Rep. Ted Budd Leads Letter Demanding Answers From Biden on Abandoned Afghan Weapons
Washington, September 23, 2021
Washington, D.C. -- Today, Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC) led a coalition of 20 House members to send a letter to President Biden demanding answers after the State Department ordered the deletion of several public reports about the amount of taxpayer-funded equipment that was provided to the Afghan National Security Forces.
Co-signers on the letter are: Reps. Brian Mast (R-FL), Brian Babin (R-TX), Bill Posey (R-FL), Michelle Steel (R-CA), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Greg Steube (R-FL), Jody Hice (R-GA), Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), Lance Gooden (R-TX), Mike Kelly (R-PA), Tracey Mann (R-KA), Kat Cammack (R-FL), Warren Davidson (R-OH), Bob Good (R-VA), Rick Crawford (R-AR), Ben Cline (R-VA), Randy Weber (R-TX), Mike Bost (R-IL), Young Kim (R-CA).
The text of the letter is below:
The American people deserve a transparent accounting of how their government utilizes their tax dollars. Since 2001, the U.S. government provided roughly $83 billion in military aid to the Afghan National Security Forces. This aid was distributed primarily in the form of physical equipment and personnel training.
Until recently, the American people had access to detailed breakdowns of how equipment and aid was disbursed. For example, an August 2017 Government Accountability Office report noted that, between 2003 and 2016, the U.S. outfitted the Afghan military with 75,898 vehicles and 208 aircraft. Access to this information provided transparency for the American people to see how the government was spending taxpayer dollars in Afghanistan.
It is troubling, therefore, that State Department officials have acknowledged that your administration has ordered federal agencies to remove such reports from public view. Even more so when your own National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, said “We don't have a complete picture, obviously, of where every article of defense materials has gone, but certainly a fair amount of it has fallen into the hands of the Taliban.” Your administration’s stated reasoning for the removal of the reports that their’ continued availability endangers the safety of U.S. Afghan partners still in the country needs further justification.
Accordingly, we would like clarification on the following points:
1. How does the publication of quantified military equipment and its costs—which does not mention specific information to identify personnel—endanger US Afghan partners?
2. Were the removals of these taxpayer funded reports intended to be permanent? If not, when will access be restored?
3. Will your administration commit to refrain from further restricting the public’s access to information related to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan?
Over the course of the past 20 years, the American people invested approximately $2 trillion worth of their taxes in the U.S. mission. It is highly concerning that your administration ordered audits of that investment to be removed from the public record at a time when criticism abounds about the steps your administration took which failed to secure military equipment prior to the final withdrawal.
In the interest of providing the transparency our nation deserves and expects, we request that you answer the questions above. Additionally, please submit to Congress a list of each report previously published online that was made inaccessible. For each report, without disclosing information that may endanger US allies in Afghanistan, provide a more detailed justification for why it was made inaccessible.
This information is crucial to facilitate a sober-minded, fact-based analysis of the war in Afghanistan and its rapid conclusion.