US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin refused to testify Tuesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the Biden administration's disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the committee's chair, threatened to subpoena Austin if he refused to testify moving forward, reported The Daily Wire.
Menendez stated: "I’m very disappointed that Secretary Austin declined our request to testify today. A full accounting of the US response to this crisis is not complete without the Pentagon, especially when it comes to the complete collapse of the US-trained and funded Afghan military."
He continued: "His decision not to appear before the committee will affect my judgment on Department of Defense nominees. I expect the Secretary will avail himself to the committee soon. If he does not, I may consider the use of the committee's subpoena power to compel him and others over these last twenty years to testify."
Politico reported Tuesday that "Senate Foreign Relations Chair Bob Menendez (D-NJ) is among the senior lawmakers already suggesting that the administration lied to Congress about the capabilities of Afghan military and security forces that failed to stave off a Taliban insurgency."
"The Senate Armed Services Committee will get its first chance to grill Gen. Scott Miller, commander of US Forces Afghanistan until July, on the topic at a closed hearing on Tuesday," added Politico. "Public hearings with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley, and U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Frank McKenzie is slated to begin September 28."
Democrats and Republicans are set to examine the decision to transfer Bagram Airbase, the main military airfield in Afghanistan, to the Afghan army before US troops were withdrawn.
Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) asserted, "When the dust settles, I suspect most of the blame will fall on Biden. I do think someone needs to be held accountable. Still, we need to do our due diligence before we determine whether that person is the secretary of state, secretary of defense, chairman of the Joint Chiefs or the national security adviser."
The Daily Wire reported that Austin would not reveal what recommendation he gave US President Joe Biden on withdrawing from Afghanistan.
Austin admitted Sunday during an interview that some people who have desperately tried to get to the airport in Kabul have had "tough encounters" with the Taliban.
During an interview with ABC News host Martha Raddatz on This Week, Austin refused to divulge the recommendation he made to President Biden. Austin also declined to predict the future of war-torn Afghanistan.
"You’ve got tens of thousands of people out there, desperate to get to the airport, surrounded by the Taliban," said Raddatz. "So, why can’t the US send convoys out there?"
"If you have an American passport, and if you have the right credentials, the Taliban has been allowing people to pass safely through," claimed Austin. After pushback from Raddatz, Austin admitted, "There’s no such thing as an absolute."