Biden is slammed for now declaring Kabul ‘chaos’ was inevitable

BIDEN’S ‘BALD-FACED LIES’ OVER AFGHANISTAN WITHDRAWAL

President Biden claimed in his interview on August 18 that chaos in Kabul was inevitable, but just six weeks ago at a White House briefing he said the Taliban takeover was ‘NOT inevitable’.

On the Taliban 

July 8: ‘The likelihood there’s going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely… it is not inevitable’. 

August 18: ‘The idea that somehow, there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens.’ 

On the Afghan army

July 8: ‘I trust the capacity of the Afghan military, who more competent [than the Taliban] in terms of conducting war.’

August 18: ‘When you saw the significant collapse of the Afghan troops we had trained, that was — you know I’m not — that’s what happened.’ 

The Taliban swept to power in Afghanistan in less than two weeks after they took their first provincial capital.

On the evacuation 

July 8: ‘Our military mission in Afghanistan will conclude on August 31st. The drawdown is proceeding in a secure and orderly way’

August 18: ‘Americans should understand that we’re going to try to get [the evacuation] done before August 31.’ 

There are still around 15,000 Americans and allied citizens stranded in Afghanistan, with the Taliban deciding who can and can’t reach the airport. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said: We don’t have the capability to go out and collect up large numbers of people.’

On the Embassy

July 8: ‘There’s going to be no circumstance when you’re going to see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy. It’s not at all comparable [with Saigon].’ 

The US embassy was closed on Sunday, August 15 with staff and the US flag hastily evacuated by chinook helicopter from the roof.

On the Afghan government

July 8: ‘The Afghan leadership has the capacity to sustain the government in place.’   

August 18: ‘You had the government of Afghanistan, the leader of that government, get in a plane and taking off and going to another country.’ 

On Afghan translators

July 8: We can guarantee their safety.’

August 18: The Taliban control the area around Kabul airport and have shot and beaten crowds of people trying to get through for evacuation. 

Ex-US soldiers have said the lives of Afghans who helped the US are in grave danger and will likely be executed.

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President Biden has been slammed for the ‘bald-faced lie’ that chaos in Kabul during the final stages of the US withdrawal was inevitable after saying for months it was not. 

The President’s performance was blasted from all arenas with Republicans and Democrats branding Biden ‘shameful’ and calling for him to ‘take responsibility’ for the the scenes of violence and disorder in recent days as thousands attempted to flee while the Taliban advanced.

Biden was criticized for having ‘no urgency’ in tackling the crisis, while others said the President was ‘impotent’ and ‘dishonest’ after his interview with ABC News on Wednesday. 

In the interview with George Stephanopoulos Biden expressed disbelief there was ‘a way to have gotten out with chaos’ and said he did not think the withdrawal could have been handled without mistakes. He said: ‘The idea that somehow, there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens’.

However, just six weeks ago at a White House briefing on July 8, Biden said the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan was ‘not inevitable’. 

He said then the drawdown was ‘proceeding in a secure and orderly way’.  

At the time he also said he trusted the Afghan military because they were ‘more competent in terms of conducting war’ than the Taliban and at the same time denied claims the intelligence community expected the Afghan government to collapse.  

‘I want to make clear that we won’t just walk away and not sustain their ability to maintain a force’, he added on July 8.  

However in last night’s ABC interview Biden appeared pleasantly surprised the Taliban were letting the US evacuate Americans from Afghanistan without issue, but said his administration was having ‘more difficulty’ evacuating Afghanis who helped the US military and now have Taliban targets on their backs. 

In another bizarre denial Biden brushed off harrowing images of two Afghans falling to their deaths after clinging to the wheels of a US evacuation flight, saying they were from ‘four days ago, five days ago’. 

Biden snapped back at Stephanopoulos when he was questioned about footage of two Afghans falling to their deaths after clinging to the wheels of a US evacuation flight from Kabul on Monday, brushing off the harrowing images because they were ‘four days ago, five days ago’. 

The President also insisted he had been told by intelligence officials Kabul would likely withstand the Taliban until at least the end of 2021 – instead of the 10 days it took.  

It was the president’s first time taking any questioning from the press amid fresh scrutiny of his Afghanistan withdrawal strategy with the fall of Kabul and his remarks were met with strong criticism.  

Nikki Haley, Donald Trump’s ambassador to the UN, branded the president’s comments ‘shameful’ and ‘a slap in the face to the thousands of Americans still in Afghanistan’. She blasted Biden for having ‘no urgency’ and failing to ‘take responsibility’ for his chaotic foreign policy. 

Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, who has long argued against withdrawing troops, termed Biden ‘ignorant’ while Arkansas GOP Rep. Tom Cotton blasted the President as ‘dishonest’ and ‘impotent’ and said the claim chaos was inevitable was ‘a bald-faced lie’. 

On Wednesday the US military evacuated approximately 1,800 individuals on ten C-17s. Since August 14, nearly 6,000 people have been taken out of Kabul. Biden told ABC News said he wants to rescue 15,000 Americans, and up to 65,000 Afghan refugees who helped the US military operation. 

Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal fiasco worsened as:

  • The US State Department told all 11,000 Americans still in Afghanistan to make their way towards Kabul’s Hamid Karzai Airport to be flown home;
  • Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin admitted that the US military could not escort anyone to the airport, amid fears Taliban fighters could kidnap and kill Americans seeking to flee the crumbling country;
  • At a separate briefing, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Ruth Helam claimed she’d heard it was safe on the ground for Americans, and that the Taliban had made a ‘solid commitment’ to allow Americans safe passage;
  • Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley also insisted there was ‘nothing’ US defense officials had seen that indicated Kabul would fall back into the hands of the Taliban in such a short space of time;
  • Milley claimed intelligence staff had predicted the Afghan capital could last weeks, months or even years thanks to the US-trained Afghan army, which surrendered to Taliban fighters with minimal resistance;
  • Seeking to blame the Afghans for their defeat, Milley said: ‘This comes down to an issue of will and leadership. And no, I did not, nor did anyone else, see a collapse of an army of that size in 11 days.’

General Mark Milley claims ‘there’s nothing I or anyone else saw that indicated a collapse of the Afghan government in 11 days’: Blames intelligence services 

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said Wednesday there was ‘nothing’ defense officials saw that would indicate Kabul would fall to the Taliban in such a short time. 

‘Intelligence clearly indicated multiple scenarios,’ Milley said, adding that some estimates predicted a matter of weeks, months or years before the Taliban would take control of the nation’s capital. 

‘There’s nothing that I or anyone saw indicated a collapse of this army and this government in 11 days,’ Milley added, further reflecting the Biden administration’s frustration with Afghan security forces they believe were unwilling to fight. 

‘This comes down to an issue of will and leadership. And no, I did not, nor did anyone else, see a collapse of an army of that size in 11 days,’ Milley underscored again. 

‘They had the training, the size, the capability to defend their country,’ the Joint Chiefs chair said. 

Milley said ‘this is personal’ for him and Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin, and they remain ‘laser focused’ on securing the airfield at Hamid Karzai International airport in Kabul to get Americans and allies out of the country.

Milley and Austin gave their first joint presser following the recent chaos unfolding in Afghanistan hours after they went to the White House to brief President Biden. 

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Biden, in the ABC interview, claimed the exit could not have been handled any better, and said he didn’t know how to exit without chaos ensuing. 

‘So you don’t think this could have been handled – this exit could have been handled better in any way, no mistakes?’ Stephanopoulos questioned.  

‘No, I don’t think it could have been handled in a way that, we’re gonna go back in hindsight and look – but the idea that somehow, there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens. I don’t know how that happened,’ Biden replied. 

The president again laid blame on Afghan security forces for the astonishingly rapid fall of Kabul. 

‘When you had the government of Afghanistan, the leader of that government, get in a plane and taking off and going to another country; when you saw the significant collapse of the Afghan troops we had trained, up to 300,000 of them, just leaving their equipment and taking off – that was, you know, I’m not, that’s what happened. That’s simply what happened’, he said.  

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled his country on Sunday – reportedly with $169 million in cash – as the Taliban encroached on Kabul. Ghani, who confirmed he was in the United Arab Emirates, said he was in ‘consultation’ to return to Afghanistan and had only fled to avoid more bloodshed.

