President Biden said the U.S. has helped evacuate 13,000 people from Afghanistan since Aug. 14 and is pledging to Americans still trapped in Afghanistan: “We will get you home.”
“This is one of the largest, most difficult airlifts in history and the only country in the world capable of projecting this much power on the far side of the world with this degree of precision is the United States of America,” Mr. Biden said Friday in the East Room of the White House.
Biden also said Friday the United States is committed to evacuating all Afghans who assisted the war effort - a potentially vast expansion of the administration's commitments on the airlift so far, given the tens of thousands of Afghan translators and others, and their close family members, seeking evacuation.
“I cannot promise what the final outcome will be or that it will be without risk of loss, but as commander in chief, I can assure you that I will mobilize every resource necessary,” he said.
The exact number of Americans and Afghans who qualify for evacuation is not clear, but it is believed to number in the tens of thousands.
“We’re working to verify that number of Americans that are still in the country, because we don’t know the exact number of Americans that are there,” Biden said at the White House in Washington.
“We want to get a strong number as to exactly how many American citizens are there and where they are,” he added.
Biden took a few questions from pre-selected reporters and the tension was very evident as they did not offer the normal softball question, focusing explicitly on the fact that Americans and SIVs were unable to get to the airport to which the president claimed no knowledge, only to backtrack when called on that lie.
“We have no indication that they haven’t been able to get through Kabul to the airport,” Biden said.
“To the best of our knowledge, Taliban checkpoints, they are letting through people showing American passports.”
BIDEN: "We have no indication that [Americans] haven’t been able to get in Kabul through the airport. We made an agreement with the Taliban…”— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) August 20, 2021
And even ABC is not supporting Biden's narrative...
.@DavidMuir: "The president said he has no intelligence that the Americans have not been able to get [to the Kabul airport]. The question, obviously—does that square with reporting on ground?"@IanPannell: "I mean—just totally not."— ABC News (@ABC) August 20, 2021
Read more: https://t.co/6U5QW2IOjc pic.twitter.com/DTuyOZBmmn
ABC News correspondent Ian Pannell, currently on the ground in Kabul disagreed vehemently with Biden’s assertions.
“It just seems the reality and the rhetoric are miles apart. I’m not quite sure what advice the President is receiving, but the truth on the ground is that these people who are in fear of their lives can’t get through.”
Even CNN reporter Clarissa Ward who had been reporting on the ground in Afghanistan contradicted Biden.
“We had difficulty getting into the airport,” Ward said. She described her experience at the airport stating,
“They couldn’t get close because it’s thousands of people crushing into each other, Taliban fighters with truncheons and whips pushing people back, shots being fired into the air. Then you go through another layer. You’ve got Afghan Special Forces commandos who are kind of the first line of defense afterwards from the U.S., and then you’ve got the U.S. processing.”
CNN's @clarissaward contradicts Biden's claim that Americans are not having difficulty getting to the airport:— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) August 20, 2021
"We had difficulty getting into the airport. Working out how to get to the airport is like a Rubik’s cube." pic.twitter.com/naDGVUaZ9A
Oh, another lie - that Al-Qaeda was done in Afghanistan...
It took less than an hour for both Biden's defense secretary and Pentagon press secretary to contradict what he told the public pic.twitter.com/IAsm2S0uoL— Peter J. Hasson (@peterjhasson) August 20, 2021
After taking a couple of questions and clearly getting lost in his own manufactured narrative, he ended the press conference and walked off.
One corporate press stenographer changed up his pre-approved question. Biden literally answered, "I thought the question was," before attempting to answer the new question.— Jordan Schachtel @ dossier.substack.com (@JordanSchachtel) August 20, 2021
Insane. Clown regime stuff.
Once the NPR reporter went off script Biden ended the briefing.— Beverly Hallberg (@BeverlyHallberg) August 20, 2021
As Fox News' National Security Correspondent Jennifer Griffin reportedly noted after the presser, she couldn't fact-check him fast enough to keep up with his misrepresentations.
As he left, one reporter exclaimed:
"Why Do You Continue To Trust The Taliban Mr. President?"
