Was there any part of Joe Biden’s speech yesterday that had even a tenuous connection to reality? Biden had to try a third time to spin his Afghanistan retreat/rout into a victory, and it worked out even worse than his previous two attempts. When asked about the difficulties Americans were having in Kabul getting into the airport, Biden responded … what difficulties?
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Two questions for you. The military has secured the airport, as you mentioned, but will you sign off on sending U.S. troops into Kabul to evacuate Americans who haven’t been able to get to the airport safely?
THE PRESIDENT: We have no indication that they haven’t been able to get — in Kabul — through the airport. We’ve made an agreement with the — with the Taliban. Thus far, they’ve allowed them to go through. It’s in their interest for them to go through. So, we know of no circumstance where American citizens are — carrying an American passport — are trying to get through to the airport. But we will do whatever needs to be done to see to it they get to the airport.
NPR’s Scott Sullivan tried following up, and Biden tried to parse out his earlier unequivocal statement:
Q Thank you, Mr. President. I just want to follow up on something you said a moment ago. You said that there’s no circumstances where American citizens cannot get to the airport. That doesn’t really square with the images we’re seeing around the airport and with the reporting on the ground from our colleagues who are describing chaos and violence. Are you saying unequivocally that any American who wants to get to the airport is getting there and getting past the security barrier and to the planes where they want to go?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I thought the question was: How can they get through to the airport outside the airport? And the answer is: To the best of our knowledge, the Taliban checkpoints — they are letting through people showing American passports.
Now, that’s a different question when they get into the rush and crowd of all the folks just outside the wall near the airport. That’s why we had to, I guess, ye- — was it yesterday or the day before? — we went over the wall and brought in — how many?
MR. SULLIVAN: One hundred and sixty-nine.
THE PRESIDENT: One hundred and sixty-nine Americans. So, it is a process to try to figure out how we — how we deal with the mad rush of non-Americans — those who didn’t help, those who are not on a priority list — just any Afghan — any Afghan to be able to get out of the country.
And so my guess is that, no matter what, under what circumstances we — anyone — there’s not a whole lot of Afghanis — there’s a whole lot of Afghanis that just as soon come to America, whether there were any involvement with the United States in the past at all, rather than stay under Taliban rule or any — any rule.
So, what I was saying is that we have an agreement that they will let pass through the checkpoints that they — the Taliban — control. They’ve let Americans through.
No indication? Apparently Biden didn’t watch any of Clarissa Ward’s reports on CNN, nor Richard Engel’s updates for NBC on Twitter, or practically any other reports from journalists who remained stuck behind Taliban lines. And apparently Biden didn’t check in with his own State Department, either. A few hours after Biden assured the country that Americans would have no problem getting to the airport in Kabul, the embassy operating out of the airport sent out a new message — don’t come:
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul warned Americans to stay away from the Afghan capital’s airport on Saturday because of “potential security threats outside the gates,” in a sign of growing volatility at the choke point for thousands of Afghan desperate to escape the country’s new Taliban rulers.
U.S. officials said the most serious current threat was that Afghanistan’s branch of the Islamic State would attempt an attack that would hurt the Americans and damage the Taliban’s sense of control. It was unclear how capable ISIS is of such an attack, even if their will to do it is not in question, the officials said. …
The U.S. warning advised American citizens “to avoid traveling to the airport and to avoid airport gates” on Saturday unless instructed to by the embassy. All of the entrance gates to the airport were closed on Saturday morning because of the dangerous situation.
Emphasis mine. This was just hours after Biden assured his audience that no extra effort would be necessary to get Americans out of the trap in which Biden and his team left them. Our friend Thomas Joscelyn at Long War Journal pointed it out on Twitter:
Yesterday, @POTUS said: "We have no indication that they haven’t been able to get in Kabul through the airport. We’ve made an agreement with the Taliban thus far, they’ve allowed them to go through it’s and they’re interested in them to go through."
Today, @USEmbassyKabul: pic.twitter.com/0OhJq3WQM6
— Thomas Joscelyn (@thomasjoscelyn) August 21, 2021
The citation of ISIS also contradicts part of what Biden said yesterday. He did warn that ISIS might try to disrupt the security situation in Kabul as a way to discredit the Taliban, as if the Taliban had credit it the first place:
We’re also keeping a close watch on any potential terrorist threat at or around the airport, including from the ISIS affiliates in Afghanistan who were released from prison when the prisons were emptied. And because they are, by the way — to make everybody understand — that the ISIS in Afghanistan are the — have been the sworn enemy of the Taliban.
But later in the same speech, Biden insisted that the ISIS threat was much more acute outside of Afghanistan:
The threat from terrorism has metastasized. There’s a greater danger from ISIS and — and al Qaeda and all these affiliates in other countries, by far, than there is from Afghanistan.
“By far”? So why are they a threat in the streets around the airport in Kabul now? As for al-Qaeda, the Pentagon contradicted Biden almost in real time on their presence in Afghanistan. John Kirby stuttered his spin when Fox’s Jennifer Griffin pointed it out to him:
GRIFFIN: But the president just said that there’s no Al Qaeda presence in Afghanistan? That does not seem to be correct.
KIRBY: We don’t think — we believe there isn’t a significant presence to merit a threat to our homeland, as there was back on 9/11 twenty years ago.
How big does it have to be to constitute a threat? The 9/11 attacks were accomplished by twenty terrorists with minimal logistics support from Afghanistan. The same can be said of the attack on the USS Cole in 2000 and the dual embassy bombings in 1998, all of which were planned from AQ bases in Afghanistan. This is why al-Qaeda conducts asymmetrical warfare, and why we drove the Taliban out of power for sheltering them twenty years ago.
It’s nothing but a cascade of lies coming from the White House, attempts to cover up their abandonment of thousands of Americans with gossamers of spin and deceit. It’s an utter disgrace led by a disgraceful politician who either can’t comprehend the situation or doesn’t give enough of a rat’s ass about it to bother. Everyone who continues to work with Biden on national security rather than resign in protest over this debacle should never be allowed to hold positions of responsibility again.
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