During his first State of the Union Address on Tuesday night, President Joe Biden did not mention the 13 U.S. troops killed during his administration’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan last August, prompting Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) to heckle the president.
While addressing the effects of toxic burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, Biden said many troops developed cancer “that would put them in a flag-draped coffin.”
“Veterans are the best of us. I’ve always believed that we have a sacred obligation to equip all those we send to war and care for them and their families when they come home. My administration is providing assistance with job training and housing, and now helping lower-income veterans get VA care debt-free,” Biden said, according to an official transcript of his speech. “Our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan faced many dangers. One was stationed at bases and breathing in toxic smoke from “burn pits” that incinerated wastes of war—medical and hazard material, jet fuel, and more.”
“When they came home, many of the world’s fittest and best trained warriors were never the same. Headaches. Numbness. Dizziness,” he continued. “A cancer that would put them in a flag-draped coffin.”
“You put them in. Thirteen of them,” Boebert then shouted, referring to the 13 service members who were killed in Kabul. Boebert’s heckle immediately drew boos from others inside the chamber.
After the president’s speech, Boebert tweeted, “When Biden said flag draped coffins I couldn’t stay silent. I told him directly he did it. He put 13 in there. Our heroic servicemen and women deserve so much better.”
A new report released last month by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee showed Biden abandoned as many as 9,000 American citizens in Afghanistan following the withdrawal effort that left 13 American troops killed. The report contradicts the Biden administration’s earlier claims that just 100-150 were left behind.
Signed by Foreign Relations ranking member Jim Risch of Idaho, the report shows that senior State Department officials leading the evacuation task force believed 15,000 Americans at the most were in Afghanistan around Aug. 17. By Aug. 31, the final day of evacuation operations, 6,000 Americans managed to escape the country that was quickly taken over by the Taliban.
“Even taking the most conservative estimates from the F-77 report, this meant the United States left at least a few thousand people behind,” the report concluded.