News & Politics

Biden Ducks Questions on Afghanistan Yet Again

Biden Ducks Questions on Afghanistan Yet Again
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Old Joe Biden has become notorious for only answering scripted questions from preselected reporters, as he did again Thursday when the feeble and weary president said, “Ladies and gentlemen, they gave me a list here,” and then referred to “the first person I was instructed to call on.” Likewise notorious has been his consistent practice, particularly at press conferences regarding Afghanistan, of turning his back and leaving a roomful of reporters shouting questions. And so it was no great surprise Friday when Biden said during his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett: “I’m not gonna take any questions, because of the prime minister being here, on, uh, Afghanistan now, but I’ll be available at another time.” When?

After all, this is the president who on July 2 said this in response to questions about Afghanistan: “I want to talk about happy things, man. Look, it’s Fourth of July. I’m concerned that you’re asking me questions that I will answer next week, but it’s the holiday weekend. I’m going to celebrate it. There’s great things happening.”

Nearly two months and several massive disasters in Afghanistan later, the Biden administration still seems to want to focus on happy things and avoid unpleasant questions. On Saturday, as Bryan Preston has noted, Biden’s handlers refused to release the names of the two “high-profile” Islamic State jihadis who were supposedly killed in the recent American drone strike. Why would the administration withhold such information from the public? This kind of unnecessary secrecy has only invited speculation that there was no drone strike at all, or that it failed, and that Biden’s handlers concocted the whole thing in order to give the appearance of decisiveness in the wake of the catastrophe in Kabul.

Amid all this stonewalling, Biden’s handlers released a statement in the president’s name Saturday, depicting Biden as saying: “This morning, I met with my national security team in Washington and my commanders in the field. We discussed the strike that U.S. forces took last night against the terrorist group ISIS-K in Afghanistan. I said we would go after the group responsible for the attack on our troops and innocent civilians in Kabul, and we have. This strike was not the last. We will continue to hunt down any person involved in that heinous attack and make them pay. Whenever anyone seeks to harm the United States or attack our troops, we will respond. That will never be in doubt. I thanked General McKenzie for his leadership of that mission, and for his commitment to the safety of our troops in Afghanistan.”

Well, great, Joe. Now: Who were those ISIS guys your strike took out?

The statement added that the conditions in Afghanistan were likely to get even worse: “The situation on the ground continues to be extremely dangerous, and the threat of terrorist attacks on the airport remains high. Our commanders informed me that an attack is highly likely in the next 24-36 hours. I directed them to take every possible measure to prioritize force protection, and ensured that they have all the authorities, resources, and plans to protect our men and women on the ground. They assured me that they did, and that they could take these measures while completing the mission and safely retrograding our personnel.”

What Biden’s handlers haven’t prioritized, however, has been getting Americans out of Kabul: “Despite the treacherous situation in Kabul, we are continuing to evacuate civilians. Yesterday, we brought out another 6,800 people, including hundreds of Americans.”

“Including hundreds of Americans”? So apparently over 6,000 of the people that the U.S. brought out of Afghanistan were not Americans. Biden’s handlers’ plan to bring 30,000 Afghans to the United States, but the final number could be much higher. Yet amid all the humanitarian concern that is being used to justify this, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) sounded a sober note, saying Friday: “I’m very concerned that the Biden administration is bringing tens of thousands of refugees into the United States without thoroughly vetting them.” He added that lack of vetting is “an invitation to terrorist attacks here in the United States.”

That’s true. But if anyone among the group of lapdogs and sycophants known as the White House press corps dared to break ranks and ask Biden a pointed question about vetting, he or she would likely be shouting it at the president’s retreating back. One thing is clear from this administration: No answers will be given to questions about its missteps, disastrous choices, and catastrophic policies. The president expects the press to be courteous, respectful, wholly sympathetic, and to adhere to the script at all times. After all, it’s what he himself has been instructed to do.