FULL EPISODE: 8/29/21 Rep. Scott Perry and Rep. Susan Wild on Afghanistan and the Kabul Airport attack

Published: Aug. 28, 2021 at 11:05 PM EDT
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Washington, D.C. – Greta Van Susteren interviewed Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), a retired Brigadier General in the Army National Guard, and Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, about the crisis in Afghanistan for Gray Television’s “Full Court Press with Greta Van Susteren” airing Sunday, August 29, 2021.

Rep. Perry, whose Pennsylvania district includes five military bases, called President Biden’s vow to hunt down those responsible for the suicide bombings outside the Kabul airport “hollow words meant to appease people.” Perry continued: “We won’t even leave the wire, so to speak, to go get our American citizens that are trapped behind enemy lines right now. So, what makes anybody believe that we’re going to go out hunting down these people that are responsible for this?”

When asked whether the U.S should have done more to protect service members and Afghan citizens from this week’s terrorist attack, Congressman Perry answered: “This is an awful situation, but let’s be clear ... the policymakers, not the boots and the troops, but the suits made these decisions. And now, unfortunately, the troops have to execute it somehow.”

On why he voted against the Allies Act, which would have expanded the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program, Perry told Van Susteren: “I don’t think it’s appropriate to bring poorly vetted people from an Islamic State to the United States of America.”

Rep. Wild, a Democrat, said she would like reassurances from the Biden administration “that they are focusing on the matter at hand,” adding: “I feel that way even about the President’s communications with Americans.”

When asked her thoughts on Rep. Moulton’s and Rep. Meijer’s surprise visit to the Kabul airport, Wild called the trip “irresponsible” and “a distraction” that “could very well have turned out to be a debacle.”

And on what the future looks like, Wild said she hopes “that we learn a lesson from this experience, and that we don’t engage in this type of long-term, forever war ever again.”

Rep. Scott Perry Highlights

On President Biden’s vow to hunt down those responsible for this week’s suicide bombings

Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Retired National Guard Brigadier General

I hate to say this, Greta, I think those are hollow words meant to appease people that are rightfully angry for the unnecessary loss of lives of our service members doing really, really difficult work out there in enemy territory. I don’t know why anyone... We won’t even leave the wire, so to speak, to go get our American citizens that are trapped behind enemy lines right now. So, what makes anybody believe that we’re going to go out hunting down these people that are responsible for this?

Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Retired National Guard Brigadier General

And, one thing is you can always count on with Joe Biden is he never fails to fail.

Greta Van Susteren

Back in February 2020, President Trump negotiated a deal with the Taliban, so he’s working with the Taliban. Fast-forward to now, and now President Biden has worked a deal essentially with the Taliban, a security deal. That has obviously failed. I mean, both administrations have been working with the Taliban. Was that just sort of a Hail Mary pass that this was just over, and we were desperately trying to get out and trying to save some honor?

Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Retired National Guard Brigadier General

We haven’t saved much honor to tell you the truth. And as far as a Hail Mary pass, I think it’s just a rush to the exits. I do agree that look, I think many of us were vexed when President Trump was negotiating, so to speak, with the Taliban. But, what we did appreciate was a conditions-based activity.

Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Retired National Guard Brigadier General

The circumstances under the Biden administration are nothing like that, there are no conditions. As a matter of fact, the Taliban is dictating the conditions. That’s no place that America ever believes it should be in.

On whether we could have protected people from the attacks this week

Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Retired National Guard Brigadier General

It’s very difficult under the circumstances, Greta. Let’s face it, the only military way, probably, and that’s really the only option left, is to expand the perimeter. And to expand the perimeter, you have to have the personnel and the equipment to do that. First of all, we gave the Taliban via the Afghan Army all the equipment. And second of all, we’re trying to get out, which under these circumstances is exceptionally difficult and exceptionally dangerous.

Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Retired National Guard Brigadier General

This is an awful situation, but let’s be clear, we put ourselves, and when I say we, not the United States of America, not the United States Military, not the people wearing the uniform, the policymakers, not the boots and the troops, but the suits made these decisions. And now, unfortunately, the troops have to execute it somehow.

On what will happen to Americans who will not be evacuated by August 31

Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Retired National Guard Brigadier General

I do expect there to be Americans that are left behind. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party has a long history of this, going back to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry Truman, who left thousands of GIs and Russian Gulags. This will be an unfortunate replaying of that chapter in history, maybe not GIs, but certainly American citizens that are going to have to try and find their way out through land borders or any way they can, including paying essentially mercenaries, paid contractors to get them out.

