Biden’s Botched Bug Out

This week we were treated to a bloody horror show at Kabul airport and a preposterous performance (a full day late) by a president who claimed responsibility and then quickly proceeded to shun it, blaming everyone else. As commander in chief, he was responsible for the disastrous consequences of the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan by a plan only an idiot would have conceived or endorsed. What followed were continued lies from the Department of State, General Mark Milley, and probably the Department of Defense. Only individual Americans stood fast to preserve our tattered honor.

The Biden Bug Out Plan was exactly the opposite of the plan President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had crafted. In that plan, our well-fortified base at Bagram, some 40 miles from Kabul, was to be the last thing shuttered. In Biden’s plan, it was the first. He had our troops turn off the lights and leave in the middle of the night without warning to the Afghan government, doubtless encouraging the rapid Taliban advance to Kabul. The president blamed the military for this decision, and General Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, seemed to concur, although even as he fell on his sword there was wiggle room, for he predicated it on the need to get the troops down to about 600 or 700, a decision only Biden could have made.  Essentially, a military briefer conceded this by asserting the mission to withdraw was Biden’s and the emphasis on giving priority to protecting the embassy was also his. The Wall Street Journal explains how disastrous this nonsensical order of departure was.

The way U.S. forces quietly slipped out of Bagram was also demoralizing for the Afghan army and probably contributed to its collapse. The Associated Press spoke to soldiers wandering the base the next day. “They lost all the goodwill of 20 years,” one said, “by leaving the way they did, in the night, without telling the Afghan soldiers who were outside patrolling the area.” The word must have spread: If the U.S. is abandoning its prized air base, then it really was bugging out altogether.

After the collapse of the Afghan government, Mr. Biden could have sent in enough U.S. troops to retake Bagram and provide for a safer evacuation. He declined that option in favor of getting to the exits as fast as possible, hoping to avoid a confrontation with the Taliban that could result in American casualties. On Thursday he got casualties anyway.

The wreck of Mr. Biden’s Afghan withdrawal is damaging enough. But he compounds the harm to his credibility, and America’s, when he refuses to acknowledge mistakes and spins defeat as a victory for realism. Mr. Biden should take responsibility for his own bad decisions, instead of trying to hide behind the military brass.

Left behind in Afghanistan were billions of dollars worth of armaments which will certainly be used against us and our allies. Also left behind are an untold number -- certainly in the thousands -- of Americans, green card holders, allied civilians, and Afghans who aided us and our NATO allies. They are being systematically butchered, with the aid of biometric records of those whom the jihadis are targeting. A huge potential hostage situation awaits. The administration concedes that we had already given the Taliban lists of people we wanted to give safe passage to. If that weren’t enough to target them for death, the biometric records sealed it.

The Taliban has mobilized a special unit, called Al Isha, to hunt down Afghans who helped US and allied forces -- and it’s using US equipment and data to do it.

Nawazuddin Haqqani, one of the brigade commanders over the Al Isha unit, bragged in an interview with Zenger News that his unit is using US-made hand-held scanners to tap into a massive US-built biometric database and positively identify any person who helped the NATO allies or worked with Indian intelligence. Afghans who try to deny or minimize their role will find themselves contradicted by the detailed computer records that the US left behind in its frenzied withdrawal. [snip] US officials have not confirmed how many of the 7,000 hand-held scanners were left behind or whether the biometric database could be remotely deleted.

Apparently, Pakistani intelligence officers are assisting the Taliban’s Haqqani network in utilizing this tool.

As the work of the Haqqani Network becomes more visible, the Department of State, doubtless to bolster the administration’s claim that it had been fine to count on the Taliban’s pledge to secure the Kabul airport, asserted that the Taliban and Haqqani are “separate entities.” This is a new one and a likely bald-faced lie. Section 1217,FY 2021 NDAA (PL116-283) of this year’s National Defense Authorization Act is very clear: "The Taliban....(B) includes subordinate organizations, such as the Haqqani Network, and any successor organization.” At the Washington Examiner, Jerry Dunleavy spells out how ridiculous is the claim that these are separate entities.

