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Top aides to President Joe Biden and his national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, have admitted they were “too scared” to question either man about key decisions in the lead-up to the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan.
According to a report Sunday in the UK’s Daily Mail, Biden “is accused of insisting on recalling U.S. troops ahead of the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington DC, and allegedly ignored warnings that it would not leave the military enough time to get American nationals and allies out.”
Word that top aides were too fearful of challenging Biden and Sullivan comes from a former Defense Department official who is in “regular contact” with current senior White House aides, the outlet continued.
The Sunday Telegraph adds that some officials within the Biden administration unsuccessfully pressed the president to keep open the massive Bagram Air Base because it has more runways than Hamid Karzai International Airport in the capital of Kabul, the facility at the center of U.S. and NATO operations throughout the 20-year war.
The official said that the regime operations “like an autocracy” and is authoritarian in stifling dissent.
“It’s one thing to crack down on leaks, it’s another thing to allow a mistake like this,” the official told the Daily Mail.
“This White House is very disciplined, especially when it comes to leaks and such. But the downside of discipline is if you’re running things like an autocracy, and you broker no dissent internally, that’s not what the purpose of a White House staff is,” the official added.
Meantime, there are also rumblings that White House officials are also pushing Biden to extend the Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline, even at the expense of negotiating with the Taliban additional time to evacuate thousands of Americans and Afghan allies.
That’s not likely to sell, however, since Biden campaigned on ending the country’s “forever wars” and with the midterm primary season approaching shortly after the first of the year.
“The President is under immense domestic and international criticism for his management of the crisis in Afghanistan. In a speech given from the White House on Monday, Mr. Biden blamed his predecessor Donald Trump and the Afghan Army for the Taliban’s astonishing seizure of Kabul – and seemingly refusing to accept responsibility himself,” the Daily Mail reported.
Trump, meanwhile, has responded with criticism of his own, telling a massive rally in Alabama Saturday night Biden has overseen one of the biggest U.S. foreign policy disasters since Vietnam.
“This will go down as one of the greatest military defeats of all time,” Trump said, adding that the scenario playing out in Afghanistan is humiliation and that it’s not a withdrawal but rather “a total surrender.”