Republican lawmakers slammed the Biden administration Friday after the US military admitted it botched a drone strike amid the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan resulting in the deaths of 10 civilians near Kabul’s airport on Aug. 29 — instead of its intended target, Islamic State militants.
Republican critics argued that the deaths are a symptom of President Biden’s turbulent withdrawal of troops from the country, which led to the rapid fall of the Afghan government and the swift rise of the Taliban.
Rep. Carlos Gimenez (Fla.), a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, blasted President Biden’s rhetoric defending his handling of the evacuation of Americans and Afghan allies, which has come under scrutiny from both sides of the aisle.
“Biden, 8/31: ‘This is the way the mission was designed.’ Americans are stuck in Afghanistan. Civilians, including children, were killed in the air strike that missed its intended target. This is how the mission was designed?” Gimenez tweeted.
Rep. Young Kim (Calif.) argued that the tragic mistake casts doubt on Biden’s capability to attempt to keep Americans that remain in the country safe.
“President Biden has said that the horizon capabilities in Afghanistan can keep Americans safe but the recent drone strike that hit the wrong target, killing civilians but not ISIS terrorists, calls that into question,” she said in a tweet.
Rep. Fred Keller (Pa.) called for those responsible for the miscalculation to be held accountable, echoing other lawmakers criticisms of withdrawal.
“Another horrendous consequence of Biden’s botched withdrawal in Afghanistan. There must be accountability.
And Rep. Michelle Steel (Calif.) also took to social media to blast the failure, calling the deaths an “unbelievably senseless tragedy,“
This is an unbelievably senseless tragedy. There needs to be more accountability from the Biden Administration as we face the fallout of this chaotic withdrawal,” she said.
Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr., commander of US Central Command announced the tragedy, which included seven children, on Friday, telling reporters: “It was a mistake and I offer my sincere apology. Clearly, our intelligence was wrong on this particular white Toyota.”
McKenzie said that the Department of Defense is weighing “ex gratia payments” in response to the deaths.
The Biden administration has taken heat for its approach to pulling troops, with bipartisan lawmakers questioning why officials did not heed the information provided by the intelligence community indicating the rise of the Taliban without the presence of U.S. troops.
Critics have slammed the administration for failing to get all Americans and allies out of the country before its deadline and for the death of 10 military personnel during the final days leading up to the exit and raised questions about the impact it will have on foreign relations with allies and the ability to gather intel on adversaries in the region.