Rep. Kinzinger on Afghanistan: ‘I Think There’s a Lot of People That Bear Blame, and the Secretary of State Is One of These’

By Melanie Arter | September 13, 2021 | 10:48am EDT
Representative Adam Kinzinger listens to testimony during the Select Committee investigation of the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, during their first hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on July 27, 2021. - The committee is hearing testimony from members of the US Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department who tried to protect the Capitol against insurrectionists on January 6, 2021. (Photo by JIM LO SCALZO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Representative Adam Kinzinger listens to testimony during the Select Committee investigation of the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, during their first hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on July 27, 2021. - The committee is hearing testimony from members of the US Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department who tried to protect the Capitol against insurrectionists on January 6, 2021. (Photo by JIM LO SCALZO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) – Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday that a lot of people “bear blame” for the Afghanistan withdrawal, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken is one of them.

“Well, on that evacuation, it was the ambassador in Kabul who issued the evacuation order on August the 12th. Kabul fell three days later. Is the secretary of state going to take the blame for that? Do you hold him responsible for that? And was the timeline here a real factor?” host Margaret Brennan asked.


“You know, look, I think there's a lot of people that bear blame, and the secretary of state is one of these, and I think it would be nice, and keep in mind, even under the prior president, I would say this exact thing, for some people to just take responsibility. That's what the American people want, is somebody to stand up and say, ‘look, this is on me,’” Kinzinger said.

“We know, obviously, that there’s a detailed plan. and that's not always on, but in the case of the secretary of state, when we began to see the collapse of the Afghan military, which actually started with the threats that the Taliban were doing on these night letters against Afghan leaders and Afghan military leaders saying, ‘The U.S. is leaving. We're going to kill your family unless you give up your arms,’” he said.

“When we began to see that fall apart, that's when the order should have been given to basically enter a defensive posture, get everybody out we can and not have to wait two or three days prior, because a lot of us were watching this happen. We were talking about it, and it's like it wasn't a surprise to many of us.

Brennan pointed out that intelligence officials predict that al Qaeda could reconstitute in as little as 12 months. She asked whether the congressman has heard a strategy from the Biden administration yet.

“Yeah, no, I haven't, and, you know, all you keep hearing is this nebulous over the horizon capability, and I think what's important is to understand what over-the-horizon capability is,” the congressman said.

“It basically says if we see a target of opportunity, we have the ability to come forward and strike it, you know, great, we can do some of that, and in areas that you know, we hear about a one-off drone strike, but keep in mind, when we defeated ISIS, for instance, in Syria and Iraq, and obviously that's ongoing, we had to embed people with the local forces to be able to get the intel necessary for those strikes,” he said. 

“So, I've heard nothing but that nebulous over the, you know, over the horizon strike capability, and secondarily, the fact that you know, your prior guest was talking about having to rely on, in essence, the Russians or China’s in there now in Pakistan’s playing such a big role. That is what happens when you leave a position that we have there in Afghanistan,” Kinzinger said.

When asked whether this was “unavoidable” as President Joe Biden suggested, Kinzinger said, “You know, I don't think it is, I mean, look, it's-- I get armchair quarterbacking, and it's easy for some people to come up and say that, you know, the prior president would have done it perfectly or not, whatever, but I think there are so many people that know military strategy and policy that say, ‘Look, even if we made the decision that we're leaving, and that's an unnegotiable decision, there were a couple of key points. 

“We always talk about the air base in Bagram. We could have defended that until every American was out and every Afghan civ was out. Secondarily, let's say that we still, you know, shut down that air base and we were down to that last week prior to the complete collapse of the Afghan government,” the congressman said. 

“That's when those 6,000 Marines and other-- and soldiers that rushed into the Kabul airport actually could have pushed out and defended Kabul proper, the city, because the Taliban at that point had no interest in coming into the city yet, and we could have had the evacuation on our timetable as quickly as we could have,” he said.

Brennan asked whether Biden has a point when he said that he mandated the vaccine because Republican governors have been cavalier with their constituents, particularly kids.
“Oh, I do, I think he has a point. Look, I don't know if all of his mandates will hold up in court. There's constitutional questions on some of it. I'll leave that to lawyers, because I really don't know, but I think it's going to save lives, and the failure here comes in leaders that have basically used vaccine status as some tattoo of what political tribe you belong to,” Kinzinger said.

“I mean, we all hear stories of people that are in, you know, very red areas that are embarrassed to say they're vaccinated. That is insane and silly, and that is a problem with leaders, particularly Republican leaders, that don't stand up and give cover to people and say, look, this is not what republicanism or conservativism should be,” he said.

“And you see these governors that do, you know? Mike DeWine in Ohio, and they just get pushed aside by some of those that are out to simply manipulate our base, raise money off of them and not care about their life, only care about what it means for their votes and their bottom line as politicians. It's actually pretty sad,” the congressman said. 

“I want to ask you about domestic extremism because you're one of the two Republicans investigating the attack on the Capitol from January 6th. There are at least two extremist groups who are expected this coming Saturday to attend a rally in defense of those who were arrested. Have you been briefed on the security measures to protect the Capitol? Are you confident?” Brennan asked.

“We haven't been briefed yet. We know that the fence is coming back up. We expect to be briefed this week. Yes, I'm confident, and I feel confident in our, you know, our law enforcement, but I think it's an important point here, everybody has a right, obviously, to protest,” the congressman said.

“Nobody would argue that, but George W. Bush said an amazing thing in his speech yesterday when he said-- he talked about al Qaeda and domestic terrorists, and he said they may be culturally very different, but they're children of the same foul spirit, and they seek to basically divide people that are different than them,” Kinzinger said.

“This is why it's important that we as Republicans, frankly, and as Americans, stand up and say we shouldn't be at this point where we are truly worried for the seat of government every few months when there is a protest. So I hope it goes off well. I have a lot of faith in our law enforcement, and hopefully we'll find out more this week,” he said.

Brennan asked about the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) threat to file a lawsuit challenging the mandate and whether that’s who Kinzinger is referring to when he said some people are fundraising off of this.

“Well, it's everything. I mean, it's them. It's when you look at really any Republican, you know, not any Rep-- there's a lot that are not doing this, but there are some, you know, Republican members of Congress and stuff putting out fundraising after fundraising e-mail about-- first, it's going to be a vaccine mandate next thing, the Gestapo is going to show up at your door and take your Bible away. Like, that's not going to happen and that's playing on people's fear,” he said.

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