Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called out the Biden administration for what he described as poor planning and poor execution of a U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, which may lead to the nation’s capital of Kabul to fall to Taliban insurgents within the next three months.
Pompeo, who helped plan and execute the early days of the shift toward withdrawing troops from the country after 20 years there, told “The Story” he and President Donald Trump made sure there were multiple, enforceable “models of deterrence” that would prevent the potential disaster that may await the current White House.
“[It] looks like they have not been able to execute this,” he said. “Strategy depends on planning and execution. Looks like there’s a bit of panic. I hope that they have the right number of folks and get them there quickly. I hope we can protect Americans in the way the Trump administration had every intention of doing.”
Pompeo said Trump made clear to top Taliban negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar that there would be stiff and abrupt consequences if any Americans were threatened or hurt going forward.
“If you threatened an American, if you scared an American, and certainly if you hurt an American, we would bring all American power to bear to make sure that we went to your village, to your house,” he recalled Baradar being told.
“We were very clear about the things that we were prepared to do to protect American lives. Since we began those negotiations in the beginning of 2020, there wasn’t a single American killed by the Taliban when that was going on. We had established a deterrence model. I hope we haven’t lost that for the Americans still on the ground there in Kabul.”
Pompeo said the true concern in Afghanistan is not the Taliban per se. The primary fear is a return of Taliban rule will return Afghanistan to being a likely “hotbed” for Al Qaeda and ISIS, as it was before September 11, 2001.
“The threat is not from the Taliban. It’s from the fact that the Taliban will play footsies with terrorists like Al Qaeda,” he said, adding that to date, there are an estimated 200 or fewer Al Qaeda terrorists in the country.
“President Trump made very to me, the State Department that our mission set was clear. We wanted to make sure that we always had the conditions-based analysis that would protect America, at least reduce the risk that there could be an attack from that place,” he said.
Earlier Thursday, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, warned that Biden is risking a “Saigon moment” – in reference to the U.S. departing Vietnam as the North Vietnamese Army rolled onto the Presidential Palace property on April 30, 1975.
“For months, I have pressed President Biden for a plan to avoid the very situation that is now happening in Afghanistan. Now, American lives are at risk because President Biden still doesn’t have a plan,” Rogers said in a statement.
“Weeks ago, President Biden promised the American people that we would not have a Saigon moment in Afghanistan. Now, we are watching President Biden’s Saigon moment unfold before us.”
A senior White House official told Fox News that Biden held a meeting about the move Wednesday night, tasking his principals, and then met with them again Thursday morning. The defense secretary and National Security Adviser also briefed Biden Thursday morning, and he gave the order. The president separately engaged the secretary of state to discuss diplomatic strategy, the official said.
Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson contributed to this report.