CIA Director William Burns said U.S. intelligence will "diminish" after U.S. troops pull out of Afghanistan.
President Biden Wednesday afternoon announced that the U.S. will withdraw the remaining 2,500 troops by Sept. 11.
The Trump administration had aimed to have all American forces out of Afghanistan, where the Taliban retains significant power, by May 1, if certain conditions in its negotiations with the Taliban were met. The Biden administration is continuing Trump’s goal but pushing the date back by four months.
Burns, appointed by Biden, said the U.S. presence in Afghanistan has kept groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS "in check."
"When the time comes for the U.S. military to withdraw, the U.S. government's ability to collect and act on threats will diminish. That’s simply a fact," Burns told the Senate Intelligence Committee in a worldwide threat hearing on Wednesday.
"So all of that, to be honest, means that there is a significant risk once the U.S. military and the coalition militaries withdraw," Burns said, though he added that the U.S. would retain a "suite of capabilities."
U.S. officials said the Biden administration will retain intelligence and military capabilities in the region to deal with threats, though Al Qaeda "does not currently possess" the capability to attack the U.S. on American soil, U.S. officials have said, according to Reuters.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are split on Biden’s decision to withdraw troops.
Majority Leader Sen. Schumer applauded Biden’s decision to bring troops home, and said he trusted Biden’s and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s plan. "This isn’t President Trump waking up one morning and announcing a random new policy on Twitter while generals scrambled to catch up," Schumer, D-NY., said Wednesday.
His minority-leading counterpart lambasted the decision. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called the Sept. 11 target date "bizarre." "Apparently we are to help our adversaries ring in the anniversary of the September 11 attacks by gift wrapping the country and handing it right back to them."
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., also attacked Biden's plan, saying that it "undermines our commitment to the Afghan people, particularly Afghan women."
Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., supported the president’s decision, adding that she wished he would pull out even sooner, keeping with Trump’s May 1 deadline.