We’ll Keep the Spotlight on Biden’s Afghanistan Failure

6 Oct 2021

CLAY: One of the stories that we pledged that we would not abandon — even though many in the media have — is the disaster of our withdrawal in Afghanistan. Thirteen soldiers lost their lives. There are still American citizens left behind. It was Saigon on steroids. One of the most embarrassing American foreign policy disasters of our lives that has likely emboldened the Chinese as the situation in Taiwan deteriorates surrounding all of the flyovers that are occurring there.

But what exactly happened in the suicide attack that killed 13 American soldiers has kind of been surrounded in mystery. We know that Biden withdrew from Afghanistan in a disastrous and dishonorable fashion. We know that he killed an innocent man and seven young children in response to this terror attack while claiming that this innocent man was involved with ISIS-K.

Now it appears we have figured out how this terrorist who killed 13 American soldiers as well as dozens of Afghan people was able to do so. He had been in a prison at Bagram airfield, and when the Americans abandoned that airfield, all of the prisoners who had been held there were released by the Taliban.

And within days, this man had strapped himself to a suicide vest and he had blown himself up and killed 13 American soldiers. This is breaking news. Clarissa Ward breaking it on CNN. I believe we have the audio for you. Buck and I are reacting to this as this news is just now spreading as we speak. Listen to this.

WARD: … Abdul Rehman Al-Loghri, the terrorist from ISIS-K who was responsible for killing 13 American service members and dozens of Afghan civilians trying to get out of the country, that he had been held at Parwan prison in Bagram air base. When the Taliban took power on that Sunday, the first thing they did before coming into Kabul was essentially to empty the prisons at Parwan prison in Bagram and also in Pul-e-Charkhi.

And I remember that very well because there were very real security concerns across the whole capital that this could lead to a huge spike in crime and also terrorist activity. Parwan prison at Bagram held thousands of prisoners, but also specifically hundreds of very dangerous terrorists. Now, the Taliban was obviously trying to release their own people from the prison, but in the process, they did release these ISIS-K members.

CLAY: Buck —

BUCK: Abdul Rehman Al-Loghri, Clay, a guy from Logar province just south of Kabul, an ISIS-K fighter. You see this and you say to yourself… Again, when you look at the withdrawal debacle and the decision to release — or to give up, I should say — Bagram air base and with that, of course, the release of all these very high-risk prisoners.

These are hardened terrorists. These are people that rush to be a suicide bomber as soon as they get out of prison. I don’t think you could make a stronger case for how devoted to jihad and mayhem and murder somebody could be than that. But when they did this, meaning when the Biden administration planning went into effect here.

When they let Bagram go, let all the people that were held in this prison go, understand that they added to the chaotic logistical withdrawal process that was going on, the fact that they had the most dangerous fighters. If you were being kept at Bagram and you’re an ISIS-K guy, you were a top-tier risk inside of Afghanistan.

They let hundreds of them go right at the same time that we are going to be reliant on the Taliban for security not just at the airport but entry and exit from Kabul overall. And now they want to tell us — the Biden administration wants to tell us — that this wasn’t a complete and utter debacle? To say it showed a lack of foresight is far too kind.

It shows, really, an ineptitude and a lack of ability to do this kind of planning that obviously we should think extends well beyond just Afghanistan. We have all the reporting right now about the threats that China is making about Taiwan, and you have to wonder.

Joe Biden as commander-in-chief — when China is having some economic issues but feeling particularly nationalistic about Taiwan — is this the guy you want making key decisions? Oh, it’s gonna be General Milley? Is that gonna make people feel better? I don’t think so.

CLAY: Let’s talk about this Bagram decision for a moment because some of the officials, the generals, if I remember, they made the decision, “Hey, we can abandon Bagram and focus everything on the main airport, the Kabul airport,” Hamid Karzai, I think it’s called, airport “in the central part of Kabul with the idea being it would be somewhat easier to get in and out of that airport than Bagram ’cause Bagram is more of a difficult trip, outside of Kabul a little bit.”

But at a minimum, Buck, if we had just left enough forces to hold that airfield, I don’t think it’s very likely that the Afghans were going to storm it, right? Then we could have evacuated everybody, and those 13 people wouldn’t have been blown up because that terrorist would have been in prison until we actually left the country, right?

