Newly declassified remarks made by a top military commander responsible for overseeing the evacuation of U.S. troops from Afghanistan expose that First Lady Jill Biden was among a group of VIPs who contributed to the failure of a withdrawal.
Rear Adm. Peter Vasely, the top U.S. commander in Kabul during the time of the evacuation last August admitted that during the withdrawal he was plagued with special requests from first lady Jill Biden and Pope Francis, among others, who were seeking special treatment of specific people of their choosing in the country.
Vasely was asked by the Army’s lead investigator, Brig. Gen. Lance Curtis, if reports that the Pope and the first lady had asked for special help were true.
He answered, “That’s accurate. I was being contacted by representatives from the Holy See to assist the Italian military contingent … in getting through groups … of special interest to the Vatican. That is just one of many examples. I cannot stress enough how these high-profile requests ate up bandwidth and created competition for already stressed resources.”
Vasely continued, “You had everyone from the White House down with a new flavor of the day for prioritization.”
“Vasely called the outreach a ‘distraction’ that ‘created competition for already stressed resources,’” according to the Post which managed to obtain the 2,000 page report.
The military leader’s statements were made during an investigation into the deaths of 13 U.S. service members who were killed in a suicide bombing outside of Kabul’s international airport.
The chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is one of Biden’s most notable failures to date.
On August 22, Biden vocalized a promise that no American who wanted to leave would be left behind, declaring, “I will say again today [what] I have said before: Any American who wants to get home will get home,” Vasely, meanwhile, told investigators that by August 22 or 23, “it was clear we weren’t going to get all Americans out.”
He added that he “started having conversations at senior levels” of the U.S. government about the possibility of pushing the evacuation efforts past the August 31 deadline.
“When the mission ended, State Department officials said they believed there were about 100 American citizens left in Afghanistan who wanted to leave. They revised that several times, eventually saying that more than 450 left with American assistance after the military evacuation concluded,” the Post acknowledged.
Leaked notes from the day before Kabul fell to the Taliban also revealed that a White House Situation Room meeting took place in which senior Biden administration officials were scrambling, still unsure of details of the evacuation such as how to evacuate Afghan nationals who had aided the U.S. in the war.
According to the report, even more blame can be placed on the Biden admin for the failure, “Senior White House and State Department officials failed to grasp the Taliban’s steady advance on Afghanistan’s capital and resisted efforts by U.S. military leaders to prepare the evacuation of embassy personnel and Afghan allies weeks before Kabul’s fall, placing American troops ordered to carry out the withdrawal in greater danger, according to sworn testimony from multiple commanders involved in the operation.”