Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ripped President Biden for the drone attack that killed 10 civilians, including seven children, in Afghanistan, saying military officials bowed to “political pressure” and carried out the strike in a “rush.”
Pompeo called the killing of aid worker Zemari Ahmadi and members of his family on Aug. 29 a “tragedy” and offered his “apologies.”
But he said the drone strike was mishandled by the administration the same way it bungled the US military withdrawal and allowed the Taliban to return to power.
“This is just another example. It looks like they were in a rush. They were in a hurry. You could see the political pressure. And if there was one thing that drove this failed evacuation was the arbitrary political deadline that President Biden set, the arbitrary cap on the number of troops could be there, so we could secure American departure and the departure of our equipment,” he said on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”
The drone strike occurred one day before the US completed its pullout.
Pompeo said the political decisions to withdraw and launch the drone put intense pressure on the US military.
“I’m confident that the military was under enormous pressure. President Biden had said, ‘we’re going to strike back at the folks who killed the 13 Americans.’ And we had a strike that clearly failed, failed to deliver to protect America and killed civilians,” Pompeo said.
“This is just another piece of an evacuation that was driven by politics and not putting America first and America’s national security,” the former top diplomat said.
Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr., the commander of Central Command, announced on Friday that the drone attack killed 10 civilians.
“We now assess that it is unlikely that the vehicle and those who died were associated with ISIS-K or a direct threat to US forces,” he said.
Initially, the Pentagon said the drone successfully targeted terrorists and its aim was to prevent another ISIS-K suicide bombing attack like the one that took place three days earlier at the Kabul airport that killed 13 US service members and at least 169 Afghans.
Pompeo said the deadly error has cost the US valuable credibility on the world stage and he doesn’t see how the White House can recover.
“It’s very difficult to imagine how this administration is going to turn it around because they seem so deeply desirous of just making this go away, as if there weren’t still Americans that are being held hostage by the Taliban instead of Afghanistan, if we still didn’t have promises out to some of the folks who had helped us for these past 20 years,” he said.
“So I don’t see how the Biden administration gets back from this space. I hope they will begin to recognize that the their credibility around the world was damaged deeply by how they executed this withdrawal, the failure to work alongside allies, to deliver, make sure we got our allies and friends out of the country, and that we abandoned a partner in a way that didn’t deliver on security for our friends in the region as well,” he said.
Relatives of Ahmadi, who had worked for a US aid group, and the family members are pleading with the US government to help them leave Afghanistan and pay them for their suffering.
“Whether in America or another country, we want peace and comfort for our remaining years,” Samim Ahmadi — the 24-year-old stepson of Ahmadi — told the Washington Post. “Everyone makes mistakes. The Americans cannot bring back our loved ones, but they can take us out of here.”