Blinken: Will address ‘any consequences’ from SIGAR findings

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the House Committee on Foreign Affairs that they will address “any consequences that need to follow up” on the findings of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).

Blinken made the statement during a U.S. congressional hearing titled “The State of American Diplomacy in 2024.”

Representative Brian Mast of Florida accused President Joe Biden of lying and claimed that American taxpayer money is going directly to the Taliban. Mast also wrote on X that Biden abandoned 13 American soldiers in Afghanistan and then “sent millions of your tax dollars to the Taliban, who is harboring their killers.”

“Now you are literally telling lies to the American people. These state dollars went directly to those that were … to do it, these implementing partners as you referred to, and they paid money directly to the Taliban,” Mast told Blinken.

However, Blinken argued that the funds went to the UN and other NGOs. “I think it is important to know that money does not go directly to the Taliban. It goes to the UN, NGOs. We have dedicated about two billion dollars,” Blinken said.

Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Michael McCaul raised the topic of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, asking Blinken if he would appear at a hearing in September.

“Let me ask first, as you know, we have been conducting an investigation into Afghanistan’s withdrawal, and we will be releasing a report in September. Would you commit to appearing before this committee for a hearing on Afghanistan?” McCaul asked.

Blinken responded that the teams will work on it, leaving open the possibility of his appearance before the committee.

The U.S. exited Afghanistan on August 31, 2021, after a 20-year presence in the country. U.S. officials have repeatedly stated that Washington is the largest humanitarian donor to Afghanistan. However, the Biden administration has been criticized over concerns about the Taliban’s interference with and benefit from the aid.

SIGAR recently revealed that the Taliban has directly benefited from nearly $11 million of U.S. assistance.