The Taliban, Haqqani Network, and al Qaeda are deeply intertwined in Afghanistan, with the Taliban integrating Haqqani Network leaders and fighters with al Qaeda links into its command structure. ISIS-K has long clashed with the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, claiming Taliban rule is illegitimate.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan said last weekend, “The Taliban, obviously, to a considerable extent, are integrated with the Haqqani network. Our effort is with the Taliban military commanders currently in charge of security in Kabul.”

Sirajuddin Haqqani, the “deputy emir” of the Taliban, “currently leads the day-to-day activities of the Haqqani Network,” according to the State Department, which explained that “the Haqqani Network is allied with the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda.” Sirajuddin has been designated a terrorist by the U.S., and the State Department’s Reward for Justice program has offered $10 million for his arrest.

The Long War Journal reported in 2017 that “the Taliban again affirmed that the Haqqanis are an integral part of its organization -- not an independent faction.”[snip] Sirajuddin is the nephew of Khalil Rahman Haqqani, another top Taliban figure who is now reportedly in charge of security in Kabul. The Treasury Department designated Khalil a global terrorist in 2011, alleging he was “providing support to al-Qaeda.”

The Taliban, al Qaeda, and ISIS-K fighters are believed to have been among the thousands of prisoners freed from the Parwan Detention Facility when the Taliban entered Kabul last weekend. The prison is right next to Bagram Airfield, which the U.S. quietly abandoned in July.

On Twitter, Bill Roggio has more of the intertwining of the Taliban and Haqqani operations.

Just who, apart from their lapdog press, does the Department of State think they are fooling? 

So disastrous has this Biden operation been that it is not being much defended. And in perhaps a slip of the tongue, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki finally said something believable:

[A]s I noted a few minutes ago, any day where you lose servicemembers is -- may be the worst day of your presidency, and hopefully there’s not more. But we are certainly early in the presidency at this point in time.” 

I would not be surprised if no high-ranking official appears at the airport where the bodies of the servicemen and women will be unloaded. I imagine it's a combination of callousness and the desire to avoid any images which link the administration to the mayhem that followed its orders. Biden lives nearby and as I write this he has not committed to appear there. 

Winding up his tardy address, Biden blustered that we'd get revenge for the killings. It’s hard to see how, with no bases in the country, a bug-out that put at risk anyone who helps us and thousands of civilian hostages on the ground. But the Department of Defense came up with an over the horizon Biden bacon saver -- claiming that with a drone strike they’d killed an ISIS-K “planner.” Not sure what a “planner” is, and certainly it is unlikely anyone can verify this claim. So, I place this in the dubious, and even if true, ineffectual file. Another tale for the halfwits among us.

There were only two bright spots in the week. One brave Marine, Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller, attacked senior military officers for their lack of accountability in this mess, knowing it would cost him his command, and very promptly it did. Wade Miller notes how corruptly discriminatory this was:

@WadeMiller_USMC

Lt. Col. Vindman went on national television and proactively attacked the Commander in Chief for partisan reasons. yet he kept his job.

But Lt. Col.  Scheller lost his command today for rightly demanding accountability from senior officers who allowed the Afghanistan disaster to unfold.

In a similar vein, active duty and retired naval intelligence officers are told they cannot “disrespect” the president over the Afghanistan debacle. The ONI (Office of Naval Intelligence) directive even applies to civilian employees.

An internal ONI member told The Daily Wire that these policies were more relaxed under the Trump administration and recalled retired officers condemning the former President.

The more the senior officials try to button this up to cover for Biden, the more we lose any faith in them and the more obvious becomes the politicization of our military, the one domestic institution which still retained our faith and respect.

The only other bright spot was the marvelous “Pineapple Express,” the successful effort by U.S. special operations veterans who secretly helped evacuate more than 600 Afghan allies and their families, a story worth a movie.

One former SEAL who participated complained to ABC “that our own government didn’t do this. We did what we should do, as Americans.” Another retired SEAL said of an Afghan veteran who refused to abandon his family and eventually led them all to safety, “Leaving a man behind is not in our SEAL ethos. Many Afghans have a stronger vision of our democratic values than many Americans do.”

There still are men in America. There still are honorable people in America. But darned if you can find them in official Washington.

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