White House press secretary Jen Psaki said she was ‘not going to get into’ the bombshell July 23 phone call between President Biden and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, where he implored the Afghan leader to ‘change the perception’ of the war with the Taliban.
But, she said the contents of the call proved that the president was in the dark on the impending Taliban takeover.
‘I’m not going to get into private diplomatic conversations or leaked transcripts of phone calls,’ the press secretary told reporters Wednesday.
‘The content of the reporting is consistent with what we have said many times publicly,’ she said.
‘No one anticipated the vast majority, … anticipated that the Taliban would be able to take over the country as quickly as they did or that the Afghan national security forces would fold as quickly as they did.’
‘What the president conveyed publicly and certainly privately as well repeatedly to afghan leaders is that it’s important that the leaders in Afghanistan do exactly that – lead, show the country they are ready to continue the fight.’
Meanwhile, Republicans are tearing into the all where Biden told Ghani to try and show the world they were beating the Taliban ‘whether it is true or not.’
‘I’m disgusted that President Biden lied to the world to try to make everyone think the Taliban wasn’t taking over, when he knew they were rapidly gaining power. His lies cost us 13 American lives and Biden abandoned our allies when they needed us most,’ Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich., told DailyMail.com.
At least 170 people and 13 US troops were killed in a suicide bomb after the Taliban takeover as the US was evacuating Americans and allies in Kabul last week.
In a phone call transcript obtained by Reuters, Biden said the US would provide aid if Ghani could project to the world that he ‘had a plan’ for fighting the Taliban, while the Afghan army was being overrun.
Some say the call shows that Biden knew the situation was dire in Afghanistan way before the evacuation and flies in the face of claims from the administration that they had no idea the Taliban would take over so quickly. Other critics say Biden’s call shows he is ‘disconnected from the real world’ as he didn’t grasp Ghani’s warning that 15,000 terrorists were about to ‘invade’ Afghanistan.
Yet, he White House is sticking to its story, with Chief of Staff Ron Klain telling MSNBC late Tuesday that no one in the administration knew the Taliban would take over Afghanistan in just 12 days.
Reuters have not revealed how they obtained the transcript. But they said they could not reach Ghani or any of his representatives – raising the prospects that it could have come from inside the White House.
‘We will continue to provide close air support, if we know what the plan is,’ Biden said.
Biden focused much of the call on Ghani’s ‘perception problem.’
‘I need not tell you the perception around the world and in parts of Afghanistan, I believe, is that things are not going well in terms of the fight against the Taliban,’ Biden said. ‘And there is a need, whether it is true or not, there is a need to project a different picture.’
At the time of the call, Taliban had captured about half of the nation’s provincial capitals.
‘Yet more evidence that Joe Biden is totally disconnected from the real world. ‘Changing perception’ is political spin, not a national security strategy,’ Rep. Jody Hice, R-Fla., wrote on Twitter.
Biden, right, pressed Ghani, left, to bring together the government’s most prominent figures for a press conference. ‘That will change perception, and that will change an awful lot I think’
Taliban forces rally to celebrate the withdrawal of US forces in Kandahar, Afghanistan, 01 September 2021
‘That is how Joe Biden treats the American people, too. He thinks he can read a pre-scripted, defensive speech and we will all go along with it. What a joke!’ Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., wrote on Twitter.
‘Sounds like an impeachable phone call to me,’ Monica Crowley, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury wrote on Twitter.
‘BOMBSHELL CALL!’ former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany wrote on Twitter. ‘In July, Biden pressured the Afghan President (Ghani) to suggest the fight against the Taliban was going well ‘whether it is true or not.”
Still, Biden in the call expressed confidence that the US-trained Afghan security forces could fend off the Taliban, being much bigger in size and far more well-equipped.
‘You clearly have the best military,’ he told Ghani. ‘You have 300,000 well-armed forces versus 70-80,000 and they’re clearly capable of fighting well.’
The White House has since laid blame on the Afghan military for ‘collapsing without a fight.’
Ghani, meanwhile, relayed a sense of urgency to the US president.
‘We are facing a full-scale invasion, composed of Taliban, full Pakistani planning and logistical support, and at least 10-15,000 international terrorists, predominantly Pakistanis thrown into this,’ Ghani said.
