Kirby fumes over report alleging senior officials, military brass were warned ahead of Kabul attack

The Pentagon is raising eyebrows due to its refusal to answer questions on what it knew beforehand about the suicide attack that killed 13 U.S. service members.

An explosive report from Politico that military authorities knew the attack was coming has caused a stir due to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby’s refusal to address the issue when questioned about it. Allegedly, senior officials kept the Abbey Gate at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul open despite plans by local commanders to close the gate due to intelligence received on an imminent attack that would take place – even mentioning the specific gate at risk.

According to the report, senior officials kept the gate open in order to allow British allies to continue their evacuation. The report states that this was done despite the incoming attack being known about at the very highest levels. Allegedly, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told over a dozen gathered senior commanders at the Pentagon to prepare for a “mass casualty event” at a morning briefing last Wednesday, according to leaked classified notes of the meeting quoted in the report.

The report alleges that General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tried to warn Secretary Austin that “significant” intelligence indicated an attack by ISIS-K, the Afghanistan branch of the Islamic State terrorist organization.

According to the report:

Commanders calling in from Kabul relayed that the Abbey Gate, where American citizens had been told to gather in order to gain entrance to the airport, was “highest risk,” and detailed their plans to protect the airport.

 

Secretary Austin did seem aware of the danger, and the report quotes him as saying, “I don’t believe people get the incredible amount of risk on the ground.”

The Pentagon was livid, and Kirby, who would not answer questions during a press briefing, issued the following statement:

“This story is based on the unlawful disclosure of classified information and internal deliberations of a sensitive nature.  As soon as we became aware of the material divulged to the reporter, we engaged Politico at the highest levels to prevent the publication of information that would put our troops and our operations at the airport at greater risk.

We condemn the unlawful disclosure of classified information and oppose the publication of a story based on it while a dangerous operation is ongoing.”

 

This non-denial seemed like confirmation to many outraged commentators:

Among the alleged actions taken was to ask the Taliban to screen people better at their checkpoints. This clearly failed, and the report alleges that local commanders were frustrated with the Taliban’s lack of cooperation, pointing to the Taliban’s practice of turning away legitimate evacuees, among others.

The culmination of these failures was the Thursday bombing that killed 13 US service members.

The fallout from the attack continues to spread.  Many blame the Biden administration, and many are also blaming senior military leadership. Roughly 90 retired flag officers (senior commanders, generals and admirals mostly) have put forward a joint statement demanding that Secretary Austin, General Milley, and other senior Pentagon officials resign in disgrace for their role in the Afghanistan debacle.

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