Secretary of State Antony Blinken was on vacation in the Hamptons just hours before Taliban insurgents invaded Kabul and completed their retake of Afghanistan 20 years after their eviction by US-led forces, according to a new report.
According to a detailed timeline of the Taliban takeover of Kabul compiled by the Washington Post, the actions of US officials in the days leading up to the collapse suggested “no immediate cause for alarm”, many of them “Submitting to Washington’s usual rhythms in August.”
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Blinken, like other U.S. officials, had to be reminded of his vacation once things started to deteriorate rapidly in Afghanistan, the report said.
“In August, the prevailing view was that the Taliban is unlikely to pose a serious threat to Kabul until late fall,” The Post reported. “On the Friday afternoon before the fall of Kabul, the White House began to empty, as many senior executives prepared to take their first vacation from Biden’s young presidency. Earlier in the day, Biden had arrived in Camp David, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken was already in the Hamptons. “
Biden has been the subject of much criticism regarding his execution of the military withdrawal and his actions during and after the collapse of Kabul. The president has repeatedly defended his plan to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan, while hundreds of US citizens and tens of thousands of Afghan allies and Afghans vulnerable to Taliban retaliation remain stranded in the country. A State Department spokesperson said on Sunday that 250 U.S. citizens remained in Afghanistan, three days after IS-K terrorists attacked Kabul airport, killing 13 U.S. servicemen and more than 170 Afghans.
Biden assured Americans last month that a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan was not likely and that he trusted “the capacity of the Afghan army.” The president largely avoided the cameras during the debacle, watching the fall of Kabul on August 15 unfold from the presidential retreat at Camp David in Maryland.
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Three days after the collapse of Kabul, Biden came under heavy criticism after making public remarks on COVID-19 and did not address the situation in Afghanistan or answer questions. On Tuesday, his White House remarks were delayed by more than four hours after being rescheduled twice, and the US evacuation effort in Afghanistan was the last topic he brought up after touting his Build Back Better program. .
Meanwhile, White House press secretary Jen Psaki received an ‘out of office’ email message for a week beginning on the very day of the Kabul collapse, but returned to the White House the next day. . Fox News contacted the White House on Sunday for a separate article and White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates currently has an “out of office” auto-reply message from August 28 to September 5.
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