President Biden has made remarks “that haven’t always squared with the facts” in defending how he has handled withdrawal of U.S. forces and citizens from Afghanistan, FactCheck.org reports
Biden told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that his decision to withdraw completely went against the advice of top military advisers, who wanted him to keep about 2,500 troops. “It was split,” Biden said. “That wasn’t true.” Stephanopoulos asked, “They didn’t tell you that they wanted troops to stay?” and Biden replied, “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 pressed the case, and Biden denied that he could not recall anyone telling him that 2,500 troops should remain.
“We don’t know what exactly Biden’s top military advisors may have told him in private conversations, or whether their recommendations may have changed over time,” Fact Check reports, but says Biden’s account is contradicted by reporting from The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, and a public Feb. 3 report from the Afghanistan Study Group created by Congress recommended against troop withdrawal unless the Taliban met conditions set in a withdrawal agreement the Trump administration reached with the Taliban in February 2020.
Biden asked at one point, “What interest do we have in Afghanistan at this point with al Qaeda gone?” but there’s lots of evidence show that al Qaeda isn’t gone, FactCheck notes: “A February report by the Defense Department
inspector general’s office said ‘members of al-Qaeda were integrated into the Taliban’s leadership and command structure.’ And in May, U.N. sanctions monitors reported that al Qaeda ‘is resident in at least 15 Afghan provinces, primarily in the east, southern and south-eastern regions.'”
Biden claimed that the concept of “nation building” in Afghanistan “never made any sense” to him, but he publicly favored it in the early 2000s, FactCheck notes: “In a 2001 interview, he was asked if the U.S. should “be in the business of nation building” in Afghanistan ‘if and when the Taliban falls.’ Biden replied, ‘Absolutely, along with the rest of the world.'”
Biden’s handling of the withdrawal, and Thursday’s suicide bombing that killed 13 U.S. service members and 60 Afghans, has drawn attacks from Republicans, and some were outrageous, Chuck Todd and crew at NBC News
say in today’s “First Read
” newsletter: “It wasn’t too long ago when, after a devastating attack, the United States united around its president, grieved, vowed retribution and saved the political finger-pointing for later. But that didn’t happen yesterday.”
First Read cited Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn’s tweet
that “Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Antony Blinken, Lloyd Austin and General Milley should all resign or face impeachment and removal,” North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s request that the Cabinet invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Biden, and Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley’s demand
that Biden resign. The barrage “only served to polarize an already polarized country,” First Read says. “It cheapened the legitimate criticism that Biden has gotten (and will continue to get) for his handling of the U.S. withdrawal; and it’s not serious at all. Do Blackburn, Hawley and Cawthorn really want Kamala Harris or Nancy Pelosi as president?”