As we witness the catastrophe that is unfolding in Afghanistan, our number one focus right now must be on getting our people out and getting the Afghans who helped us out because we have an obligation to them.
While we focus on that, please see updates below on my recent activity over the past week:
Legislation To Protect Private Property Rights From Potential Federal Overreach:
This week, I introduced legislation that would protect private property rights from potential federal overreach that could be a part of the Biden Administration’s 30×30 initiative that would lock up public lands. The full text of the legislation can be read here.
The uncertainty created from the Biden Administration’s executive orders and their potential public land grabs are already making life more difficult for people across Wyoming. To counter the negative ramifications of these overreaching policies, the legislation I’ve introduced will protect the private property rights of individuals across our state who need access to these lands to provide for themselves and their families, while also ensuring that the current Administration’s political agenda will not undermine the interests of farmers and ranchers in Wyoming.
I am proud this legislation has the support of Governor Gordon, the Wyoming County Commissioners Association (WCCA), and the Wyoming Stock Growers Association.
Additionally, Wednesday mornings’s Casper Star Tribune led with a write-up on this important piece of legislation.
See the front page and excerpts of the story below:
The Casper Star-Tribune: Cheney Bill Aims To Protect Private Landowners From 30 By 30
Nicole Powell & Victoria Eavis – August 18, 2021
Rep. Liz Cheney introduced legislation Tuesday that has been lauded for safeguarding landowners’ rights — a key conservation sticking point in Wyoming — but would actually do much more.
The bill preemptively limits the federal government’s ability to assume ownership of privately owned land under the Biden administration’s “30 by 30” conservation initiative, which seeks to protect 30% of U.S. lands and waters by 2030.
“The legislation I’ve introduced will protect the private property rights of individuals across our state who need access to these lands to provide for themselves and their families, while also ensuring that the current Administration’s political agenda will not undermine the interests of farmers and ranchers in Wyoming,” Cheney said in a statement.
Many Wyoming residents, however, oppose 30 by 30 out of concern about property rights. They’re worried about losing access to cattle grazing, mining and other activities currently done on federally owned land, and even more afraid that the federal government could force them off land they own in the name of conservation.
Cheney’s office is marketing Tuesday’s bill as a way to protect private landowners. It includes assurances that nonconsenting private landowners would not be required to sell property to the federal government or participate in conservation practices on any privately held land.
But Cheney’s legislation already has the endorsement of a number of key players in Wyoming.
“It is critical that any conservation initiative be locally-based, cooperative and truly voluntary,” Gov. Mark Gordon said in a statement issued through Cheney’s press release. “Representative Cheney’s bill ensures that any program is voluntary and recognizes the private property rights that are fundamental to Wyoming landowners.”
And outside of politics, the Wyoming Stock Growers Association chimed in.
“The potential threats to private property rights and the multiple use of public lands have hindered producers in making needed decisions with positive long-term implications for their business and for our state,” said Jim Magagna, executive vice president of the association. “Passage of this legislation will enable us to return to addressing natural resource management decisions based on sound science and economic analysis, not on political expediency.”
Meeting With The Northern Arapaho Business Council:
I was honored to visit with the Northern Arapaho Business Council this past Thursday to hear first-hand about some of the health care, education, and housing challenges they’re facing.
I’ll continue to make sure that we’re doing everything possible with local, state, and federal partners to address these concerns.
Promoting Growth In Character, Leadership, & Commitment For Wyoming Students:
Wyoming has long been the leader in the Congressional Award program — promoting growth in character, leadership, and commitment for students in our state. I was honored to be at the 29th Annual Golf Tournament last week to support and further the mission of the Wyoming Congressional Award.
Speaking With KTWO’s Katelyn O’Shaughnessy In Casper About Afghanistan:
I enjoyed catching up with KTWO’s Katelyn O’Shaughnessy in Casper this past week to discuss President Biden’s catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan and what it means for our national security going forward.
You can watch our discussion here and see the full transcript below:
KATELYN O’SHAUGHNESSY:Hello, Wyoming. I’m Katelyn O’Shaughnessy. Joined with me today is special guest, Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney. Liz, thank you so much for joining us.
REP. LIZ CHENEY:Great to be with you. Thanks, Katelyn.
