Fox News anchor Chris Wallace confronted former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with his own role in the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan after Pompeo criticized President Joe Biden amid the Taliban’s takeover of the country.
The Taliban has rapidly retaken control of Afghanistan as the U.S. and its allies have withdrawn their troops from the country. The February 2020 peace deal with the Taliban leading to the withdrawal was signed under former President Donald Trump and spearheaded by Pompeo, who suggested at the time that the Taliban would become partners with the U.S. to fight terrorism.
During an interview with Fox News Sunday, Pompeo said it was “pathetic blame-shifting” for Biden and White House officials to point out that they had inherited the peace deal from the Trump administration, arguing that Biden had “utterly failed” by withdrawing the U.S. troops.
Wallace pushed back, pointing out that prominent military officials and leading Republicans had been highly critical of the deal made under Trump’s and Pompeo’s leadership.
“Critics say that for the U.S.to cut a deal with the Taliban without the Afghan government even in the room was hugely demoralizing and led inevitably to where we are today,” Wallace said.
Pompeo insisted that this assessment was “simply not true.” The former secretary of state also said that Wallace should “go read the deal, go read the conditions that were built into the deal.” He asserted that the “Afghans were in the room.”
“I just want to ask you one more question about your record though, sir,” Wallace responded, pressing the issue. “You were the first American secretary of state to ever meet with the Taliban and you talked about how they had agreed to join us in the fight against terrorism.”
The Fox News host then played a March 2020 clip of Pompeo saying that the Taliban had agreed to “work alongside of us to destroy, deny resources to and have [U.S. designated terrorist group] Al Qaeda depart from” Afghanistan.
“Do you regret giving the Taliban that legitimacy? Do you regret pressing the Afghan government to release 5,000 prisoners? Which they did, some of whom are now back on the battlefield fighting with the Taliban,” Wallace asked Pompeo.
Pompeo defended his record, saying “you make peace with your enemies.” Pompeo remarked that his March 2020 statement “was absolutely true.” He also said that the U.S. did “good work to crush Al Qaeda” during Trump’s tenure in the White House.
However, Biden has defended the withdrawal. Even as the Taliban has rapidly regained control of Afghanistan, Biden argues that the U.S. already accomplished its objectives in the county years ago by defeating Al Qaeda there and killing the group’s leader Osama bin Laden.
The alleged masterminded of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the U.S., bin Laden was killed in Pakistan in 2011 during former President Barack Obama’s administration.
“I do not regret my decision,” Biden said last week. “Afghan leaders have to come together. We lost thousands—lost to death and injury—thousands of American personnel. They’ve got to fight for themselves, fight for their nation.”
Watch Pompeo’s interview below:
Chris Wallace throws Mike Pompeo's past praise for the Taliban back in his face.
"Do you regret giving the Taliban that legitimacy? Do you regret pressing the Afghan government to release 5,000 prisoners… some of whom are now back on the battlefield fighting with the Taliban?" pic.twitter.com/cfISbYYgTD
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) August 15, 2021