Posted by Curt on 5 February, 2022 at 3:12 pm. 9 comments already!



A leaked White House Situation Room document reveals how the Biden administration was still working out how to transport American nationals and Afghan allies out of Kabul on the day before the Taliban seized the Afghan capital.
It offers fresh evidence that officials were unprepared for the rapid collapse of the Afghan government as American troops departed the country.
The notes, entitled ‘Summary of Conclusions for Meeting of the Deputies Small Group,’ were taken during a National Security Council meeting on Aug. 14 – the day the Taliban captured the key northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.
Kabul was already all but encircled and hours later Taliban gunman would sweep into the city, triggering a frantic evacuation.
Images of Afghan men falling from departing planes shocked the world and have cast a shadow over the Biden administration ever since.
The document, published by Axios on Tuesday, shows an administration that was still putting in place plans to contact American nationals, members of staff and Afghan allies while the Taliban was at the gates to Kabul.
‘The Department of State will immediately stand up a communications/manifest team which will be responsible for notifying individuals from various priority lists of their travel eligibility and collect biographic information from all travelers to be manifested,’ it said.
Even so, the notes suggests officials still did not know where to fly evacuees.
‘State will work to identify as many countries as possible to serve as transit points. Transit points need to be able to accommodate U.S. citizens, Afghan nationals, third country nationals, and other evacuees,’ it said.
A follow-up meeting was planned for the following day to look at ‘whether foreign nationals who are immediate family members of U.S. citizens in Afghanistan’ could travel straight to the U.S. or would need additional vetting.
‘Embassy Kabul will notify LES [locally employed staff] to begin to register their interest in relocation to the United States and begin to prepare immediately for departure… (Action: Embassy Kabul, immediately),’ it said.

The aftermath of the chaotic withdrawal – and a suicide bombing that killed 13 U.S. service personnel – has dogged Biden ever since.
A month before the fall of Kabul, he had promised there would be no chaotic evacuation, no fall of Saigon moment.
‘There’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of a embassy in the — of the United States from Afghanistan,’ he told reporters in July.
‘It is not at all comparable.’
Yet aid groups and military analysts had already sounded the alarm that the Afghan armed forces and government were more fragile that Washington realized and that the Taliban were making rapid advances.
‘I kept being told by people in the [White House] the thing they were most concerned about was the optics of a chaotic evacuation,’ said Matt Zeller, a former CIA officer.
‘They treated us like we were Chicken Little. They didn’t believe the sky was falling.’
Even Washington’s allies – such as the U.K. – criticized the operation, saying they had been blindsided by the way Biden pushed through the withdrawal so fast.
Analysts point to the evacuation as the moment when many voters began to reassess their view of a president elected with a promise to bring competence and foreign policy expertise to the White House.
‘He made a comment which he lived to regret, which is: We’re not going to have another Vietnam,’ said veteran Republican pollster Frank Luntz.
‘And then we watch people at the airport falling off the planes to their death, that taught us Americans that not only was he incompetent, but he was dishonest. So much damage to his reputation.’
Administration officials declined to comment on the leaked notes.
‘While we’re not going to comment on leaked internal documents, cherry-picked notes from one meeting do not reflect the months of work that were already under way,’ said the NSC in a statement.
The administration had already launched Operation Allies Refuge, and worked with Congress to prepare, by the time the notes were taken.
‘It was because of this type of planning and other efforts that we were able to facilitate the evacuation of more than 120,000 Americans, legal permanent residents, vulnerable Afghans and other partners,’ it said.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby also said he would not comment on leaded documents, but added that by Aug. 14 work was well under way on an evacuation.
‘As early as in the spring the Defence Department was already … gaming out what a noncombatant evacuation would look like,’ he said.
‘And the secretary prepositioned forces well before August … prepositioned forces in the region so that if they were needed to respond quickly, they could.’
He added that 3,000 troops were on the ground within 48 hours as a result.
Yet the consequences of the withdrawal are still playing out.
This week the United Nations said 60 allies of the U.S. had been killed in Afghanistan by the Taliban since they seized power in the wake of Joe Biden’s troop withdrawal.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a report the UN had received ‘credible allegations’ that more than 100 former members of the Afghan government, its security forces and those who worked with international troops have been killed.
He said that ‘more than two-thirds of the deaths, just over 60, were alleged to result from extrajudicial killings by the Taliban or its affiliates. Around 30 more have been killed in unexplained circumstances.

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