O’SHAUGHNESSY: So, earlier this week, we all watched in horror as the Taliban seized power in Kabul after the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan. How did 20 years of work fighting this war collapse so quickly? How did we get here? And where did we go wrong?
REP. CHENEY: Well, it really has been catastrophic. And as you said, we’ve all watched the scenes of people desperately trying to get into Kabul Airport. It seems we’ve got about between 10 and 15,000 Americans still, this morning, behind enemy lines in Afghanistan. And we’re facing a situation that clearly began in the Trump Administration. I would say, actually, even in the Obama Administration, with this determination to get out regardless of what our national security requirements were. And then in the Trump Administration, you saw the negotiations with the Taliban, which really emboldened the Taliban, which really created a situation that destroyed the legitimacy of the Afghan government and the establishment of the withdrawal date of May 1st. And then, of course, President Biden’s direct responsibility for just completely pulling out for this withdrawal, which has been disastrous from every perspective, whether you’re talking about U.S. national security, and now we no longer have counterintelligence operations on the ground in Afghanistan. Obviously, the Taliban have now taken the entire country, and they still continue to be allied with al Qaeda, and we’ll certainly be seeing an increased terror threat, as you’ve seen, our military commanders say. So, it has been really just a devastating tragedy that did not have to happen.
O’SHAUGHNESSY:Interesting. And so, what do you think the ramifications are going to be? As Americans, are we still safe? What does this mean for the country of Afghanistan as well?
REP. CHENEY: Well, it’s certainly — we are less safe. And the threat of terrorism has increased. You’ve had among the soldiers — not the soldiers — among the terrorists who’ve been released from prison across Afghanistan, some of those who’ve been released are actually members of al Qaeda’s international cells. So, they’re members of the very cells within al Qaeda focused on attacking us. And over the last week or so they’ve now been released from prison. So, that’s just one example of how we are clearly going to be less safe. You also have a huge loss in our allies’ view that they can depend on us, and a real disappointment, I think you probably — the relationships within NATO — I think we’re probably at their lowest level that they’ve been since NATO was established because we just withdrew. We had NATO allies there fighting alongside us, and we have really created chaos for everyone.
O’SHAUGHNESSEY:So, where do you think we should go from here?
REP. CHENEY: Well, we have a lot of work to do. I think that the number one priority is obviously to get our people out and to get out the Afghans who helped us. We have an obligation to them. Secondly, the Biden Administration has got to put together a plan so that they can show us exactly how they’re going to defeat terror, so that they can show us now with this heightened threat what their response is going to be, what resources they’re going to dedicate to it. And we have to really decide as a country, we have to come to grips with what is necessary for us to maintain our security, to maintain our freedom, and that requires a global leadership role. And we have seen too many people on both sides of the political aisle argue for isolationism, and that is extremely dangerous, and we are seeing, in fact, sadly, today in Afghanistan what happens if America withdraws and doesn’t fulfill its obligations.
O’SHAUGHNESSY: And what would you like to say to the American people and to all those who served and sacrificed so much over this 20-year war?
REP. CHENEY: Yes, first of all, to all those who served, you know, we owe them such a debt of gratitude, and they kept us safe. When I hear people over the last few days saying, “Well, it wasn’t worth it.” They just don’t know. They don’t understand the unbelievable sacrifice that American troops have made, that our allies have made, but specifically to our American men and women in uniform who were deployed and served in Afghanistan, they kept us safe. We didn’t have another mass casualty terrorist attack launched from that territory in 20 years, and that is because of the work of our brave men and women in uniform. So, they kept us safe, our political leaders have failed them, and our political leaders have failed the country. We need political leaders who are going to conduct themselves in a way that’s worthy of the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform.
O’SHAUGHNESSY:Well, Congresswoman Cheney, thank you so much for joining us and providing your insight. We’re so happy to have you here today.
REP. CHENEY: Thank you very much. Great to be with you.
Discussing The Fallout Of The Afghanistan Withdrawal On NBC’s Meet The Press:
This morning, I joined NBC’s “Meet The Press” to discuss the continued fallout from President Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan.
Watch the full interview here and see the transcript below:
CHUCK TODD: Wyoming Congresswoman Cheney, welcome back to “Meet The Press.”
