“A flash and a massive wave of pressure. I’m thrown 4 feet onto the ground but instantly knew what had happened. I opened my eyes to Marines dead or unconscious lying around me. A crowd of hundreds immediately vanished in front of me. And my body was catastrophically wounded with 100 to 150 ball bearings now in it,” he recalled.
Vargas-Andrews, 25, offered emotional and detailed testimony of the days leading up to the bombing, which took the lives of 13 US service members and more than 100 Afghans, as part of a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the evacuation from Afghanistan.
The Biden administration’s frenzied withdrawal after two decades of US involvement in the war has come under immense scrutiny by Republican lawmakers, including the new chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, who has vowed to investigate the matter.
However, those accusations in Congress about who is responsible for the chaotic final weeks of the United States’ presence in Afghanistan have fallen largely along party lines, with Republican lawmakers pointing fingers at the Biden administration and Democratic lawmakers casting blame on the Trump administration for the deal that set the US withdrawal into motion.
In a statement to CNN Wednesday, White House spokesperson for oversight Ian Sams also pointed to the deal President Joe Biden “inherited” from Trump and said the last administration “failed to establish an evacuation plan and slowed down processing of special visas for our Afghan allies.”
“Instead of returning the U.S. to active combat with the Taliban and putting even more of our troops’ lives at risk, President Biden made the tough decision to finally end the 20-year war in Afghanistan, bring our troops home, and safely evacuate tens upon tens of thousands of Americans and Afghan allies,” Sams said.
He added that the withdrawal put “the U.S. in a stronger position to lead the world and address the challenges of the future, while continuing to welcome our Afghan allies and maintaining our ability to deal with terrorist threats in the region.”