Republican Nevada U.S. Senate candidate and Iraq War veteran Adam Laxalt says that the Biden administration’s handling of detainees in the Afghanistan withdrawal was “unconscionable,” particularly the fact it failed to secure the prison in Bagram Airfield.
Laxalt, who worked as a military lawyer in Iraq in charge of detainees, told Fox News in an interview he is shocked so little was done in order to secure the top terrorist prisoners that were being held at Bagram as the U.S. pulled back its Afghanistan troop presence.
“One of the toughest parts of a battlefield is capturing the bad guys, and especially when it comes to capturing the really bad guys, there’s a lot that goes into it,” Laxalt said. “SEAL teams and the best of our best are sent on those missions at grave risk and those captures are – were incredibly important over the last few decades to get as many of the really hardened and terrible terrorists… off of the international terror battlefield for good.”
“And to see that the Bagram prison was not properly secured and that we have thousands of those detainees that were released is absolutely unconscionable. I can’t imagine that there weren’t, you know, hundreds of hours devoted to figuring out what to do with these really bad folks,” Laxalt added. “And I won’t take it as an excuse that somehow they didn’t realize or didn’t have enough chance to plan because the conversations were going as far back as 2006 about what the long-term plans were for the high-value terrorists.”
The 2022 Senate candidate added that if he were a senator right now at a hearing, he would ask administration officials “what conversations happened… Did someone decide that the political ramifications of putting terrorists in Gitmo were too great for the left to bear… and as a result they decided it’s going to be better to just let them go.”
As the Taliban swept through Afghanistan over the weekend, it took control of Bagram Airbase, where there were “several thousand” prisoners, according to the Pentagon. Reports indicated that the Taliban freed them all.
The Biden administration has defended its decision to leave Bagram in the hands of the Afghan military. President Biden has separately defended his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, saying chaos was inevitable. Biden also attacked the Afghans for allegedly failing to properly fight for their country.
“Afghanistan political leaders gave up and fled the country. The Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight,” the president said Monday in remarks on the crisis in Afghanistan.
He’s further said that the collapse of Afghanistan happened faster than intelligence indicated. But employees at the Kabul embassy warned the State Department of the potential collapse of Kabul last month in a cable first reported by the Wall Street Journal and confirmed by Fox News.
Fox News has repeatedly reported that the intelligence regarding the situation in Afghanistan was troubling and deteriorating throughout the summer.
Laxalt also said he’s worried about Afghans who worked with the United States for the past two decades and are now being hunted by the Taliban.
In Iraq, Laxalt said, “we were trying to stand up the justice system, trying to empower Iraqis to be able to handle their own affairs, and we needed local nationals to be part of the process. We needed local nationals to be part of the prosecution, to be part of administering the justice system.”
“I remember what it felt like in my gut when I would go to meet a handful of local nationals that were coming to our base to participate in the process, and you’d find out that one of them was killed in their bed last night because they were cooperating with America,” Laxalt said. “I have a deep sense of just how catastrophic and dangerous it must feel for the Afghans that worked alongside of our forces… that they must’ve woken up and said, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re all going to get slaughtered.'”
Laxalt added: “My heart goes out to those that were brave enough to try to be part of fixing their country and now there’s no question they’re going to be in a really, really dangerous, terrible spot.”
Indeed, one interpreter in Afghanistan who used to work for the United States told Fox News that the Taliban is hunting him in his town and he’s not getting responses from U.S. embassy officials on his efforts to get cleared to come to the U.S. The Afghan said he wishes he had not worked for the United States
“I am sure that if they captured me, they will kill me,” the interpreter added of the Taliban. “For the U.S. people, they should ask for Mr. President Joe Biden, that they should take care of those left behind. Interpreters and also those people who work with the U.S. government like me – I worked half of my life with the U.S. government, and now they leave me behind.”
Biden will address the Afghanistan situation Friday before leaving the White House again for Wilmington, Del.
Laxalt is one of at least four candidates in the GOP U.S. Senate primary in Nevada. But as the former attorney general of the state, he is considered the favorite. Laxalt is challenging Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev.
Fox News’ Rich Edson contributed to this report.