But Iowa congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks criticized the White House’s lack of planning as ‘unacceptable’.

‘This statement downplaying his administrations lack of planning, speaks volumes to their lack of commitment to the safety of our American troops and Afghan allies’, she said. 

Biden was also blasted by National Review Institute fellow John McCormack, who said it was not clear ‘what the plan is’ to get American citizens stuck in Afghanistan home. 

‘Biden waited more than 72 hours since Kabul fell to commit to bringing home every American citizen stuck in Afghanistan. In the interim, top admin officials hedged. Still not clear what the plan is to accomplish this goal’, he said.  

While Trump’s former senior counselor Kellyanne Conway shared a Fox News article titled: ‘Biden panned for ‘shameful’ comments on Afghan withdrawal during ABC interview: ‘It’s really bad’.’ 

And Donald Trump Jr criticized Biden’s press conference on Wednesday, during which he spoke about Covid, and refused to take questions.

‘10,000 Americans or more are stranded in Afghanistan, trapped by a terrorist organization, and our president is too much of a coward to take a single question from the media. #CowardInChief,’ he said. 

Meanwhile Washington Examiner journalist Jerry Dunleavy blasted Biden for brushing off harrowing footage of two Afghans falling to their deaths after clinging to the wheels of a US evacuation flight.

‘This has the same sort of negative vibe as “what difference, at this point, does it make?”‘, he wrote alongside Biden’s quotes. 

Defense Editor of The Economist Shashank Joshi slammed Biden as ‘tone-deaf, callous, pathetic’ while Conservative columnist Meghan McCain and Managing Editor of Conservative news site the Daily Wire Emily Zanotti both scathingly pointed out the footage came from Monday morning – only two days before the car-crash interview. 

CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale tweeted the footage was filmed only 72 hours before the interview. He said: ‘Asked by ABC about images of a plane packed with Afghans and of people falling from a plane, Biden interjected, wrongly, “That was 4 days ago, 5 days ago.” They were taken less than 72 hours ago. 

‘(Pressed, he said he’d thought “we have to gain control of this,” move faster.)’

Josh Jordan described Biden’s gaffe and his claim the withdrawal could not have been handled better as being ‘as bad as it gets’. And founder of conservative magazine and podcast The Federalist Sean Davis tweeted simply ‘two days ago. It was 

Defense Sec. Austin says US does NOT have the capability to retrieve Americans in Afghanistan and tells all Americans to get to Kabul airport NOW to be extricated

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said the US does not have the capability to retrieve Americans in Afghanistan and asked remaining citizens to travel to Kabul airport.  

Austin confirmed on Wednesday that troops would not go to collect anyone, saying: ‘We don’t have the capability to go out and collect up large numbers of people.’

On Wednesday afternoon, the State Department updated its guidance to tell all remaining US citizens to make their way to the airport but it couldn’t guarantee anyone’s safety on the journey. 

There are still some 11,000 Americans in Afghanistan waiting to be flown home. Some are at the airport but some are too afraid to make their way there through Taliban-controlled streets. Some say they have tried and have been turned away at checkpoints. 

There are also tens of thousands of Afghan nationals desperate to get out but who do not want to present themselves to the terrorists they worked against for years.  The only way anyone in Kabul can get to the airport is if the Taliban lets them through.    

 

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At another point in the interview, Biden snapped when asked about horrific images of Afghans falling from planes.

‘That was four days ago, five days ago,’ he said even though the images of people falling to their deaths emerged on Monday.

‘What did you think when you first saw those pictures?’ Stephanopoulos asked. 

‘What I thought was, we have to gain control of this. We have to move this more quickly. We have to move in a way in which we can take control of that airport. And we did,’ Biden said.

Ric Grenell, who served as Trump’s ambassador to Germany, said: Why did @GStephanopoulos let him lie about this? @Abc has some explaining to do. This was an exclusive and that means they have a responsibility.’

The Massachusetts Republican Party account tweeted: ‘If #Biden actually had a plan, Afghans wouldn’t have been falling out of the sky over #Kabul. Disgraceful!’ 

On social media, images of chaos at Kabul airport were widely shared. Pro-life activist Lila Rose tweeted: ‘Unreal. Shame on the @JoeBiden administration for this mess’. 

Sharing the clip of desperate Afghans running alongside a US Air Force plane, trying to climb aboard, David Patrikarakos tweeted: ‘This footage will still be played in 100 years. It now joins images of the retreat from Saigon and the naked Vietnamese girl as one of the west’s most shameful moments in modern history.’

And in a second excerpt shared ahead of the chat, Biden also insisted he’d been told by his intelligence officials that Kabul would likely withstand the Taliban until the end of 2021 – instead of the mere days it took. 

‘There was no consensus if you go back and look at intelligence reports,’ the president said when asked if there had been intelligence failings. ‘They said that it’s more likely to be some time by the end of the year.’

Defending his decision to withdraw, Biden added: ‘Look, it was a simple choice, George…

‘When you had the government of Afghanistan, the leader of that government, get in a plane and taking off and going to another country; when you saw the significant collapse of the Afghan troops we had trained, up to 300,000 of them, just leaving their equipment and taking off – that was, you know, I’m not, that’s what happened. That’s simply what happened.’

Two people are seen falling from a U.S. Air Force plane on Monday, having tried to jump on board as it was taxiing away from Kabul airport

Two people are seen falling from a U.S. Air Force plane on Monday, having tried to jump on board as it was taxiing away from Kabul airport

Two people are seen falling from a U.S. Air Force plane on Monday, having tried to jump on board as it was taxiing away from Kabul airport

The president also sought to scotch rumors that the US is planning to withdraw all troops aiding its rescue mission in just days, amid reports the UK is concerned about a sudden departure after being kept in the dark by its closest ally.

Biden said: ‘If there’s American citizens left, we’re going to stay to get them all out 

”So Americans should understand that troops might have to be there beyond Aug. 31?’ Stephanopoulos then asked.

‘No,’ Biden answered. ‘Americans should understand that we’re going to try to get it done before Aug. 31.’ But he then said, ‘If we don’t, we’ll determine at the time who’s left.’ 

Even normally favorable media pundits attacked Biden’s remarks.

Afghan football player, 19, who died trying to cling to landing gear of US evacuation flight 

A former Afghan national youth team footballer died when he became trapped in the landing gear of a US evacuation flight in a desperate attempt to flee the Taliban, it emerged today.

The remains of Zaki Anwari, 19, were discovered in the wheel well of a US C-17 transport aircraft when it arrived in Qatar on Monday.   

The athlete is believed to be among several people who died after clinging to the jet as it took off from Kabul airport, with harrowing video showing bodies tumbling to the ground as the plane climbed into the sky. 

Mr Anwari’s death was confirmed today by the General Directorate of Physical Education & Sports of Afghanistan, according to Ariana News.

The promising footballer had rushed to the airport hours after Kabul fell to the Taliban, pouring onto the runway in utter desperation and running after the USAF jet.

In his last Facebook post, the talented young player said: ‘You’re the painter of your life. Don’t give the paint brush to anyone else!’ 

He lived in Kabul and had attended the Franco-Afghan Esteghlal High School, one of the oldest and most prestigious schools in the country. 

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CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer tweeted: ‘President @JoeBiden now says he doesn’t know how the U.S. could have withdrawn from Afghanistan “without chaos ensuing.” 

‘But on July 8th, he said “the likelihood there’s going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely.”‘

Glenn Kessler, editor of the Washington Post’s fact checking site, tweeted: ‘Biden, today: “The idea that somehow, there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens.” Reporter to Biden, July 8: “Your own intelligence community has assessed that the Afghan government will likely collapse.” Biden: “That is not true.”‘

And Piers Morgan, Editor at Large of DailyMail.com, said: ‘Biden’s failure to even admit to his catastrophic mistake, when the whole world has watched the disaster unfurl on live TV, is both breathtakingly arrogant & disturbingly delusional. He either doesn’t care or is in denial.’

Biden has avoided taking questions on the Afghanistan crisis for more than a week. The White House has been on the defensive for weeks as Taliban fighters raced across the country. 

And officials have struggled to explain how they failed to forecast the rapid fall of Kabul and to account for chaotic scenes at the city’s airport as the embassy was evacuated. 

