Republican Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney expressed worry about terrorist attacks coming from Afghanistan during a Sunday appearance on “Meet the Press.”
“Our mission in Afghanistan was to deny terrorists a sanctuary. And the Biden decision now to completely withdraw has handed them an entire country, has, in fact, ensured, not just the Taliban, but al-Qaida, ISIS, the Haqqani Network, terrorist organizations that want to attack the United States now have an entire country as a sanctuary from which to do so,” Cheney told NBC News’ Chuck Todd.
Cheney has been a critic of withdrawing from Afghanistan, first under President Donald Trump and now under President Joe Biden. She voted in July 2020 to prohibit the Trump administration from using federal funds to pull troops from Afghanistan unless the Department of Defense could verify that the withdrawal would not impact counter-terrorism operations. Cheney also voted against repealing the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force in Iraq in June.
“The Taliban has never renounced Al-Qaida. This is one of the things that was such an indefensible step by the Trump Administration,” she said, noting the Trump administration’s 2020 agreement with the Taliban that the group would stop coordinating with Al-Qaida as part of the American military withdrawal. (RELATED: Report: Taliban Still Working With Al-Qaida, Violating Agreement With US)
“We sat down and negotiated with terrorists, because we completely excluded the Afghan government from those negotiations. We gave credibility to the Taliban. Secretary Pompeo told us that the Taliban was going to renounce al-Qaida. They told us that the Taliban was going to fight terrorists. They forced the Afghan national government, we did, to release 5,000 prisoners. We completely undercut the Afghan national government, and we absolutely emboldened the Taliban,” Cheney continued.
Cheney criticized Biden, Trump, and former President Barack Obama for not “tell[ing] the public what’s necessary, who will help to explain why, in fact, we need to have a presence on the ground in Afghanistan,” after Todd pressed her on polling that showed 60% of Americans support withdrawing from Afghanistan.
“We have to maintain, need to maintain a presence on the ground. Three thousand, five hundred forces, counter-terrorism operations, counterintelligence operations. That allowed us to have the kind of assurance that the Taliban would not, in fact, take over as they have done and create now a brand-new safe haven. Again, it’s not just the Taliban. It’s the Haqqani Network. It’s al-Qaida. You’ve got ISIS. The very groups, particularly al-Qaida, that attacked us 20 years ago from bases in Afghanistan, now back into a position where they can do the same again.”