‘We need to move with speed.’
‘In July, Joe Biden publicly downplayed a Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, calling it ‘highly unlikely.’ Was he lying then? If he knew privately that the Taliban was winning then, how did his administration fail so horrifically in the end? Thirteen service members are dead and hundreds of Americans are stranded because of Biden’s botched withdrawal. Americans deserve answers,’ Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., told DailyMail.com.
Families of the fallen U.S. service members were left disappointed by Joe Biden at the dignified transfer on Sunday. One sister of a fallen Marine yelled at the president: ‘I hope you burn in hell! That was my brother!’
‘And there’s a need, whether it is true or not, there is a need to project a different picture’: Excerpts of Biden’s bombshell call with Ghani
President Joe Biden and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani spoke by phone July 23. Here are excerpts from that call, based on a transcript and recording reviewed by Reuters:
BIDEN: Mr. President. Joe Biden.
GHANI: Of course, Mr. President, such a pleasure to hear your voice.
BIDEN: You know, I am a moment late. But I mean it sincerely. Hey look, I want to make it clear that I am not a military man any more than you are, but I have been meeting with our Pentagon folks, and our national security people, as you have with ours and yours, and as you know and I need not tell you the perception around the world and in parts of Afghanistan, I believe, is that things aren´t going well in terms of the fight against the Taliban.
And there´s a need, whether it is true or not, there is a need to project a different picture. …..
BIDEN: If you empower Bismillah [Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi] to execute a strategy focused on key parts of the population centers, and I´m not a military guy, so I´m not telling you what that plan should precisely look like, you´re going to get not only more help, but you´re going to get a perception that is going to change in terms of how , um….. our allies and folks here in the States and other places think you´re doing.
You clearly have the best military, you have 300,000 well-armed forces versus 70-80,000 and they´re clearly capable of fighting well, we will continue to provide close air support, if we know what the plan is and what we are doing. And all the way through the end of August, and who knows what after that.
We are also going to continue to make sure your air force is capable of continuing to fly and provide air support. In addition to that we are going to continue to fight hard, diplomatically, politically, economically, to make sure your government not only survives, but is sustained and grows because it is clearly in the interest of the people of Afghanistan, that you succeed and you lead. And though I know this is presumptuous of me on one hand to say such things so directly to you, I have known you for a long while, I find you a brilliant and honorable man.
But I really think, I don´t know whether you´re aware, just how much the perception around the world is that this is looking like a losing proposition, which it is not, not that it necessarily is that, but so the conclusion I´m asking you to consider is to bring together everyone from [Former Vice President Abdul Rashid] Dostum, to [Former President Hamid] Karzai and in between, if they stand there and say they back the strategy you put together, and put a warrior in charge, you know a military man, [Defense Minister Bismillah] Khan in charge of executing that strategy, and that will change perception, and that will change an awful lot I think. …
GHANI: Mr. President, we are facing a full-scale invasion, composed of Taliban, full Pakistani planning and logistical support, and at least 10-15,000 international terrorists, predominantly Pakistanis thrown into this, so that dimension needs to be taken account of.
Second, what is crucial is, close air support, and if I could make a request, you have been very generous, if your assistance, particularly to our air force be front loaded, because what we need at this moment, there was a very heavily reliance on air power, and we have prioritized that if it could be at all front-loaded, we will greatly appreciate it.
And third, regarding procedure for the rest of the assistance, for instance, military pay is not increased for over a decade. We need to make some gestures to rally everybody together so if you could assign the national security advisor or the Pentagon, anyone you wish to work with us on the details, so our expectations particularly regarding your close air support. There are agreements with the Taliban that we [or “you” this is unclear] are not previously aware of, and because of your air force was extremely cautious in attacking them.
And the last point, I just spoke again to Dr. Abdullah earlier, he went to negotiate with the Taliban, the Taliban showed no inclination. We can get to peace only if we rebalance the military situation. And I can assure you…
GHANI: And I can assure you I have been to four of our key cities, I´m constantly traveling with the vice president and others, we will be able to rally. Your assurance of support goes a very long way to enable us, to really mobilize in earnest. The urban resistance, Mr. President is been extraordinary, there are cities that have taken a siege of 55 days and that have not surrendered. Again, I thank you and I´m always just a phone call away. This is what a friend tells a friend, so please don´t feel that you´re imposing on me.
