Two Republican congressmen have introduced articles of impeachment in the House of Representatives against Secretary of State Antony Blinken, citing "failures of planning, execution, and leadership in Afghanistan."
Reps. Andy Harris (R-Md.) and Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) on Friday blamed Blinken for the "loss of American lives" and endangerment of "countless other American and allied lives" after a suicide bomb attack at Kabul's international airport killed 13 U.S. service members and dozens of Afghans. An Afghanistan affiliate of ISIS took credit for the blast, which killed more than 100 people in total.
The terrorist attack and American casualties were the latest developments in what Harris called an "unmitigated catastrophe" in Afghanistan after President Joe Biden's administration began withdrawing U.S. troops from the region. Biden's officials were caught by complete surprise on Aug. 15 when the Taliban seized the capital Kabul and the Western-backed Afghan government and army collapsed, placing the Islamic militants in control of the country.
Tens of thousands of Afghan allies and American citizens were stranded after the Taliban came to power, and throngs of people rushed to the airport to flee the country on U.S. military flights. Chaos ensued, people died trying to evacuate Afghanistan, and all the while the Biden administration had sought recognition for evacuating more than 70,000 people since Aug. 14 without a U.S. casualty — until Thursday's suicide bomb attack.
The articles of impeachment single out the State Department for promising in April that the American Embassy in Kabul could be kept open and operational for more than 1,400 American citizens in Afghanistan after U.S. troops completed their planned withdrawal, and then failing to keep that promise.
"Secretary Blinken has failed to faithfully uphold his oath and has instead presided over a reckless abandonment of our nation's interests, security, and values in his role in the withdrawal of American forces and diplomatic assets from Afghanistan," the articles of impeachment state.
The lawmakers say Blinken's dereliction of duty by failing to "safely and efficiently evacuate all of the United States government personnel, dependents, and private United States citizens when their lives are in danger directly gave rise to a dangerous scenario at the Kabul airport enabling terrorists to execute a deadly attack that killed eleven marines and a Navy medic."
They accused Blinken of ignoring intelligence that indicated the Taliban was about to seize control of Afghanistan, of permitting by negligence U.S. military equipment and weapons to fall into the Taliban's hands, and of lleaving Americans stranded in the country to have their lives threatened by the Islamic militants.
"The Biden Administration's handling of Afghanistan has been an unmitigated catastrophe. This preventable tragedy rests solely on the shoulders of President Biden and his Administration, and in particular the Secretary of State," Harris said.
"Secretary Blinken's complete and utter failure of managing this avoidable catastrophe makes him unfit for leadership, and I hope my colleagues will join me in pushing for his removal," he added.
"The actions undertaken by this administration, but more specifically Secretary Blinken, were irresponsible and have placed countless American lives in harm's way, resulting in the deadliest attack on American soldiers in the last decade," Norman said.
"Under the Constitution of the United States of America, the Secretary of State is tasked with informing Congress and American citizens on the conduct of U.S. foreign relations. In Afghanistan he failed to do so, leaving American citizens exposed in city under the control of the Taliban," Norman said. "Secretary Blinken is also responsible for the safety of American citizens abroad and, in the case of danger, the safe and efficient evacuation of those Americans – which he has not done thus far.
"There are hundreds of questions that need answers about this disastrous outcome from previous leaders, President Biden, and his entire administration. One lost life is one too many. Secretary Blinken played a vital role in this foreign policy failure and his dereliction of duty deserves nothing less than impeachment," he said.