Scenes of civilians swamping planes on the runway at the Kabul airport, desperate for escape, have triggered bipartisan criticism that the Biden administration should have been better prepared.  

‘What did you think when you first saw those pictures?’ Stephanopoulos asked.

‘What I thought was, we have to gain control of this,’ said Biden. ‘We have to move this more quickly. We have to move in a way in which we can take control of that airport. And we did.’  

By late Tuesday, US officials said they had rescued 3,200 people from Afghanistan, including all embassy personnel, except for a core group of diplomats who remained at Kabul airport. 

But commanders admit they are unable to leave Hamid Karzai International Airport to help other Americans – and their Afghan allies – to safety. 

Biden answered questions about his Afghan withdrawal for the first time in more than a week during an interview with George Stephanopoulos for ABC News

Biden answered questions about his Afghan withdrawal for the first time in more than a week during an interview with George Stephanopoulos for ABC News

Biden answered questions about his Afghan withdrawal for the first time in more than a week during an interview with George Stephanopoulos for ABC News

'I had a simple choice. If I said, 'we're gonna stay,' then we'd better be prepared to put a whole lot hell of a lot more troops in,' Biden said, noting he was bound by Trump's February 2020 peace deal

'I had a simple choice. If I said, 'we're gonna stay,' then we'd better be prepared to put a whole lot hell of a lot more troops in,' Biden said, noting he was bound by Trump's February 2020 peace deal

‘I had a simple choice. If I said, ‘we’re gonna stay,’ then we’d better be prepared to put a whole lot hell of a lot more troops in,’ Biden said, noting he was bound by Trump’s February 2020 peace deal 








The world watched in horror as desperate Afghans ran alongside departing U.S. Air Force planes. Some tried to cling to the undercarriage as they sought to escape the Taliban

The world watched in horror as desperate Afghans ran alongside departing U.S. Air Force planes. Some tried to cling to the undercarriage as they sought to escape the Taliban

The world watched in horror as desperate Afghans ran alongside departing U.S. Air Force planes. Some tried to cling to the undercarriage as they sought to escape the Taliban

Some of the lucky ones managed to rush aboard a C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft. The crew decided to fly them to Qatar and safety despite having some 640 people aboard

Some of the lucky ones managed to rush aboard a C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft. The crew decided to fly them to Qatar and safety despite having some 640 people aboard

Some of the lucky ones managed to rush aboard a C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft. The crew decided to fly them to Qatar and safety despite having some 640 people aboard

Increasingly frantic Western expats say they can’t reach evacuation flights as desperate Afghans pass their children over the airport wall

Ex-pats and western visa holders can’t get ‘anywhere near’ Kabul airport today because ‘huge crowds’ of ‘terrified locals’ are blocking the way, MailOnline has been told, as images of desperate Afghans pass their children over the airport wall emerge. 

Videos captured snapshots of the chaos as gunmen fired shots over the heads of panicked crowds while hitting people with rifles – as those on the ground said Taliban fighters were dishing out beating and lashings seemingly at random, with people being trampled and crushed in the throng.  

An Afghan-Australian trying to leave the country also told the ABC that it is ‘not possible’ to get to the airport today because there is ‘lots of firing’ and ‘too many people’.

But it is not clear what, if anything, western troops can do to help. There are around 6,000 American and 900 British soldiers at the airport but their jurisdiction only extends up to the perimeter wall. Beyond that, the Taliban is in charge.

 

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Biden seemed pleasantly surprised the Taliban were letting the US evacuate Americans from Afghanistan without issue, but said his administration was having ‘more difficulty’ evacuating Afghanis who helped the US military and now have Taliban targets on their backs. 

‘One of the things we didn’t know is what the Taliban would do in terms of trying to keep people from getting out. What they would do. What are they doing now?

‘They’re cooperating, letting American citizens get out, American personnel get out, embassies get out, et cetera, but they’re having – we’re having some more difficulty having those who helped us when we were in there,’ the president said.   

Biden noted that violent conflict in Afghanistan had paused in recent months only due to a peace deal signed under President Trump that promised US withdrawal. 

‘I had a simple choice. If I said, ‘we’re gonna stay,’ then we’d better be prepared to put a whole lot hell of a lot more troops in,’ he concluded. 

Dealing with the Taliban was an unpredictable business, he added. 

‘Look, one of the things we didn’t know is what the Taliban would do in terms of trying to keep people from getting out. What they would do,’ he said.

‘What are they doing now? They’re cooperating, letting American citizens get out, American personnel get out, embassies get out, et cetera, but they’re having – we’re having some more difficulty having those who helped us when we were in there.’

A month ago, Biden told reporters at the White House that the Afghan army was better equipped and more numerous than the Taliban. A Kabul takeover was ‘not inevitable’ and he scoffed at the idea that it would prove to be his fall of Saigon moment.

Those words have been used against him by Republicans and Democrats who say they suggest an epic failure of intelligence or decision-making. 

Security experts told DailyMail.com that abandoning Bagram air base last month deprived military planners of a crucial evacuation hub, suggesting the absence of a proper plan to rescue Americans in the worst case scenario.

As a result diplomats, foreign citizens and Afghans trying to flee face crowds and Taliban checkpoints on the way to Kabul airport. Biden said the only failure was the failure of Afghan leadership. 

READ THE FULL TRANSCRIPT OF BIDEN’S AFGHANISTAN INTERVIEW WITH GOOD MORNING AMERICA

On Thursday morning, ABC released the full transcript of President Biden’s Good Morning America interview with George Stephanopoulos.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. President, thank you for doing this.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Thank you for doin’ it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s get right to it. Back in July, you said a Taliban takeover was highly unlikely. Was the intelligence wrong, or did you downplay it?

BIDEN: I think — there was no consensus. If you go back and look at the intelligence reports, they said that it’s more likely to be sometime by the end of the year. The idea that the tal — and then it goes further on, even as late as August. I think you’re gonna see — the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and others speaking about this later today.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you didn’t put a timeline on it when you said it was highly unlikely. You just said flat out, ‘It’s highly unlikely the Taliban would take over.’

BIDEN: Yeah. Well, the question was whether or not it w– the idea that the Taliban would take over was premised on the notion that the — that somehow, the 300,000 troops we had trained and equipped was gonna just collapse, they were gonna give up. I don’t think anybody anticipated that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you know that Senator McConnell, others say this was not only predictable, it was predicted, including by him, based on intelligence briefings he was getting.

BIDEN: What — what did he say was predicted?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator McConnell said it was predictable that the Taliban was gonna take over.

BIDEN: Well, by the end of the year, I said that’s that was — that was a real possibility. But no one said it was gonna take over then when it was bein’ asked.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So when you look at what’s happened over the last week, was it a failure of intelligence, planning, execution or judgment?

BIDEN: Look, I don’t think it was a fa– look, it was a simple choice, George. When the– when the Taliban — let me back — put it another way. When you had the government of Afghanistan, the leader of that government get in a plane and taking off and going to another country, when you saw the significant collapse of the ta– of the– Afghan troops we had trained — up to 300,000 of them just leaving their equipment and taking off, that was — you know, I’m not– this — that — that’s what happened.

That’s simply what happened. So the question was in the beginning the– the threshold question was, do we commit to leave within the timeframe we’ve set? We extended it to September 1st. Or do we put significantly more troops in? I hear people say, ‘Well, you had 2,500 folks in there and nothin’ was happening. You know, there wasn’t any war.’

But guess what? The fact was that the reason it wasn’t happening is the last president negotiated a year earlier that he’d be out by May 1st and that– in return, there’d be no attack on American forces. That’s what was done. That’s why nothing was happening. But the idea if I had said — I had a simple choice. If I had said, ‘We’re gonna stay,’ then we’d better prepare to put a whole hell of a lot more troops in —

President Joe Biden speaks with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, Aug. 18, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But your top military advisors warned against withdrawing on this timeline. They wanted you to keep about 2,500 troops.

BIDEN: No, they didn’t. It was split. Tha– that wasn’t true. That wasn’t true.

STEPHANOPOULOS: They didn’t tell you that they wanted troops to stay?

BIDEN: No. Not at — not in terms of whether we were going to get out in a timeframe all troops. They didn’t argue against that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So no one told — your military advisors did not tell you, ‘No, we should just keep 2,500 troops. It’s been a stable situation for the last several years. We can do that. We can continue to do that’?

