Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, on Monday said she’s worried about "a Benghazi 2.0" in Afghanistan amid a frenzied exodus of Americans from the U.S. embassy and Afghans fleeing the Taliban takeover.
In an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, Ernst lamented the fall of the troubled nation’s democratic government, calling it "a tenuous time."
"I spent a couple nights at an infantry battalion dining out in Council Bluff, Iowa, these wonderful Iowa Army National Guardsmen. Most of them had served in Afghanistan, some of them multiple tours in Afghanistan," she recounted. "And over and over again, they asked me what was is for? We’re back to square one. What was my sacrifice for? Well, I can tell you again, they kept us safe for two decades."
According to Ernst, the country needs "leadership right now" and President Joe Biden "is not providing that leadership."
"I’m afraid of a Benghazi 2.0. I think that this is something that many of us have worried about for weeks now as we have watched this scene deteriorate in Afghanistan," she said.
"So of course, the word was put out that all of our embassy personnel are safe, and then, dot, dot, dot, they’re at the international airport.
"To me, our embassy personnel being safe means they have been safely evacuated from the country, they’re out of the reach of the Taliban, and not to mention the thousands and thousands of Afghans and other people that supported us in our mission in Afghanistan," she said.
Ernst’s concerns refer to the 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya where members of an Islamic militant group killed four Americans and injured a handful of others. Republicans launched a wide-ranging investigation into the attack and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the months that followed, The Hill noted.
Ernst said she's worried lives are hanging in the balance.
"They’re still right there at the airport. And there are many Afghans across the country that will not be able to get to Kabul," she said.
"They will not be able to be evacuated safely, whether it’s to a third country or otherwise," Ernst said.
"And where is [President Joe] Biden in all this … who the heck knows where he is and why he’s not engaging," she lamented.
Other Republicans have been similarly critical of the president.
"The Biden Administration’s botched exit from Afghanistan including the frantic evacuation of Americans and vulnerable Afghans from Kabul is a shameful failure of American leadership," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement Sunday.
Biden was set to address the nation on Afghanistan Monday afternoon.
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