General McKenzie admits that 'facilitator' who was droned was 'not directly involved' in suicide attack

"I think it was a facilitator," McKenzie said. "It was a good strike. I think we got someone who while not directly involved in the in the attack on Abbey Gate on the 26th certainly fell within that sort of—"

Libby Emmons Brooklyn NY

General Kenneth McKenzie admitted before the House Armed Services Committee that the ISIS-K "facilitator" who was killed in a drone strike was "not directly involved" in the suicide attack at the Abbey Gate of the Kabul airport that killed 13 American troops in August.

Mississippi's Rep. Trent Kelly asked about the strike, "who did we kill?"

"I prefer to pass that name in a classified setting," McKenzie said. Kelly asked for more details.

"I think it was a facilitator," McKenzie said. "It was a good strike. I think we got someone who while not directly involved in the in the attack on Abbey Gate on the 26th certainly fell within that sort of—"

Kelly asked about the Americans who have been unable to get out of Afghanistan, but there was not time for his question to be answered.

Kelly had also asked McKenzie who approved the strike that killed 10 civilians in August. "Did it require presidential approval prior to the strike?"

"No, it did not," McKenzie said.

"At what point did you know that the strike was bad that it hit civilians?" Kelly asked.

"We knew the strike hit civilians within four or five hours after the strike occurred," McKenzie said. "And US Central Command released a press release saying that we did not know though that the target of the strike was in fact an error until mistake until sometime later. Took us a few days to run that down."

McKenzie also took questions from Rep. Mike Gallagher, who wanted answers about the US having been given the opportunity by the incoming Taliban to secure Kabul.

"The Washington Post reported on August 28," Gallagher began, "that the Taliban offered to allow the US military to take responsibility for security in Kabul, did you meet with Mullah Barader to discuss such an offer?"

"I met with Mullah Barader in Doha on 15 August to pass a message to him that we were withdrawing, and if they attempted to disrupt that withdrawal, we would punish them severely for that," McKenzie said. Gallagher repeated his question.

"As part of that conversation," McKenzie said, "he said, 'why don't you just take security for all of Kabul?' That was not why I was there. That was not that was not my instruction. And we did not have the resources to undertake that mission.

"Did you convey the offer, however, to the President?" Gallagher asked.

"The offer was made in the presence of the President's Special Representative to Afghanistan," McKenzie said.

"Do you know if the SRAP conveyed it to the President?" Gallagher asked.

"I don't know. But it was conveyed to my chain of command," McKenzie said.

"So who made the decision to turn down the Taliban's offer to allow the US military to secure Kabul and put the safety of our troops in the hands of the Taliban?" Gallagher pressed.

"I did not consider that to be a formal offer. And it was not the reason why I was there. So I did not pursue it. So if you're, if someone actually made a decision, that would have been me," McKenzie said.

"So we don't know if it was conveyed to the President," Gallagher said, looking for clarity.

"I do know what was conveyed my chain of command," McKenzie said.

"Okay. In military terms," Gallagher pressed on, "what do you call the retreat of military forces under security provided by, and with the permission of enemy forces?"

"I don't know, I've never done one of those operations," McKenzie said.

"I think you just did one of those operations," Gallagher said.

"I disagree," McKenzie said.

"You disagree," Gallagher said. "So you did not withdraw forces from Afghanistan after a negotiation with the Taliban?"

"That is correct. We did not do that," McKenzie said

"Okay. So this would not be a conditional surrender," Gallagher asked.

"This would not be a conditional surrender," McKenzie said.

"How would you describe the operation?" Gallagher asked.

"I would describe it as a noncombatant evacuation operation that we conducted with our own timing and with our own forces, and we warned the Taliban that if they interfered with that operation, we would strike them hard. They chose not to interfere with that operation," McKenzie clarified.

"Okay. So you're saying the meeting you had in Doha was just to let the Taliban know, this is what we're doing, you know, take it or leave it. But you were operating at that point under the agreement, we negotiated with the Taliban, for surrender, right? The Doha agreement," Gallagher said.

"I was there to tell the Taliban that we were conducting a noncombatant evacuation operation," McKenzie said.

"But wait, wait. NEO, by definition does not definitionally include the evacuation of combatants. You are also evacuating combatants. So the NEO was part of the operation," Gallagher said.

"Actually, no, you're wrong," McKenzie said. "When I met with the Taliban on 15 August, we had completed the withdrawal operation, further forces that went in were forces were core to the NEO operation, and in fact DOD doctrine would include the insertion and extraction of combatant forces as part of a NEO operation."

After some back and forth on terms, Gallagher asserted that he "would call it a conditional surrender."


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