspicious because of how they interpreted his activities that day, saying that he possibly visited an ISIS safe house and, at one point, loaded what they thought could be explosives into the car.” However, reality was quite different: “Times reporting has identified the driver as Zemari Ahmadi, a longtime worker for a U.S. aid group. The evidence suggests that his travels that day actually involved transporting colleagues to and from work. And an analysis of video feeds showed that what the military may have seen was Mr. Ahmadi and a colleague loading canisters of water into his trunk to bring home to his family.”
At the time the drone strike was launched, Biden’s handlers were anxious to project an impression of competence to counter the ever more appalling news that was coming daily out of Afghanistan. After ISIS-K killed 13 Americans, it wanted to project an impression of swift retribution; in its haste, it ended up killing a man who had no quarrel with the United States. It is easy to imagine his surviving relatives joining the Taliban forthwith, having seen the dangers of trusting in the good will of the world’s superpower. Rand Paul is right: Biden’s handlers’ incompetence is creating enemies of America, and will be bearing bitter fruit long after Old Joe has stopped pretending to be president of the United States. “America is back,” Old Joe proclaimed when he took office. No. America has never been more imperiled.