On Sunday morning, Fox News host Chris Wallace asked the question that is on the mind of most of America and the world in connection with the Joe Biden-created debacle in Afghanistan: “Does the president not know what’s going on?”
Wallace, who has earned a reputation for reserving tough questions only for Republicans, pressed U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on various Biden statements, including about al-Qaida, that “were flat out wrong.” In a robotic delivery, Blinken more or less dodged without directly explaining whether his boss is on top of the situation.
As part of a wide-ranging interview about the Afghan crisis, Wallace played a soundbite in which Biden claimed that Taliban checkpoints around Kabul airport weren’t preventing anyone from getting access.
The “Fox News Sunday” anchor juxtaposed that with an advisory from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul telling U.S. citizens to stay put because of the security threats around the airport and await further instructions.
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Blinken, America’s top diplomat, responded with a lot of verbiage about trying to alleviate overcrowding outside and inside the airport.
“In addition to the question of the security and the ease of Americans get to the airport, the president on Friday said a few other things that were flat wrong,” Wallace continued, playing another clip where Biden claimed that al-Qaida was “gone” from Afghanistan.
“But a UN report this summer says that al-Qaida is present in fifteen of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, and General Milley said this summer that if the Taliban took over Kabul, that he was going to have to upgrade the terror threat from al-Qaida. What the president said just wasn’t true,” Wallace asserted.
Blinked responded that U.S. intervention in Afghanistan was to bring Osama bin Laden to justice and minimize al-Qaida’s capacity to mount terror attacks against the U.S. (Many believe this should have been the mission rather than nation-building.)
(Video: Fox News)
Wallace circled back: “But Mr. Secretary, sir, the president said al-Qaida is gone. Simple question: is al-Qaida gone from Afghanistan?”
“Al-Qaida’s capacity to do what it did on 9/11, to attack us, to attack our partners or allies from Afghanistan, is vastly, vastly diminished,” Blinken insisted.
Wallace returned to his original question: “Is it gone?”
The third time was apparently the charm.
“Are there al-Qaeda members and remnants in Afghanistan? Yes,” Blinken finally acknowledged.
“But what the president was referring to was its capacity to do what it did on 9/11 and that capacity has been very successfully diminished.”
Wallace’s colleague Jeanine Pirro is separately taking a dim view of Biden’s job performance.
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Wallace then called out Biden for claiming that the botched withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Afghan theater has not tarnished America’s credibility with our allies. Wallace noted that several influential European politicians, among many, have condemned Biden’s handling of the situation.
“Mr. Secretary, does the president not know what’s going on?” he asked.
Blinken countered with some boilerplate that our allies, including NATO, have been shoulder to shoulder for the past 20 years.
“Respectfully, I’m not questioning whether or not the allies have a right to complain. I’m not questioning whether or not al-Qaida has a presence; the president said al-Qaida is gone. It’s not gone. The president said he’s not heard any criticism from the allies. There’s been a lot of criticism from the allies. Words matter, and the words of the president matter most,” Wallace insisted.
“Chris, all I can tell you is what I’ve heard, and again, this is a powerful, emotional time for a lot of allies and partners, as it is for me, as it is for us, but I’ve also heard this. I’ve heard across the board deep appreciation and thanks from allies and partners for everything that we’ve done to bring our allies and partners out of harm’s way…,” Blinken claimed.
At the beginning of the discussion, Blinken said that with 60 flights, 8,000 persons had been evacuated from Kabul in the past 24 hours, and 30,000 all told so far. He did not indicate how many of them were American citizens.
Tucker Carlson of Fox News, among others, has cautioned about the potential ramifications of resettling thousands of unvetted Afghan refugees in the U.S.
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