USAID pressed to disclose what safeguards are in place
Republican lawmakers are pressing the Biden administration to disclose what safeguards are in place to stop U.S. humanitarian aid to Afghanistan from enriching the Taliban, according to a letter sent Friday to the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Eleven lawmakers, led by House Foreign Affairs Committee member Rep. Tim Burchett (R., Tenn.), say they “are concerned about the possibility of U.S. taxpayer dollars funding the Taliban’s terrorist regime,” according to the letter, which was obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. They are demanding that USAID, which is in charge of handling aid to Afghanistan, show what steps they have taken to ensure the Taliban cannot intercept these funds.
“Humanitarian aid to Afghanistan will finance Taliban terrorists if it is incompetently distributed,” Burchett told the Free Beacon. “The Biden administration needs to lay out what steps it is taking to prevent this from happening and adding more pain to last summer’s embarrassing withdrawal from the country.”
With more than $300 million slated to flow into Afghanistan this year as part of an effort to keep the country afloat after the Taliban regained control, the Biden administration has been mum about how it is preventing these funds from lining the Taliban’s pockets. The terrorist regime controls the nation’s coffers, meaning that any aid dollars that make their way to the government are at risk of being stolen. With this new infusion, nearly $800 million in aid will have been provided to the war-torn country since October 2020, making the United States Afghanistan’s largest donor.
USAID, in announcing the latest infusion of $308 million earlier this year, said that it is working with the Taliban to ensure aid makes its way to the people. The agency, however, did not detail the safeguards it has put in place.
“The United States continues to urge the Taliban to allow unhindered humanitarian access, safe conditions for humanitarians, independent provision of assistance to all vulnerable people, and freedom of movement for aid workers of all genders,” USAID said in a statement this week.
The Republican lawmakers say these assurances are not good enough. The Treasury Department in September 2021 issued sanctions waivers to permit U.S. transactions with the Taliban, prompting concerns the Taliban is playing a critical role in distributing American aid.
The lawmakers want answers from USAID “in light of the administration’s dealings with the Taliban, and knowing that the Taliban has a history of diverting and profiting from U.S. assistance to Afghanistan,” according to the letter.
The agency must also provide assurances that it will cooperate “with Congress as it conducts its constitutionally authorized oversight into all U.S. foreign assistance to Afghanistan,” according to the letter. The lawmakers are seeking a commitment from the administration to “reassess and pause” U.S. assistance to Afghanistan if it is determined the cash is funding the Taliban.
The American people, the lawmakers write, “deserve to have confidence that their tax dollars are not funding terrorist activities.”
National security officials fear newly freed Afghan terrorists may exploit border crisis
The Taliban’s release of prisoners throughout Afghanistan poses a security threat on the U.S.-Mexico border, according to senior Department of Homeland Security officials and national security experts.
The Taliban freed thousands of prisoners, many of whom either worked directly with or had ties to al Qaeda and ISIS, when it captured Bagram Air Base on Aug. 15. Afghan soldiers surrendered the base with virtually no resistance, leaving U.S. intelligence officials with little ability to track suspected terrorists. The crisis at the southern border could prove an inviting target for terrorists, according to the DHS official, who requested anonymity to speak candidly.
“We’ve always been surprised by the countries of origin we see individuals coming from along our southwest border. It’s more than likely some Afghans will arrive now as well,” the official told the Washington Free Beacon. “It’s definitely a national security threat, and the strain of forces currently along the border would make it more likely that some would slip through illegally.”
The intelligence community warned the administration about terror threats at the southern border just weeks after President Joe Biden announced the planned withdrawal from Afghanistan. National security officials warned the White House in a classified memo, first reported by the Free Beacon, that border patrol officers had arrested two Yemeni nationals on the terrorist watch list as they attempted to cross into the United States from Mexico. One of the two men was also on the FBI’s no-fly list. Their names have not been released to the public.
The Biden administration did not respond to a request for comment.
Senators from both parties pressed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Mark Milley on whether the Pentagon would change its terror assessment of Afghanistan following the collapse of the U.S.-backed government. The two acknowledged their report to Congress in June—that Afghanistan contained only a “medium” risk of terror groups—was likely obsolete.
Individuals who had worked on assessing terror threats at the southern border told the Free Beacon that the surge of migrants has left border patrol officers ill-equipped to face the new terror challenge. Former Immigration and Customs Enforcement chief of staff Jon Feere said the record-setting influx of illegal border crossings will only exacerbate the threat.
