General Mark Milley, in the midst of a public grilling over the Afghanistan withdrawal, privately accused the State Department of being responsible for the botched evacuation effort.
An Axios report indicates that multiple sources informed them of a classified briefing with senators on Tuesday, in which Milley said department officials “waited too long” to order the evacuation.
According to the report, Milley jumped into a question being asked by Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
“Milley jumped in to say that the evacuation of civilians — which Duckworth had not specifically asked about — needed to happen earlier,” Axios writes.
REPORT: The State Department ”waited too long” to order the civilian airlift operation out of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, said General Mark Milley. https://t.co/HaXKNmka9o
— Newsmax (@newsmax) September 30, 2021
RELATED: Matt Gaetz Tears Into General Milley, Says He Would Have Been Fired Over Afghanistan if President Wasn’t So ‘Addled’
Milley Blames State Department
The New York Times reported that the State Department knew back in March that the situation in Afghanistan “required an urgent response.”
Instead, the State Department initially delayed evacuations from Afghanistan until after troops had been withdrawn at the request of former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
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Ghani was concerned that the image projected by the evacuations would make his government appear weak.
“President Biden’s decision not to begin mass evacuations of Afghans months ago … left thousands of people in limbo,” they wrote.
Milley’s private admission that the Biden State Department was to blame undercuts the image he portrayed during his public testimony.
Axios notes that Milley’s “private remarks were far more blunt” than those at the public hearing where he was asked by Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) if evacuations should have begun sooner.
Milley replied that “it’s more complicated than that.”
“Should that have been called earlier?” he continued. “I think that’s an open question that needs further exploration.”
Scoop: In a classified briefing on Tuesday, Milley blamed the State Department for a slow civilian evacuation from Afghanistan, saying officials “waited too long” .. his closed door comments much sharper than public testimony..w @zacharybasu @alaynatreene https://t.co/NqSqRWd3he
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) September 29, 2021
Liz Cheney Defends Milley: No One Should Question His Loyalty
While Milley was throwing the State Department under the bus, he had also taken the opportunity to deflect blame by indicating he warned President Biden to keep a certain troop level in Afghanistan.
Representative Liz Cheney, meanwhile, finds Milley’s willingness to point fingers an endearing quality, her statement at the House Armed Services Committee hearing about the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, seems to indicate.
“For any member of this committee, for any American, to question your loyalty to our nation, to question your understanding of our Constitution, your loyalty to our Constitution, your recognition and understanding of the civilian chain of command, is despicable,” she said.
No one should question Gen. Milley’s loyalty to our country, commitment to the Constitution or to the civilian chain of command.
We all should thank him for standing in the breach and following his duty during a time of peril for our nation. pic.twitter.com/NN3foJBYc5
— Rep. Liz Cheney (@RepLizCheney) September 29, 2021
Cheney opened her comments at the hearing by comparing Milley’s brave actions during the operation to the January 6 riot at the Capitol.
“It was an effort to stop the constitutionally prescribed process of counting electoral votes,” Cheney said. “It was the first time in our nation’s history we did not have a peaceful transfer of power.”
— Newsmax (@newsmax) September 29, 2021
“I want to thank you for standing in the breach, when so many, including many in this room, failed to do so,” Cheney added.
The State Department admits there are still 100 Americans stranded in Afghanistan, but veteran-led groups trying to rescue Americans and Afghan allies question those figures, believing many more than 100 U.S. citizens have been left behind.
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