President Biden must publicly and truthfully explain the multiple discrepancies revealed by his top military brass during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday in regard to whether he received advice against pulling out of Afghanistan for what unfolded into a crisis, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Tuesday.
Haley added that Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley should have also known better than to speak to authors and journalists in either on-record or background capacities for what were even at the time predictably political publications.
Haley told “The Story” that instead of clearing up whether or not Biden was advised to stick with his hard timeline of Afghanistan withdrawal, the hearing chaired by Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Jack Reed, produced more questions than answers.
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“I think we heard from our generals about what transpired … The person we need to hear from is the president of the United States,” said Haley, who previously served as South Carolina’s governor.
“I mean, this even caused more questions I think for President Biden, which are: ‘You said none of your military said anything to you about keeping forces on the ground, about keeping Bagram Air Base … you said you couldn’t recall it’ — Well, clearly your generals said they did tell you,” she said.
During the hearing, CENTCOM Commander Gen. Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie Jr. testified that his personal recommendation was to keep a 2,500-strong force in Afghanistan – but clarified that he would not publicly share the recommendation he gave Biden.
“So we need an answer [from Biden],” Haley added on “The Story.”
“We need the truth on that because you already lied once on that. Then you said that the Afghan military … could stand on their own. The generals countered that again and told him the risk he was taking by doing that. That is not the case.”
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Haley noted that Biden has declared Al Qaeda is potent in Afghanistan anymore. That statement was also debunked by the witnesses Tuesday – who included Milley, McKenzie, and Gen. Lloyd Austin III [Ret.] – the Defense secretary.
“All of [Biden’s] generals said Al Qaeda is very much in Afghanistan and oh, by the way, when the Taliban took over, they let out all of those Al Qaeda prisoners that are now throughout Afghanistan. There’s so many questions.”
“[Biden] said that they wouldn’t leave any Americans behind. [He] left Americans behind. So I think we heard some hard truths from the generals.”
Haley added that one key exchange during the hearing was between Milley and Tennessee Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn:
Milley testified that he spoke to “Peril” author Bob Woodward, but not co-author Robert Costa – both of the Washington Post. Milley also admitted speaking to Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender for his Donald Trump-centric book “Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost”, as well as the Post’s Phil Rucker and Carol Leonnig’s “I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year.”
Haley called Milley’s admissions “the most unprofessional thing” and compared his conduct to what could happen to her veteran husband Michael Haley, if he were to give such information to journalists or political authors:
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“Even as a cabinet member, you don’t talk to someone writing a book – you don’t talk to journalists about books or any of that. That is political,” she said.
“But in the military? They’re so conscious about not politicizing what they do. The idea that he would sit down and do these tell-all books just boggles the mind. I know my husband: He can’t take a picture in uniform – you have to be careful about when journalists you talk to, what you say. I can’t imagine that General Milley didn’t know that. I have to think he has a lot of regrets right now.”