President Joe Biden on Wednesday joked with an NBC reporter about the evacuation in Afghanistan as thousands, including many Americans, struggle to get out of the war-torn country as the Taliban takes over.
Biden, after he made remarks at cybersecurity summit featuring several prominent business executives, was asked by NBC’s Peter Alexander what he would do if Americans are still in Afghanistan after the August 31st deadline to withdraw U.S. troops.
President Joe Biden joked with an NBC reporter about the evacuation in Afghanistan as thousands, including many Americans, struggle to leave
‘You’ll be the first person I call,’ Biden joked in response.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended Biden’s remarks, pointing out the president has given numerous updates and gotten many briefings on the situation in Afghanistan.
‘He has also highlighted the fact that we are closely watching closely following the threats from ISIS,’ she said at her daily press briefing.
Up to 1,500 Americans are waiting to be evacuated, Secretary of State Tony Blinken said on Wednesday.
He also said there is ‘no deadline’ on efforts to evacuate American citizens and Afghan allies.
‘That effort will continue every day past August 31,’ Blinken noted. ‘People who want to leave Afghanistan after the U.S. military departs should be able to do so.’
Desperate Afghan men, women and children have swarmed the airport in a bid to get out amid fears of an attack from the Islamic State offshoot ISIS-K and 10,000 evacuees are inside the gates waiting to get out.
The administration has been criticized by Democrats, Republicans and the international community for sticking to its August 31 deadline to remove troops with critics worried the evacuation won’t be completed in time.
Biden said on Tuesday they were on track to complete it by that date.
His latest remarks came as he enlisted the private sector to help his administration combat malicious online cyber attacks.
‘We’ve seen time and again how the technologies we rely on, cell phones, and pipelines and the electric grid, can become targets of criminals,’ Biden said.
‘The reality is most of our critical infrastructure is owned and operated by the private sector and the federal government can’t meet this challenge alone,’ he said.
JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon, Apple’s Tim Cook, Google‘s Sundar Pichai, Amazon’s Andy Jassy and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella were among those attending the meeting in the State dining room at the White House.
A U.S. Air Force guard aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft in support of the Afghanistan evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul
President Joe Biden hosted a number of prominent business leaders at the White House for a summit on cyber security
Apple CEO Tim Cook, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna and Google CEO Sundar Pichai were among the attendees at the cyber summit
A senior administration official described the gathering as a ‘call to action.’
‘The federal government can’t solve this complex, growing international challenge alone, and we can’t do it overnight,’ the official told reporters on a briefing call Tuesday night.
Representatives from the tech, financial, energy, education and insurance sectors will be at the event.
At the summit, the administration will ask the private industry to help them to address the ‘root causes of any kind of malicious cyber activity,’ the official said.
The summit comes after several companies have faced ransomware attacks, in some cases extorting multi-million-dollar payments from major corporations. Colonial Pipeline, JBS Holdings and Microsoft have all been subject to malicious cyber attacks in the past year. The SolarWinds attack last year affected several government agencies.
The meeting also comes as Congress is weighing a crack down on Big Tech.
A legislative package approved in June by the House Judiciary Committee is aimed at overhauling U.S. antitrust laws and reeling in the power of the tech companies.
The six bills in the packet would make it harder and more expensive for tech companies like Amazon, Apple, and Google to complete mergers, prevent them from discriminating against other businesses make it easier for state attorneys general to choose where to bring antitrust cases and allow federal regulators to sue to break up companies that operate a dominant platform.
The legislation also prevents platforms from offering a product or service that users must purchase or use in exchange for access to the platform, which could affect the Fulfillment by Amazon service. Amazon is lobbying heavily against the legislation.
The topics at Wednesday’s summit will include ransomware, critical infrastructure, supply chain security, cybersecurity education and data breach insurance policy.
Top Biden administration officials, including the secretaries of Homeland Security, Energy and Commerce, will attend the summit as with Biden’s cybersecurity team.
The summit will include three breakout sessions that will focus on critical infrastructure resilience; cybersecurity talent and workforce issues; and building stronger technology and insurance solutions.
The meeting is taking place as the White House has been dealing with the American troop withdrawal in Afghanistan and the evacuation there.
White House officials noted the summit was announced last month and is simply going ahead as scheduled, a sign of how important the administration considers cyber issues.
In May, Biden signed an executive order to strengthen government software security, mandate IT service providers to report attacks that could impact U.S. networks, and streamline info-sharing.
President Biden’s Cyber Summit
The White House announced a preliminary list of attendees for President Joe Biden’s cyber security summit at the White House on Wednesday.
Representatives from the tech, financial, energy, education and insurance sectors will be at the event, which will discuss the growing threat of malicious ransomware.
Biden is enlisting the private sector to help him combat cyber criminals.
• President Joe Biden
• Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo
• Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm
• Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
• SBA Administrator Isabel Guzman
• National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan
• Director of the National Economic Council Brian Deese
• Senior Advisor and Director of the Office of Public Engagement Cedric Richmond
• Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology Anne Neuberger
• National Cyber Director Chris Inglis
• Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Jen Easterly
• Bank of America – Brian Moynihan, President and CEO
• JPMorgan Chase – Jamie Dimon, Chair and CEO
• TIAA – Thasunda Brown Duckett, President and CEO
• US Bancorp – Andrew Cecere, Chair, President & Chief Executive Officer
Energy and Water
• American Water – Walter Lynch – President and CEO
• ConocoPhillips – Ryan Lance, Chair and CEO
• Duke Energy – Chair, President and CEO
• PG&E – Patti Poppe, CEO
• SJW Group – Eric Thornburg, CEO
• Southern Company – Tom Fanning, Chair, President and CEO
• Williams – Alan Armstrong, President and CEO
• ADP – Carlos Rodriguez, President and CEO
• Alphabet (Google) – Sundar Pichai, CEO
• Amazon – Andy Jassy, CEO
• Apple – Tim Cook, CEO
• IBM – Dr. Arvind Krishna, Chair and CEO
• Microsoft – Satya Nadella, Chair and CEO
• Coalition – Joshua Motta, Founder and CEO
• Resilience – Vishaal Hariprasad, CEO
• Travelers – Alan Schnitzer, Chair and CEO
• Vantage Group Holdings – Greg Hendrick, CEO
• Code.org – Hadi Partovi
• Girls Who Code – Dr. Tarika Barrett
• Tougaloo College – Dr. Carmen Walters, President
• University of Texas System – JB Milliken, Chancellor
• Whatcom Community College – Dr. Kathi Hiyane-Brown, President