President Joe Biden denied firsthand military accounts that were on the ground in Afghanistan during the August 2021 evacuation of Kabul.
In an interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt, the president said he rejects now-surfaced accounts from military leaders who claimed the White House acted too slowly in its evacuation.
An article from the Washington Post, citing an Army investigative report that was released via a Freedom of Information Act request, claimed that top State Department and White House officials didn’t have a grasp on the Taliban’s steady advances across Afghanistan last summer.
“No. No. That’s not what I was told,” Biden told Holt when he was asked about whether the Post claims were accurate. “Yes, I am. I’m rejecting them,” he added when asked about whether he rejects such claims.
“There was no good time to get out, but if we had not gotten out, they acknowledged we would have had to put a hell of a lot more troops back in,” Biden also said.
The Army report contained sworn testimony from commanders who were involved directly in the U.S. military withdrawal.
“In my opinion, the [National Security Council] was not seriously planning for an evacuation,” Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Farrell Sullivan told investigators, according to the Post. Furthermore, he was told on Aug. 6 by a National Security Council member that if the U.S. evacuated Kabul, it would create the impression that “we have failed.”
A full-scale evacuation of Kabul was not carried out until the Taliban was able to depose of then-President Ashraf Ghani as they quickly dispatched the Afghan army in an advance that was faster than anticipated. The U.S. military was able to mostly secure the Kabul Airport and evacuated tens of thousands of people, although possibly hundreds of Americans and thousands of Afghans who had worked with the U.S. were left behind.
The fall of Kabul, which was accompanied by images of Afghans falling to their deaths from U.S. military cargo planes and Taliban members holding American military rifles, at the time could be considered the lowest point in Biden’s administration. In a break, pundits on mainstream news outlets such as CNN and NBC harshly criticized Biden for its execution, although senior White House officials have repeatedly defended the move.
When asked about the Army report, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters this week that the administration was prepared for “a range of contingencies,” without elaborating. Psaki noted that top officials didn’t anticipate Afghanistan falling so quickly, however.
“There was a range of contingency planning that was done in close coordination by all of the players on the national security team at the time to prepare for a range of options and a range of outcomes,” Psaki said.
The Epoch Times has contacted the Department of State and the National Security Council regarding the Army report cited by the Post.