President Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan at all costs is perhaps his most consequential foreign policy decision to date. The botched withdrawal was pushed forward despite documented warnings from diplomats, the intelligence community, and military advisors predicting precisely what unfolded – total chaos, death, and an unquantifiable loss of America’s reputational standing in the world. The debacle was capped with indelible images of evacuees falling out of airplanes and 13 U.S. soldiers being killed in a terrorist attack.
In a previous era, or more likely, any other presidential administration in modern history, heads would have rolled at the Pentagon, Foggy Bottom, and the White House. Alas, President Biden and those senior decision-makers that were responsible for the Afghanistan withdrawal are determined there shall be no accountability. Not a single senior political or military official resigned or was fired. So, while advisors like Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken are easy targets for accountability, the need goes much deeper into the Basement. Here’s a starting list of eight officials who bear blame for Afghanistan, but refuse to be held accountable:
1. Dan Snedden – Intergovernmental Affairs Specialist, FEMA
Canceled all vocational programs for returning Afghans into the United States. This caused major issues specifically with airlines who were hoping to utilize them as air mechanics and stands in stark contrast to administration promises that they were doing everything they could to ease the plight of Afghan refugees and allies.
2. Samantha Vinograd – Senior Counselor for National Security
Former CNN personality who serves as Senior Counselor for National Security. During withdrawal, she was acting Assistant Secretary for Counterterrorism and Threat Prevention in the Front Office of DHS. It is believed that she had decision making rights on Operation Allies Welcome but did not make many decisions, attributing to the chaos of the intake of Afghan refugees.
3. Ambassador Tracey Jacobsen – Head of the Afghanistan Coordination Task Force
Responsible for managing the processing, transport, and relocation of Afghan SIV applicants. As of August 2022, there are still tens of thousands of Afghan allies waiting in Afghanistan for their visas to be processed. The State Department’s SIV approval program that Jacobsen heads has come under fire from lawmakers for the extreme backlog of applications.
4. Felicia Escobar – Chief of Staff, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Responsible for approving visas for Afghan refugees, a program criticized for delays and mismanagement. There is still a large backlog of Afghans who are waiting for their visas all the while being hunted by the Taliban for assisting the United States.
5. Claire Trickler-McNulty – Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Assistant Director Office of Immigration Program Evaluation
Her department is responsible for overseeing distribution of visas to Afghan refugees while her office is responsible for monitoring their case management. Gave an $87 million government no-bid contract to a nonprofit headed by her former boss.
6. John Kirby – NSC Coordinator for Strategic Communications
Pentagon Press Secretary at the time of the evacuation. While in that position he repeatedly attempted to downplay the severity of the botched withdrawal to reporters and the public. For instance, he refused to acknowledge the Taliban was “the enemy” and told CNN there was “a mixture of relief” at the Pentagon “that we were able to get everybody out safely in those last few hours” ahead of Biden’s self-imposed Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline. Since the last year, it’s been reported that the US left behind at least 9,000 American citizens and upwards of 78,000 Afghan allies.
7. Wendy R. Sherman – Deputy Secretary of State
Assisted in overseeing logistics of the screening of Afghan refugees in Kabul. Failed to allocate a sufficient number of consular officers at Kabul airport, creating the long lines at the airport which led to refugees hopping the fences and attempting to jump on moving planes.
8. Victoria Nuland – Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs
Assisting in overseeing evacuation of US citizens in Afghanistan. This effort by the State Department was highly criticized due to comments made by senior administration officials claiming that they could not evacuate every American citizen. There are still Americans stuck in Afghanistan a year later and by some estimates nearly 9,000 U.S. citizens were left behind after the evacuation.
One year has passed since the greatest humiliation in American foreign policy history. This debacle harmed American standing in the world for a generation, empowered the Taliban, and emboldened tyrants such as Putin and the Chinese Communists. Still, there has been zero accountability for those responsible for the failure, deceit, and attempts to sweep it under the rug. We are shining the light deep into the darkest crevices Inside Biden’s Basement to reveal those who may have had a hand in this catastrophe.