Politico: State Dept employees cite "management failure" in Afghanistan retreat disgrace

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Give Politico one cheer for covering the topic of Joe Biden’s disgraceful retreat from Afghanistan at all, but perhaps only just that one cheer. The piece barely mentions the thousands of Americans still trapped and in control of the Taliban. And readers have to slog through lots of claims of victimhood by bureaucrats — reasonable though they may be — all the way down to the final two paragraphs to find out what State Department officials see as the true failure of the Kabul collapse.

While Biden and others have blamed the chaos on a failure of intelligence, several State officials weren’t ready to let their leadership off the hook, saying the problems went beyond faulty intelligence.

“I think there was a general consensus that Kabul would fall and it would fall across the backs of the people who were closest to the United States the hardest. And it was inevitably going to lead to panic,” one of the officials said. “I think anyone who works with human rights or women’s rights or democracy or had spent time in Kabul, our embassy or in our mission staff would have been able to say that. So I don’t think it was an intelligence failure. I think it was a management failure.”

So Biden and his administration are lying about what happened? In the news business, we’d call this a “scoop,” or at least in the news business as it wants its consumers to view it. Instead, Politico buries the lead so far down that readers might get through the Last Rites before digging it up.

Instead, the lead in this Politico review of the debacle is that, er …

As they feverishly attempted to assist Afghans and Americans stranded in the war-torn country and fielded a crush of calls and emails — the inbox where the State Department directed Afghans to send Special Immigrant Visa applications crashed at least once — officials say they were unclear of their own authorities and what policies they were allowed to employ to help evacuate people. It all triggered mental health issues for some staffers, from which some are still attempting to recover, months later.

Their stories are a testament to the U.S. government’s lack of preparedness for the cratering security situation, even as President Joe Biden pushed through his decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by Aug. 31.

“This experience broke a lot of people, including me,” a second State Department official said. “We were all getting inundated by personal requests to help specific people from everyone we’ve ever known or worked with. And we were powerless to do anything, really. Feeling like you’re supposed to be the government’s 911, but knowing the call for help didn’t go very far beyond you was extremely demoralizing.”

I have no doubt that the experience of this disastrous decision for State Department employees below the executive suites was traumatizing and demoralizing. How could it not be? Biden left them holding the bag, as well as the Pentagon, for dealing with the Americans — both citizens and legal permanent residents — that he abandoned, even after promising George Stephanopoulos that he wouldn’t leave until they all got out. And while the White House and Secretary of State Antony Blinken play games with distinctions such as “want to leave” and not counting LPRs as Americans, the rank and file at Foggy Bottom are stuck dealing with the consequences of Biden’s disgrace.

As much as these employees might have been victimized by Biden’s idiotic decision to pull the military out ahead of civilians, they’re hardly the people most victimized by it. Does anyone wonder about how traumatized 14,000 or so Americans who got left behind by their own government and forgotten by the national media have been?

To that point, however, Politico pays scant attention. Even though we now know that as many as 14,000 Americans got abandoned to the Taliban, including “dozens” of immediate family members of the US troops stationed there, Politico never once mentions that tally. In fact, the only explicit reference to that is … a celebration of getting 380 out in the three months that followed:

In his case, it paid off — they managed to help get 380 people to the United States, Trone said. “It’s not just life changing,” Trone said. “It’s life changing at such a dramatic level it’s hard to comprehend.”

Not as life-changing as abandoning them to the Taliban in the first place. Note too that the total number of Americans exfiltrated from Afghanistan has barely budged over the last two weeks. Blinken told Congress that State had gotten “around 340” Americans out of Afghanistan on November 1. At this rate, it will take a couple of years to get the rest of the Americans Biden left behind out of Afghanistan, and that is only if the Taliban or ISIS-K doesn’t start holding them hostage to extort cash and other considerations from the White House.

That’s a lot to pile on Foggy Bottom’s rank and file, and clearly they’re tired of shouldering both the workload and the blame. Too bad Politico didn’t make the latter the highlight of their exposé, or at least put that context into the lead. Biden betrayed these people just as he betrayed the Americans he left behind, and then left State to clean up his mess.