Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley grilled President Joe Biden’s Department of Defense (DOD) Inspector General (IG) nominee Robert Storch on Tuesday
During the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Hawley pressed Storch over issues of over-classification, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) reports and the fall of Afghanistan.
“Here’s what I’m getting at. I’ve heard multiple members of this committee since the fall of Afghanistan say that it’s unbelievable that we didn’t know that the Afghan security forces were so badly prepared,” Hawley said. “That they would have collapsed in the fashion they did. I tell you who could have thought it: SIGAR.”
“Why? Because they issued report after report saying that the Afghan security forces weren’t appropriately trained, that they weren’t prepared, that the Pentagon was making it difficult for SIGAR to get any information,” Hawley continued. “That DOD kept changing the metrics by which to assess the readiness of the Afghan security forces. SIGAR has warned for years that what would happen in Afghanistan is exactly what did happen.”
“So I think it’s important that that entity be able to get the information it needs and actually report to the American people because frankly, I believe the American people were pretty much lied to for years by multiple administrations, unfortunately,” Hawley added. “Multiple administrations of both parties, unfortunately. So I’m pretty concerned about this issue and what I’d like to hear from you is a commitment to say that you think over-classification is a real problem, that you’re going to work with SIGAR to make sure that they can get the classified material that they need, and ultimately we make as much of this material as possible to the American public. Can you commit to that?”
“Senator, I am committed to doing everything I can in my current job and if I’m confirmed in my future job as the DOD IG to fighting over-classification and ensuring that all appropriate information is out,” Storch replied. “What I was trying to say respectfully is I don’t have the information currently as the NSA IG regarding the nature of information at DOD IG or SIGAR. But what I can tell you is if I’m confirmed I will do everything appropriate to fight over classification and ensure that appropriate information is made public.” (RELATED: Intel, Military Officials Fire Back At Hillary’s Over-Classification Tweet)
The Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan left the area in chaos, with Taliban forces taking over the country in a matter of days. Nearly 9,000 Americans were left behind Taliban lines, according to a Feb. 3 Senate report.
The report also shows that national security officials were still in the process of formulating a withdrawal plan only a day before Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, was taken over by the Taliban. Issues including rapid troop withdrawals and a lack of coordination between the National Security Council and the State and Defense departments led to the chaotic evacuation of Afghanistan.