Despite President Joe Biden’s positive spin on events in Kabul where thousands of Americans remain trapped in hostile territory, the reality is that the situation on the ground is rapidly deteriorating and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed that the Taliban is physically beating some who are attempting to flee.
Austin acknowledged that the reports of such harassment were true, undercutting the message that his boss had given shortly before the Pentagon chief participated in a conference call to update members of Congress as the historic crisis continues to spiral out of control.
On Friday afternoon, Biden flanked by a masked VP Kamala Harris and Secretary Of State Antony Blinken sought to rebut reports of the growing crisis at Hamid Karzai International Airport where a chaotic evacuation is being conducted, holding a brief White House press conference where the “leader” of the free world responded to obviously screened questions asked by selected reporters.
Biden denied that the Taliban was blocking Americans from gaining access to the airport, claiming that there was “no circumstance” where American citizens have been impeded from gaining access to the airport and insisting that the Islamic militant group is honoring an”agreement” with the administration.
Joe Biden falsely says “no circumstance” where American citizens have been blocked from Kabul airport pic.twitter.com/6CYmU4inXE
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) August 20, 2021
However, Secretary Austin deviated from the script during his chat with lawmakers and multiple people who were on the call told reporters that he called the beatings “unacceptable” while neither confirming nor denying that the military would be used to extract trapped Americans.
NEW: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in a briefing call with House lawmakers just now said Americans have been beaten by the Taliban in Kabul, according to multiple people on the call. Austin called it “unacceptable.”
— Andrew Desiderio (@AndrewDesiderio) August 20, 2021
“We’re also aware that some people, including Americans, have been harassed and even beaten by the Taliban,” Austin said on the call, according to multiple sources. “This is unacceptable and [we] made it clear to the designated Taliban leader,” according to Politico.
He added, “with the exception of those cases, we continue to see Americans and appropriately credentialed Afghans continue to move through,” seeming to suggest that the beatings were isolated events and not representative of the larger process to get Americans to safety.
Austin’s remarks were greeted with incredulity by some Republicans. “Within 30 minutes of Biden saying it publicly, the Secretary of Defense directly contradicted him,” a senior GOP lawmaker told the New York Post.
Another told the Post that, “The big thing for me is, there’s a huge gap between what Biden says on TV, and then what we hear in these calls,” adding, “… that’s alarming because it either means he’s completely misinformed or he’s misleading the country, both of which are a big problem.”
“So, if we’re going to get our people out and we’re going to protect our Afghan partners and we’re going to be good allies, and start to rebuild those relationships,” said the unnamed source. “We should at least be honest with ourselves about what’s going on.”
Even more mind-boggling was Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s clueless response to Austin’s briefing; Florida Rep. Kat Cammack provided insight on the remarks from the top congressional Democrat.
Just wrapped a call with Sec. Austin, Sec. Blinken, and Gen. Milley for the second time on #Afghanistan. During the Q&A with Members, Speaker Pelosi just said "everything sounds like it's in a good place; everyone just needs to get to the airport."
— Congresswoman Kat Cammack (@RepKatCammack) August 20, 2021
Another top Democrat, House Armed Services Committee Chairman John Garamendi appeared on CNN this week where he was dismissive of using the military to rescue Americans from the Taliban. “It makes no sense whatsoever,” he said, showing that to many Dems, the unfolding foreign policy catastrophe matters far less than their ambitious, radical domestic agenda.
Nerves are clearly rattled by the ongoing inability to extract Americans from the country that Biden surrendered to the Taliban; the breakdown in the normal lockstep message discipline from the administration is a sign that they have no real plan despite all of the hype that was bandied about during the campaign of the mastery of foreign policy that the career politician had gained during his five decades of swimming in the swamp.
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