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The Biden administration’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken was on vacation in the Hamptons at the time he should have been overseeing the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
The Washington Post reports that Blinken was enjoying his time just hours before the Taliban invaded Kabul and completed their complete overthrow of the Afghan government some 20 years after their removal from power by the United States.
Blinken’s vacation occurred amidst the Taliban’s takeover of the country. As each capital city fell to their invasion, Blinken continued to be on break until just hours before his relaxation time was cut short ahead of the fall of Kabul.
The Washington Post provided a detailed timeline of the Taliban’s takeover of the country, describing in detail the actions of U.S. officials in the days leading up to the collapse of Afghanistan’s national government. Ahead of Kabul’s fall, Biden administration officials insisted that there was “no immediate cause for alarm,” with the Washington Post detailing how many of them were “surrendering to the customary rhythms of Washington in August.”
Blinken, like others on vacation, was called back from his vacation in the hours before Kabul fell, the Washington Post reported.
“By August, the dominant view was that the Taliban wasn’t likely to pose a serious threat to Kabul until late fall,” the publication reported. “On the Friday afternoon before Kabul fell, the White House was starting to empty out, as many of the senior staff prepared to take their first vacations of Biden’s young presidency. Earlier in the day, Biden had arrived at Camp David, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken was already in the Hamptons.”
White House Press Sec. Jen Psaki was also difficult to reach amid Kabul’s collapse, providing an “out of the office” email message for one week starting the same day the Taliban took over Afghanistan’s capital city. She returned to the White House the day after. Likewise, White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates currently has an “out of the office” auto-responder from Aug. 28 to Sept. 5, directing emailers to reach out to other White House press officers in his absence.
President Joe Biden has faced criticism at home and abroad, especially from his allies in the United Kingdom, over his disastrous execution of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, which was originally had a Sept. 11 deadline. The deadline was moved forward at the demands of the Taliban, who insisted on a total removal of U.S. forces by Aug. 31, which Biden ultimately agreed to. Biden has repeatedly defended his plan to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan, while hundreds of U.S. citizens and tens of thousands of special visa holders, passport holders, and vulnerable minorities including women and LGBT individuals remain stranded on the ground, behind Taliban lines.
On Sunday, a State Department spokesman confirmed that at least 250 American citizens are seeking evacuation from Afghanistan – that the administration has been in contact with. The information comes some three days after terrorists staged an attack on U.S. forces at Kabul airport, killing over a dozen U.S. service members and over 170 Afghans.
As detailed by Fox News, following the fall of Kabul, the Biden administration was criticized by members of the press and America’s NATO allies after he failed to properly address the situation in Afghanistan or take any questions. On Tuesday, the president’s remarks were delayed by over four hours after being rescheduled twice, and the evacuation of Afghanistan was the last topic on his agenda after speaking on infrastructure.
Criticism of the Biden administration has been compounded by a report from a former FBI counter-terrorism agent who said that the administration distributed blank visa applications throughout the country, which could make it easier for militants and terrorists to board flights back to the United States as the evacuation nears completion, Conservative Brief reported.