There was Mark Milley on the hot seat yesterday, slammed on the Hill over the threat of a military retreat to Afghanistan.
At a time when the media is increasingly moving away from the war – while the Taliban are simply banning female students from Kabul University – the Senate feels throwing out much-needed hope for a dangerous end to our 20-year war. And unlike the usual rebel slugfests – Democrats also asked investigative questions – it made a lot of news.
The chairman of Joint Chiefs and another senior official, Kenneth McKenzie, admitted that he had urged President Biden to retain 2,500 troops in Afghanistan. McKenzie, president of Centcom, said he predicted that the withdrawal of the US would result in the destruction of the Afghan army and the takeover of the Taliban. “This was approved by the president,” said Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. (Milley would not discuss the instructions he gave to the president but made the situation clearer.)
That seems to be the exact opposite of what Biden ABC said last month: “No one said that to me that I can remember.” That creates a serious honesty problem. If military incentives had been followed, the Taliban would not have taken the lead today.
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Now Biden had the right to take on his superiors, who often need more troops and more time to win battles that in modern times have proved invincible. He fought for reform in Afghanistan. He inherited a withdrawal agreement from Donald Trump – and while he could have thrown it away, Biden says it would require an additional military as the Taliban refused to attack the Americans under the agreement.
But if Biden criticizes his military advisers for misconduct, he should be his own. And maybe this is what he does.
Some Republicans have forced witnesses to testify that Bidid has lied, but they have misinterpreted questions. This was a “strange, obvious lie,” said Alaska Republican Dan Sullivan.
Milley also said he was urging the Bagram airbase to remain open before it leaves, a defect that appears to be obvious from the lookout.
There was another important statement on the hearing, taken from “Tragedy,” which is Bob Woodward-Robert Costa’s book: that Milley had gone mad and wronged Trump. (The official admitted that he had spoken to several writers.)
Milley was immediately questioned about his back-station phone call to the Chinese military chief, assuring him that there was no US plan to attack – this at a time when the letter said he was concerned about Trump’s depression.
Milley said the phones were “connected … before and after” with Pentagon boss Mark Esper, his deputy Chris Miller and their staff. He said that based on Intel reports it was his duty to “de-escalate” and said “we are not going to attack you.” He says he told all the men and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about the phones – a very different picture than the one shown in “Danger.”
“There was never a time when I tried to change or promote practices, seize power, or put myself on the command line,” he told the group.
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The book has Milley telling Nancy Pelosi, based on the writing, that she agrees with her Trump examination as crazy. He testified that he told a House spokesman “I am not worthy to see the mental health of a United States president.”
The former president has been beating Biden over Afghanistan, but has also been hit with books such as “Danger.” The latest release, released yesterday, is by former journalist Stephanie Grisham, who writes about Trump’s outrageous outbursts. He says in “I’ll Take Your Questions Now,” which includes many unpleasant anecdotes about Donald and Melania, in which “the selective honesty was filtered through the White House as if it were in the control air.”
Grisham did not step down until January 6, and Trump’s spokesman called the book “another pathetic test of the president’s power and sells lies about the Trump family.”
There has been a series of bookbacks about Trump from former aides he once praised, such as John Bolton, whose book his former boss tried to ban legally. One was former guest of “Student” Omarosa Manigault Newman, who had just won a court judge that his book does not violate a confidentiality agreement.
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This is exactly what some writers are doing to try to turn their images into a business that helps by turning the man who nominated them – even if they are telling important truths. Same situations for seniors and former-seniors, such as Milley and Bill Barr, have apparently worked closely with Woodward’s book.
For Milley, that meant defending himself from the hearing of Hill carried a live broadcast on three news television – and the beginning of accountability.