I have seen this article (“CIA warned of rapid Afghanistan collapse. So why did U.S. get it so wrong?“) used repeatedly to claim that Biden had ample early warning that the Afghan forces would collapse and the U.S. would not have time to withdraw adequately.
As far as I can tell, that conclusion is pure BS.
People nowadays seem to read no further than the headlines, and the headlines are written to be sensational; the more specific and meaningful content is in the article. This headline gives the incorrect impression that the Biden administration was fully and adequately warned in time to do things right.
But that’s not what the article actually says. In the first graf:
“As the Taliban began seizing provinces across Afghanistan in recent weeks, the CIA’s intelligence assessments began to warn in increasingly stark terms about the potential for a rapid, total collapse of the Afghan military and government, current and former U.S. officials told NBC News.”
Now break that down in terms of timing. “In recent weeks.” Not months; at most, 4-5 weeks ago. Then, “began to warn.” That says that the initial warnings were lesser than the later ones. Well, which ones? How many? How did they express it?
Not to mention: this was happening at a time when the Taliban had already started their move. Not before.
Then we have to ask, who was doing this? We are only told of “intelligence assessments,” which could mean anything from some lone analyst all the way up to the whole agency concurring. But that is not made clear.
So, at some point soon after the Taliban began their surprising blitz, someone at the CIA wrote a report warning of the advance that was already happening. As the Taliban advanced, the warnings became stronger.
How the hell does that make Biden derelict?
Seriously, as far as I can see, these warnings told Biden nothing that he could not already see, and there is zero—I repeat, zero—indication that Biden did or did not react to it immediately. However, with just a few weeks of knowledge that a blitz—one that surprised everyone, even the Taliban themselves—in the middle of an already-rushed massive withdrawal with a myriad of interdependent moving parts, you cannot expect the military to pivot on a dime and suddenly do in days what it was projected would take months. That is entirely unrealistic.
Now, if, as the headline suggests, the CIA had been pressing Biden with strong warnings at least a month before the advance began and Biden ignored it, that would be something.
But that’s not what this is. This appears to be little more than inter-agency ass-covering, using the media to create a narrative that the agency had it right all along.
An additional point of ire is that Biden’s State Department dragged their feet on getting the translators and other Afghanis who helped us out of the country. Again, angry parties highlighted that they were pressing to get this started early… but if you read the details again, these were only a few weeks before the collapse started, and the article gives a rather powerful reason why it did not happen faster:
“At the State Department, officials are pointing the finger at Congress, which created an onerous 14-step process for the special visa program that diplomats by law must complete before they can issue the visas. No diplomat wants to be the one who cuts a corner and ends up admitting into the U.S. someone who could pose a risk, one diplomat said. Congress ultimately passed legislation streamlining and expanding the program, but not until the end of July.”
In other words, republicans in Congress with hot heads on immigration didn’t want the Afghan helpers to come… the very same republicans who are now throwing scathing attacks at Biden for leaving them behind.
The lowdown is this: everybody screwed up. Bush 43 screwed up getting this started. Trump screwed up by gifting the Taliban with everything they wanted and screwing over the Afghan government and military, as well as our own. From there, you start with a distant third. Biden is somewhere in there, to be sure, but he has a lot of company.
If you see this same headline, or what it seems to convey, cited anywhere—challenge it. It’s incendiary fuel for Biden-haters on the left and the right… but it has practically zero substance.
What you’re seeing is a major disaster, and most of the people who want to avoid responsibility are pointing fingers; this article is an excellent example of this.
In the end, however, Biden is president, and as he said, the buck stops with him. And as such, he is opening the door for all the finger-pointers to point directly at him.
You have to at least respect the fact that the man can take the heat.
Trump would never have done this. In fact, instead of saying “The Buck Stops Here,” he’s pointing his stubby little fingers at Biden, claiming that he, unlike Biden, would have been masterful at the pull-out.
Right. Just like Syria.
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