The Biden administration has waffled in recent days regarding whether the U.S. will strictly adhere to an Aug. 31 deadline for the complete withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.
With an ongoing effort to evacuate thousands of Americans and allies from the nation, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) has added his voice to the growing chorus of Democratic officials calling for President Joe Biden to ignore his self-imposed deadline.
“It’s hard for me to imagine”
According to Breitbart, Schiff addressed the issue in remarks to reporters during a classified briefing on Monday.
He seemed to undercut the White House narrative that nobody could have foreseen the sudden collapse of the Afghan government and the rapid rise of the Taliban.
As for whether the necessary evacuations would be complete by the end of this month, Schiff opined that while “it’s possible,” such an outcome would be “very unlikely.”
He went on to explain why he believes the Biden administration should extend its deadline, arguing: “Given the number of Americans who still need to be evacuated, the number of [Special Immigrant Visas], the number of others who are members of the Afghan press, civil society leaders, women leaders. It’s hard for me to imagine all of that can be accomplished between now and the end of the month.”
The congressman went on to state that he has been “encouraged” by the number of successful evacuations thus far, acknowledging that “the logistical difficulties of moving people to the airport and the limited number of workarounds” are serious impediments to concluding the mission by the current deadline.
“Very real and very substantial”
“I’m certainly of the view that we maintain a military presence as long as it’s necessary to get all U.S. persons out and to meet our moral and ethical obligations to our Afghan partners,” Schiff added.
The intel committee chairman also voiced concerns over the “very real and very substantial” threats posed to the evacuation process at the international airport in Kabul.
“An opportunity to attack both U.S. forces as well as Afghan nationals and indeed the Taliban as well,” Schiff said. “And just cause chaos that will prolong the U.S. stay. Whenever you have a mass gathering like that, it is an opportunity for improvised explosive devices. It’s a real danger.”
As for his response to the situation, he said he intends to hold multiple hearings in the next several months to assess not only what went wrong with the U.S. troop withdrawal but throughout the 20-year military effort in Afghanistan.
It remains to be seen whether Biden will seek to extend the deadline, but Politico noted that the Taliban has already made it clear that the group will not accept any such extensions by the Biden administration.