REP. LIZ CHENEY: Thank you, Chuck.
TODD:Look, I know you disagree with the withdrawal decision sort-of overall, but let’s focus short term here for a moment. The national security adviser did say, “If the president gets advice that more resources are needed to get Americans out, then he would be open to that.” Given the situation, should that be the next course of action?
REP. CHENEY: We have to ensure that we get every American out, and we have to ensure that we get out the Afghans who helped us. That’s our duty. That’s our responsibility. You know, as you pointed out, Chuck, what we’re watching unfold on the ground is a complete catastrophe. To hear the national security adviser say, “Well, it’s a little complexity, a little turbulence,” or to suggest that this is simply a civil war, is fundamentally at odds with reality. Our mission in Afghanistan was to deny terrorists a sanctuary, and the Biden decision now to completely withdraw has handed them an entire country. Has, in fact, ensured, not just the Taliban, but al Qaeda, ISIS, the Haqqani Network — terrorist organizations that want to attack the United States now have an entire country as a sanctuary from which to do so.
TODD: Is the Taliban a direct threat to the United States or not? That has been a dispute —
REP. CHENEY: Absolutely.
TODD: What makes you say that?
REP. CHENEY: Absolutely. Well, we know, the facts make me say it. We know the Taliban has never renounced al Qaeda. This is one of the things that was such an indefensible step by the Trump Administration. When President Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo decided that they were going to sign a surrender agreement with the Taliban, decided that they were going to begin to negotiate with the Taliban —
TODD: You concur with President Trump’s own national security adviser — I was going to actually play a clip for you — H.R. Halderman —
REP. CHENEY: McMaster —
TODD: I’m sorry — McMaster — I’ve done that a few times, been around this town for too long, I guess. And he basically accused Secretary of State Pompeo at the time and the president — he called it a surrender agreement. Why do you call it a surrender agreement?
REP. CHENEY: It is, absolutely. We sat down and negotiated with terrorists because we completely excluded the Afghan government from those negotiations. We gave credibility to the Taliban. Secretary Pompeo told us that the Taliban was going to renounce al Qaeda. They told us that the Taliban was going to fight terrorists. They forced the Afghan national government — we did — to release 5,000 prisoners. So, we completely undercut the Afghan national government, we absolutely emboldened the Taliban. And we know now from public reporting that the moment that agreement was signed, the Taliban went to members of the Afghan national army and said, “The Americans are leaving you, and you should lay down your arms when the time comes, or we’ll kill you and your families.” So, that led directly to the catastrophe that we’re seeing today.
TODD: Do you think President Biden could have gotten out of that agreement? He feels as if — that it would have been — that we’d have paid a high price, maybe even with more attacks on our soldiers on the ground.
REP. CHENEY:I think there’s no question — you know, President Biden is the President of the United States and he’s had no problem in reversing course on other things. He decided he’s going to rejoin the JCPOA, he decided he’s going to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord. He’s reversed a number of decisions of the Trump Administration. So, in this circumstance where, absolutely, the U.S. national security requirement was to maintain a presence on the ground, to help to, frankly, embolden and train the Afghans who were bearing the brunt of this and fighting for us. President Biden ignored the advice of his military leadership and decided instead he’s going to withdraw. All you have to do is look at what is unfolding today, look at that interview we just heard. The fact that we’re now somehow relying on the Taliban to protect Americans — and the White House is denying what we know is happening on the ground, which is that Americans are being beaten, they’re being prevented from getting to the gates of the airport, and they are probably being held hostage.
TODD:Ten years ago, we had a poll that showed over 70% of Americans thought that we were more likely — that this was going to end without being able to leave a stable democracy in Afghanistan. In some ways the American public, sort of, foresaw this a decade ago. The American public now, even as they don’t like what they see on the ground, 60% say this isn’t worth it. That seems to be why there’s no political support with — four presidents in a row have tried to get out because the public has not been with them. Isn’t that fundamentally why we’re getting out?
REP. CHENEY:I think I actually look at it the other way, Chuck. We need to have leaders who will tell the public what’s necessary, who will help to explain why, in fact, we need to have a presence on the ground in Afghanistan. So, when you’ve got three presidents in a row having said we have to get out —
TODD: Even President Bush was trying to find a way out as we’re now learning in an IG report.
