Rep. Cheney: Secret Deals With Taliban Don't Adequately Address Ties to Al Qaeda

Rep. Liz Cheney / Getty
March 3, 2020

Secret agreements reached between the Taliban and the Trump administration do not do enough to compel the terrorist organization to sever its ties with al Qaeda, Rep. Liz Cheney (R., Wyo.) disclosed after reviewing classified documents.

Cheney, a leading Republican lawmaker, disclosed on Tuesday that she had reviewed classified portions of the peace agreement recently reached with the Taliban in Afghanistan. She said contrary to promises made by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, these secret deals, which are kept from the American public, do not address key demands for the Taliban to abandon al Qaeda.

The secret annexes of the peace accord have been generating pushback in Congress from Republican lawmakers typically aligned with the Trump administration on national security issues. Cheney and more than 20 of her colleagues in the House recently warned the Trump administration against inking the deal with the Taliban, saying the group cannot be trusted to uphold a peace accord.

Lawmakers remain concerned the administration did not fully extract promises from the Taliban to cut ties with al Qaeda and other terror organizations operating in war-torn Afghanistan.

Cheney said she was misled by assurances from Pompeo and other State Department officials that the secret annexes would address security concerns.

"[Pompeo] made assertions, including that there were complex, interlocking verification mechanisms," Cheney said, explaining that classified documents she has read do not square with the secretary's claims. "He asserted that there would be a full and complete renunciation of al Qaeda by the Taliban. I've read the documents and my concerns remain. I'm not going to talk about what's in the documents, a number of them are classified, as you know, but the documents that have been sent to the Hill do not include those things."

Pompeo and senior U.S. officials working on the peace deal had assured lawmakers that the administration would be able to closely monitor the Taliban's compliance with the peace accord, which was said to include assurances it would disassociate with al Qaeda, the terror group the Taliban harbored following the 9/11 terror attacks.

Cheney said she remains concerned after reading the classified documents provided to Congress.

Pompeo has stated in multiple interviews that the peace deal includes a "verification complex and mechanism by which we can observe and hold every member of the agreement accountable." This purportedly includes "a commitment to break with al Qaeda."

Cheney has been a vocal critic of the accord, saying during the weekend that secret portions of the deal are reminiscent of the Obama administration's efforts to keep the terms of the nuclear deal with Iran secret.

"Today's agreement with the Taliban includes concessions that could threaten the security of the United States. Releasing thousands of Taliban fighters, lifting sanctions on international terrorists, and agreeing to withdraw all U.S. forces in exchange for promises from the Taliban, with no disclosed mechanism to verify Taliban compliance, would be reminiscent of the worst aspects of the Obama Iran nuclear deal," Cheney said.

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment on Cheney's claims.