“When it comes to cross-border illegal immigration that goes undetected, there is obviously no background check taking place,” Feere, who now works at the Center for Immigration Studies, said. “Customs and Border Protection apprehended foreign nationals from countries across the globe and that means there are likely many aliens from problematic countries getting past the border patrol already.”
Border patrol agents already complain about a lack of resources to adequately police the southern border. Biden administration officials have also come to acknowledge the strain. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas privately told border agents, “If our borders are the first line of defense, we’re going to lose and this is unsustainable,” according to Leaked Audio of his remarks.
More migrants were recorded crossing into the country in July—212,000—than at any point in the last 21 years. Illegal crossings jumped 13 percent from June, which previously held the 21-year record.
As the situation in Kabul deteriorates, the Biden administration seems increasingly untethered to reality, boasting about an evacuation gone haywire and lying about stranded Americans.
Americans are stranded in Afghanistan. That’s a fact. You don’t have to have special military clearance to know it, or access to classified information, or be in contact with Americans in Kabul or elsewhere in Afghanistan. All you have to do is follow the news.
For days now, reports coming out of Afghanistan have chronicled the dire situation of Americans unable to get to the airport in Kabul, unable to get past Taliban checkpoints outside the airport, and unable to get through the airport gates because of the desperate and sometimes deadly mobs gathered there.
Members of Congress are even sharing information on social media about Americans trapped in Kabul, some of them terrified of being discovered by the Taliban, begging to be rescued before it’s too late.
So when White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki “called out” Fox News’s Peter Doocy on Monday for asking about these stranded Americans, and said there are no Americans stranded in Afghanistan, she was lying. And everyone knows it.
This kind of blatant dissimulation has become a disturbing pattern. By any measure, President Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal has devolved into an unprecedented and embarrassing disaster that seems to get worse by the day. But instead of acknowledging what news reports and social media clearly show — Americans stranded, deadly chaos at the airport, Afghans rushing the gates — the Biden administration is displaying an inability or unwillingness to answer questions or even talk about the evacuation in a way that’s tethered to reality.
Psaki and other White House officials are of course trying to claim that because planes are still taking off from Kabul, no one is in fact “stranded” — at least not yet. They will likely keep repeating this incredible line until the very last plane leaves, at which point they will claim there are no Americans still trapped in Afghanistan even if every news outlet is showing the opposite.
There’s something otherworldly about all of this, an echo of the Iraqi information minister, “Baghad Bob,” who during the 2003 invasion of Iraq infamously boasted there were no U.S. tanks in Baghdad even as U.S. tanks rolled through the city just blocks away from the news conference where he was speaking.
Beyond the administration’s bald-faced lies there is the strange and inappropriate braggadocio about the evacuation. According to the warped logic of the White House, the evacuation itself has become a source of pride, even success.
In a bizarre and disjointed press conference on Sunday, President Biden boasted about the evacuation effort: “We are proving we can move thousands of people a day out of Kabul,” he said, noting that some 11,000 people had been airlifted out of the Afghanistan capital in the past 36 hours, and 37,000 since Aug. 14.
He went on to brag about how the U.S. government has hastily established processing centers in a number of countries around the world to receive the thousands of people fleeing Afghanistan — as if the need to cobble together a network of processing centers was a great accomplishment, instead of an admission that the administration had failed to plan for this inevitability months ago.
All these talking points were repeated Monday by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. The chaotic scenes at the Kabul airport — the mobs at the gates, the warning shots and flashbang grenades to hold back the crowds, the babies being lifted over razor wire to U.S. soldiers — are all evidence not of the U.S. government’s gross incompetence, but of its strength.
But the American people can smell a rat. We all know the administration is lying, and as American lives are placed in ever greater danger with each passing day, at some point the lies will become unconscionable, even obscene.
So far, there have been no reports of American deaths, thank God. But that could change quickly. According to Biden’s timeline, U.S. forces have one week to complete their evacuation, a task that seems well-nigh impossible, given the number of people who are trying to leave and the reported conditions on the ground. On Monday, a Taliban spokesman warned on “consequences” if U.S. forces stay beyond the Aug. 31 deadline.
It remains unclear, too, whether the Taliban can retain adequate control over Kabul over the next seven days to prevent attacks on U.S. troops or civilians from other armed groups, including ISIS, which is reportedly in the area.