On why he voted noted to the Allies Act, which would expand SIVs

Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Retired National Guard Brigadier General

Because I don’t think it’s appropriate to bring poorly vetted people from an Islamic State to the United States of America.

Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Retired National Guard Brigadier General

We weren’t just talking about the interpreters, the translators that worked with the American Military, we were talking about expanding that and it was expanded very broadly.

Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Retired National Guard Brigadier General

And even when we were talking about interpreters that work with the military, there was also plenty of evidence that they would turn on their Americans and actually be part of the complex or less than complex attacks against the very Americans they were working with. So, I found this highly questionable, and I wanted to see it tightened up very much before I would sign my name onto it.

Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Retired National Guard Brigadier General

But let me also say that, while this has been a spectacular, horrific failure on the behalf of the Biden administration particularly, they must do. They absolutely must do everything possible to get every American citizen out. And if that means sending in special ops, CIA etc., to do that, then that’s what should be done in my opinion.

On what the U.S.’s responsibility to Afghan nationals evacuated to Qatar and other nations

Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Retired National Guard Brigadier General

Well, again, it goes to extreme vetting to make sure that they actually are legitimate. And then at some point, do we bring entire families and every person they knew that maybe did some menial work for American contractors, and so on and so forth. I think it’s important for us to realize the reality of the circumstance that the Afghan Army, as well-trained as we told that they were over 20 years, as well-equipped as they were, took literally days, weeks at the most for them to change sides, essentially.

Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Retired National Guard Brigadier General

But certainly, we do need to and it’s right that we look at every single person that has been relocated to one of these other countries because they want to get out of the terrorist reign of the Taliban.

Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Retired National Guard Brigadier General

But, we also must understand that the Taliban, ISIS, Corazon group, Al-Qaeda wants to embed their operatives within that population, so America really has to be diligent in making sure that the vetting occurs appropriately.

On a future relationship between the Taliban and ISIS, and the Taliban ISIS-K

Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Retired National Guard Brigadier General

I judge not based on press reports or claims from a terrorist organization, I judged based on actions and this is what I know: The Taliban marched into Bagram when we left it in the middle of the night and opened up the prisons full of Corazon group, ISIS-K, other Taliban, Al-Qaeda, you name it. So, when they say that they’re in cross purposes, again, actually, I’ma verify and then trust guy, I’m not even going to trust and verify. I don’t take them at their word. I base my decisions on their actions and their actions show otherwise. We need to consider them all terrorist organizations and comport ourselves accordingly.

On a future relationship between the U.S. and the Taliban

Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Retired National Guard Brigadier General

It depends, like here again, we’re going to have to watch their actions. I think in the past, the Taliban … they simply did not care about the international community. And so, I do take some pause when I hear elected or otherwise U.S. officials saying that, “We have leverage with the Taliban, based on economics or financial circumstances with the United States of America or the rest of the free world.”

Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Retired National Guard Brigadier General

So, I just... I’m going to reserve judgment on that, but I have low expectations if that’s the case.

Rep. Susan Wild Highlights

On whether the White House has been responsive in answering her questions about Afghanistan

Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.)

Well, I get them answered. We haven’t called the White House directly. Quite frankly, I suspect they are overwhelmed not only with a lot of questions from members of Congress and a lot of demands. But what I want to know is that they are focusing on the matter at hand. I feel that way even about the President’s communications with Americans. I think it’s important that he do so.

Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.)

But what I really want to know is that his first attention is with those folks in the situation room and getting everybody out as quickly as possible, as safely as possible. Obviously, we have already lost too many service members. Even one is too many, and we’ve lost a number now.

On whether Congress, and specifically the House Foreign Relations Committee, knew of President Biden’s Afghanistan exit plans before his announcement in July

Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.)

I didn’t. We were obviously monitoring the situation closely last year under the Trump administration, and observing what was going on there. But no, we didn’t have direct information prior to July about what was happening prior to the time the President made his announcement.

On whether there was a failure of intelligence in Afghanistan

Greta Van Susteren

As we look at the recent events and we see the deterioration, how quickly the Afghan government fell … Was the intel poor? Did we have poor-quality intel? What was the problem?

Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.)