BIDEN: No. No one said that to me that I can recall. Look, George, the reason why it’s been stable for a year is because the last president said, ‘We’re leaving. And here’s the deal I wanna make with you, Taliban. We’re agreeing to leave if you agree not to attack us between now and the time we leave on May the 1st.’

I got into office, George. Less than two months after I elected to office, I was sworn in, all of a sudden, I have a May 1 deadline. I have a May 1 deadline. I got one of two choices. Do I say we’re staying? And do you think we would not have to put a hell of a lot more troops? B– you know, we had hundreds– we had tens of thousands of troops there before. Tens of thousands.

Do you think we woulda — that we would’ve just said, ‘No problem. Don’t worry about it, we’re not gonna attack anybody. We’re okay’? In the meantime, the Taliban was takin’ territory all throughout the country in the north and down in the south, in the Pasthtun area.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So would you have withdrawn troops like this even if President Trump had not made that deal with the Taliban?

BIDEN: I would’ve tried to figure out how to withdraw those troops, yes, because look, George. There is no good time to leave Afghanistan. Fifteen years ago would’ve been a problem, 15 years from now. The basic choice is am I gonna send your sons and your daughters to war in Afghanistan in perpetuity?

STEPHANOPOULOS: That’s–

BIDEN: No one can name for me a time when this would end. And what– wha– wha– what– what constitutes defeat of the Taliban? What constitutes defeat? Would we have left then? Let’s say they surrender like before. OK. Do we leave then? Do you think anybody– the same people who think we should stay would’ve said, ‘No, good time to go’? We spent over $1 trillion, George, 20 years. There was no good time to leave.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But if there’s no good time, if you know you’re gonna have to leave eventually, why not have th– everything in place to make sure Americans could get out, to make sure our Afghan allies get out, so we don’t have these chaotic scenes in Kabul?

BIDEN: Number one, as you know, the intelligence community did not say back in June or July that, in fact, this was gonna collapse like it did. Number one.

STEPHANOPOULOS: They thought the Taliban would take over, but not this quickly?

BIDEN: But not this quickly. Not even close. We had already issued several thousand passports to the– the SIVs, the people– the– the– the translators when I came into office before we had negotiated getting out at the end of s– August.

Secondly, we’re in a position where what we did was took precautions. That’s why I authorized that there be 6,000 American troops to flow in to accommodate this exit, number one. And number two, provided all that aircraft in the Gulf to get people out. We pre-positioned all that, anticipated that. Now, granted, it took two days to take control of the airport. We have control of the airport now.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Still a lotta pandemonium outside the airport.

BIDEN: Oh, there is. But, look, b– but no one’s being killed right now, God forgive me if I’m wrong about that, but no one’s being killed right now. People are– we got 1,000-somewhat, 1,200 out, yesterday, a couple thousand today. And it’s increasing. We’re gonna get those people out.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But we’ve all seen the pictures. We’ve seen those hundreds of people packed into a C-17. You’ve seen Afghans falling–

BIDEN: That was four days ago, five days ago.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What did you think when you first saw those pictures?

BIDEN: What I thought was we ha– we have to gain control of this. We have to move this more quickly. We have to move in a way in which we can take control of that airport. And we did.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I– I think a lot of– a lot of Americans, and a l– even a lot of veterans who served in Afghanistan agree with you on the big, strategic picture. They believe we had to get out. But I wonder how you respond to an Army Special Forces officer, Javier McKay (PH). He did seven tours. He was shot twice. He agrees with you. He says, ‘We have to cut our losses in Afghanistan.’ But he adds, ‘I just wish we could’ve left with honor.’

BIDEN: Look, that’s like askin’ my deceased son Beau, who spent six months in Kosovo and a year in Iraq as a Navy captain and then major– I mean, as an Army major. And, you know, I’m sure h– he had regrets comin’ out of Afganista– I mean, out of Iraq.

He had regrets to what’s– how– how it’s going. But the idea– what’s the alternative? The alternative is why are we staying in Afghanistan? Why are we there? Don’t you think that the one– you know who’s most disappointed in us getting out? Russia and China. They’d love us to continue to have to–

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you don’t think this could’ve been handled, this exit could’ve been handled better in any way? No mistakes?

BIDEN: No. I– I don’t think it could’ve been handled in a way that there– we– we’re gonna go back in hindsight and look, but the idea that somehow there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens. I don’t know how that happened.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So for you, that was always priced into the decision?

BIDEN: Yes. Now, exactly what happened– is not priced in. But I knew that they’re gonna have an enormous, enorm– look, one of the things we didn’t know is what the Taliban would do in terms of trying to keep people from getting out, what they would do.What are they doing now? They’re cooperating, letting American citizens get out, American personnel get out, embassies get out, et cetera. But they’re having– we’re having some more difficulty in having those who helped us when we were in there–

STEPHANOPOULOS: And we don’t really know what’s happening outside of Kabul.

BIDEN: Pardon me?

STEPHANOPOULOS: We don’t really know what’s happening outside of Kabul.

BIDEN: Well– we do know generically and in some specificity what’s happening outside of Kabul. We don’t know it in great detail. But we do know. And guess what? The Taliban knows if they take on American citizens or American military, we will strike them back like hell won’t have it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: All troops are supposed to be out by August 31st. Even if Americans and our Afghan allies are still trying to get out, they’re gonna leave?

BIDEN: We’re gonna do everything in our power to get all Americans out and our allies out.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Does that mean troops will stay beyond August 31st if necessary?

BIDEN: It depends on where we are and whether we can get– ramp these numbers up to 5,000 to 7,000 a day coming out. If that’s the case, we’ll be– they’ll all be out.

STEPHANOPOULOS: ‘Cause we’ve got, like, 10,000 to 15,000 Americans in the country right now, right? And are you committed to making sure that the troops stay until every American who wants to be out–

BIDEN: Yes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: — is out?

BIDEN: Yes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How about our Afghan allies? We have about 80,000 people–

BIDEN: Well, that’s not the s–

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is that too high?

BIDEN: That’s too high.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How many–

BIDEN: The estimate we’re giving is somewhere between 50,000 and 65,000 folks total, counting their families.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Does the commitment hold for them as well?

BIDEN: The commitment holds to get everyone out that, in fact, we can get out and everyone that should come out. And that’s the objective. That’s what we’re doing now, that’s the path we’re on. And I think we’ll get there.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So Americans should understand that troops might have to be there beyond August 31st?

BIDEN: No. Americans should understand that we’re gonna try to get it done before August 31st.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But if we don’t, the troops will stay–

BIDEN: If — if we don’t, we’ll determine at the time who’s left.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And?

BIDEN: And if you’re American force — if there’s American citizens left, we’re gonna stay to get them all out.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You talked about our adversaries, China and Russia. You already see China telling Taiwan, ‘See? You can’t count on the Americans.’ (LAUGH)

BIDEN: Sh– why wouldn’t China say that? Look, George, the idea that w– there’s a fundamental difference between– between Taiwan, South Korea, NATO. We are in a situation where they are in– entities we’ve made agreements with based on not a civil war they’re having on that island or in South Korea, but on an agreement where they have a unity government that, in fact, is trying to keep bad guys from doin’ bad things to them.

We have made– kept every commitment. We made a sacred commitment to Article Five that if in fact anyone were to invade or take action against our NATO allies, we would respond. Same with Japan, same with South Korea, same with– Taiwan. It’s not even comparable to talk about that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah, but those–

BIDEN: It’s not comparable to t–

STEPHANOPOULOS: –who say, ‘Look, America cannot be trusted now, America does not keep its promises–‘

BIDEN: Who– who’s gonna say that? Look, before I made this decision, I met with all our allies, our NATO allies in Europe. They agreed. We should be getting out.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Did they have a choice?

BIDEN: Sure, they had a choice. Look, the one thing I promise you in private, NATO allies are not quiet. You remember from your old days. They’re not gonna be quiet. And so– and by the way, you know, what we’re gonna be doing is we’re gonna be putting together a group of the G-7, the folks that we work with the most– to– I was on the phone with– with Angela Merkel today. I was on the phone with the British prime minister. I’m gonna be talking to Macron in France to make sure we have a coherent view of how we’re gonna deal from this point on.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What happens now in Afghanistan? Do you believe the Taliban have changed?

