For The Daily Signal, David Harsanyi
While the Biden administration’s chaotic and inept withdrawal from Afghanistan was unfolding in August 2021, a suicide bomber murdered 13 American service members, and at least 170 Afghans, at the Abbey Gate outside Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport. This was the most brutal attack on troops we have seen in Afghanistan in 20 years.
“Know this,” President Joe Biden said after the bombing. “We will not forgive. We won’t forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay.” This turned out to be face-saving political theater. The air strikes that killed seven Afghan children, and ten others in Afghanistan, occurred three days later. Not one of the dead, as far as we know, was an “ISIS facilitator,” as the administration had alleged.
In fact, the Pentagon now says that the bombing was the work of a lone terrorist rather than a “complex” network, as the Biden administration had initially maintained.
At the time, Gen. Mark Milley not only referred to the strike as “valid” and “righteous” but went further to describe a “secondary explosion” and a supposed plethora of evidence justifying the bombing. It seems that none of this was accurate.
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We also learn through ProPublica’s recent investigation into the Kabul suicide bombing that, despite intelligence warning of terrorist attacks, U.S. military commanders encouraged use of the routes.
Some U.S. officials gave maps to evacuatees who were trying to get around Taliban fighters located at the checkpoint just outside of the airport.
The fact that the murderer of 13 Americans “likely” gained access to troops via a path that U.S. officials were encouraging people to use seems quite noteworthy. We also helped evacuees to circumvent Taliban while the Biden administration assured the American public that Islamic militants were aiding in the expulsion of Americans.
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These are the same Taliban with whom the Biden administration had reportedly shared a list of “American citizens, green card holders and Afghan allies.”
It is the same Taliban that the administration declared had comported themselves in a “businesslike and professional” manner.
You will recall as well White House press secretary Jen Psaki contending that no Americans had been “stranded” in Afghanistan. Secretary of State Antony Blinken would later say that there were “under 200” Americans remaining in Afghanistan who “want to leave.”
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s new report, which was written by Jim Risch (R. Idaho), claims that officials from the State Department estimated that 10,000-15,000 Americans had been trapped in Afghanistan in August. Six thousand Americans managed to flee Afghanistan in the time that the Afghan forces fell apart.
I’m not a math whiz, but that leaves a lot more than zero, or even 200, stranded. What number of Americans, Afghan citizens or green-card holders were named by the Taliban? Was it possible for the Islamists to hunt down and execute those who were listed as interpreters?
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The Pentagon investigation into the bombing, relying on hundreds of witness interviews and drone footage and reports by medical examiners, concludes that the suicide bombing at Abbey Gate was “not preventable.”
The attack was actually unpreventable because the Biden administration had evacuated safe positions and not expelled those who were wishing to flee.
Recently declassified reports by the special inspector general in Afghanistan reconstruction were submitted to the Department of Defense January 20,21. They warned that the Afghan Air Force would collapse quickly.
Military personnel would have been “much better prepared to conduct a more orderly” evacuation, said Navy Rear Adm. Peter Vasely, the top U.S. commander on the ground, “if policymakers had paid attention to the indicators of what was happening on the ground.”
However, none of these suggestions stopped President Obama from abandoning Bagram Airfield. It did not prompt him to create military safe zones in order to rescue stranded Americans and Afghan allies.
The Kabul airport bottleneck caused by his failure to comply with the order put both troops and civilians at unnecessary risk.
RELATED: Trump Slams Biden For Handing Taliban List Of Names Of Americans, Afghan Allies
Biden was wedded to the Taliban’s timeline.
Given that he’s shown reliably disastrous foreign-policy instincts over 50 years in public life, this isn’t exactly surprising.
It’s also increasingly clear that the administration ignored warnings because it believed leaving Afghanistan, which was quite popular in polls, would be a political slam dunk early in his term.
That was Biden’s prerogative. The president is free to ignore the generals’ advice.
Many would, without doubt, advocate for an American presence in Afghanistan throughout their lives. As a policy matter, Biden’s botching of the evacuation is a separate issue from whether the United States should have withdrawn.
Biden took on the Trump government’s responsibility and he was now responsible for American life. We still have many questions about why he didn’t do it.
The Daily Signal permission granted permission for this syndicated article.