A grimly funny viral clip in that it shows how quickly one can go from friend to foe in righty media for uttering a discouraging word about the leader of the GOP. The clip starts with Newsmax host Grant Stinchfield gladhanding U.S. veteran Joe Saboe about his noble effort to evacuate Americans and Afghans currently in the Taliban’s grip.
But the instant Saboe says something critical about Trump’s refugee policy, Stinchfield blows him up.
Which serves him right. Saboe should have known that the GOP is a loyalty cult now and that the network he was appearing on is an especially vigorous enforcer of cult orthodoxy.
I guess he asked for it. Watch, then read on.
BREAKING: A Newsmax anchor just blew up and angrily cut off an American veteran who is helping to evacuate Americans and Afghan allies for pointing out that Trump is responsible for much of the problem. (h/t @JasonSCampbell) pic.twitter.com/fFfQ7MJlVW
— No Lie with Brian Tyler Cohen (@NoLieWithBTC) September 16, 2021
Is it true, as Saboe claims, that the Trump administration’s efforts to get people out of Afghanistan when they had the chance were “fairly weak,” and that they were even trying to *limit* the number of people who would get out? Actually, yes. Mark Storella was a senior official in the State Department’s refugee bureau under Trump and managed SIV operations in Iraq. He published an op-ed a few weeks ago accusing Team Trump of having “broken the system” that would have gotten more Afghan friendlies to the United States in a timely manner.
In 2017, the new administration tried to implement a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. and ordered the implementation of “extreme vetting” of foreign nationals, including SIV applicants…
We knew the new procedures would slow processing, and that some added steps were frankly excessive and potentially counter-productive. Nonetheless, we thought the new system could work. We were wrong.
We did not anticipate that the Trump administration would systematically strip personnel in various agencies from refugee and SIV processing, reassigning law enforcement and intelligence officials to other duties. Even minor or ambiguous issues could bring vetting to a standstill.
In effect, President Trump and aide Stephen Miller greatly increased the vetting workload and then starved the system of resources to do the job.
Former Pence aide turned anti-Trumper Olivia Troye claimed last month that the slowdown in SIV processing was a product of malice, not incompetence, a deliberate attempt to reduce the number of Muslims from the Third World entering the U.S. even though the applicants in these cases had risked their lives to assist the U.S. military. In 2019 a federal judge ruled that the Trump administration broke the law by failing to routinely issue decisions on Afghan and Iraqi visa applications within nine months, as they were required to do. The resulting backlog created under Trump caused the average time to process a single Afghan SIV to balloon to 703 days by early this year, according to Storella.
No one knows how many Afghans could have and should have had their visas approved before the Taliban’s takeover if SIV processing under Trump had been efficient but there were 17,000 applications in the pipeline when Biden took office and only an estimated 8,500 Afghans were evacuated via the U.S. airlift from Kabul last month. “Under the Obama administration, the number of Afghan SIVs issued increased, from 262 in fiscal year 2009 to 3,626 in FY 2016,” notes CNN. “But under Trump, the number dropped to 1,649 in FY 2018, increased to 2,347 in FY 2019 and culminated in 1,799 for FY 2020.”
So, yeah. “Fairly weak.” Luckily, Stinchfield was there to protect the Newsmax audience from being exposed to facts that might hurt their feelings.
There’s another “fairly weak” element to Trumpist criticism of Biden’s miserably botched evacuation from Kabul. For all the righteous criticism of 46 for not anticipating the consequences of rapid U.S. withdrawal, 45 was reportedly willing to pull the plug much sooner and more recklessly. From the new Bob Woodward book:
The [November 11] directive was titled, “Memorandum for the Acting Secretary of Defense: Withdrawal from Somalia and Afghanistan,” and the memo read: “I hereby direct you to withdraw all US forces from the Federal Republic of Somalia no later than 31 December 2020 and from the Islamic Republican of Afghanistan no later than 15 January 2021. Inform all allied and partner forces of the directives. Please confirm receipt of this order.”
Milley studied the memo and announced he was heading to the White House to confront Trump.
“This is really f***ed up and I’m going to see the President. I’m heading over. You guys can come or not,” Milley told Miller and Patel, who joined him on the trip across the Potomac, according to the book.
Eight days after the election, stewing in spite over his defeat, Trump ordered complete withdrawal from Afghanistan with a deadline just two months away. When Biden announced in April his intent to withdraw this year, he set a deadline of September 11 — still not enough time, it later turned out, but more than twice as much as Trump was originally inclined to give the military. Milley and Patel reportedly headed to the White House, fearing that the withdrawal memo might be a forgery, and asked National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien about it. O’Brien took it to Trump, who confirmed that yes, he had signed it. O’Brien begged him to have a meeting with his advisors about it first and Trump relented, whereupon the memo was declared “nullified” by O’Brien. Was that a case of Trump being prudent in the nick of time or was it a case of “the deep state” once again getting him to recommit to endless wars by changing his mind on withdrawal?
If Trump had insisted on the January 15 deadline over O’Brien’s and Milley’s wishes, would Newsmax be lambasting him for moving ahead before everyone could realistically be evacuated safely or would they be defending him adamantly against criticism that his rapid withdrawal plan was “weak”? If you watched Stinchfield pop a vein in the clip above, you know the answer.