BIDEN: No. I think– let me put it this way. I think they’re going through sort of an existential crisis about do they want to be recognized by the international community as being a legitimate government. I’m not sure they do. But look, they have–

STEPHANOPOULOS: They care about their beliefs more?

BIDEN: Well, they do. But they also care about whether they have food to eat, whether they have an income that they can provide for their f– that they can make any money and run an economy. They care about whether or not they can hold together the society that they in fact say they care so much about.

I’m not counting on any of that. I’m not cou– but that is part of what I think is going on right now in terms of I– I’m not sure I would’ve predicted, George, nor would you or anyone else, that when we decided to leave, that they’d provide safe passage for Americans to get out.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Beyond Americans, what do we owe the Afghans who are left behind, particularly Afghan women who are facing the prospect of subjugation again?

BIDEN: As many as we can get out, we should. For example, I had a meeting today for a couple hours in the Situation Room just below here. There are Afghan women outside the gate. I told ’em, ‘Get ’em on the planes. Get them out. Get them out. Get their families out if you can.’

But here’s the deal, George. The idea that we’re able to deal with the rights of women around the world by military force is not rational. Not rational. Look what’s happened to the Uighurs in western China. Look what’s happening in other parts of the world.

Look what’s happenin’ in, you know, in– in the Congo. I mean, there are a lotta places where women are being subjugated. The way to deal with that is not with a military invasion. The way to deal with that is putting economic, diplomatic, and national pre– international pressure on them to change their behavior.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How about the threat to the United States? Most intelligence analysis has predicted that Al Qaeda would come back 18 to 24 months after a withdrawal of American troops. Is that analysis now being revised? Could it be sooner?

BIDEN: It could be. But George, look, here’s the deal. Al Qaeda, ISIS, they metastasize. There’s a significantly greater threat to the United States from Syria. There’s a significantly greater threat from East Africa. There’s significant greater threat to other places in the world than it is from the mountains of Afghanistan. And we have maintained the ability to have an over-the-horizon capability to take them out. We’re– we don’t have military in Syria to make sure that we’re gonna be protected–

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you’re confident we’re gonna have that in Afghanistan?

BIDEN: Yeah. I’m confident we’re gonna have the overriding capability, yes. Look, George, it’s like asking me, you know, am I confident that people are gonna act even remotely rationally. Here’s the deal. The deal is the threat from Al Qaeda and their associate organizations is greater in other parts of the world to the United States than it is from Afghanistan.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And th– that tells you that you’re– it’s safe to leave?

BIDEN: No. That tells me that– my dad used to have an expression, George. If everything’s equally important to you, nothing’s important to you. We should be focusing on where the threat is the greatest. And the threat– the idea– we can continue to spend $1 trillion and have tens of thousands of American forces in Afghanistan when we have what’s going on around the world, in the Middle East and North Africa and west– I mean, excuse me– yeah, North Africa and Western Africa. The idea we can do that and ignore those– those looming problems, growing problems, is not– not rational.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Final question on this. You know, in a couple weeks, we’re all gonna commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11. The Taliban are gonna be ruling Afghanistan, just l– like they were when our country was attacked. How do you explain that to the American people?

BIDEN: Not true. It’s not true. They’re not gonna look just like they were we were attacked. There was a guy named Osama bin Laden that was still alive and well. They were organized in a big way, that they had significant help from arou– from other parts of the world.

We went there for two reasons, George. Two reasons. One, to get Bin Laden, and two, to wipe out as best we could, and we did, the Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. We did it. Then what happened? Began to morph into the notion that, instead of having a counterterrorism capability to have small forces there in– or in the region to be able to take on Al Qaeda if it tried to reconstitute, we decided to engage in nation building. In nation building. That never made any sense to me.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It sounds like you think we shoulda gotten out a long time ago–

BIDEN: We should’ve.

STEPHANOPOULOS: –and– and accept the idea that it was gonna be messy no matter what.

BIDEN: Well, by the– what would be messy?

STEPHANOPOULOS: The exit–

BIDEN: If we had gotten out a long time ago– getting out would be messy no matter when it occurred. I ask you, you want me to stay, you want us to stay and send your kids back to Afghanistan? How about it? Are you g– if you had a son or daughter, would you send them in Afghanistan now? Or later?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Would be hard, but a lot of families have done it.

BIDEN: They’ve done it because, in fact, there was a circumstance that was different when we started. We were there for two reasons, George. And we accomplished both ten years ago. We got Osama bin Laden. As I said and got criticized for saying at the time, we’re gonna follow him to the gates of hell. Hell, we did–

STEPHANOPOULOS: How will history judge the United States’ experience in Afghanistan?

BIDEN: One that we overextended what we needed to do to deal with our national interest. That’s like my sayin’ they– they’re– they– they b– b– the border of Tajikistan– and– other– what– does it matter? Are we gonna go to war because of what’s goin’ on in Tajikistan? What do you think?

Tell me what– where in that isolated country that has never, never, never in all of history been united, all the way back to Alexander the Great, straight through the British Empire and the Russians, what is the idea? Are we gonna s– continue to lose thousands of Americans to injury and death to try to unite that country? What do you think? I think not.

I think the American people are with me. And when you unite that country, what do you have? They’re surrounded by Russia in the north or the Stans in the north. You have– to the west, they have Iran. To the south, they have Pakistan, who’s supporting them. And to the– and– actually, the east, they have Pakistan and China. Tell me. Tell me. Is that worth our national interest to continue to spend another $1 trillion and lose thousands more American lives? For what?

STEPHANOPOULOS: I know we’re outta time. I have two quick questions on COVID. I know you’re gonna make– be makin’ an announcement on booster shots today. Have you and the first lady gotten your booster shots yet?

BIDEN: We’re gonna get the booster shots. And– it’s somethin’ that I think– you know, because we g– w– we got our shots all the way back in I think December. So it’s– it’s– it’s past time. And so the idea (NOISE) that the recommendation– that’s my wife calling. (LAUGH) No. (LAUGH) But all kiddin’ aside, yes, we will get the booster shots.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And– and finally– are you comfortable with Americans getting a third shot when so many millions around the world haven’t had their first?

BIDEN: Absolutely because we’re providing more to the rest of the world than all the rest of the world combined. We got enough for everybody American, plus before this year is– before we get to the middle of next year, we’re gonna provide a half a billion shots to the rest of the world. We’re keepin’ our part of the bargain. We’re doin’ more than anybody.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. President, thanks for your time.

BIDEN: Thank you.

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'So you don't think this could have been handled -- this exit could have been handled better in any way, no mistakes?' ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked the president

'So you don't think this could have been handled -- this exit could have been handled better in any way, no mistakes?' ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked the president

‘So you don’t think this could have been handled — this exit could have been handled better in any way, no mistakes?’ ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked the president

US Embassy personnel from Afghanistan boarding a Qatar Airways flight to Kuwait on Aug. 17

US Embassy personnel from Afghanistan boarding a Qatar Airways flight to Kuwait on Aug. 17

US Embassy personnel from Afghanistan boarding a Qatar Airways flight to Kuwait on Aug. 17

Taliban forces stand guard outside Hamid Karzai airport, where they are patrolling who is allowed to enter

Taliban forces stand guard outside Hamid Karzai airport, where they are patrolling who is allowed to enter

Taliban forces stand guard outside Hamid Karzai airport, where they are patrolling who is allowed to enter 

Biden has stood by his decision to bring troops home by Aug. 31. For now, they are there on humanitarian grounds to help Americans and allies to America evacuate

Biden has stood by his decision to bring troops home by Aug. 31. For now, they are there on humanitarian grounds to help Americans and allies to America evacuate

Biden has stood by his decision to bring troops home by Aug. 31. For now, they are there on humanitarian grounds to help Americans and allies to America evacuate

Critics expressed belief at the idea that chaos could not have been avoided after Biden defended his handling of the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan

Critics expressed belief at the idea that chaos could not have been avoided after Biden defended his handling of the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan

Critics expressed belief at the idea that chaos could not have been avoided after Biden defended his handling of the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan

Biden claims troops will STAY in Kabul past the August 31 deadline IF there are still American citizens to be evacuated but UK fears he could pull out in days 

President Joe Biden said when pressed Wednesday that US troops were ‘going to stay’ in Afghanistan until they get American citizens out, even if it means running through an August 31 deadline order.