If they can’t, and Americans are attacked and killed in Kabul or elsewhere, will Psaki stand before the cameras and claim otherwise? Maybe, but it’s more likely she and every other White House official will emphasize how well the evacuation went off, how many people they flew out in however many hours, and what a smashing success, really, this whole thing has been.
In 2009 Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl left his unit without permission and was captured by the Taliban. Bergdahl was held for five years until President Obama traded five high ranking Taliban commanders. Once Bergdahl was back on American soil, the Army conducted an investigation.
That was in October 2014. Three months later, the White House is stonewalling the Army’s charges on Bergdahl of desertion. Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser, has been a liaison between the Pentagon and the White House and has led the effort to keep this news from getting out.
Senior ranking military officials said two weeks ago that they would release the ruling soon. Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer referred to the White House’s efforts as a “titanic struggle behind the scenes.”
“As a corporate entity, the Army has decided that they want to pursue Bergdahl for this violation,” Shaffer said.
The delay in releasing the charges against Bergdahl could stem from when the five Taliban members released were never briefed by Army officials. The White House just wants to make the situation to go away.
by Charles Krauthammer • Washington Post
The lone wolf is the new nightmare, dramatized and amplified this week by the hostage-taking attack in Sydney. But there are two kinds of lone wolves — the crazy and the evil — and the distinction is important.
The real terrorists are rational. Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, had been functioning as an Army doctor for years. Psychotics cannot carry that off. Hasan even had a business card listing his occupation as SoA (Soldier of Allah). He then went out and, shouting “Allahu Akbar,” shot dead 13 people, 12 of them fellow soldiers. To this day, Hasan speaks coherently and proudly of the massacre. That’s terrorism. Continue reading
By H.D.S. Greenway • The Boston Globe
It is a sad fact of modern life that homicidally inclined extremists feel they have to compete in frightfulness. It is no longer enough to just kill people in twos and threes. Terrorist outrages have to be evermore spectacular in the post-9/11 age. The attack this week on an army-run school in Peshawar, Pakistan, that killed 145, most of them children, takes atrocity to a new level for the Taliban, which is no doubt a reason why it did it.
The Taliban has said that the attack is an act of revenge for army operations in nearby Waziristan. But there are likely other reasons for the massacre.
The Taliban has been deeply impressed with the successes of the Islamic State, which now controls great swaths of territory across Iraq and Syria. Extremists are trying to match the Islamic State’s level of atrocities. Sadly, the very awfulness of its deeds is part of its recruiting appeal. Continue reading
by Dr. Miklos K. Radvanyi
The plight of Iraq is a true political disaster and a real human catastrophe. The fatal error of all parties involved in the the ongoing saga of Iraq since World War I had been twofold: lack of appreciation for the complex challenges rooted in the difficult conflicts and tensions among contradictory ideas, forces and situations, and ignorance for what is beyond the political, military, economic and moral powers of men and states. Moreover, no attention at all had been paid to the moral condition of the people, the political and religious leaders, and the dysfunctional nation. Finally, the existence of an almost total disconnect between the past and present, and the future of Iraq as a nation-state had resulted in a political vacuum that had enabled ruthless individuals and groups to violate repeatedly the relative stability of the status quo with impunity. Continue reading
What Winston Churchill said of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles — that he was a bull who carried his own china shop around with him — is true of Susan Rice, who is, to be polite, accident prone. When in September 2012 she was deputed to sell to the public the fable that the Benghazi attack was just an unfortunately vigorous movie review — a response to an Internet video — it could have been that she, rather than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was given this degrading duty because Rice was merely U.N. ambassador, an ornamental position at an inconsequential institution. Today, however, Rice is Barack Obama’s national security adviser, so two conclusions must be drawn. Continue reading
Sen. Inhofe calls for a Sudanese woman sentenced to death to receive asylum.
No one knows how much attention the Obama administration is paying to the plight of a Christian woman sentenced to death in Sudan for refusing to renounce her faith, but the lack of pictures of first lady Michelle Obama holding a #FreeMeriamIbrahim sign suggests it’s not very much.
The story of Meriam Ibrahim, whom the Sudanese government has decided was raised in a Muslim environment, meaning she must renounce her belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ or die, has not gotten the same level of attention as the abduction of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls by a terrorist group that objects to their receiving an education. Nonetheless it is, from an American perspective, just as if not more important because she is the wife of a U.S. citizen, and should, therefore, be a priority for the president and his national security team. Continue reading