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Risch: Pursuit of Accountability for Afghanistan to Continue in New Congress

BOISE, Idaho – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today reiterated the need for oversight and accountability of the Biden Administration’s hazardous withdrawal from Afghanistan last August.

“It has now been over a year since the Biden Administration haphazardly withdrew from Afghanistan, and we still don’t have accountability for what went wrong or what steps are being taken to prevent a similar catastrophe from happening again,” said Risch. “It’s clear that Afghanistan has once again become a safe haven for terrorists, the human rights of Afghan women and girls have disappeared, and the Biden Administration has few controls to ensure U.S. assistance doesn’t end up in the hands of the Taliban. In the new Congress, I will continue to press the administration for answers and use every tool available to ensure we have a comprehensive counterterrorism plan, that we safeguard internationally-recognized human rights, and create guardrails on U.S. assistance to prevent direct support to the Taliban.”

Actions Risch has taken to hold the administration accountable for the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan:

  • In September 2021, Risch introduced the Afghanistan Counterterrorism, Oversight, and Accountability Act, comprehensive legislation to address the outstanding issues related to the administration’s rushed and disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan.
  • In December 2021, Risch co-authored the Afghanistan War Commission, a bipartisan commission charged with gathering lessons learned from the withdrawal and America’s 20-year involvement in Afghanistan.  
  • In February 2022, Risch published a report entitled “Left Behind: A Brief Assessment of the Biden Administration’s Strategic Failures during the Afghanistan Evacuation,” to give an overview of what went wrong in the planning and execution of the Biden Administration’s hazardous withdrawal from Afghanistan.
  • Also in February 2022, Risch and Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) introduced a bill to require the U.S. State Department to release a public, unclassified version of the July 13, 2021, internal dissent channel cable that reportedly warned of the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and the Taliban’s ability to capture Kabul.
  • In June 2022, Risch cosponsored the Preventing Terrorist Transfers to Afghanistan Act, legislation to prevent the transfer of individuals currently detained at the United States Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to Afghanistan, where they will likely re-engage in terrorism. This measure became law in this year’s FY2023 National Defense Authorization Act (Sec. 1033).
  • In July 2022, Risch co-led a letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urging the Security Council to re-impose its 1988 sanctions regime to halt international travel for Taliban leadership. The letter also pressed Secretary General Guterres to work to ensure the Taliban does not receive a formal diplomatic seat at the United Nations.
  • On the one-year anniversary of the fall of Kabul, in August 2022, Risch reiterated the importance of accountability from the Biden Administration, including providing briefings and answers to Congress.
  • In November 2022, Risch fought to include a provision in the FY2023 National Defense Authorization Act that would require the president to certify U.S. assistance does not benefit the Taliban, which was blocked by Senate Democrats.