REP. CHENEY: I don’t think there’s any question, but that we have to maintain, we needed to maintain a presence on the ground. 3,500 forces, counterterrorism operations, counterintelligence operations — that allowed us to have the kind of assurance that the Taliban would not, in fact, take over as they have done and create now a brand-new safe haven. Again, it’s not just the Taliban. It’s the Haqqani Network, it’s al Qaeda, you’ve got ISIS. You have the very groups, particularly al Qaeda, that attacked us 20 years ago from bases in Afghanistan, now back into a position where they can do the same again.
TODD: It does seem as if President Biden is going to pursue a strategy, a counterterrorism strategy, that’s similar to what both the Obama and the Trump Administrations started to do late there in how we go after enclaves in Syria and enclaves in Africa. Is that possible in Afghanistan?
REP. CHENEY:Right now, no. If you look at where we are today and you look at the damage this decision has done — it’s not just damage in Afghanistan, it’s damage globally for the United States. Look what the members of the British Parliament have been saying about us over the course of the last week. Look at what our NATO allies are saying about us. The arrangements they’re now making, frankly, in some cases, excluding us. We have to as a nation recognize evil in the world. When you see mothers standing outside those gates handing their babies off, that’s because they know the Taliban is evil. And as Americans, we have to say we must fight that and defend ourselves against future attacks.
TODD: But was nation building a step too far? In some ways I understand you have to build some institutions if you want to create that stability, but it didn’t work in Vietnam and it didn’t work here.
REP. CHENEY: Look, you have to build those institutions. I think that’s exactly the point. I think we have to be very specific. There’s no question that there were mistakes, there were strategies that were pursued that didn’t work, strategies that were pursued that didn’t have the resources they needed, but for the United States to be in a position where we need to ensure Afghanistan is not a safe haven, that means that we’ve got to provide the support necessary to continue to have the Afghans bear the brunt of the fight, it means that we’ve got to help to build the institutions that can withstand the al Qaeda and the Taliban threat that continues. So, this isn’t about building a democracy that looks like the United States, it’s about what can we do to maintain stability so that we don’t have further terrorist attacks from Afghan soil.
TODD: Unfortunately, I’m out of time, Congresswoman Liz Cheney. I’d love to get you back here and talk a little about that January 6th Committee that you’re working on as well.
REP. CHENEY:I’ll look forward to it.
TODD:Appreciate you coming on and sharing your perspective with us.
REP. CHENEY:Thanks, Chuck. Great to be with you.
Answering Questions On ABC’s This Week About Afghanistan:
Last Sunday, I joined ABC’s “This Week” to discuss the deteriorating conditions in Afghanistan and how both the Biden and Trump Administrations bear responsibility for this disaster.
Watch the full interview here and see the transcript below:
JONATHAN KARL: Now Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney, a member of the Armed Services Committee and a former State Department official. Congresswoman Cheney, when you look at this, this effort, nearly 20 years of the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, $83 billion spent to train and equip the Afghan security forces, why has this been such a colossal failure?
REP. LIZ CHENEY: Well, I think if you look at where we were, if you look at what it would have taken in terms of maintaining the status quo, 2,500 to 3,500 forces on the ground conducting counterterrorism and counterintelligence operations, this disaster, the catastrophe that we’re watching unfold right now across Afghanistan did not have to happen. It’s not just that people predicted that this would happen, everyone was warned that this would happen. We’ve now created a situation where as we get to the 20th Anniversary of 9/11, we are surrendering Afghanistan to the terrorist organization that housed al Qaeda when they plotted and planned the attacks against us. It’s inexcusable, it’s devastating, and it is going to have ramifications not just for Afghanistan, not just for us in Afghanistan, not just for the War on Terror, but globally for America’s role in the world — the extent to which America’s adversaries know they can threaten us, and our allies are questioning this morning whether they can count on us for anything.
KARL: Ultimately this is President Biden’s decision. He is the one that has called for this withdrawal, is going forward with it, but this didn’t happen in a vacuum.
REP. CHENEY: Right.