A good question that we will likely never know the answer to.
Watch the full address with questions below...
* * *
Update (1345ET): 45 minutes after the press conference was supposed to start, The White House has indefinitely postponed the much anticipated press conference, presumably as they try to figure out a way to spin the fact there has been no flights within the last 8 hours...
* * *
President Joe Biden will deliver remarks on the evacuation efforts in Afghanistan...
President Joe Biden is “laser focused” on getting Americans who want to leave Afghanistan out of the country, a White House official said Friday.
“He has directed the Department of Defense and the team working on this to use every possibility available to them to increase the number of people that we’re getting out,” Kate Bedingfield, the White House’s communications director, said on CNN’s “New Day.”
Well it's not working... even CNN can't find a narrative to defend it...
CNN’s @clarissaward on Biden’s Afghan evac: "It’s totally disorganized. The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing … I haven’t seen a plane take off in eight hours." pic.twitter.com/55wCOfblHT— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) August 20, 2021
We expect more ...finger-pointing, blame-shifting, and whocouldanode?
And of course, the big question is - will he take any questions?
WH Comms Director:— The First (@TheFirstonTV) August 20, 2021
"The president never shies away from taking questions." pic.twitter.com/5waJYWCwcS
His address is due to start at 1300ET:
* * *
The Epoch Times' Zachary Stieber notes that this is the first time he’s addressed the issue since Wednesday, when Biden sat down with ABC host George Stephanopoulos, a former Clinton administration aide, for an interview midweek, but it was not broadcast live and ABC has withheld most footage from the discussion, opting instead to publish a transcript and selected clips.
Biden on Monday delivered a speech on Afghanistan. He primarily defended his decision to pull out U.S. troops and blamed the Trump administration for starting the withdrawal process.
Biden continued that theme with Stephanopoulos, claiming the intelligence community did not say that the Taliban could quickly takeover the country when the United States left.
He also said there was no way to withdraw from Afghanistan without “chaos ensuing.”
Biden on Friday plans to deliver remarks on “the evacuation of American citizens and their families, SIV applicants and their families, and vulnerable American citizens,” according to the White House.
SIV stands for Special Immigrant Visas.
The Biden administration is accepting tens of thousands of Afghans fleeing their country. Officials say the Afghans helped the United States during the decades-long war there.
Biden was in Delaware last week. He later went to Camp David, Maryland for vacation. That’s where he was when the Taliban took over Kabul on Sunday. Amid growing cries to address the public on the situation, he traveled to the White House on Monday to deliver the speech.
The president after that speech went back to Camp David.
The following evening, Biden went back to the White House.
Commanding General U.S. Central Command Kenneth F. McKenzie tours an evacuation control center at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Afghanistan, on Aug. 17, 2021. (U.S NAVY/Central Command Public Affairs/LT. Mark Andries via Reuters)
Biden did deliver remarks on Wednesday, but focused on the U.S. government’s COVID-19 response. He urged Americans to get a booster COVID-19 shot and denounced Republican governors who are blocking schools from implementing mask mandates.
Biden did not touch on Afghanistan. He did not take questions on Monday or Wednesday. The White House has not held a briefing since Tuesday.
Biden’s frequent travel from Washington has drawn criticism from Republicans, who say it shows poor leadership.
“Americans are stranded in Afghanistan. The Taliban is obstructing Americans trying to get home. President Biden is going on vacation during this crisis. This is pathetic leadership,” Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) said on social media regarding Biden’s Friday flight schedule.
“Biden’s Week: Vacation, Afghanistan Collapses, Silence, Blame Game, Speech, Vacation,” Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) added.
Biden’s team has defended his leadership throughout the disaster in Afghanistan, including White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who cut her own vacation short after the Taliban takeover.
“He’s taking responsibility for every decision the United States government took with respect to Afghanistan, because, as he said, the buck stops with him,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters this week.
“Now, at the same time, that doesn’t change the fact that there are other parties here responsible as well who have taken actions and decisions that helped lead us to where we are. So, from our perspective, what we have to do now is focus on the task at hand, the mission at hand,” he added.