The mother of a US marine killed in the Kabul airport explosion almost two years ago told Congress on Monday that her son’s concern about the controversial withdrawal “began the moment that he landed” in Afghanistan for his final deployment, noting that he witnessed “chaos, no communication, lack of leadership.”
Testifying at a public forum, on the disastrous withdrawal, held by Congressman Darrell Issa with families of fallen US servicemen, Kelly Barnett also accused the Biden administration of lying to her about the circumstances surrounding the death of her son, Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover, and called US President Joe Biden and his military leadership “incompetent, cowards, evil.”
Hoover was one of 13 US servicemembers and 170 Afghanistan nationals killed in a suicide bombing outside Kabul airport on August 26, 2021 during the US and its allies’ chaotic evacuation and so far, not a single Biden administration official has taken responsibility for the horrors that unfolded during the withdrawal.
Barnett told Congress that the families of the fallen US service members were subsequently “told lies” and given “incomplete” and “incorrect” reports. She described the situation as “total disrespect.”
“I was told to my face, he died on impact. That’s not true. The only reason that I know this is because witnesses told me the truth,” Barnett claimed. “I was lied to and basically told to shut up.”
“He lived for a little while…he was giving out his ammo. He tied a tourniquet around his leg. I don’t understand the reasoning of that lie,” Barnett said. “It makes no sense other than the fact that, did they really even do an investigation? Did they talk to witnesses? I don’t know.”
Barnett was the first of several relatives to speak at the Congressional forum on Monday.
Christy Shamblin, the mother-in-law of another Marine Sgt. Nicole Gee, also killed in the airport explosion, said that the Biden administration’s labeling of the withdrawal as a “success” was like a “knife in the heart.”
“We want to make sure that while we can’t bring our children back, the next ones will be treated with more respect. The respect that they earned by dying for our country,” she said.
“When our leaders – including Secretary of Defense and our commander in chief – called this evacuation a success, as if there should be celebration, it is like a knife in the heart for our families and for the people who came back. And for every service member who served over this 20-year war.
“These deaths were preventable, my daughter could be with us today,” she said. It was “many decisions” that led to her death, Shamblin added.
“Calling it a success is an ultimate disrespect for the very people who deserve every ounce of respect we can give them.”
Congressman Issa meanwhile said: “It’s time that the public hears the stories of these heroes and learns of negligence and breakdown of leadership that led to the loss of life that day two years ago.”
“At every turn, they’ve been shut out and ignored by the Biden Administration that prefers to turn the page on its disaster. That stops now.”
The congressman added that many of the families have yet to receive personal belongings from their deceased loved ones.
Last month, during a congressional hearing into what went wrong during the withdrawal, the family members were asked whether the Biden administration had taken ownership of the botched exit. They shook their heads in unison.
In addition, the State Department released a scathing 87-page report early July on Afghanistan withdrawal failures and stated an investigation found serious pitfalls in leadership and questions about who was in charge before and during the mayhem.
Biden however, has stood by his decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and shrugged off the report. “Remember what I said? I said al-Qaeda wouldn’t be there. I said we’d get help from the Taliban. What’s happening now? What’s going on? Read your press. I was right,” he said after a press event shortly after the report was released.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul meanwhile took issue with Biden’s statement that al-Qaeda is no longer operating in Afghanistan – and said the comment was “divorced from reality.”
“It is completely divorced from reality for President Biden to claim that al-Qaeda is no longer operating in Afghanistan or that the Taliban has somehow become our national security partner in the region,” McCaul said in a statement.
“President Biden’s words can only be interpreted as an attempt to whitewash the Taliban and al-Qaeda’s longstanding ties, and may even be an attempt to get America on the path of recognizing the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan,” warned McCaul.