KARL: I mean, it was President Trump that negotiated the agreement with the Taliban to have a complete withdrawal that was supposed to actually happen by May 1st. So, who bears responsibility?
REP. CHENEY: Look, I think that, absolutely, President Biden bears responsibility for making this decision, but there is no question that President Trump, his administration, Secretary Pompeo, they also bear very significant responsibility for this. They walked down this path of legitimizing the Taliban, of perpetuating this fantasy, telling the American people that the Taliban were a partner for peace. President Trump told us that the Taliban was going to fight terror. Secretary Pompeo told us that the Taliban was going to renounce al Qaeda. None of that has happened, none of it has happened. Today, as we watched the Taliban, for example, release prisoners across Afghanistan. There’s very real concern that there are not just fighters in those prisons who will join the battle in Afghanistan, but that terrorist groups globally will, in fact, be fed new soldiers in their War on Terror from those prisons. It’s a devastating set of circumstances, but the delegitimization of the Afghan government, the notion in the Trump administration, the suggestion that at one point they were saying, “We’re going to invite the Taliban to Camp David.” They —
KARL: On September 11th.
REP. CHENEY: Yeah, this disaster certainly began — and look, the notion of, “We’re going to end endless wars,” that campaign slogan, what we’re watching right now in Afghanistan is what happens when America withdraws from the world. Everybody who has been saying, “America needs to withdraw, America needs to retreat,” we’re getting a devastating, catastrophic, real-time lesson in what that means.
KARL: Well, let me ask you about something your former colleague Justin Amash said. He said, “The Taliban’s rapid gains in Afghanistan underscore the futility of permanent occupation. The United States wasn’t able to meaningfully shape circumstances through 20 years of war. We’d have seen the same results had we pulled out 15 years ago or 15 years from now. End the wars.” That is something you hear, I mean, you hear from Republicans and Democrats.
REP. CHENEY: This is not ending the war. What this is doing actually is perpetuating it. What we have done and what we’re seeing in Afghanistan is instead of keeping 2,500 forces on the ground with air power, working with the Afghans, we were able to keep the Taliban at bay, we were able to prevent the Taliban from establishing safe havens with 2,500-3,500 troops on the ground. What we’re seeing now is actually the opposite of ending the war. What we’re seeing now is a policy that will ensure, ensure, that we will, in fact, have to have our children and grandchildren continuing to fight this war at a much higher cost. So, everybody, the Rand Paul, Donald Trump, Mike Pompeo, Joe Biden view of the world here is fundamentally dangerous and irresponsible and wrong.
KARL: But quickly let me ask you, as you know, poll after poll for the last several years have shown that most Americans wanted us out of Afghanistan. So, can you really maintain for the long term a military operation that most of the American people do not support?
REP. CHENEY: Look, as leaders we have an obligation no matter what the issue is to tell the American people the truth. We have an obligation to explain what’s necessary. There’s one question, one question, that matters when it comes to Afghanistan, or any other deployment of U.S. forces and that question is: what does American security require? And if American security requires that our enemies can’t establish safe havens to attack us again, then our leaders across both parties have the responsibility to explain to the American people why we need to keep a deployment of forces on the ground. This has been an epic failure across the board, and we’re going to pay for it for years to come.
KARL: All right, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, thank you very much.
REP. CHENEY: Thank you.
Joining CBS This Morning To Discuss The Deteriorating Situation In Afghanistan:
I appeared on “CBS This Morning” on Monday to discuss the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan as a result of the decision to withdraw U.S. forces from the country.
You can see the full interview here and read the transcript below:
GAYLE KING:Wyoming Republican Liz Cheney is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and joins us now to discuss. Good morning to you, Congresswoman Cheney. This has been a disturbing turn of events —
REP. LIZ CHENEY: Good morning —
KING:And we’re all trying to process it right now. You look at the pictures, it’s terrifying, it’s very frightening. What concerns you most as we sit here on this Monday morning?
