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President Joe Biden raised eyebrows when, following a disastrous speech late Thursday about the bombings at the airport in Kabul, he said he’d only be taking questions from reporters he’d been “instructed” by his handlers “to call on.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, they gave me a list here. The first person I was instructed to call on was Kelly O’Donnell of NBC,” he said as if he was a child.
The entire press conference proceeded like this, in that it was a complete disaster.
From bragging about his administration’s botched evacuation of U.S. citizens and Afghan allies, to doubling down on his insistence that he did everything right, to only calling on reporters he’d been “instructed” to call on, the president appeared completely out of touch with reality and out of his depth.
Early in the speech, for instance, he praised the men and women in uniform who’d perished during the bombings, which is fine. But the way he chose to praise them was by bragging about an evacuation effort “unlike any seen in history.”
“They were a part of an airlift and evacuation effort unlike any seen in history with more than 100,000 American citizens, American partners, Afghans who helped us and others taking to safety in the last 11 days,” he said.
. @POTUS: The American service members who gave their lives were heroes. Biden said they’re part of evacuation effort unlike any ever seen in history, 100k+ in last week and a half. He went on to say service members gave their lives to save others.
— Kerry Kavanaugh (@KerryKavanaugh) August 26, 2021
It’s been an incredible effort, yes, but he’s reportedly had very little to do with it. In an interview Thursday with Politico, Marine Corps veteran Jeff Phaneuf said that U.S. citizens and Afghan allies desperate to escape Afghanistan “have had to rely on a ragtag informal network of vets, journalists, and aid workers” for help.
“I’m so proud of the rapid mobilization and initiative taken by all these incredible patriots, and dismayed by the failures of our government,” he said, pointing a finger directly at the Biden administration for its inability to do anything right.
Continuing his speech, the president then doubled down on pulling all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by Aug. 31st, despite over a dozen men and women in uniform being murdered, and despite thousands of Americans remaining trapped in Afghanistan.
“We will complete our mission,” he said, referring to the Aug. 31st deadline, “and we will continue after our troops are withdrawn to find means by which we can find any American who wishes to get out of Afghanistan.”
President Joe Biden: “We will complete our mission, and we will continue after our troops have withdrawn, to find means by which we can find any American who wishes to get out of Afghanistan. We will find them, and we will get them out.” pic.twitter.com/punqG6pbcW
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) August 26, 2021
The problem is that once all U.S. troops have been withdrawn, it’ll become virtually — if not literally — impossible to retrieve any more Americans and allies.
Once the president finished speaking and opened up the floor for questions — but only to reporters he’d been “instructed” by his handlers “to call on,” as noted earlier, things only got worse.
Asked whether he’s considered authorizing “additional forces to respond” to the bombings at Kabul, the president said that he’s open to it, but then claimed that all his top military officials have told him that he basically shouldn’t.
“[T]he military, from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the commanders in the field have all contacted me one way or another, usually by letter, saying they subscribe to the mission as designed, to get as many people out as we can within the timeframe that is allotted,” he said.
Biden just said he’s been communicating with U.S. Generals “usually by letter”
What on earth? pic.twitter.com/AFLAEvqv0i
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) August 26, 2021
The president was then asked whether he regretted trusting “the Taliban to secure the perimeter of the airport. Do you feel like there was a mistake made in that regard?”
He, of course, refused to admit that yes, a mistake had been made. If anything, he acted like the Taliban’s PR spokesperson by defending their Barney Fife operation and suggesting they had no reason to betray the U.S.
“It’s in their interest that we are able to leave on time, on target. As a consequence of that … it is not what you’d call a tightly commanded regimented operation like the US military is, but they’re acting in their interest,” he said.
“No one trusts them. We’re just counting on their self-interest to continue to generate their activities,” he added.
.@Reuters : dependence on Taliban to secure airport – was that mistake?
Biden: no. it’s in Taliban’s interest we leave on time. the things we’ve asked him – pushing out perimeter, screening people – they’re acting in their interest. No one trusts them. Counting on self-interest
— amna (@IAmAmnaNawaz) August 26, 2021
NBC’s Richard Engel: “Just a few wks ago, the United States military, CENTCOM, this same general, was bombing the Taliban. Now? The U.S. is sharing limited intelligence w/the Taliban, relying on them to secure the outer perimeter, saying that some Taliban are good at security.” pic.twitter.com/c2DndiqQpz
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) August 26, 2021
A couple questions later, the president was asked about a shocking report from Politico outlining how the administration had “provided the Taliban with names of Americans and Afghan officials to evacuate,” thus essentially giving them a “kill list.”
Stunningly, he kind of fessed up to it.
“There have been occasions when our military has contacted their military counterparts in the Taliban and said, for example, ‘This bus is coming through with X number of people on it made up of the following group of people. We want you to let that bus or that group through.’ So, yes, there have been occasions like that,” he said.
However, he refused to confirm whether these announcements had contained any names.
“But I can’t tell you with any certitude that there’s actually been a list of names. There may have been. … That could very well have happened,” he said.
Fourth questions: #Biden says Bagram was “not much value-added”, so it was shut down, and says he cannot say for certain whether or not lists of names were given to the Taliban, but it “could very well have happened”. pic.twitter.com/sq4jKErDBh
— Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) August 26, 2021
Next, the president was asked by Fox News’ Peter Doocy if he bears “any responsibility for the way that things have unfolded in the last two weeks?”
He replied by saying yes but then basically blaming former President Donald Trump yet again.
“I bare responsibility for fundamentally all that’s happened of late. But here’s the deal … The former president made a deal with the Taliban that he would get all American forces out of Afghanistan by May 1. In return, the commitment was made,” he said.
FYI, Biden broke the commitment by delaying the withdrawal by months.
BIDEN: “I bear responsibility for, fundamentally, all that’s happened as of late.”
*then blames Trump* pic.twitter.com/t7zJfNDMoP
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) August 26, 2021
Doocy then asked whether the president stands by all his decisions. He said yes.
“Yes I do, because … I’d have only one alternative, pour thousands of more troops back into Afghanistan to fight a war that we had already won relative to why the reason we went in the first place,” he said.
“I have never been of the view that we should be sacrificing American lives to try to establish a democratic government in Afghanistan, a country that has never once in its entire history been a united country,” he added.
Pres. Biden: “I have never been of the view that we should be sacrificing American lives to try to establish a democratic government in Afghanistan—a country that has never once in its entire history been a united country.” https://t.co/aVzjnzGos5 pic.twitter.com/NYBMbvjeEq
— ABC News (@ABC) August 26, 2021
So, instead, it appears he chose to sacrifice over a dozen lives for the alternative “mission” of hastily withdrawing from Afghanistan via what some say is the “most incompetent” operation in U.S. history …
This is what weakness looks like. pic.twitter.com/a7vqlqYUhU
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) August 26, 2021
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