‘You, sir, stole their lives, their futures, their dreams and have ripped apart 13 families,’ Schmitz said
The father of a U.S. Marine killed during the terrorist attack at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan two years ago tore into President Biden on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, saying he is a “disgrace to this nation” who has “more American blood” on his hands “than any president in U.S. history.”
Mark Schmitz, the father of Marine Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, who was one of the 13 U.S. service members killed in a bomb blast on Aug. 26, 2021, during the military evacuation at the Kabul airport, participated in a roundtable discussion with other Gold Star family members before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“Not a single person has been held accountable,” Schmitz said. “Our so-called leader can’t seem to even utter their names in public, not even once.”
“You are a disgrace to this nation,” the father continued. “You have no business having ultimate command over our military, and I regret not saying that to your face when I had the opportunity in Dover. I felt it more important to bite my tongue, but I also had more important things on my mind at that time, like receiving my son’s lifeless body stateside.”
“While I stood there on the tarmac watching you check your watch over and over again, all I wanted to do was shout out, ‘It’s 2 —-ing 30, —hole.’ But out of respect of the other grieving families, I bit my tongue once again. Well, as you can probably tell by now, I’m done biting my tongue. You, sir, stole their lives, their futures, their dreams and have ripped apart 13 families. You cannot even man up and admit that.”
Schmitz added that Biden likely has “more American blood” on his hands “than any president in U.S. history,” and he requested investigations into Biden, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken “for their involvement in intentionally leaving Bagram [Air Base] and all of its assets by knowingly aiding known terrorists, all while abandoning U.S. civilians and allied partners.”
“In closing, Mr. Biden, Secretary Austin, Secretary Blinken, if trusting and supporting our military is too difficult for you, then I suggest you pack your s— and enjoy your retirement,” he said. “Because from where I sit on my perch, the noose around your doubled-down notion that this was an extraordinary success looks like it’s tightening a little bit more each and every day.”
The Gold Star families at Tuesday’s hearing have repeatedly criticized the administration for both the decision-making in the Afghanistan withdrawal and what they said was incomplete or incorrect information given to them.
Kelly Barnett, the mother of Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover, said, “They knew this was going to happen, or it was part of their plan. They were too busy shaking hands with the Taliban, cleaning up and making sure we left it clean and tidy for the Taliban to worry about giving our snipers the OK to make it all OK.”
As the hearing was about to begin, Gen. Mark Milley — the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who has received sharp criticism for his role in the withdrawal — released a statement in which he said the U.S. owes Gold Star families “everything.”
“We owe them transparency, we owe them honesty, we owe them accountability. We owe them the truth about what happened to their loved ones,” Milley said in a statement to Fox News.
Milley addressed some of the claims from Gold Star families about incorrect information in his statement.
“I trust the Army, Navy and Marine Corps did the best they could in briefing the families who had loved ones killed at Abbey Gate. I believe the briefers gave every piece of information that they could. If there was issues with that, we need to take whatever corrective action is necessary,” he said. “And our hearts go out to those families.”
He continued, “This is a personal thing for all of us in uniform. We don’t like what happened in Afghanistan. We don’t like the outcome of Afghanistan. We owe it to the families to take care of them. Their sacrifices were not in vain.”
He then said that for those who served in the mission “the cost in blood was high, but every single one of us who served in Afghanistan should hold our heads high.”
“Each served with skill, dedication and honor. For two decades our nation was not attacked from Afghanistan – that was our mission, and each one can be rightly proud of their service,” he continued.
The Pentagon also released a statement of its own, expressing “our deepest condolences to the Gold Star Families who lost loved ones during the tragic bombing at Abbey Gate.”
“We are forever grateful for their service, sacrifice, and committed efforts during the evacuation operations. We also commend the historic and monumental efforts of all our service men and women who served honorably during the withdrawal period from Afghanistan,” the statement reads.
It went on to say that U.S. Central Command conducted a “comprehensive, credible and definitive” investigation into the attack.
“As then CENTCOM commander Gen. McKenzie highlighted, ‘The volume of evidence collected, the testimony of more than 100 people, the analysis of experts, the findings of fact, and the conclusions of the team based upon evidence gives a compelling and truthful examination of the event.’ U.S. military commanders on the ground in Afghanistan made the best decisions and provided their best military advice based off what was known at the time and leaders took appropriate action in response to reported threat streams. From the investigation at the tactical level, the Abbey Gate attack was not preventable without degrading the mission to maximize the number of evacuees, and the leaders on the ground followed the proper measures and procedures.”