BIDEN: No, well, look, I, thank you. Look, close air support works only if there is a military strategy on the ground to support.
‘It’s damning President Biden knew the situation in Afghanistan was rapidly deteriorating in July’: Republicans react with fury to leaked Biden phone call with Ghani
‘That is how Joe Biden treats the American people, too. He thinks he can read a pre-scripted, defensive speech and we will all go along with it. What a joke!’ –Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind.
‘It’s damning President Biden knew the situation in Afghanistan was rapidly deteriorating in July and pressed Ghani to ‘project a different picture’ of the Taliban’s advance through Afghanistan rather than address the reality on the ground. I met with Ghani the night before his Oval Office meeting with Biden [July 8] and he asked for two requests: robust air support and U.S. contractors to maintain the aircraft. He received neither.’ -Rep. Mike Waltz, R-Fla.
‘I’m disgusted that President Biden lied to the world to try to make everyone think the Taliban wasn’t taking over, when he knew they were rapidly gaining power. His lies cost us 13 American lives and Biden abandoned our allies when they needed us most.’ –-Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich.
‘Yet more evidence that Joe Biden is totally disconnected from the real world. ‘Changing perception’ is political spin, not a national security strategy,’ -Rep. Jody Hice, R-Fla.
‘In July, Joe Biden publicly downplayed a Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, calling it ‘highly unlikely.’ Was he lying then? If he knew privately that the Taliban was winning then, how did his administration fail so horrifically in the end? Thirteen service members are dead and hundreds of Americans are stranded because of Biden’s botched withdrawal. Americans deserve answers,’ -Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C.
Ghani told Biden he believed there could be peace if he could ‘rebalance the military solution.’
The Afghan president fled the country, sending his government into collapse, three weeks later, and the Taliban subsequently took Kabul.
Biden promised diplomatic and economic support even after the military’s withdrawal concluded.
‘We are going to continue to fight hard, diplomatically, politically, economically, to make sure your government not only survives, but is sustained and grows,’ said Biden.
Tom Schwartz, a Vanderbilt US foreign relations historian who formerly advised the State Department, told DailyMail.com the call proves Biden was ‘deluded’ and really believed the Afghan government could resist.
‘I didn’t see in quite the deception way, I saw it as self-deception – more than anything else this belief that somehow it was only the perception that was the problem,’ he said. ‘I mean it’s scary in that sense that they were that out of touch with what was going on.’
‘One of the more dangerous things is when people believe their own Kool-Aid,’ he added. ‘It’s kind of sad.’
But others said that the phone call proved Biden knew things were headed south but did not speed up evacuations.
‘It’s damning President Biden knew the situation in Afghanistan was rapidly deteriorating in July and pressed Ghani to ‘project a different picture’ of the Taliban’s advance through Afghanistan rather than address the reality on the ground,’ Rep. Mike Waltz, R-Fla., told DailyMail.com. ‘I met with Ghani the night before his Oval Office meeting with Biden [July 8] and he asked for two requests: robust air support and U.S. contractors to maintain the aircraft. He received neither.’
‘The transcript of President Biden’s last call with Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani proves without a doubt that Biden is blatantly lying to the American people and our allies about what he knew and when he knew it,’ Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa., said.
‘It is clear from this transcript that Biden understood the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan was imminent and inevitable, yet he and his administration repeatedly assured the public that his withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan would be done smoothly and the Afghan government would remain in control.’
DailyMail.com has reached out to the White House for comment.
Republicans have upped calls for Biden’s impeachment over his handling of Afghanistan, but Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell threw cold water on that idea Wednesday. ‘Look the president is not going to be removed from office…I think the way these behaviors get adjusted in this country is at the ballot box.’
‘There isn’t going to be an impeachment.’
The Biden administration, up until the Afghanistan debacle, has been tight-lipped, avoiding the frequent leaks that came out of the Trump administration.
‘I was surprised it [the phone call] was leaked, that’s the type of thing that goes on when you have a breakdown and a blame shifting thing going on. It’s not a good sign,’ Schwartz said.
