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How Congressman Crow Thinks Biden Is Handling Afghanistan


For more reaction to the day's events, we're going to bring in Democratic Congressman Jason Crow from Colorado. He's also an Army Ranger who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Welcome back to the program.

JASON CROW: Hi, Audie.

CORNISH: We heard the president say today that the evacuation effort must continue. But to you, does the loss of U.S. service members today change your perspective on what needs to happen in Afghanistan?

CROW: It does not, and the president was right. We have a mission to do. We're not going to leave American citizens behind. We're going to do everything we can to get Afghan partners out of the country. I am grieving and mourning, along with the rest of America, for the loss of these 13 service members. And we are going to support their families, and we're going to be there for them, as we always are when we lose...

CORNISH: Does this attack to you seem like a mission that is in deep jeopardy?

CROW: It's not. I mean, this is the risk that always happens with these operations. You know, we've been at war for 20 years. We have lost 2,400 young men and women in this war. And every time we lose those men and women, they were always on a mission. They were always doing a job no different from today. And we never let terrorists, we never let our adversaries stop us and dictate the terms of that mission. We have a mission to do, and we will get it done.

CORNISH: You sit on the House Intelligence Committee, and intelligence reports warned of a potential terror threat. Do you think the U.S. could have done more to prevent what happened today?

CROW: I don't know. I think that it's too premature to know that. We certainly had reporting on this threat. This threat was not a surprise. We knew that we were operating in a very dangerous and chaotic environment. You know, but it's easy to sit back in American living rooms right now and say we could have done more, could have done something different. But, you know, I was an Army Ranger. I served two combat tours in Afghanistan, one in Iraq. These are very difficult things to do. We're asking 18-, 19-, 20-year-old men and women to grab rifles and to go overseas and operate under extremely difficult circumstances with sometimes limited resources. This is tough. And we can't say sitting here today that we should have done things any differently. Now, I'm a member of Congress. And I'm a member of those committees.

CORNISH: Can I jump in and ask a quick question about that though? - because I don't think my question is about the ability of U.S. service members to do the mission. But in this case, you had cooperation with the Taliban as part of the security effort, right? This...

CROW: Right.

CORNISH: ...Attack happened at the gates, and there is some question there about their ability to secure this process. Do you see that as a concern?

CROW: Are you talking about the cooperation with the Taliban?

CORNISH: Yeah, the president talked a lot about cooperating with the Taliban in this effort.

CROW: Yeah, there's a big distinction between relying on the Taliban and doing everything we can to have the Taliban assist or at least not contest our operations. Now, we are not relying on the Taliban for our security. That is very clear. We keep our security in our own hands. We do what's necessary to protect our men and women. But it is a true fact that it is a much better situation for us to not be fighting the Taliban right now and not to have a contested withdrawal and to have their assistance in whatever way we can have it. That doesn't mean we trust them. That doesn't mean we rely on them. But it does mean that we can have some limited cooperation to make this easier than it would otherwise be without their cooperation. And I see no evidence - I have seen no evidence that the Taliban cooperated in this attack or let it happen. In fact, we know through history that ISIS and the Taliban are sworn enemies, and they continue to fight each other on the field of battle.

CORNISH: Does the emergence of ISIS mean the U.S. has not accomplished what it set out to do in Afghanistan - prevent it from being safe harbor for terror groups?

CROW: Well, there's no emergence of ISIS. ISIS has been there all along. ISIS is a threat. It's been a threat for a very long time. It's been a threat in Afghanistan, and we're aware of it. It's not new. And we have to make sure that we're addressing it. And we have various tools and ability to do so. But we have to be vigilant about that. We can't let our guard down. This certainly is not new, and it doesn't change the situation that we're in and the threats we'll face in the future.

CORNISH: That's Representative Jason Crow, Democrat from Colorado.

Thank you for your time.

CROW: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Over two decades of journalism, Audie Cornish has become a recognized and trusted voice on the airwaves as co-host of NPR's flagship news program, All Things Considered.