REP. CHENEY:Well, it is, of course, just catastrophic. It didn’t have to be this way. And what concerns me most going forward from a national security perspective is the extent to which al Qaeda, ISIS, other terrorist organizations now have an entire country that the Taliban controls. We know 20 years ago the Taliban was hosting al Qaeda while they planned the attacks against us. I also am very concerned about the prisoners that have been released across the country. You’ve got prisoners that were released not only that are likely — that will get back into the battle for the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan but will potentially populate terrorist organizations globally. So, we’ve really entered a very dangerous new phase now in the War on Terror, created an additional security situation and danger that we simply didn’t need to create — totally unnecessary.
KING: Now, I’ve heard you say that —
REP. CHENEY: And devastating.
KING: I’ve heard you say, “It didn’t have to be this way.” There seems to be enough blame to go around, a lot of finger pointing here in both directions. What do you think happened?
REP. CHENEY: Well, I think two things happened. One, in the Trump Administration the agreement that was negotiated, Secretary Pompeo negotiated, actually was a surrender agreement. It was a document that had a date certain for our withdrawal. It released, it guaranteed, committed to prisoner releases, and we were all told — the American people were told that the Taliban was going to renounce al Qaeda. Of course, that didn’t happen.
KING: That didn’t happen.
REP. CHENEY: So, we had — it did not happen, right. So, we had delegitimatized the Afghan government, cut them out, negotiated with the Taliban, a terrorist organization, signed an agreement with them. We never should have done that, but President Biden never should have withdrawn forces. I think, ultimately, when you look at how we got to this point, certainly there is sufficient blame on both sides, but this decision to just fundamentally withdraw really — we’re watching unfold what it looks like when America adopts a policy of retreat, when America adopts a policy of surrender. It makes us less safe, and it’s going to make the war longer.
ANTHONY MASON:But Congresswoman, I think a lot of Americans would look at this and say, “We made a 20-year investment in building up the Afghan army, and they couldn’t hold the country for a month.” Are you saying that we should have a permanent presence in Afghanistan?
REP. CHENEY: You know, what we need to do is determine whether or not, and I believe that it is the case, that our security requires that we have sufficient forces to work with the Afghans — that we did — to work with the Afghans, air support, counterintelligence, counterterrorism efforts, to prevent the establishment of safe havens. If you look around the world, if you look at Korea, if you look at Germany, there are places where we have troops forward deployed. And 2,500-3,500 forces on the ground, the insight that that gave us, the intelligence gathering capabilities it gave us, the counterterrorism capabilities it gave us, all of those things were, you know — we were able to do those things under the previous arrangement. Certainly, that’s been completely and totally eliminated now.
MASON:Secretary Blinken, Congresswoman, said 2,500 troops wouldn’t have been enough to hold back the Taliban.
REP. CHENEY:Yeah, well, it’s true that the enemy gets a choice, but they were holding them back. And our air power, our forces on the ground, our intelligence efforts, all of those things were working together. Now, you know, again, we had the agreement that was signed in the Trump Administration that began this process of helping to strengthen the Taliban. We invited the Taliban or were going to invite the Taliban to Camp David. Secretary Pompeo met with the Taliban, the first U.S. Secretary of State to do that. So, all of those things led to the moment that we find ourselves at, but ultimately this decision to completely and totally withdraw is Joe Biden’s, and it is one that is disgraceful.
KING:It is happening on his watch, there’s no question about that, but I keep thinking about the families who have paid the ultimate sacrifice during this — during this time period. What is your message to those families who are sitting here wondering, “What did we do this for?”
REP. CHENEY:Yeah, it is heartbreaking. I would say, first of all, all of the men and the women who have been deployed to Afghanistan over the last 20 years helped ensure that we didn’t have any further mass casualty attacks from Afghan territory. They helped to keep us safe. They helped to prevent the kind of attack we saw on 9/11. So, their service was really crucially important for our security. And I also think we need to go forward, all of us who are elected officials, committing ourselves that we’re going to conduct ourselves in a way that is worthy of their sacrifices, conduct ourselves in a way that’s above politics, that looks at what the security requirements of the nation are, and we need to have a very serious look now at how we’re going to, in fact, conducts counterterrorism operations around the world given the heightened threat because of this complete withdrawal from Afghanistan.
KING: All right. Congresswoman Cheney, thank you so much for your time. A lot to think about today.
Calling-In To Fox News Radio To Talk About The Failure Unfolding In Afghanistan:
On Monday of last week, I spoke with Brian Kilmeade on Fox News Radio about the continued fallout from the catastrophic decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan and the disastrous ramifications currently unfolding.
