President Joe Biden has been presiding over the mess in Afghanistan, and now he’s lying about it.
Again and again.
In a speech on Tuesday, he claimed that the U.S. had prepared for the sudden collapse of Afghanistan’s government.
However, the Associated Press investigated Biden’s claim, and their findings aren’t surprising.
His claim contradicts the reality on the ground: a rushed, chaotic evacuation involving the Islamic State’s deadly attack against Americans and their allies.
“I still instructed our national security team to prepare for every eventuality — even that one,” he said of his decision. “So, we were ready when the Afghan Security Forces, after two decades of fighting for their country and losing thousands of their own, did not hold on as long as anyone expected. We were ready when they and the people of Afghanistan watched their own government collapse and their president flee.”
He claimed that the U.S. was ready for the sudden collapse of Afghanistan, but that claim strains the truth. When Biden decided to withdraw U.S. troops by the end of August, he was operating under the “assumption” — later proven wrong — that 300,000 Afghan forces would be able to “hold on for a period of time” against the Taliban.
By all accounts, the evacuation operation that began Aug. 14 was chaotic from the very beginning, with too few State Department officials available at the airport to process evacuees. Crowd control became problematic both inside the airport and outside. The U.S. had to execute an airlift in such a rush that large numbers of Afghans swarmed the airfield.
On Aug. 16, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said evacuation flights had been suspended for several hours in order to reestablish security after some breaches on the civilian side of the airfield.
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The flow of evacuees from Kabul also was slowed in the airlift’s early days because the U.S. couldn’t find anywhere to put the evacuees. The waystation in Qatar was filled to capacity, and the State Department had yet to work out arrangements with other countries for additional waystations. Kuwait, Germany, and other countries later agreed to provide those. After that, the pace of the evacuation accelerated rapidly.
About 2,500 U.S. troops were at the airport at the beginning of the evacuation. Eventually that number would grow to about 5,800. The State Department struggled to determine how many American citizens were in Afghanistan and how many wanted to be evacuated.
Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Wednesday that 124,334 Americans, Afghans and other allies from Afghanistan were evacuated in all – the most exact number offered thus far. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called it the largest air evacuation of civilians in American history.
But a suicide bombing outside the Kabul airport during the frenzied evacuations left 13 U.S. service members and 169 Afghans dead.
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This isn’t Biden’s only lie. Biden has ignored the fact that he broke his promise to evacuate every willing American.
“Americans understand we’re going to try and get it done before Aug. 31,” he told ABC News. “If we don’t, we’ll determine at the time, who’s left. … If there are American citizens left, we’re going to stay until we get them all out.”
In a White House remark after the withdrawal, Biden said he evacuated only 90 percent of Americans who wanted to leave, omitting any mention of his broken promise.
The White House later said actually 98% of Americans wishing to leave had been evacuated, without explaining how it came up with such a precise percentage in Afghanistan’s tumult.
Biden tried to describe the withdrawal as an “extraordinary success,” but if the polling data is any indication, voters aren’t letting him get away with it.
The Associated Press and The Horn editorial team contributed to this article.