Reported by CHRIS ENLOE | February 14, 2022
CNN anchor Jake Tapper criticzed President Joe Biden on Sunday over his dismissive attitude toward military reports detailing the Biden administration’s failures that contributed to the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. Biden was confronted about the reports in an interview with NBC News anchor Lester Holt, and Biden said he was “rejecting” the conclusions and accounts shared in those reports.
Toward the end of CNN’s “State of the Union,” Tapper sharply criticized Biden for his sweeping dismissal of accounts critical of his administration’s Afghanistan exit.
“It’s difficult to overstate how insulting Biden’s sweeping rejection is to so many service members and veterans, given the full content of the 2,000 pages of documents in this U.S. Army investigation, which CNN has also obtained,” Tapper said.
“Many accounts are from troops who were on the ground at the gates near the canal around the airport, noncommissioned officers, junior officers, Joes, people with little political motivation to lie, and heavy legal and moral obligation to tell the truth in sworn statements,” he continued.
Tapper later added that he does not “doubt that President Biden cares” about the lives lost during the evacuation, but questioned Biden’s cavalier attitude toward the military reports.
“I do not understand why he would not manifest that care into taking this investigation more seriously, absorbing the tragic details, contemplating the obvious failures of his administration, failures that cost lives,” Tapper said.
“Now, Biden always bristles at this because he feels confident that ending the war in Afghanistan was the right decision. But that’s not the question at hand,” he explained. “It’s not whether, but how the war ended and what that means to the people who were there when it did finally end.”
Tapper also condemned Biden for dismissing the validity of military testimony about the chaotic exit on the basis of “that’s not what I was told.”
“If [the truth] was not what you were told, then what was? And don’t you have an obligation, sir, to be told?” Tapper questioned, adding that Biden must demonstrate he actually cares. “Otherwise, isn’t it just words?”
The Washington Post obtained after-action military reports last week that lay bare the Biden administration’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. The reports include testimony from top U.S. military commanders who alleged the Biden administration failed to grasp the seriousness of the Taliban’s swift takeover of Afghanistan, thereby placing U.S. personnel and Afghan allies in great danger. Navy Rear Adm. Peter Vasely, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan during the withdrawal operation, told Army investigators that military personnel would have been “much better prepared to conduct a more orderly” evacuation “if policymakers had paid attention to the indicators of what was happening on the ground.”
Among the more egregious accusations, one military officer told Army investigators that as military personnel worked to evacuate the U.S. embassy in Kabul, State Department employees and other diplomatic personnel were “intoxicated and cowering in rooms” while others were “operating like it was day-to-day operations with absolutely no sense of urgency or recognition of the situation.”
Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, chief of U.S. Central Command, admitted in an interview with the Post that military commanders “would have preferred” other evacuations plans than the one Biden approved, “but when the president makes a decision, it’s time for us to execute the president’s decision.”
Regarding the abandonment of Bagram Airfield, McKenzie also told the Post, “Everyone clearly saw some of the advantage of holding Bagram, but you cannot hold Bagram with the force level that was decided.”