Listen to the full interview here and see relevant portions of the transcript below:
BRIAN KILMEADE: To put in perspective, Congresswoman Liz Cheney. Congresswoman, welcome back.
REP. LIZ CHENEY: Hey Brian, thanks so much for having me back.
KILMEADE: I mean listen, you’re one of the few people not surprised by this, right?
REP. CHENEY: No, it’s devastating, certainly heartbreaking to watch the scenes from the airport. And you and I’ve talked about this for years. You know, my view has been that having 2,500 to 3,500 U.S. forces on the ground to conduct counterterrorism, counterintelligence, to help us make sure that the Taliban wasn’t able to take over, that they weren’t able to continue to provide safe havens for al Qaeda, that that was an important deployment for our security, and we’ve watched just the absolute devastation in the last three or four days because of the determination that we needed to withdraw completely and because of the way that the Biden Administration is conducting the withdrawal. It’s really devastating.
KILMEADE: I want you to hear what Jake Sullivan just said. Now, I was doing “Fox and Friends,” so I missed it. He was on NBC. Here’s what he said when he was asked about this being a Saigon moment. Michael Waltz told me this is not true. He says that you can get back and forth in a vehicle, but listen to him try to explain that this isn’t like Saigon 1975. Cut two:
NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR JAKE SULLIVAN: To be fair, the helicopter has been the mode of transport from our embassy to the airport for the last 20 years.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Do you know– it’s not the helicopter, it’s not the mechanism.
NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR SULLIVAN: That’s how we move people.
GUTHRIE: No, no, it’s the last-minute scramble, you know that. It’s the last-minute scramble when the assurances from the president himself were, “This is not what we were going to see.”
NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR SULLIVAN: It is certainly the case that the speed with which cities fell was much greater than anyone anticipated, including the Afghans, including many of the analysts who looked hard at this problem.
KILMEADE: Analysts are the problem? What about your Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff? I don’t know, Congresswoman, you have better sources than I do. Did they give him bad advice, or did he ignore it?
REP. CHENEY: I think that he ignored the advice of his military leaders. And look, you know, Jake Sullivan is right, this isn’t Saigon — it’s far worse.When you have a situation where the very terrorist organizations that housed al Qaeda, that housed ISIS, that housed al Qaeda as they planned and launched the attacks against us, are now back in control of the entire country. They’re going to establish a caliphate. The damage to our national security is significant. The prisoners that have been released, the extent to which this is going to change what we have to do in order to keep ourselves safe. Just a massive, massive failure. Now, and look, you know, Brian, we talked about this too, I think the agreement that the Trump Administration negotiated with the Taliban in 2020 was a surrender agreement, and that created a situation where we were legitimizing the Taliban and shutting out the Afghan government and set us on the path we’re on now. So, this is the consequence of a policy of American retreat and withdrawal, and it’s very dangerous.
KILMEADE: Absolutely. So, we’re talking to Congressman Liz Cheney, who knows enough about national security as anybody in Congress and the White House to be totally candid. Congresswoman, when you look at this, we basically set them up, and talking to people this weekend, almost like an American force to a degree. They’re used to having commanding officers, but guess what their commanding officers were? Americans. So, you could want to fight, but if you didn’t have a captain, a lieutenant, or colonel to turn around and say, “Where do I go?” that you believe in, it’s over. And that’s what happened. We totally left. So, listen to Richard Haass, who agrees with you about the agreement the Trump team cut. Cut 25. He’s the president of the Council of Foreign Relations.
RICHARD HAASS: I would actually think the agreement we signed with the Taliban in February of 2020 was a disaster that undermined the Afghan government, it asked virtually nothing of the Taliban in exchange for withdrawal, and Mr. Biden who hasn’t been shy about changing all sorts of other policies he inherited from Iran to climate change, why was he unwilling to change this policy?
KILMEADE: Do you have an answer to that, and do you agree with his assessment?
