Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin does not want to testify before Congress about his role in the disastrous U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and if he continues to resist, even after being subpoenaed, he could face a penalty up to and including jail time.
It doesn’t appear likely things will escalate that far, but jail, among other things, is on the table for a man too smug and cowardly to face the public.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken spent his second day Tuesday getting grilled by a bipartisan group of lawmakers who want some answers about one of the biggest embarrassments in U.S. military history.
Austin must be watching that testimony, and he’s probably not thrilled by the idea of sharing a similar fate. He’s thus far refused to voluntarily explain the position of the Pentagon.
Of all people, Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the liberal Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, floated the idea of forcing the “woke” head of our country’s military to answer for his department’s dereliction in Afghanistan.
“I’m very disappointed that Secretary Austin declined our request to testify today,” Menendez said during his open remarks on Tuesday. “A full accounting of the U.S. response to this crisis is not complete without the Pentagon, especially when it comes to understanding the complete collapse of the U.S.-trained and funded Afghan military.”
Menendez added that Austin’s absence “will affect my personal judgment on Department of Defense nominees,” and that he expects to speak with him at some point.
“I expect the secretary will avail himself to the committee in the near future. And if he does not, I may consider the use of committee subpoena power to compel him and others over the course of these last 20 years to testify,” the Democrat said.
Democrat Senator Bob Menendez says he’s “very disappointed” that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin refused to testify today, and threatens to subpoena him. pic.twitter.com/1QbcdFImM0
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) September 14, 2021
The defense secretary did not or would not intervene when it became apparent Afghanistan would fall to the Taliban in only 11 days.
As a chief architect of chaos, Austin also helped to ensure billions of dollars in U.S. military equipment fell into the hands of America’s enemies. That’s leaving out the fact that he apparently didn’t speak up when it became apparent an absurd and arbitrary pullout deadline fixated on by President Joe Biden would mean hundreds of American citizens would be left behind.
Austin is a national embarrassment, so it’s no surprise he wouldn’t voluntarily defend himself. He’s as spineless as he is inept. But should he fail to offer some answers if a subpoena is handed his way, there could be consequences.
If the defense secretary still refuses to testify after he is compelled to do so by Menendez, he could face punishment.
“An individual who fails or refuses to comply with a House subpoena may be cited for contempt of Congress,” the rules on statutory contempt from the U.S. Government Publishing Office say. “Under the inherent contempt power of the House, the recalcitrant witness may be arrested and brought to trial before the bar of the House, with the offender facing possible incarceration.”
Those rules add: “Under this statute the wrongful refusal to comply with a congressional subpoena is made punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and imprisonment for up to one year.”
Again, it’s unlikely a man such as Austin would ever go to jail. Still, the fact that confinement is even an option for Congress in getting the defense secretary to answer for his colossal blunders shows us just how horrible of a commander the man is.
The fact that jail is even in the realm of possibility should be reason enough for Austin to resign immediately. In fact, that resignation should have been handed in weeks ago.