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Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) grilled Secretary of State Antony Blinken Tuesday, forcing him to respond to rumors a drone strike in Afghanistan by the Biden administration had killed civilians, including children.
During a tense exchange before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Paul inquired whether the State Department could confirm whether the strike had killed an ISIS-K fighter, or a foreign aid worker.
“The guy the Biden administration droned, was he an aid worker or an ISIS-K operative?” Paul asked.
Blinken answered with a non-answer, saying, “The administration is, of course, reviewing that strike. And I am sure that you know full assessment will be forthcoming.”
“So, you don’t know if it was an aid worker or ISIS-K operative?” Paul again questioned.
“I can’t speak to that, and I can’t speak to that in this setting in any event,” Blinken replied.
“So you don’t know or won’t tell us,” Paul asked.
“I don’t know because we’re reviewing it,” Blinken responded.
Paul went on to chastise the Secretary of State for leaving the committee and the public in the dark on the issue, and for potentially instigating a hatred of America in the region for years to come.
“Well, see, you think you’d kind of know before you off somebody with a predator drone whether he’s an aid worker or he’s an ISIS-K. See, the thing is, is this isn’t just you. This has been going on for administration after administration. The Obama administration drone hundreds and hundreds of people. And the thing is, is, there is blowback to that. I mean, I don’t know if it’s true but I see these pictures of these beautiful children that were killed in the attack. If that’s true and not propaganda, if that’s true, guess what? Maybe you‘ve created hundreds, or thousands of new potential terrorists from bombing the wrong people.
“So you got to know who you…we can’t sort of have an investigation after we kill people. We have an investigation before we kill people. We got plenty of bombs. We can bomb almost anything we want from anywhere in the world. Maybe we should have bombed the helicopters and the planes that we left behind. Even though you said you didn’t know any of this and it was all surprise, once they took our stuff, we should have said you got 20 minutes to get out of it because we are going to blow it up. Then you would have sent the message of strength. Instead we bombed somebody who we are not sure if it’s an aid worker or an ISIS-K operative.”
“See, that’s not sending a signal of strength. And in the end, there will be more blowback from it. If you killed an aid worker on accident, do you think we are better off because of that? You really could have acted from a position of strength, but you could have made the basic decision, the basic, fundamental decision that really ruined the whole thing for you was a military decision to abandon Bagram Air Force base before you left, before the Americans were out. Anybody can argue, and you may have a point that it happened more quickly than we thought it was going to happen, OK, that’s an honest mistake.
Paul added that the Biden administration will forever tained by the unforgettable images of the military’s disastrous departure from Bagram Air Force, and that giving aid money to the Taliban would only add to the monumental calamity.
“Still a huge mistake. And when people make judgment mistakes in the military, they ought to be relieved of their post. But leaving Bagram Air Force Base I think is an unforgivable sort of mistake. It’s going to be remembered in history.
“But if you do nothing about it, you leave all these people in place and say, ‘Well, we all agreed’ it’s like then maybe everybody needs to go. I mean — but really it was a terrible mistake. Releasing money to the Taliban will add insult to injury. It’ll be terrible for the memory of the 13 soldiers who died in the end, who were the final soldiers to die in this war. If you end up giving money to the people that have been ruining the Middle East and Afghanistan for decades. I hope you won’t release the money and I think it’ll be a big mistake,” he said.
Reports claimed late last month that a drone strike carried out by the Biden administration in Kabul, which supposedly targeted an ISIS-K fighter, had struck a residential neighborhood, leaving an entire family dead, including 7 children.
On Monday, Blinken was criticized for failing to show up in Congress to answer questions from the committee.
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