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Winning the Messaging Battle, Part I

Psaki Lied in Her Attempts to Debunk Afghanistan Report

AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki is once again finding her on-the-record statements contradicted by facts this week — and reporting from The Washington Post no less — as the Biden administration continues to try avoiding blame or responsibility for the disastrous and deadly withdrawal from Afghanistan. 


During Friday's press briefing, Psaki doubled down on President Biden's rejection of the accounts and findings in a U.S. Army report on the withdrawal from Afghanistan — obtained and released by The Washington Post — that contained more evidence of the Biden administration's incompetence and lack of planning. As Townhall reported last week, President Biden refused to accept the accounts of his own commanders and his military's "damning" (as NBC News characterized them) conclusions.

When asked about Biden's comments and whether they meant the he "has ruled out any action that might be viewed or read as accountability?" Psaki did her best to minimize the damaging reports and undermine the credibility of commanders' quoted in them.

"I think it’s important for people to understand there was no 'after-action report,'" Psaki said. "The Washington Post report was not an after-action report; it was based on a range of FOIA documents — which is their right to do — based on individual interviews of members of the military, including many who were not a part of policymaking decisions in the Situation Room — some were, many were not." Psaki tried to explain. "But that is not an after-action report," she claimed. 


But now The Washington Post is bringing the receipts — in the form of "after action review" documents obtained via FOIA — to back-up its reporting, and they show Psaki again misleading reporters and the American people about what the Army report means. The day after Psaki sought to further undermine the military's conclusions about Biden's withdrawal from Afghanistan, WaPo hit back. 

"Two 'after action' reports were prepared by officials assigned to U.S. Central Command in September, about three weeks after the final planeload of military personnel departed Hamid Karzai International Airport," The Post's report says, subtly quoting the name of the reports Jen Psaki denied showed any mismanagement of lack of preparedness from the Biden administration. 

"The assessments appear to affirm separate accounts of senior U.S. commanders frustrated by what they characterized as sloppy, misguided management of the withdrawal," The Post's rebuttal to Psaki's claims continues:

The declassified after-action analyses are contained within an official report detailing the military’s investigation of an Aug. 26 suicide bombing outside the airport’s Abbey Gate that killed an estimated 170 Afghans and 13 U.S. service members. The report, obtained by The Washington Post through a Freedom of Information Act request, comprises dozens of witness interviews, findings of fact, and other official government records. Spanning 2,000 pages, it presents the most extensive, unvarnished account to date of the United States’ 17-day race to end its longest war.

The existence of the after-action reports contradicts claims made Friday by White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who has joined President Biden and other administration officials in seeking to downplay the significance of U.S. commanders’ remarks.


So, the reports President Biden said he was "rejecting" are the same reports Psaki said aren't after-action reports but according to The Post are an after-action review. Reporters looking for clarification or an explanation from Psaki won't get one Monday — Psaki is apparently out for the day and Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre is speaking for the White House in Monday's press briefing. 

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