(Headline USA) Leaked documents obtained by Axios reveal the Biden administration knew it was unprepared to withdraw its military presence from Afghanistan but moved forward with the evacuation anyway.
Notes from the White House Situation Room on Aug. 14 show officials were still trying to figure out how they would evacuate Afghan citizens who had worked with the U.S. military as the Taliban descended on Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. The very next day, on Aug. 15, Kabul fell to the Taliban.
The document, labeled “Summary of Conclusions for Meeting of the Deputies Small Group,” divided the administration’s next steps into “Pre-departure” and “Post-departure” actions. One of the post-departure actions was to figure out how to set up “transit processing for evacuees.”
“State will work to identify as many countries as possible to serve as transit points. Transit points need to be able to accommodate U.S. citizens, Afghan nationals, third country nationals, and other evacuees,” the notes read.
The Biden administration also had not figured out “whether foreign nationals who are immediate family members of U.S. citizens in Afghanistan” would need additional screening, or if they would be allowed to come straight to the U.S., according to the notes.
These meeting notes “highlight how many crucial actions the Biden administration was deciding at the last minute,” Axios reported.
In a statement, National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne said the administration would not “comment on leaked internal documents.”
“Cherry-picked notes from one meeting do not reflect the months of work that were already underway,” she claimed.
However, many former top foreign and military officials have argued these documents prove the Biden administration had no idea what it was doing at the time of the withdrawal.
“That so much planning, prioritizing and addressing of key questions had not been completed, even as Kabul was about to fall, underscores the absence of adequate interagency planning,” said Mark Jacobson, who served as the deputy NATO representative in Afghanistan during the Obama administration.