He made the statement despite his own order that US troops will leave by an August 31 deadline, acknowledging the effort could run over if American citizens are still stuck in Afghanistan amid security and bureaucratic hurdles.      

‘We’ve got like 10 to 15,000 Americans in the country right now. Right? And are you committed to making sure that the troops stay until every American who wants to be out is out?’ George Stephanopoulos of ABC News asked Biden in an interview airing Wednesday and Thursday. 

‘Yes,’ Biden replied.

‘So Americans should understand that troops might have to be there beyond Aug. 31st?’ the Good Morning America host asked him.

‘No,’ Biden dodged. ‘Americans should understand that we’re going to try to get it done before Aug. 31st.’  

Stephanopoulos pressed him. ‘But if we don’t,’ Stephanopoulos said, ‘the troops will stay? he asked. 

‘If we don’t, we’ll determine at the time who’s left,’ Biden responded, prompting his interviewer to make one more stab at an answer.

‘And?’ Stephanopoulos asked him

‘And if you’re American force – if there’s American citizens left, we’re going to stay to get them all out,’ Biden responded.

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‘When you had the government of Afghanistan, the leader of that government, get in a plane and taking off and going to another country; when you saw the significant collapse of the Afghan troops we had trained, up to 300,000 of them, just leaving their equipment and taking off … that’s what happened,’ he said.

‘That’s simply what happened. 

‘And so the question was, in the beginning, the threshold question was, do we commit to leave within the timeframe we set, do we extend it to Sept. 1, or do we put significantly more troops in?’

And Biden again said his hands were tied by a deal he inherited from the Trump administration, committing the US to leave by May 1. 

‘I had a simple choice,’ he said. 

‘If I said, ‘we’re gonna stay,’ then we’d better be prepared to put a whole lot hell of a lot more troops in.’ 

Despite his protestations, Biden’s approval rating plunged to its lowest point this week. 

A Reuters/Ipsos poll taken on Monday, as those chaotic images were beamed around the world, found that only 46 percent of American voters supported Biden’s performance – a drop of seven points from the previous week. 

Biden was roundly criticized for staying at the presidential retreat of Camp David for the weekend rather than taking charge of the crisis from the White House situation room.

He returned briefly to Washington on Monday to deliver a speech again blaming Afghan leaders and former President Trump for the collapse of Afghanistan – but left minutes later to return to Camp David. 

On Tuesday, it emerged he had not telephoned any other world leaders as the Taliban advance unfolded and evacuations began. 

But by Wednesday he was back again at the White House, and had spoken with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. 

The White House said Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris discussed ways to accelerate the Kabul evacuation with his national security team on Wednesday.  

On Monday, Biden had defended his decision to bring home troops and put the spotlight on Afghanistan leadership. 

‘I stand squarely behind my decision,’ Biden said. ‘After 20 years I’ve learned the hard way. That there was never a good time to withdraw US forces. That’s why we’re still there. I am president of the United States of America,’ he said. ‘And the buck stops with me.’

But only up to a point. He said the blame for such a rapid disintegration lay not with him, but his predecessor as president and Afghanistan’s leaders.

‘The truth is – this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated,’ he said, his eyes narrow.

‘So what’s happened? Afghanistan’s political leaders gave up and fled the country. The Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight.’

Taliban fighters patrol Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in Kabul. The Taliban declared an 'amnesty' across Afghanistan and urged women to join their government Tuesday, seeking to convince a wary population that they have changed

Taliban fighters patrol Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in Kabul. The Taliban declared an 'amnesty' across Afghanistan and urged women to join their government Tuesday, seeking to convince a wary population that they have changed

Taliban fighters patrol Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in Kabul. The Taliban declared an ‘amnesty’ across Afghanistan and urged women to join their government Tuesday, seeking to convince a wary population that they have changed

Hundreds of people remain around Hamid Karzai Airport in Kabul complicating U.S. efforts to bring home nationals and rescue Afghan allies

Hundreds of people remain around Hamid Karzai Airport in Kabul complicating U.S. efforts to bring home nationals and rescue Afghan allies

Hundreds of people remain around Hamid Karzai Airport in Kabul complicating U.S. efforts to bring home nationals and rescue Afghan allies

Biden says US troops will STAY in Afghanistan past the August 31 deadline if there are still American citizens that need to be evacuated 

President Joe Biden said when pressed Wednesday that U.S. troops were ‘going to stay’ in Afghanistan until they get American citizens out, even if it means running through an August 31 deadline order.

He made the statement despite his own order that U.S. troops will leave by an August 31 deadline, acknowledging the effort could run over if American citizens are still stuck in Afghanistan amid security and bureaucratic hurdles.      

‘We’ve got like 10 to 15,000 Americans in the country right now. Right? And are you committed to making sure that the troops stay until every American who wants to be out is out?’ George Stephanopoulos of ABC News asked Biden in an interview airing Wednesday and Thursday. 

‘Yes,’ Biden replied.

‘So Americans should understand that troops might have to be there beyond Aug. 31st?’ the Good Morning America host asked him.

President Joe Biden said U.S. troops would remain in Afghanistan to get all U.S. citizens out of Afghanistan, suggesting they would stay even beyond an August 31 deadline if necessary

President Joe Biden said U.S. troops would remain in Afghanistan to get all U.S. citizens out of Afghanistan, suggesting they would stay even beyond an August 31 deadline if necessary

President Joe Biden said U.S. troops would remain in Afghanistan to get all U.S. citizens out of Afghanistan, suggesting they would stay even beyond an August 31 deadline if necessary

‘No,’ Biden dodged. ‘Americans should understand that we’re going to try to get it done before Aug. 31st.’

Stephanopoulos pressed him. ‘But if we don’t,’ Stephanopoulos said, ‘the troops will stay? he asked. 

‘If we don’t, we’ll determine at the time who’s left,’ Biden responded, prompting his interviewer to make one more stab at an answer.

‘And?’ Stephanopoulos asked him

‘And if you’re American force – if there’s American citizens left, we’re going to stay to get them all out,’ Biden responded.

ABC News' George Stephanopoulos grilled President Biden on an August 31 deadline for withdrawing American troops

ABC News' George Stephanopoulos grilled President Biden on an August 31 deadline for withdrawing American troops

ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos grilled President Biden on an August 31 deadline for withdrawing American troops

He was less direct on the fate of allied Afghans, putting their number at between 50,000 and 65,000, and scoffing at a higher estimate by his interviewer. 

‘The commitment holds to get everyone out that, in fact, we can get out and everyone who should come out. And that’s the objective. That’s what we’re doing now. That’s the path we’re on. And I think we’ll get there,’ Biden said. 

His answer comes after reporters have repeatedly tried to get top Pentagon officials to say what would happen if the U.S. runs up against the deadline, amid partially empty flights out of the country, even amid capabilities to get thousands out each day. 

All remaining Americans in Afghanistan are being told to make their own way to Kabul airport now to be flown home and are being told that it is safe for them to make the journey despite widespread fears on the ground that the Taliban will stop them, hold them hostage or kill them.

There are still some 11,000 Americans in Afghanistan waiting to be flown home. Some are at the airport but some are too afraid to make their way there through Taliban-controlled streets. Some say they have tried and have been turned away at checkpoints.  

There are also tens of thousands of Afghan nationals desperate to get out but who do not want to present themselves to the terrorists they worked against for years.  

The only way anyone in Kabul can get to the airport is if the Taliban lets them through.   

On Wednesday afternoon, the State Department updated its guidance to tell all remaining US citizens to make their way to the airport but it couldn’t guarantee anyone’s safety on the journey.  

At a Pentagon press briefing a short time afterwards, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed troops would not go to collect anyone, saying: ‘We don’t have the capability to go out and collect up large numbers of people.’  

At a separate press conference, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Ruth Helman insisted that she’d heard it was safe on the ground for Americans, and that the Taliban was holding up their end of the bargain.

She noted the thousands of Afghans who have made their way to the airport and said Americans should have no problem getting there.  

‘The Taliban made a commitment to safe passage for Americans… it appears the commitment has been solid. We have heard all of the stories that many journalists are reporting about checkpoints, harassment, difficulties, jammed traffic. 

