Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., took aim at Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin after the military leader’s Senate testimony on Afghanistan, saying Austin had provided “no real responses.”
“There really was no clarity. And with all due respect to the Secretary of Defense, he provided no real responses to my questions because at the moment, there aren’t responses. There is nobody in charge,” he said during an appearance on MSNBC Tuesday.
Blumenthal also argued that the U.S. has a “moral imperative” to get “tens of thousands of Afghan allies, the former interpreters, translators, guards, security officials who went into combat with our troops” out of the country.
“They put themselves and their families at risk, and now they have targets on their back. They’re at risk of murder and torture. They’re in hiding, and their situations are increasingly desperate,” he said.
Blumenthal said that his office was forced to turn into “a kind of mini evacuation center” during the final chaotic days in Afghanistan because of mixed messaging from the State Department, Department of Defense and the White House.
“Nobody in charge, and it’s a continuing challenge that we need to face because lives are at stake, lives of people who put their lives on the line for us,” Blumenthal said.
The comments come after a tense day of hearings on Capitol Hill regarding the final days of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, with some lawmakers pinning the blame for the chaotic situation on Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.
“In my view, that mission can’t be called a success in any way, shape or form, logistical or otherwise,” GOP Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley said during the hearing. “Secretary Austin, I think you should resign. I think this mission was a catastrophe. I think there’s no other way to say it, and there has to be accountability. I respectfully submit it should begin with you.”