Here is William Saletan at Slate:
Mike Pompeo, Donald Trump’s former secretary of state, blames President Joe Biden for the chaos in Afghanistan. “We’re letting the Taliban run free and wild,” he complained a few days ago on Fox News. Pompeo, who is laying the groundwork for a 2024 presidential campaign, argued that the insurgents were taking over the country “because we have an administration that has refused to adopt a deterrence model, the one that President Trump and I had.” He claimed that he and Trump had kept Afghanistan “stable,” that they had “never trusted the Taliban,” and that thanks to their steely resolve, “the Taliban didn’t advance on capitals” in Afghan provinces.
None of this is true. Like many other Republicans who now profess anguish over the Taliban’s victory, Pompeo supported the U.S. withdrawal. But he didn’t just endorse the pullout; he directed it. He cut a deal with the Taliban to remove all American troops and to release Taliban fighters from Afghan prisons. He vouched for the Taliban’s assurances, even as the insurgents staged hundreds of deadly attacks. And he defended the ongoing troop withdrawals, undercutting the Afghan government in its own talks with the Taliban, as the militants besieged provincial capitals.
Two years ago, Pompeo began pushing for a deal with the Taliban. Hawks urged him to stipulate in the agreement that the Taliban had to turn over al-Qaida operatives. They also asked him to reject any demand for a “premature release of Taliban prisoners.” He did neither. Under the deal, signed on Feb. 29, 2020, the U.S. government pledged “to withdraw from Afghanistan all military forces of the United States, its allies, and Coalition partners … within fourteen (14) months.” The deal also specified that the Afghan government would release 5,000 prisoners, five times as many as the Taliban had to release. There was no requirement to hand over al-Qaida operatives.
Pompeo promised that the Taliban would rein in their carnage. “We have come to an understanding with the Taliban on a significant reduction in violence,” he declared. A day after the signing ceremony, he asserted that “the Taliban have now made the break” from al-Qaida. On Face the Nation, Margaret Brennan asked him whether the Taliban were “terrorists.” Pompeo declined to use that word, assuring her that “the [Taliban] gentleman whom I met with agreed that they would break that relationship and that they would work alongside of us to destroy” al-Qaida. On Fox News, Pompeo spoke of a personal connection with the Taliban: “I looked them in the eye. They revalidated to that commitment.” The interviewer, Bret Baier, pointed out that immediately after signing the deal, the Taliban had announced a resumption of attacks on the Afghan government. Pompeo brushed aside the announcement. “If the violence levels come down,” he told Baier, “then and only then” would the United States draw down its troops.