BUCK: I think we can make this a common-sense thing. You don’t have to know anything about military planning or logistics to understand if you’re going to have a civilian-evacuation operation underway, which is what we saw, evacuating tens of thousands of civilians — Americans, Afghans who worked with us that were SIV holders, Special Immigrant Visa holders — you probably want to wait until you’ve got the civilians out or pretty much all out before you release the most hardened, trained terrorists in the country a quick bus ride from the capital city. I think that that’s a pretty straightforward proposition.

CLAY: It’s not a difficult thing to say, “Well, wait a minute. If we let all of these…” To say nothing, by the way, of what’s gonna happen to the Afghanistan people, right? Like the Afghanis. But if we’ve got all these American soldiers who are top targets and we got all these American citizens who were top targets, if we have some of the most dangerous terrorists in all of Afghanistan currently in prison, maybe we should keep them in prison until we actually get everybody who’s an American out of the country. That’s not a crazy decision to make.

BUCK: You’d think that’s just rational, and I would say this is one of these areas where there are places where we want political accountability for the bad decision-making of people like Joe Biden as commander-in-chief. But then there’s also things where we just… There are those aspects of governance where you want people to be making good decisions because the stakes are so high that it does transcend politics.

I think that it’s not just about, “Oh, we need to hold the Biden administration accountable so that we pick up more House seats in the next midterms.” I think that that’s true. That’s a worthwhile conversation as well. But Joe Biden is president, apparently, for the next three years. We need to be very cautious about making any assumption that decisions that are being made at this level, ’cause we were sold on this idea, “The adults are in charge.”

The people that know. The adults that were in charge of during the Obama administration who are in charge again, by the way. The actual foreign policy apparatus is just a holdover from what they had for Obama’s eight years. The worst foreign policy decision-making for an eight-year stretch in my lifetime. And people are being sold this idea that, “Oh, Biden is the steady hand! He’s been in the game a long time.” Joe Biden’s not very smart. I almost feel like Hunter’s the smart one ’cause he’s selling $500,000 paintings when we all know it’s a joke.

CLAY: He made $11 million from China, Hunter did. Joe Biden also, in addition to what you’re saying about issues with Obama foreign policy, got arguably the biggest decision that Obama got right — which was killing Osama Bin Laden — wrong. You remember, Biden gave him the advice not to do it. He even got that one wrong.

BUCK: He is famous even in foreign policy circles in D.C., which I know — and I’ve worked at some of the think tanks, and I know these people. And obviously I was in the CIA and some of the decision-makers and people I was around. They’ve now made their way into the senior ranks of either elected office or appointed office and things like that. And he’s a guy, Clay, who is famous for pretty much always wrong. It’s like so funny, they’ve sold us on Joe Biden’s been in the job, so to speak, so long that you know that you can trust him. He’s been bad at the job the whole time.

CLAY: Almost always makes the wrong decision.

BUCK: He always makes the wrong call. And they tell us, “But he’s made so many calls.” This would be like the stockbroker that you’ve had for 30 years that only loses you money and all you talk about is —

CLAY: I’ve been there for a long time.

BUCK: — he’s been in the game for a while.

CLAY: Yeah, that just provides you a long-range opportunity to look at the decisions that he’s made so that you can tell how bad that is. And, again, I think this adds more proverbial fuel to the fire as it comes to understanding what exactly went into our withdrawal from Afghanistan. Because now we know that we had the person who killed the troops in prison, unable to hurt anybody.

And we made the decision to abandon the Bagram air base as well as that prison and directly. Our choice as a country… I’m saying “our choice.” Joe Biden, his administration’s choice. And now, Buck, the very real consequences of our futility as it pertains to leaving that country are, it feels like, being exploited by China as it pertains to what’s going on with Taiwan, because they’re basically saying, one, we don’t trust Joe Biden to have any kind of muscular response. And two, the United States looked so impotent after our retreat and collapse in Afghanistan that there’s no fear all from the Chinese leadership.

BUCK: The analysis that I just gave you and we’re talking about here when it comes to Biden being weak, feckless, and often wrong on key decisions? That’s not hard to come up with. That’s just an understanding of reality and of recent history with this guy. So other countries, competitors, opponents, even enemies, they see this.

And they say to themselves, “Is now a good time…?” People forget this. When did Russia get most aggressive with things like the eastern part of Ukraine? It was under the Obama administration. People forget, when did they annex Crimea? When did these things go down? It wasn’t under Trump. And now if you’re a country that has territorial designs on one of your neighbors, whether it’s irredentism over something like Taiwan, now is the time to see what you can get away with.

CLAY: I don’t think there’s any doubt, and that’s a natural consequence of the collapse in Afghanistan.

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