‘We are trying to work through those issues but I will tell you this. In spite of the obstacles, many, many Afghans are finding their way to the airport,’ she said.

The Taliban – which has promised ‘amnesty’ and that it won’t interfere with any country trying to evacuate its people – has already abandoned its revamped image and is reverting to medieval punishment in the streets. Already there is evidence of people being beaten, shot and humiliated in the streets. 

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Wednesday that troops on the ground don't have the 'capacity' to go and collect people around the country of Afghanistan

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Wednesday that troops on the ground don't have the 'capacity' to go and collect people around the country of Afghanistan

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Ruth Helman said it is safe for Americans to go to the airport in Kabul

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Ruth Helman said it is safe for Americans to go to the airport in Kabul

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Wednesday that troops on the ground don’t have the ‘capacity’ to go and collect people around the country of Afghanistan. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Ruth Helman said it is safe for Americans to go to the airport in Kabul and that they should have no problem getting there since so many Afghans have managed it 

Taliban fighters patrol in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021. The group is becoming increasingly violent, abandoning promises to be peaceful, and their cooperation is what the evacuation mission is relying on

Taliban fighters patrol in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021. The group is becoming increasingly violent, abandoning promises to be peaceful, and their cooperation is what the evacuation mission is relying on

Taliban fighters patrol in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021. The group is becoming increasingly violent, abandoning promises to be peaceful, and their cooperation is what the evacuation mission is relying on 








There is confusion over who is being allowed through. 

State Department spokesperson Ned Price suggested that the Taliban would allow anyone who wanted to get to the airport. 

‘We are telling them civilians should be afforded safe passage. No one’s movements should be restricted,’ he sad. 

But people on the ground say they aren’t getting through without paperwork like visas or tickets for flights. 

General Mark Milley, the Joint Chiefs Chairman, said on Wednesday that 500 people were being processed every hour to go on planes. 

But overnight, US jets that could have taken 600 each flew out of Kabul with just 100 on board. Eighteen C-17 US Air Force jets were sent to remove US citizens, Afghan refugees and others, but they left  carrying 2,000 people in total including 365 Americans. 

One of them that was filmed by a CBS journalist on board was carrying around 300 people including translators, women and children. It leaves 1,700 that were removed on the remaining 17 jets  – an average of 100 per flight.

The planes are fitted to take 150 soldiers and heavy cargo loads but in disaster situations like the one unfolding in Afghanistan, they can be used take 600 people without surpassing weight limits. 

On Sunday, one of the jets took 640 Afghans out of Kabul and in 2013, a different ones as used to remove 670 people from a typhoon in the Philippines. And while the near-empty flights took off on Sunday, thousands of people were at the gates of the airport in Kabul, screaming, crying and begging to be saved from the Taliban. 

Flights bound for Germany, Australia, the Netherlands, France and Italy also took off on Wednesday with just a few dozen people on board despite having capacity to take hundreds. 

In one shocking case, a German plane with room for 150 departed Kabul on Tuesday with just seven on board.  

A CBS reporter was on board one of the US jets that took off on Tuesday night. She said there were 300 people on board - half the number that were removed on the same type of jet on Sunday

A CBS reporter was on board one of the US jets that took off on Tuesday night. She said there were 300 people on board - half the number that were removed on the same type of jet on Sunday

A CBS reporter was on board one of the US jets that took off on Tuesday night. She said there were 300 people on board – half the number that were removed on the same type of jet on Sunday 

One of the flights had some 300 Afghans on board. All brought luggage and there was enough room for people to lie down, stretch out and stand-up

One of the flights had some 300 Afghans on board. All brought luggage and there was enough room for people to lie down, stretch out and stand-up

One of the flights had some 300 Afghans on board. All brought luggage and there was enough room for people to lie down, stretch out and stand-up 

Overnight, the US only put 2,000 people on 18 C-17 planes - an average of 110 per flight. One took off on Sunday with 640 Afghans on board (pictured) because the crew decided not to leave them behind.

Overnight, the US only put 2,000 people on 18 C-17 planes - an average of 110 per flight. One took off on Sunday with 640 Afghans on board (pictured) because the crew decided not to leave them behind.

A C-17 was used to transport more than 600 out of a typhoon before

A C-17 was used to transport more than 600 out of a typhoon before

FLASHBACK – On Sunday, a single C-17 was used to get 640 Afghans out (left). In 2013 (right), 670 were removed from a typhoon in the Philippines 

This is the scene at the city entrance to the airport in Kabul. It is being controlled by the Taliban and US forces are on the inside but the people waiting to fly out can't get through the fighters at the front, and are being given no help by the State Department

This is the scene at the city entrance to the airport in Kabul. It is being controlled by the Taliban and US forces are on the inside but the people waiting to fly out can't get through the fighters at the front, and are being given no help by the State Department

This is the scene at the city entrance to the airport in Kabul. It is being controlled by the Taliban and US forces are on the inside but the people waiting to fly out can’t get through the fighters at the front, and are being given no help by the State Department 

People passing babies to guards at Kabul airport

People passing babies to guards at Kabul airport

Afghans crowd the gate at Kabul airport

Afghans crowd the gate at Kabul airport

In scenes of utter desperation at Kabul airport today, people began passing babies to guards at the northern entrance hoping they will be put on flights out of the country and escape Taliban rule 

Women were filmed pleading with US troops that the 'Taliban are coming' in footage that appeared to have been taken at Kabul airport this morning as thousands of desperate Afghans try to flee Islamist rule

Women were filmed pleading with US troops that the 'Taliban are coming' in footage that appeared to have been taken at Kabul airport this morning as thousands of desperate Afghans try to flee Islamist rule

Women were filmed pleading with US troops that the ‘Taliban are coming’ in footage that appeared to have been taken at Kabul airport this morning as thousands of desperate Afghans try to flee Islamist rule

The Taliban turned on the crowd at Kabul airport on Tuesday, driving the hundreds back from the airport perimeter as they pushed to flee the country. They had promised to be peaceful but have already given up on it

The Taliban turned on the crowd at Kabul airport on Tuesday, driving the hundreds back from the airport perimeter as they pushed to flee the country. They had promised to be peaceful but have already given up on it

The Taliban turned on the crowd at Kabul airport on Tuesday, driving the hundreds back from the airport perimeter as they pushed to flee the country. They had promised to be peaceful but have already given up on it 

A young woman was shot dead for allegedly refusing to wear a hijab by marauding jihadists when they captured the northern town of Taloqan in Takhar province last week. She is seen lying in a pool of blood as her distraught parents crouch beside her body in an image shared by the Afghan Ambassador to Poland Tahir Qadry who denounced the ‘butchering of civilians.’

A man cries as he watches fellow Afghans get wounded after Taliban fighters use gunfire, whips, sticks and sharp objects to maintain crowd control over thousands of Afghans who continue to wait outside Kabul airport for a way out

A man cries as he watches fellow Afghans get wounded after Taliban fighters use gunfire, whips, sticks and sharp objects to maintain crowd control over thousands of Afghans who continue to wait outside Kabul airport for a way out

A man cries as he watches fellow Afghans get wounded after Taliban fighters use gunfire, whips, sticks and sharp objects to maintain crowd control over thousands of Afghans who continue to wait outside Kabul airport for a way out

A Taliban fighter patrols in Wazir Akbar Khan in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021. Americans cannot get to the airport, which is surrounded by Taliban fighters, and the only area where troops are is inside

A Taliban fighter patrols in Wazir Akbar Khan in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021. Americans cannot get to the airport, which is surrounded by Taliban fighters, and the only area where troops are is inside

A Taliban fighter patrols in Wazir Akbar Khan in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021. Americans cannot get to the airport, which is surrounded by Taliban fighters, and the only area where troops are is inside 

Taliban fighters stand guard at a checkpoint in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021

Taliban fighters stand guard at a checkpoint in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021

Taliban fighters stand guard at a checkpoint in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021

Taliban fighters have now encircled the airport in Kabul and are deciding who gets to come in and who has to stay out. Checkpoints have been set up on both the civilian south side of the airport and the military north side, with gunshots fired in both locations to keep crowds back








At a press briefing on Wednesday afternoon, Dept. Secretary of State Wendy Ruth Sherman suggested that Americans shouldn’t have a problem getting to the airport because so many Afghans have managed to.