My thinking on this has evolved a little bit, and it has done so because of the input of my colleagues who are either on the Intelligence Committee or have intel backgrounds, in particular Representative Jason Crow, who has been very clear that he does not believe that there was a failure of intelligence. In fact, he has counseled us just in the last few days not to use the term intelligence failure because he doesn’t believe there was one.

Greta Van Susteren

Well, then what was it?

Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.)

There was a determination made, I am presuming, that there was never going to be a good time to get out of Afghanistan and that it was imperative that we do so.

On Rep. Seth Moulton and Rep. Peter Meijer’s unannounced trip to the Kabul Airport

Greta Van Susteren

A Republican member of Congress and a Democratic member of Congress went to the airport in Afghanistan, and there’s a lot of criticism ...What do you think, should they have gone or not?

Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.)

When you have two members of Congress land in the middle of this very volatile situation, in a very dangerous place where troops are not only trying to protect Americans, but Afghan allies, and provide safe entry into the airport, having two members of Congress unexpectedly land on the ground is far more than a distraction. It’s irresponsible.

Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.)

I think in the long run it didn’t hurt anything, but they didn’t know that. It could very well have turned out to be a debacle.

Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.)

I just think that members of Congress have a real obligation to behave as responsibly as possible at all times.

What happens next once the U.S. is out of Afghanistan

Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.)

I think we’re going to be gutted. I think this is going to be a tragedy of... It’s already a tragedy of epic proportions. The loss of life that we have seen just in the last week has been devastating. And so, where do we go from here? We’re in for some rough times. A lot of that will be rough politics.

Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.)

And frankly, I don’t even care to think about that right now, because it’s certainly not my top priority. I know that there are people calling for President Biden’s resignation and that kind of foolishness. I think it’s stupid to even be having those discussions right now.

Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.)

I really do believe that we need to learn from this experience and that committees of Congress with jurisdiction really need to focus on this. And I don’t mean a single hearing or two. I mean some comprehensive hearing so that we can understand not only what went wrong with the evacuation, but what we could have done differently over, let’s say the last 10 years since Osama bin Laden was killed.

On whether Congress will investigate the U.S. withdrawal

Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.)

I think there are going to be a lot of questions when this is over, whenever that may be. I have a lot of questions, everybody does. My first question will be, “Why did we close Bagram Air Base?” And I want somebody to tell me the answer to that.

On whether Congress dropped the ball in providing oversight

Greta Van Susteren

Did Congress drop the ball in terms of providing oversight to this administration and prior administrations into the progress that we were having or not having in Afghanistan?

Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.)

Well, let me be clear. We’ve had a lot of hearings and a lot of briefings, and we have been on top of the situation and knew that it was going to be dangerous. But we did not have any advance notice... at least, I didn’t. I can’t speak for the chair of the committee or the ranking member... of the intention to withdraw such that we could weigh in on that.

Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.)

But at all times we were aware that Afghanistan was a highly volatile situation. There was a difference of opinion in some quarters about whether it made sense to withdraw from Afghanistan. This is irrespective of the President’s decision to do so. Obviously, it was something that was discussed on our committee.

Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.)

I’ve long felt that it was time to get out of Afghanistan, and I know a number of my colleagues felt that way as well. So we were constantly assessing the situation. But we’re not the ones that make the decisions about when to get out.

What will happen to Afghanistan with the U.S. out of the country

Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.)

The Afghans who are left behind, tragically, the United States cannot fix all of the problems of the world, as much as I would personally like to be able to say that we could. And it’s time for us to recognize that. Nation-building in countries that don’t think like Western democracies is almost doomed to fail. And we’ve seen it over and over again. I hope though that we learn a lesson from this experience, and that we don’t engage in this type of long-term, forever war ever again.

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About Greta Van Susteren:

Greta Van Susteren is the Chief Political Analyst for Gray Media and host of Full Court Press. Ms. Van Susteren is a veteran of Fox News Channel, MSNBC, and CNN. Her prime-time Fox News Channel Show, “On the Record,” was number 1 in its time slot for 14 1⁄2 years. Before joining Fox News, she hosted CNN’s prime-time news and analysis program, “The Point with Greta Van Susteren,” and co-hosted the network’s daily legal analysis show, “Burden of Proof.” Her legal analysis for CNN’s coverage of Election 2000 earned her the American Bar Association’s Presidential Award for Excellence in Journalism. She continues to host the weekly 30-minute program “Plugged In with Greta Van Susteren” on Voice of America, which broadcasts exclusively outside of the United States.

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