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Afghan Vet Lawmaker: Biden ‘Wanted the Optics of Getting Out by 9/11’

By Megan Williams | August 30, 2021 | 5:19pm EDT
Joe Biden gives a speech. (Photo credit: ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)
Joe Biden gives a speech. (Photo credit: ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)

Withdrawing troops from Afghanistan had no strategic objective, but President Joe Biden "wanted the optics of getting out by 9/11,” Afghanistan veteran and Rep. Brian Mast told conservative author Mark Levin on “Life, Liberty & Levin” Sunday. 

Levin and Mast discussed what they deemed President Joe Biden’s failure to make competent decisions regarding military presence and action in Afghanistan. 

"The intelligence gap was in the Oval Office," Mast said. Biden "was told exactly what would happen; he put the lives at risk anyways."

Sept. 11 "was the first date that he chose,” Mast said. “The generals needed to say, ‘Absolutely not. I will not put our men and women at risk just because you want to have a 9/11 celebration, and have your name across the newspapers and the right headlines.'"

Below is a transcript of this portion of “Life, Liberty & Levin.”

Mark Levin: But should not Republicans start to talk about the removal of this president, or the fact that the cabinet needs to start considering the 25th Amendment; otherwise, what is the point of impeachment and the 25th Amendment? 

Rep. Brian Mast: Even outside of everything going on in Afghanistan, this has to be the conversation. Whether it's pure incompetence or whether it's pure ego that he allowed this to happen in Afghanistan, that has to be the case. 

He looked at the intelligence reports and then people went out there and questioned, “Was there an intelligence gap?” The intelligence gap was in the Oval Office. He was told exactly what would happen; he put the lives at risk anyways. He went from a situation where President Trump did not have chaos in Afghanistan, brought the numbers down to 2,400 troops, to a situation where there couldn't be a higher level of chaos--we’ve seen the explosions, we’ve seen what’s going on there, we’ve seen the threats--with upwards of 8 to 9,000 troops. 

If he should not be held accountable for that reckless endangerment, or by the 25th Amendment for his lack of competency, his lack of coherence in dealing with this or any other issue, whether it’s our southern border, domestic policy, or anything else, then there is not an example for what would meet the requirements for that because this is the definition for that need. 

Levin: You're quite right, and people say, “We shouldn't be discussing this at this time.” I don’t know. Abraham Lincoln was firing generals left and right, right in the middle of battles, right in the middle of the Civil War because they weren't doing what he wanted them to do, they weren't achieving victory. 

I look at the generals we have now, Congressman Mast, and I think to myself, I watch you at these Pentagon briefings and so forth and you're spinning and you're spinning. We don't have one among them who is willing to say, “I can't accept what is taking place; I know the military mission is virtually impossible, we're putting our troops on the line because we have a commander-in-chief who either knows what he is doing, or doesn't. Either way, it's a disaster and I have got to resign over this.”

We've had generals resign before, but apparently no one wants to resign here. What do you make of that? 

Mast: They have to be willing to say, “I can't give that order. I cannot support that, I will not do that.” Not that he should be associated with the words "commander-in-chief," but "commander-in-chief, I cannot do that. That is not an order that should be given to any troop; you are directly putting their lives at risk. To what?”

And this goes to what you spoke about in the beginning, as the United States of America, if we are not achieving a strategic objective, then we are doing something strictly for the purpose of optics. 

We know that he wanted the optics of getting out by 9/11. That was the first date that he chose -- the generals -- probably Susan Rice or somebody else. The generals needed to say, “Absolutely not. I will not put our men and women at risk just because you want to have a 9/11 celebration, and have your name across the newspapers and the right headlines.”

That did not meet any strategic objective of eliminating terrorists, of making America safer, of making Europe or the Middle East safer, of anything that you could say, “That would be a worthy accomplishment to reach.”

And I think this is a good time to say something, as we speak about the generals, as we speak about the president, to say something directly to our troops. And I've said this to some of them already; I have said it to Vietnam veterans and veterans of the War on Terror, and it also goes to optics:

Vietnam was not lost because of those that trudged selflessly through the jungles and rice paddies in Vietnam; it was lost because of Pennsylvania Avenue. And Afghanistan was not lost because of those that I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with, that went over those mountains, that fell off of cliffs, that took incoming mortar and sniper rounds. It wasn't lost because of them; it was lost because of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Megan Williams is a CNSNews intern and junior at Hillsdale College. She is majoring in Rhetoric and Public Address with a Journalism minor. She is the assistant opinions editor for the Hillsdale Collegian and enjoys covering local events, from concerts to conventions. Born and raised in Southern California, Megan is excited to experience D.C. and grow as a journalist with CNSNews.

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