Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn will release an interview Tuesday with Gen. Keith Kellogg where he slams the way President Joe Biden has handled the withdraw of troops and American citizens in Afghanistan.
The Daily Caller first obtained the video where Blackburn talks to Kellogg about the handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal after the Taliban retook the country in a matter of days. In the interview, which is for her Facebook TV show called “Unmuted With Marsha,” Kellogg says there has been a lack of decision-making from the administration and mentioned his lack of trust with decisions that have been made out of the Pentagon.
The interview comes as news broke that Biden would not extend the Aug. 31 Afghanistan withdrawal deadline, despite many Americans needing to be evacuated and allies urging Biden to extend it.
“It’s an abysmal failure at the strategic level. That’s what the American people should be concerned about. It’s a lack of decision making, it’s a lack of really seeing what the problem is going forward, and it’s a lack of seeing what is going on on the ground and what’s happening here in Washington, D.C., at the leadership level,” Kellogg said in the interview.
“My concern is this Senator: What’s happening right now, it’s almost like they think it’s going to go away and ignore it. They did it at the border, and have now done it with Afghanistan, and they’re kind of saying, ‘well maybe if we just keep ignoring it, talk about something else out there, it’ll eventually go away.’ I think Americans need to be concerned right now, we’re seeing a real lack of what I call command and control decision making at the most senior levels,” Kellogg continued. (RELATED: McConnell Rips Biden’s Handling Of Afghanistan As ‘One Of The Greatest Foreign Policy Disasters’ In US History)
“It starts with the president, goes down to the vice president, who’s now in the air now 12 hours away, and should be right there next to the president. He didn’t collect his security team, up at Camp David, you look at the National Security Advisor who doesn’t seem to be engaged, I question now the decisions that came out of the Pentagon, either from the Secretary of Defense or the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs as well, and questions need to be raised with Secretary of State Tony Blinken. I think two of those areas were accomplishing what they intended to do, but the third area here in DC, the strategic decision making and planning is lacking,” he added.
Blackburn agreed with Kellogg’s assessment and then mentioned her work on the Senate armed services committee, saying they are trying to find out about the next steps and that they have thousands of names of Americans who are still over in Afghanistan.(RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Sen. Blackburn To Release Interview With Former NBA Player Royce White About China’s Treatment Of Uyghurs)
“I agree with you on that it just seems that there is this real lack of transparency around what they’re doing. Those of us on the Senate armed services committee find out about the next steps and generally about what we’re hearing in the media; the briefings are partial, the briefs are incomplete. they do not have detail, we have got several hundred cases that we are working on, names that we have forwarded over to the Pentagon, thousands of names of people that are there that are either citizens are working with an NGO, or working as a missionary, or maybe they are our guides, interpreters or that worked with the embassy, or they worked with the US company,” Blackburn said.
“They know that if they don’t get out, they’ll be killed. But one of the things that has interested me is that this lack of transparency is not only to us, it is to our allies: they have questioned what the president is seeking to do,” she continued.
Kellogg then explained his concerns with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki’s comments in a press conference last week, where he said she was asked if Biden had talked to any of our foreign allies, to which she said he had not. Kellogg said the comments were “stunning” to him. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Sen. Blackburn To Release Interview With Former NBA Player Royce White About China’s Treatment Of Uyghurs)
“Yeah, my concern was when, in the press conference last week, Senator, the press secretary was asked when we talked to our foreign leaders and they came to realize he hadn’t talked to any of them. It was only after that when he picked up the phone and called Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. It is stunning to me, shocking is not an understatement, that he didn’t pick up and call members of the NATO alliance. The reason why that’s important, that he didn’t talk to them and I was concerned about it. Here you have, let’s use Germany: He didn’t call Chancellor Merkel, the Germans have fought alongside US forces in Afghanistan for almost 20 years. They’ve had losses,” Kellogg said.
He also mentioned his work with former President Donald Trump, saying he would never have done something like this.
“You mean to tell me, the president can’t pick up the phone and call him and say to him, ‘this is what’s happening’ and register concern? I will tell you, I know this for a fact because I spent 1,461 days in the white house. If in doubt, the president of the United States would pick up the phone, then President Trump, and call a world leader. There were times we actually had to back him off a little bit. There was a time he wanted to call Prime Minister Abe of Japan, who was sick. I said ‘Sir you can’t call him’ and he said ‘why?’ And I said, ‘because it’s three in the morning, give the guy a break and let him get some sleep going forward!” Kellogg continued.
“But he (Biden) didn’t even make these phone calls, and that’s a real concern. But the concern was created when you saw the picture of Biden up at camp David by himself, he didn’t have his national security team around him. I will tell you this, Senator, for a fact: When we had a crisis, everybody collapsed in the sit room, everybody collapsed in on the president, we’re there to give him the best recommendations and best advice out there. I know the allies are concerned about it,” he added.
Around 3,800 Americans have been evacuated from Afghanistan since July 29, with an estimated 8,000 still remaining in the country, an official with direct knowledge of the situation told the Daily Caller on Tuesday. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Internal Numbers Show White House Poised To Leave Several Thousand Americans Behind Enemy Lines In Afghanistan)
The official explained to the Caller that it seems “doubtful we are going to bring in 8,000 more Americans” between now and Biden’s Aug. 31 deadline.