REP. CHENEY: I agree with him and the idea that the Biden Administration is somehow saying, “We didn’t have the ability to change the bad path we were on.” It’s ridiculous. We’ve watched him change policy after policy. Look, he bears responsibility for this, he made the decision. Just one example, you know, when they set the date certain of everybody’s got to be out by — I think they said August 31st, ultimately — you know, that meant that we had to start basically evacuating, turning back over our bases in the country, including Bagram, and the devastation and the tragic scenes that you’re seeing today out of the Kabul airport, we wouldn’t be seeing that, if we had held on to Bagram. So, there were a lot of decisions that were made, and the military determinations about how to conduct this withdrawal, clearly that people need to understand what went wrong here. We should not have been withdrawing in the first place, in my view, but the idea that we’ve got the scenes of death and chaos is really — is just going to be hugely damaging for the United States, globally. You know, people will look at that. How do you think people in Taiwan feel? How do you think people in Ukraine feel — watching the scenes thinking, “Well, can we count on America?” And you know, America’s security depends upon our allies being able to count on us. So, we’ve got to, we’ve got to fix this, it’s not going to be easy. It’s going to require new leadership for the country, and a new commitment to reasserting America’s role in the world and recognizing that weakness is provocative.
KILMEADE: Now, are you stunned that the President — and I’m up against a break — but are you stunned the President remains at Camp David, quiet silence, no even guarantee he’s going to speak today?
REP. CHENEY: Yeah, he has to speak to the nation. I mean, it’s outrageous to have this kind of catastrophe unfolding directly because of a decision he made, and to have him be silent, that is not leadership. He needs to speak to the country, he needs to explain why he did what he did, and he needs to tell us what he’s going to do to protect us from the growing jihadist threat that we’re going to face as a result of this really misguided and, you know, just fundamentally dangerous decision that he made to pull all our forces out of Afghanistan.
KILMEADE: All right, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, thanks so much.
REP. CHENEY: Thanks, Brian. Appreciate it.
Letter to Secretary Austin Requesting Access to Medical Care at Walter Reed for Police Officers Injured in Jan. 6 Attack:
I recently joined Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) in leading 20 of our House colleagues in a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III urging him to exercise his authority to grant access to medical care at Walter Reed for law enforcement officers who sustained injuries, including traumatic brain injury (TBI), when defending the Capitol on January 6, 2021:
We wrote, “During the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, at least 140 law enforcement officers, including at least 81 U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) Officers, were assaulted, and as of June, at least 17 law enforcement officers, including at least 10 USCP officers, have not returned to duty due to injuries sustained on that terrible day. The Chairman of the Capitol Police Union reported that an officer lost the tip of his finger, one officer had two cracked ribs, two shattered spinal discs, and one was stabbed with a metal fence stake. Some have experienced traumatic brain injury (TBI), and many more are suffering from emotional trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder. Four law enforcement officers who responded to the unimaginable events at the Capitol on January 6 have died by suicide and another officer surrendered her weapon, fearing she might use it on herself. In fact, Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell told the January 6 Select Committee that his experience protecting the Capitol on January 6 was worse than anything he faced during his Army deployment to Iraq.”
“As you no doubt are aware, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center operates a best-in-class treatment program for TBI. Members of Congress routinely receive care at Walter Reed when necessary, but the Capitol Police and other law enforcement officers injured in the January 6 attacks do not currently have this access. We believe that law enforcement officers who were injured on January 6 should have the option of seeking medical treatment at Walter Reed for injuries sustained in the attack, including TBI.”
“We understand that you have broad authority under 10 U.S.C. § 1074(c) and the regulation-based Secretarial Designee program to allow individuals, who are not otherwise eligible, to access military medical care when it serves a compelling DoD mission interest. We believe there is a clear, compelling interest in these circumstances given that the actions of law enforcement officers on January 6 complemented and supported the deployment of National Guardsmen, as directed by the Secretary of the Army, in defense of the seat of the legislative branch of the U.S. government, and that historically DoD has treated the health care of civilians injured while supporting the operations of military personnel in an official capacity as a compelling DoD mission interest. We request that you use this authority to allow law enforcement officers injured in the line of duty on January 6, 2021—including U.S. Capitol Police and other federal, state, and District of Columbia police—to participate in the Secretarial Designee program for the purposes of receiving treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.”
The complete letter can be read here.
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Congresswoman Liz Cheney