Secretary of State Anthony Blinken took his turn as a piñata for five hours Monday in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where he tried to explain the why’s and wherefore’s of how the administration pried us loose from whatever we were still trying to accomplish in Afghanistan. In actuality, though, Blinken was involuntarily enlisted into several dozen Republican re-election ads for the 2022 midterms. The minority members of the committee took full advantage of this opportunity to unlimber themselves, and we were granted a look at the latest generation of conservative performance artists.
Their general theme basically was that an airlift that brought 120,000 people out of a war zone was an abject “failure of epic proportions,” as ranking member Michael McFaul of Texas called it, and that a treaty negotiated by the galaxy-brained geniuses of the previous administration* constituted a “surrender” by the current one. “We inherited a deadline,” Blinken told the committee. “We did not inherit a plan.” Which is true enough, but also was less than a speed bump to people determined to establish their Dolchstoßlegende bona fides for a new century.
CONGRESSMAN BRIAN MAST: As the leaked transcript that you referred to says, did President Biden work with the coward exiled president of Afghanistan to manipulate intelligence about the Taliban?
BLINKEN: What he said in private is what he said in public, the issue wasn't whether Afghanistan have the capacity to withstand the Taliban, whether they have the…
Which was Mast’s cue to begin interrupting. He does not require encouragement in this.
MAST: It's incorrect. He did not urge—it's a lie, it's a fault, he did not work to tamp down the intelligence on the Taliban?
BLINKEN: Absolutely not.
MAST: The transcript is incorrect? That's your testimony here today?
BLINKEN: The intelligence that we have discussed at some length about what the assessments were in the Taliban and their capacity to take over the country.
At this point, Mast went on a lengthy soliloquy in which he summoned up each of the American soldiers killed at the Kabul airport as witnesses in support of the proposition that Blinken and the president cooked the books. Even from a wounded veteran, even from a wounded veteran who lost both legs in Afghanistan, this was a completely indecent performance which we will not quote at length here. But, at the end of it, Mast accused the president and Secretary Blinken of having committed treason.
MAST: Why it somehow seemed logical for President Biden to leave the most advanced military weaponry, why someone would not speak out against that, if they were getting false intelligence from the top down. And in my opinion that is aid and comfort to the enemy, and I wonder if you are complicit in this as well. And I find it hard to believe that President Biden would do this without you being aware, and we deserve better answers with that are hearings and I don't believe a word that you are saying.
However, perhaps realizing that he had not yet achieved conservative Bingo, in that he had not yet fully run roughshod over legislative rules and customs, Mast proceeded to try and steamroll both Blinken and committee chairman Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), accusing Blinken of having perjured himself.
BLINKEN: Simply put—
MAST: I don't wish to hear your lies. I'm not listening to you and no one should listen to your lies.
MEEKS: The gentleman will suspend. The gentleman's time has expired. The gentleman's time has expired, the secretary can answer the question.
MAST: I didn't ask him a question.
MEEKS: The gentleman's time has expired.
MAST: He lies in front of the camera. I expect the secretary to live up to the —
MEEKS: The gentleman's time has expired. We are here to hear from the secretary.
MAST: Not lies.
MEEKS: The gentleman's time has expired. If you wish, you may answer the question.
MAST: We don't need to hear lies.
BLINKEN: Thank you, to respond briefly, what the congressman said is simply wrong. Period. Every member of this committee has been apprised of the intelligence assessments throughout the year. You know what they were and what they are and we will continue to provide those assessments and briefings in the weeks and months ahead. You heard the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs say he has not seen anything that indicated to him or anyone else that the Afghan government and military would collapse in 11 days. The Director of National Intelligence has said that even in the days leading up to the Taliban takeover, intelligence agencies did not say that collapse was imminent, it unfolded more quickly than anticipated, even in the intelligence community. I could go on. What has been said and alleged is not true.
At which point, Meeks attempted to recognize Rep. Dina Titus, (D-Nevada), but Mast wasn’t done yet.
MEEKS: The gentleman's time has expired and the gentleman will cease immediately.
MAST: He proved the point.
Keep an eye on this guy. One thing you can say about the Republicans: They’re three-deep at every position, including Jim Jordanesque Demagogue.
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