Kamala Harris says DEMOCRACY is the biggest threat to national security: VP also insists she stands by Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan
- Harris appeared to be trying to echo Democrats’ warnings about threats to democracy at home and abroad when she said ‘democracy’ itself was a threat
- She cleaned up her comments, calling for Americans to ‘fight for the integrity of our democracy’ as Biden pushed lawmakers to pass voting rights legislation
- When asked if she feels any responsibility for the Afghanistan chaos, the vice president instead pointed out it was Trump who brokered a deal to leave
- She admitted the Taliban’s treatment of women and girls is still a ‘concern’
- Harris has said she was the ‘last person in the room’ when Biden decided on exit
Vice President Kamala Harris said during her CBS interview Sunday that ‘democracy’ is the most significant national security threat facing the United States.
She had been trying to echo Democrats’ warning about threats to the ‘integrity’ of the American democratic system as her boss, President Joe Biden, tries to push his voting rights agenda through Congress.
In the final portion of her wide-ranging interview released over the week, Harris also defended the Biden administration’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan in August, instead blaming its predecessor for first setting the deadline to leave.
‘What do you see is the biggest national security challenge confronting the U.S.? What is the thing that worries you and keeps you up at night?’ Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan asked.
The vice president answered, ‘Frankly, one of them is our democracy. And that I can talk about because that’s not classified.’
‘There is I think no question in the minds of people who are foreign policy experts that the year 2021 is not the year 2000. You know, I think there’s so much about foreign and domestic policy that, for example, was guided and prioritized based on Sept 11, 2001.
In the final portion of her wide-ranging CBS interview this week, Kamala Harris discussed the Afghanistan withdrawal, threats to national security and her role as border czar
‘And we are embarking on a- a new era where the threats to our nation take many forms, including the threat of autocracies taking over and having outsized influence around the world.’
She adjusted her initial comments, urging the need to ‘fight for the integrity of our democracy.’
At a different point the vice president lauded Biden for departing from another piece of post-9/11 policy in withdrawing from Afghanistan after a 20-year occupation.
Biden and his top officials faced bipartisan criticism for the botched withdrawal effort that left as many as 200 American citizens and thousands of Afghan allies of the US military behind, despite the president’s promise to remain until every American was out.
Amid the crowded and chaotic scenes outside Kabul airport in August, a suicide attack slaughtered 170 Afghan civilians and 13 American service members.
Harris, who has said she was the ‘last person in the room’ when Biden made the critical decision, did not give a clear answer when asked if she feels any responsibility for the shambolic operation.
She also noted that it was Donald Trump’s agreement with the Taliban to withdraw the US military that Biden was following.
In negotiations which left out the American-backed Afghan government, Trump brokered a deal that all US troops would depart from the country months earlier than Biden ultimately did.
Harris didn’t say whether she felt responsible for the chaos of the Kabul evacuation, instead laying blame with the Trump administration
‘I fully supported the president’s decision to after what was taking on the fact of being an endless war, of pulling American troops out, and I think it’s really important to remember that the previous administration negotiated a deal with the Taliban, did not invite the Afghan government to be at the table, and negotiated a deal that- that required and promised as part of an agreement that we would pull out by the end of May,’ Harris said.
‘So, we were saddled with that responsibility based on an agreement between the United States and the Taliban.’
She added that she doesn’t ‘regret’ following through on the deal, claiming the alternative could have been an even greater conflict.
‘We made the decision that if we were to break the agreement, it would have been a whole other situation, and right now I strongly believe that had we broken that agreement, we would be talking about the war in Afghanistan,’ Harris claimed.
‘And American troops in Afghanistan, and we’re not talking about that. I don’t regret that.’
Brennan asked Harris how she squared her decades-long career championing women and girls with concerns about the plight of Afghan females under the Taliban’s repressive rule.
‘One of our big issues in terms of any conversations with the Taliban is exactly this point, which is the condition, the status and the treatment of women and girls, including for girls, access to education, not to mention our concern about counterterrorism and what we need to do in terms of that threat,’ Harris said, adding, ‘these are real issues there’s no question.’
She said the US was working with the United Nations in ‘bypassing the Taliban’ to make sure necessary aid got to women and girls.
Harris vowed to continue fighting for women and girls in Afghanistan, who are now forced to live under the Taliban’s oppressive rule
Earlier this week the Biden administration said it wanted to expand the flow of aid to humanitarian organizations in Afghanistan in an effort to ease the country’s post-upheaval economic crisis without fears the Taliban would squander it in other ways.
‘I worry that the Taliban has not complied with what we know to be the appropriate treatment and the right treatment of girls and women, and that’s why we are taking the posture that we are with the Taliban right now, because that is one of our greatest considerations and concerns,’ Harris said.
The vice president was faced with her own criticism of her handling of the Afghanistan crisis as the evacuation was plodding along in late August.
On August 23 video emerged of a reporter attempting to ask Harris over the roar of a jet engine about the Americans still stuck in Afghanistan and trying to leave.
‘Hold on, hold on, hold on,’ Harris said before the reporter could finish.
‘Slow down, everybody,’ she said after a big laugh.
‘I want to talk about two things,’ Harris then said. ‘First, Afghanistan, we couldn’t have a higher priority right now,’
‘And in particular high priority is making sure that we safely evacuate American citizens, Afghans who worked with us, Afghans at risk, including women and children, and that is one of our highest if not the highest priority right now.’
‘And it’s a big area of focus for me in the past days and weeks, and will continue to be,’ she added.
But she still caught heat for going several days without speaking out about the plight of women and girls before pledging the US would continue to seek their protection.
In her CBS interview Sunday Harris was also asked about her role as Biden’s border czar.
Since the president tapped her to lead the federal government’s response to out-of-control migration to the southern border in March, Harris only spent two days in Guatemala and Mexico working on the issue.
She took criticism from civil rights groups and members of her own party for infamously delivering a message to people in Guatemala to ‘not come’ to the US border.
‘When I was in Guatemala, I talked with the Guatemalan people about what I’ve talked to folks in this very room who have convened about this issue, which is the vast majority of people, wherever they are from, don’t want to leave home. They don’t want to leave the language they speak,’ Harris said on Sunday.
Harris and Guatemala’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Pedro Brolo wave at her arrival ceremony in Guatemala City, Sunday, June 6. Guatemala’s president said he hasn’t heard from Harris since this trip
Harris also insisted that dealing with the ‘root causes’ of migration is still her primary focus, despite Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei telling Fox News just weeks ago that he hadn’t heard from the vice president since June.
She refused to concede to criticism that her boss dealt her a tough hand by assigning mammoth tasks like illegal immigration and voting rights to his deputy, defiantly declaring she hasn’t been ‘set up to fail.’
‘But more important I’m the Vice President of the United States, anything that I handle is because it’s a tough issue, and it couldn’t be handled at some other level,’ Harris said.
‘And there are a lot of big, tough issues that need to be addressed. And it has actually been part of my lifelong career to deal with tough issues and this is no different.’
Harris refused to take an opportunity to ascribe her criticism to racism and misogyny, stating: ‘I’ll leave that for others to deal with.’
Brennan bluntly asked Harris what her biggest failure has been this year, to which Harris joked: ‘To not get out of D.C. more.’
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