President Biden marked the end of America’s longest war addressing the nation where he lauded his handling of the hastily chaotic evacuation efforts as an “extraordinary success,” but his own administration officials are saying otherwise, with one official admitting that were “appalled and literally horrified” that the commander-in-chief broke his promise and left hundreds of Americans stranded, a new report revealed.
“I am absolutely appalled and literally horrified we left Americans there,” the Biden official told Politico Tuesday after the president addressed the nation on the end of the 20-year Afghanistan war. “It was a hostage rescue of thousands of Americans in the guise of a NEO [non-combatant evacuation operations], and we have failed that no-fail mission.”
A separate White House official also told Politico that the mission wasn’t accomplished if Americans were left behind. The officials’ concerns came the same day that Biden vigorously defended his handling of the withdrawal.
The Politico report came as Biden, just 24 hours after American troops fully withdrew from Afghanistan, gave a forceful defense over his handling in his exit decision, despite leaving hundreds-plus American citizens and 13 service members killed in a suicide bombing attack during the final days of the evacuation efforts. The president focused his remarks on pinning the blame on others besides himself for the chaos that unfolded during the two weeks of the withdrawal mission.
In 25-minute teleprompter remarks delivered in a loud and angry tone, flawed with repetitive statements and claims previously made, Biden pointed the fingers at his predecessor former President Donald Trump as the reason why he had to withdraw quickly. The dishonest claim from Biden stated was that his administration’s hands were tied by an agreement set by the Trump administration with the Taliban in February 2020, which included a U.S. pledge to remove troops from Afghanistan. However, the agreement made by Trump had a conditions-based clause, giving the U.S. the power to withdraw from the deal anytime if the Afghan peace talks had failed to reach a negotiated settlement, which the Taliban had already nullified when Biden became president.
Nonetheless, Biden was hellbent on withdrawing before the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11 for a photo op that he decided to stay in the agreement, refusing to make any adjustments to the military plan amid warning of a likely collapsed Afghan government and only focused on changing the complete pullout date from May 1 to August 31.
“The previous administration’s agreement said that if we stuck to the May 1st deadline that they had signed on to leave by, the Taliban wouldn’t attack any American forces,” Biden said. “But if we stayed, all bets were off, so we were left with a simple decision. Either follow through on the commitment made by the last administration and leave Afghanistan or say we weren’t leaving and commit another ten of thousands of more troops going back to war. That was the choice. The real choice between leaving or escalating.”
Biden also sought to blame the Afghan army for the fall of Kabul, proving most intelligence and his military advisers’ calculations were off against the swift Taliban advances in the country that led the U.S into a hasty and humiliating exit. However, Biden refused to admit the drawdown — filled with failures, deaths, and false promises were simply unavoidable, arguing “The bottom line is, there is no evacuation from the end of a war that you can run without the kinds of complexities, challenges, threats we faced.”
Despite those errors, Biden declared the U.S. evacuation of more than 120,000 people from Afghanistan was an “extraordinary success.” However, a recently revealed presidential phone call with former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani showed that Biden pressured to change the “perception” to the world of a “different picture” regarding the Taliban’s advancement in the country “whether it is true or not.”
“I need not tell you the perception around the world and in parts of Afghanistan, I believe, is that things are not going well in terms of the fight against the Taliban,” Biden said to Ghani on July 23, just weeks before the Taliban toppled Kabul. “And there is a need, whether it is true or not, there is a need to project a different picture.”