Reuters also reviewed transcripts of a call later that day Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, General Mark Milley and U.S. Central Command commander General Frank McKenzie, who also focused on a ‘perception’ problem.
Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Ghani ‘the perception in the United States, in Europe and the media sort of thing is a narrative of Taliban momentum, and a narrative of Taliban victory. And we need to collectively demonstrate and try to turn that perception, that narrative around.’
‘I do not believe time is our friend here. We need to move quickly,’ McKenzie added.
Flag-draped coffins of service members killed in action are loaded onto a transport aircraft during a ramp ceremony at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan August 27
Since the US completed its hasty exit from Afghanistan on Monday, the Taliban have seized control of billions of US equipment, including weapons, ammunition, planes and helicopters, armored vehicles and protective gear.
On Tuesday, they held mock funerals for American troops and NATO allies.
Coffins draped with the US, UK and French flags as well as NATO’s insignia were paraded through the streets of Khost on Tuesday by crowds waving the Taliban’s flag, hours after the final US plane departed.
Originally, Biden aimed to have all U.S. military out of Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, which is the 20 year anniversary of the catalyst that led to the war in the first place – the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
He then moved that date up to August 31 and by August 30 the final U.S. aircraft departed from Afghani soil with the last American service members on board.
On Tuesday, Biden delivered remarks declaring an end to the two-decades-long war in Afghanistan and deemed the withdrawal an ‘extraordinary success’ despite immense backlash for his handling of the pullout.
In addition to the deaths of 13 US soldiers and hundreds of fleeing Afghans, bungled withdrawal also left hundreds of U.S citizens behind, who are now on their own to find their way out of the country without military presence in Afghanistan to assist.
A defiant Biden said the mission couldn’t have been completed in a ‘more orderly manner’.
He said he ‘respectfully disagreed’ with critics who claimed he should have started the evacuation sooner to avoid the chaos.
Over the weekend, the Washington Post reported that the Taliban had offered the US a chance to secure Kabul while it was conducting evacuations, and Milley turned them down, knowing that Biden remained stalwart in his mission not to send any more US troops.
Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan refuses to call the Taliban the enemy and says ‘it’s hard to put a label on it’
Jake Sullivan wouldn’t classify the Taliban as an enemy of the U.S. – or really put them under any classification – during a Tuesday interview upon the president declaring an end to the 20-year war in Afghanistan.
‘What is the Taliban? Are they now our frenemy, are they our adversary, are they our enemy? Are they our – what are they?’ MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace asked Sullivan.
‘Well, it’s hard to put a label on it,’ Biden’s national security adviser responded.
He added: ‘In part because we have yet to see what they are going to be now that they’re in control – physical control of Afghanistan.’
Taliban chiefs reportedly ordered their fighters to hunt down pilots from the disbanded Afghan Air Force who received U.S. training to fly the high-tech warplanes and choppers left behind.
In celebration of victory over the U.S. and other western allies, jihadists took to the skies in their newly acquired aircraft. They also fought against the resistance in the Panjshir Valley in a $6 million Black Hawk helicopter.
Earlier this month, as U.S. forces began pulling out of Afghanistan, the Taliban was able to overrun the country in just over a week. And after 11 days, the Islamic militant group had control of the capital city of Kabul.
As the last U.S. troops left Afghanistan on Monday, the Taliban began declaring victory over the U.S. as it raided and seized U.S. and other foreign-run facilities in the country.
The air force capabilities left behind in the midst of the chaotic withdrawal gave the Taliban an air force worth tens of millions of dollars and more aerial firepower than a third of NATO members.
It’s estimated as many as 48 aircraft were seized by the Taliban, although it is unclear what the breakdown is in terms of planes and helicopters.
The Taliban and their supporters took to the streets that day after the total U.S. withdrawal to celebrate, waving their flags and chanting victory over their western adversaries.
They also spit in the face of western forces by holding mock funerals for Western troops with coffins draped with the U.S., United Kingdom and French flags as well as NATO’s insignia. They launched fireworks into the Kabul skyline and flaunted the American weapons and equipment they obtained when U.S. military personnel left it behind.
Taliban forces are also reportedly beating female cops.
During the withdrawal, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin admitted that Americans were being beaten by Taliban forces as they attempted to get through checkpoints to the Kabul airport for evacuation.
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