(DCWatchdog.com) – The Biden administration’s Afghanistan exit strategy may be worse than initially expected as news outlets received leaked notes from within the White House Situation Room showing the extent to which it was unprepared to evacuate Afghan nationals who had assisted Americans during the conflict.
The alleged leaked documents, first reported on by Axios, display the number of “crucial actions” the U.S. had only started preparing to take when Kabul began to fall to the Taliban.
Speaking on the matter, a spokesperson for the National Security Council (NSC), Emily Horne, downplayed the documents’ magnitude. She told Axios that despite being unable to comment on the documents in question, the notes “cherry-picked… from one meeting” did not reflect “the months of work that were already underway.”
The report details that the NSC was making last-minute plans in a meeting on August 14, 2021, between 3:30 p.m and 4:30 p.m. ET.
Notes from the meeting showed that discussions concluded with the State Department identifying “as many countries as possible to serve as transit points.” Also elaborating on the criteria for these transit points, detailing they “need to be able to accommodate U.S. citizens, Afghan nationals, third-country nationals, and other evacuees.”
While questions like these are critical to plans to withdraw from Afghanistan, the timing points to a lack of preparedness.
At the time of this meeting, Afghanistan was hours away from being overthrown, despite President Joe Biden already announcing in April –– four months prior –– that the last 2,500 to 3,500 troops would be leaving Afghanistan alongside NATO’s 7,500 soldiers.
Following Biden’s April announcement, Afghan defense forces began a swift collapse, causing many areas to fall without any fight, given the Afghan troops –– many of whom had not received their wages in months –– fled.
At the time, Biden defended what many believed was a botched exit that hadn’t undertaken the necessary planning, with the President saying, “I was not going to extend this forever war,” adding that he “was not going to extend a forever exit.”