WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden’s administration acknowledged Thursday that it anticipated the collapse of Afghanistan and withdrew troops sooner after the U.S. began withdrawing military forces.
Among the flawed assessments were how quickly the Taliban were moving across the country and “building these deals in the hinterlands that have fallen as if they were masters,” National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications spokesman John Kirby said.
At a White House briefing, where he argued that Biden was right to remove US forces from the country and bring the 20-year war to an end, Kirby’s intelligence assessments led those defending the collapse.
But he also admitted that some information was missing, in part due to the fluid and rapid state of development, saying, “I still see that intelligence assessment that has always been 110% certain about something. They’re making money as much as they can.”
“They will be the first if they are here to tell you that it is not always fair. And obviously, we didn’t have the same thing here with Afghanistan.”
The White House released a document Thursday that said because of failures in Afghanistan, evacuations are now being carried out in dangerous situations.
The document criticized the Trump administration for setting the stage for the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan by lowering US troop levels there and dealing with the Taliban without consulting its allies or the Afghan government. It was part of a long review, or “hotwash,” of the chaos the administration had promised Congress would provide.
“President Biden’s choices to make a withdrawal from Afghanistan were heavily influenced by the conditions created by his predecessor,” the document says.
Congress expects to receive a version of the announcement Thursday, according to Capitol Hill officials familiar with the process, but was not authorized to speak publicly.
Taken from a wound‘: The US withdrawal from Afghanistan is still haunting the Biden presidency one year later
Afghan Taliban bars girls from school.His privacy inside the classes with the teacher in the US.
Three major religious holidays coincide this week and Congress is in recess, potentially complicating lawyers’ ability to review documents immediately. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair and Texas Rep. Michael McCaul is currently in Taiwan.
Kirby denied that the White House had deliberately released the document since it was less likely to be immediately consumed by lawyers and the public.
The administration said it had a process for sharing sensitive information that it followed. “What he is responsible for doing, and what you see today, is the result and the culmination,” he said. “Nothing here is trying to obscure or bury anything. It’s an attempt to try to be as open and transparent as we can.”
But at least one leading Republican lawyer has accused the administration of human relations.
Sen. James Risch, ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the release was overdue, calling it “sad and untimely” in the statement.
“It’s almost 2 years later and it’s good news to be buried on a holiday weekend,” said Risch.
The Biden administration says Trump has set the stage for the Afghan collapse
Despite admitting mistakes, the Biden administration spent the first pages of its unreported report arguing that it was accepted by former President Donald Trump.
The report specifically states that former President Trump ordered direct talks with the Taliban, “allowing unconscionable allies and partners” to allow the Afghan government to negotiate.
In September 2019, Trump said he would officially invite the Taliban to visit David on the anniversary of Sept. 11. 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Five months later, in February 2020, the Trump administration announced a deal with the Taliban – known as the Doha Accord – committing the US to withdraw all US forces from Afghanistan by May 2021.
Trump further undermined the terms of the US agreement by allowing the Taliban to participate in the peace process, which would refrain from attacking US forces and threatening major cities in Afghanistan, “but as long as the United States remained committed to withdrawal by the terms of the agreement,” the report said.
The White House report also criticized Trump for not coordinating a “detailed and effective transition” from his administration to Biden’s, which it said was a particularly necessary process when it came to complex military operations such as the US presence in Afghanistan.
Republicans sought to blame Biden
Republicans have condemned the Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.
In a statement after the administration released an unclassified report, Risch, the top Republican on Senate Foreign Relations, said the Biden administration “abandoned allies and failed to act boldly, costing the lives of US service members and so many innocent civilians.”
“In Afghanistan, the withdrawal of the Taliban allowed a rapid takeover, and the region once again became a haven for terrorists. The rights of women and girls have disappeared, and even many Americans and our Afghan allies remain trapped there,” said Risch.
Lisa Curtis, senior director for South and Central Asia at the National Security Council in the Trump administration, told USA TODAY that there have been wrongdoing in Afghanistan by both the current and previous administrations.
The Trump administration is responsible for negotiating a “tough, terrible deal” with the Taliban and “disrupting the Afghan security forces,” Curtis said.
But Biden herself said she had the ability to negotiate a better deal with the Taliban and refused.
“And in fact, during the transition process, that’s what I suggested to the Biden administration, that when they were doing badly, Doha shouldn’t have done it,” he said. “That would be their choice.”
Precious things, decades of war
The war in Afghanistan was at a great cost in lives and property.
The Pentagon has spent more than $837 billion fighting the war from 2001 to 2021. In addition, thousands of people have been killed and more than 20,000 have been wounded. The Afghan massacres were much worse. At least 66,000 Afghan soldiers and 48,000 Afghan civilians have died in the fighting, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.
The US government is also spending $145 billion to rebuild Afghanistan and its security forces, civilian institutions, economy and civil society, according to the inspector general.
Between the retreat of darkness and the evacuation in August 2021, 13 US forces committed a suicide bomber attack.
Contributor: Rebecca Morin