House Republicans request documents on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan

Key Points
  • House Republicans are asking the Biden administration for documents about the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
  • The U.S. pulled out of the country in 2021, after a nearly 20-year war.
  • In the final weeks of the U.S. presence there, the Taliban secured shocking gains of territory, and President Joe Biden had to order troops to protect an airport perimeter to evacuate U.S. Embassy staff.
A day after U.S. forces completed its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, refugees board a bus taking them to a processing center upon their arrival at Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia, September 1, 2021.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

WASHINGTON — House Republicans on Friday called on the Biden administration to release information about the chaotic U.S. departure from Afghanistan.

In a series of letters sent to senior leadership at the departments of Defense, State, Homeland Security, and the U.S. Agency for International Development, GOP lawmakers requested all documents, communications and information related to what they called the Biden administration's "disastrous military and diplomatic withdrawal from Afghanistan."

"U.S. servicemen and women lost their lives, Americans were abandoned, taxpayer dollars are unaccounted for, the Taliban gained access to military equipment, progress for Afghan women was derailed, and the entire area is now under hostile Taliban control," wrote Republican Rep. James Comer of Kentucky and other key GOP representatives.

"The American people deserve answers and the Biden Administration's ongoing obstruction of this investigation is unacceptable," added Comer, the chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee.

The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.

The U.S. finished its withdrawal from the airport in Kabul on Aug. 31, 2021. The departure effectively ended a two-decade conflict that began shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

President Joe Biden ordered the full withdrawal of approximately 3,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan in April 2021. At the time, he asked all American service members to leave the war-weary country by Sept. 11 of that year. He later moved the deadline up to the end of August.

The U.S. launched its war in Afghanistan in October 2001, weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks. The Taliban at the time offered sanctuary to al-Qaeda, which planned and carried out the devastating terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

About 2,500 U.S. service members died in the conflict. It claimed the lives of more than 100,000 Afghan troops, police personnel and civilians.

The Taliban return to power

Taliban fighters patrol in Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021.
Rahmat Gul | AP

In the final weeks of the planned exodus of foreign troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban won shocking battlefield gains. The Taliban seized Bagram Airfield, a sprawling and once-stalwart U.S. military installation, less than two months after U.S. commanders transferred it to the Afghan National Security and Defense Force.

As the Taliban neared Kabul in August 2021, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country. Western nations rushed to evacuate embassies.

The Taliban seized the presidential palace in Kabul on Aug. 15 — despite being dramatically outnumbered by the Afghan military, which was long assisted by U.S. and NATO coalition forces.

Meanwhile, thousands of Afghans swarmed the tarmac at the airport desperate to flee Taliban rule.

Biden deployed thousands of U.S. troops to Kabul to help evacuate U.S. Embassy staff and secure the airport.

People who want to flee the country continue to wait around Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 25, 2021.
Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

In the final week of the withdrawal, terrorists from the group ISIS-K killed 13 U.S. service members and dozens of Afghans in an attack outside the airport. U.S. forces launched strikes to try to thwart other attacks.

Biden and first lady Jill Biden traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to meet privately with the families of the fallen U.S. service members before they watched the dignified transfer of American flag-draped caskets from a C-17 military cargo plane to a vehicle. The process takes place for every U.S. service member killed in action.

It marked Biden's first time attending a dignified transfer since he became president.