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In mid-July, weeks before the Taliban retook all of Afghanistan, 23 staffers stationed at the now-abandoned U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan transmitted a classified memo warning the State Department’s top brass of everything that was about to happen.
“An internal State Department memo last month warned top agency officials of the potential collapse of Kabul soon after the U.S.’s Aug. 31 troop withdrawal deadline in Afghanistan, according to a U.S. official and a person familiar with the document,” The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
“The cable, sent via the State Department’s confidential dissent channel, warned of rapid territorial gains by the Taliban and the subsequent collapse of Afghan security forces, and offered recommendations on ways to mitigate the crisis and speed up an evacuation,” the Journal added.
The cable, reportedly directed at Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Director of Policy Planning Salman Ahmed, also advised the State Department to stop sugarcoating “the atrocities being committed by the Taliban,” according to the Journal.
The Journal’s sources said Blinken received the cable. State Department spokesman Ned Price also offered confirmation.
“He’s made clear that he welcomes and encourages use of the dissent channel, and is committed to its revitalization. We value constructive internal dissent,” he said to the Journal.
Responding to the Journal’s reporting, Sen. Marsha Blackburn tweeted late Thursday that if the reporting is accurate, Blinken “needs to resign immediately.”
If the @WSJ report that Secretary Blinken knew terrorists were coming to Kabul is true, and he did nothing about it, then he needs to resign immediately. https://t.co/80nsDTZaOa
— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) August 19, 2021
What remains unclear is whether the actions taken following the cable’s transmission were enough.
What’s known is that the day after the cable was transmitted, the administration announced an evacuation operation for America’s allies in Afghanistan.
However, for reasons that now merit explanation, the administration chose to delay the actual evacuations until the last week of July.
“The U.S. will begin flying Afghan nationals who supported U.S. and coalition operations in Afghanistan, according to a senior Biden administration official. Evacuation flights will begin in the last week of July,” NPR reported on the 14th.
NPR further noted that the administration had been facing pressure to begin evacuations “for months.”
The first actual evacuation flight wasn’t completed until July 30th.
#BREAKING First evacuation flight of Afghans who worked for US military lands in America: Biden pic.twitter.com/G0JCZwuBhK
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) July 30, 2021
According to The Atlantic, aid agencies and congressional lawmakers were both left “dumbfounded that the administration did not act with more urgency.”
Yet President Joe Biden has attempted to blame the desperate Afghans themselves for this error in judgment.
“I know there are concerns about why we did not begin evacuating Afghan civilians sooner. Part of the answer is some of the Afghans did not want to leave earlier, still hopeful for their country,” he said during his widely panned Monday speech.
Speaking with The Atlantic, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service chief Krish O’Mara Vignarajah said the president’s remarks were bullschiff.
“We have been screaming from the rooftops that we need to get these allies out. The undeniable truth is that we had both the means and the time to save those in danger, and yet we’ve neglected to act in any meaningful way,” she said.
Biden and his top cohorts have also tried to claim that there was no way they could have known that the situation in Afghanistan would spiral out of control so quickly.
“The idea that somehow there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens,” the president said in an interview Wednesday.
Impotent Biden panned for shameful, reckless, gaffe-filled ABC interview: ‘We knew it would be this bad’ https://t.co/1IzM5sv8AA pic.twitter.com/HYJAvCBKLI
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) August 19, 2021
“Woke” Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Mark Milley said virtually the same.
“There was nothing that I or anyone else saw that indicated a collapse of this army and this government in 11 days,” he said from the Pentagon on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, their underlings have begun criticizing the embassy staffers for not perfectly predicting the day of Afghanistan’s collapse and further claiming the administration has gone above and beyond the actions they’d recommended.
“The cable, as I understand it, predicted the potential fall of the Afghan government in the aftermath of a U.S. troop drawdown on August 31st. Obviously, that all happened even more quickly than the cable, which was quite concerned about this possibility, projected,” Deputy National Security Advisor John Finer said Thursday on CNN.
He also excused the delayed evacuation flights by claiming the embassy staffers had recommended evacuation flights start no later than Aug. 1st.
“[T]he cable asked for was evacuation flights by the U.S. government of special immigrant visa applicants, Afghans who work alongside our mission in Afghanistan. They asked for those to begin by August 1st. We began those flights in July,” he said.
The clip above concluded with him claiming the administration has been paying attention to analysis from “a number of inputs,” including … CNN.
“We get diplomatic reporting. We watch the reports of our ‘news organizations‘ like CNN and make the best assessment we can,” he said.
But apparently, the CNN-loving administration didn’t listen to the people who actually know what they’re talking about — people like Vignarajah.
Note also that an estimated 15,000 U.S. citizens also remain trapped in Afghanistan thanks to the administration’s slow, lethargic, delayed actions.
10,000 to 15,000 Americans stuck behind Taliban lines.
And Joe Biden says everything went according to plan.
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) August 18, 2021
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