‘The Taliban has said that the roads are open, that people can move. We’ve heard all of the stories about  checkpoints, harassment, difficulties, jammed traffic, we’re trying to work through those issues. 

‘I will say, in spite of the obstacles, many, many afghans in all of the categories are finding their way to the airport,’ she said. 

She said the US has processed 4,800 Americans to get them out, but it’s unclear if that number includes people who have already left before. Another 800 Afghans have been processed to be removed. 

‘Our focus is on getting the people out of Afghanistan to safety.’  

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby briefed reporters over the phone on Wednesday and admitted he hoped getting people to the airport would go more 'smoothly'

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby briefed reporters over the phone on Wednesday and admitted he hoped getting people to the airport would go more 'smoothly'

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby briefed reporters over the phone on Wednesday and admitted he hoped getting people to the airport would go more ‘smoothly’ 

At a conference call briefing with journalists on Wednesday, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby talked about the ongoing ‘processing’ issues and delays in getting people their necessary paperwork. 

He admitted that he didn’t know how many Americans were still stuck in Kabul and said he ‘couldn’t predict’ how many would leave overnight. 

‘I cant tell you the numbers of people coming and going. Our force flow gets smaller as we get more troops on the field. I cant predict how many people will be evacuated,’ he said.  

‘We’re still working on the processing here…We’re not unaware that there has been issues out in town and harassment of individuals, that’s one of the reasons we’re in touch with the Taliban to try to make sure that doesn’t happen. 

‘I don’t have a specific next step. We are in communication with the Taliban. We want to see this go more smoothly, we want to see this go faster,’ he said.  

There are at least 11,000 US citizens still stuck in Afghanistan and tens of thousands of Afghans who helped the US in the war and are trying to get Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) to be removed before the Taliban gives up on the goodwill and kills them. 

There are now thought to be around 50,000 people – mostly Afghans – gathered outside two entrances to Hamid Karzai airport – the civilian south side and military north side, both of which are under Taliban control.

US troops controlling the military side fired warning shots into crowds on Tuesday night to stop the increasingly desperate people from overrunning the airfield again.

In the last 24 hours: 

  • The Taliban started abandoning its promise of peace and is now parading ‘thieves’ through the streets with ropes around their necks, smacking and shooting people and rounding up enemies
  • 18 C-17 jets arrived and the total number of US troops at the airport rose to 4,500, including 1,300 Marines 
  • US jets only removed 2,000 people – 325 were American and at least 11,000 Americans remain stranded
  • Other jets from the UK, Spain, Italy and Australia left with less than half of their seats full 
  • The Taliban has set up checkpoints around the airport and there are reports they are blocking people from getting through 
  • The State Department told US citizens to make their own way to the airport, with no promise of help getting there
  • Joe Biden returned to the White House but he has not scheduled any kind of Afghanistan update 
  • Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley will speak at 3pm  

Kirby also claimed the effort was ‘working’, despite US troops resorting to firing their weapons at the military entrance to the gate on Tuesday night to control the increasingly desperate crowds. 

Between Tuesday morning and Wednesday morning, only 2,000 people were taken out of Afghanistan on US jets – 3,000 fewer than the Pentagon’s daily goal of at least 5,000. There are at least 11,000 Americans in Afghanistan who are yet to be removed.

Only 325 of the people removed overnight were American. 

Faziya Nematy, a New York resident who visited Afghanistan in July and has become stuck, said on Wednesday there was no way for her to get to the airport with her son. 

‘I, myself, am stuck here. I’m a U.S. citizen, can’t even get out, have my kids here.

‘There’s no help here, there’s not one single American troop here. 

‘Now this whole thing is just full of people,’ she told WRGB.  

The father of one Colorado family has told how his wife and daughters are hiding out, unable to get to the airport.

The wife and kids are Afghan natives but now have American citizenship. 

They were visiting family and have now become stuck.  

‘My wife and daughters are, for now, hiding in a house in Kabul. 

‘I think it’s chaos. There are a lot of lives in danger. She called me on Saturday night, crying that the Taliban are all over the city and she wanted to get out,’ the man, who did not want to give his name said in an interview with Fox 31. 

Panicked by the sudden fall of Kabul to the Islamists, the father booked a flight home from Kabul for his wife and children on Sunday, but it was cancelled hours before it was due to depart.

‘Around midnight, I got a text message from Turkish Airlines saying that her flight got cancelled. We can’t have what was going on [on Monday], people holding on to airplanes and things like that.’  

Afghanistan veterans are also pleading for the safe evacuation of some of the translators and interpreters they worked with when they were there. 

On Tuesday, the State Department started telling some Americans to make their own way to the airport and that they couldn’t help them or guarantee their safety on the way.   

U.S. Marine Corps General Frank McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command, arrives at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Afghanistan August 17, 2021. He is in charge of negotiating with the Taliban to let people through to the airport

U.S. Marine Corps General Frank McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command, arrives at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Afghanistan August 17, 2021. He is in charge of negotiating with the Taliban to let people through to the airport

U.S. Marine Corps General Frank McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command, arrives at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Afghanistan August 17, 2021. He is in charge of negotiating with the Taliban to let people through to the airport 

Inside the airport, soldiers are helping those who have been able to get through and are putting them on flights but outside, it is total chaos run by the Taliban

Inside the airport, soldiers are helping those who have been able to get through and are putting them on flights but outside, it is total chaos run by the Taliban

Inside the airport, soldiers are helping those who have been able to get through and are putting them on flights but outside, it is total chaos run by the Taliban

An Australian Hercules C-130 plane with room for 120 people takes off from Kabul airport with just 26 passengers early on Wednesday - one of several aircraft to depart half-full

An Australian Hercules C-130 plane with room for 120 people takes off from Kabul airport with just 26 passengers early on Wednesday - one of several aircraft to depart half-full

An Australian Hercules C-130 plane with room for 120 people takes off from Kabul airport with just 26 passengers early on Wednesday – one of several aircraft to depart half-full

The flight was mostly filled with Australian citizens but also included Afghan nationals with visas, and one foreign official working in an international agency

The flight was mostly filled with Australian citizens but also included Afghan nationals with visas, and one foreign official working in an international agency

The flight was mostly filled with Australian citizens but also included Afghan nationals with visas, and one foreign official working in an international agency

Footage shows an alleged car thief with his face covered in black tar and strapped up to the back of a truck, with his hands tied behind his back as people gather around to gawp.

Footage shows an alleged car thief with his face covered in black tar and strapped up to the back of a truck, with his hands tied behind his back as people gather around to gawp.

A traffic cop stands nearby and waves through traffic, seemingly unperturbed by the commotion around the accused man.

A traffic cop stands nearby and waves through traffic, seemingly unperturbed by the commotion around the accused man.

Footage shows an alleged car thief with his face covered in black tar and strapped up to the back of a truck, with his hands tied behind his back as people gather around to gawp.

Planes from other countries have been leaving half empty while Afghan women and refugees beg and cry for help at the gates, only to be ignored. 

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said on Wednesday morning that he didn’t know how many Americans were still in Afghanistan, and he couldn’t ‘predict’ how many would be removed on planes in the next 24 hours. 

He skirted the blame for people not being allowed through the checkpoints and claimed the rescue mission was ‘working’ despite the shortage of flights. 

‘We believe an important obligation to help get as many people out of Afghanistan as we can… our focus right now is on the airport and making sure the airport stays a safe and secure place where people can flow in and out of. 

‘It is working. We had another 300 plus American citizens go out over the last 24 hours. 

‘In that respect it’s working we are continuing to have communication with the Taliban about making sure we can continue that flow and special immigrant visa applicants are included in it,’ he said. 

Kirby has been the face of the crisis while President Joe Biden keeps a low profile. 

He returned to the White House on Tuesday night from Camp David and is due to give a COVID-19 speech this afternoon but has not made any public statement since his speech on Monday where he claimed he made the right decision withdrawing troops

In scenes of utter desperation today, people began passing babies towards guards stationed at the airport’s northern gate so they could be put on flights. Earlier in the day, women had stood at the same gate reaching towards US troops and begging to be allowed through, with one shouting: ‘Please. The Taliban are coming for me.’

The heartbreaking footage is a far cry from the ‘big-hearted’ response to the crisis pledged by western nations, which between them have vowed to take more than 100,000 refugees out of the country.   

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