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Tipsheet

Biden Official: Look, Abandoning Americans and Afghan Allies is Actually in 'Their Best Interest'

A few appalling soundbytes in an ocean of appalling soundbytes from Biden officials trying to spin away what they've done.  In a matter of days, Team Biden has shifted from 'we won't leave our people behind' to 'how dare you use the word stranded?' to 'listen, these strandings were expected, normal, and not really a big deal.'  Let's review the tape.  President Biden promised repeatedly, including less than two weeks ago, that the United States would get its citizens and allies out of Afghanistan before our military fully withdrew:

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June

President Joe Biden vowed on Thursday that Afghans who helped the U.S. military “are not going to be left behind” as his administration stepped up planning to evacuate thousands of Afghan interpreters while their applications for U.S. entry are processed...“They’re going to come,” Biden said in an exchange with reporters after an event to highlight a bipartisan agreement reached on infrastructure legislation. “We’ve already begun the process. Those who helped us are not going to be left behind.” 

August

President Joe Biden pledged firmly Friday to bring all Americans home from Afghanistan — and all Afghans who aided the war effort, too...“We’re making the same commitment” to Afghan wartime helpers as to U.S. citizens, Biden said, offering the prospect of assistance to Afghans who largely have been fighting individual battles to get the documents and passage into the airport that they need to leave. He called the Afghan allies “equally important” in the evacuations.

And now? The administration admits that perhaps hundreds of Americans who wanted to leave have been left behind, along with tens of thousands of Afghans who helped the US and NATO allies over the years.  Just last week, Jen Psaki upbraided Fox's Peter Doocy for calling these people "stranded." Now an another administration spokesman is himself using that word while trying to downplay the abandonment:

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No, we do not actively strand Americans and allies in a countries overrun by militant Islamists, after explicitly committing not to do so, "all the time" -- and any attempt to normalize what just happened is shameful gaslighting.  The solemn oath the president made had nothing to do what he would have "liked and preferred."  It was a firm vow that was violated.  We could have gotten everyone out, too.  That would have required a much better plan, executed over a period of months.  It would have required not rejecting a Taliban offer for the US to control Kabul during the final weeks of the withdrawal.  It would have required not fanatically sticking to an arbitrary deadline.  "The time just wasn't there," Kirby says, pretending as though August 31 was forever etched in stone, and hoping people won't remember that even under the time frame he cites, the US chose to retreat 24 hours early.  Even worse is this line from National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan:

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I saw the pull quote on Twitter, but made sure to watch the actual clip to confirm that he actually asserted that the promise-shattering stranding was in the "best interests" of not just the US more broadly, but of the stranded themselves.  And that's exactly what he said.  Imagine being one of those Americans, or one of those US interpreters who now faces death at the hands of terrorists.  Imagine hearing a smug presidential aide explain to the world that the abject betrayal and violated promise that has placed your family's lives in grave danger was really about your "best interests."  Sullivan goes on to say that leaving people behind was unanimously endorsed by the president's entire national security team -- and just in case anyone had missed his meaning, he states again that "the best way to help [the stranded] was to transition this mission," by which he means leaving them behind.  I wonder if Jake Sullivan would agree with that assessment if Jake Sullivan were one of the people stuck on the ground as the final US aircraft took off yesterday.

He says the critics aren't the ones who have to sit in the Situation Room and make "the hard calls," like abandoning thousands of people we promised not abandon.  The premise here is that all of this was sprung on Biden the bystander, who had to muddle through a chaotic situation over which he wielded no control.  But Biden and his team have presided over all it, making every decision that precipitated this disaster.  This is their policy and their execution, full stop.  Also, note this little piece of framing from yet another Biden administration mouthpiece:

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"Those who stayed."  Like these people who "stayed"?


As for the "low hundreds" number that the administration keeps repeating, as if it's an achievement, Stephen Hayes told me yesterday that he doesn't believe it.  Neither do I.  And neither, it seems, does Matt Lewis:

A couple of weeks ago, the Biden administration was saying there were 10,000 to 15,000 U.S. citizens in Afghanistan. As recently as last week, The Washington Post was citing that number. Then, all of a sudden, the Biden administration began saying that there were just 6,000 U.S. citizens (“who wanted to leave”) as of August 14. After accounting for the current evacuations, that meant there would be just a few hundred Americans left in Afghanistan. Not everyone is buying it, though. Michael Pregent, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute (a conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C.) and a former intelligence officer, disputes the administration’s numbers. “Thousands of Americans remain in Afghanistan that want to leave,” he tweeted. “This ‘hundreds left’ is political math. We shouldn’t leave 1 behind, but lying about the numbers abandons hope for thousands of Americans trying to get out.” I asked Pregent what he meant by political math, and he told me that anyone left behind will be put in the “chose to stay” category. If he’s right, this would be a huge scandal. A simpler and less sinister explanation is that this boils down to gross incompetence on the part of the Biden administration. 

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I'll leave you with this, which touches on a group of Americans that the administration's dubious 'stranded' math excludes:


"Do not rely on U.S. government assistance" is a fitting, harrowing sentence.

UPDATE:

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