News & Politics

Fact-Checking Biden's Address: Lies, Damned Lies, and the White House Teleprompter

Joe Biden telling "this much" truth. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Doing what the media won’t: Fact-checking Biden’s address on Afghanistan

I’m relying on the White House release of Presidentish Joe Biden’s remarks.

Shall we get right to it?

CLAIM: “My national security team and I have been closely monitoring the situation on the ground in Afghanistan and moving quickly to execute the plans we had put in place to respond to every constituency, including — and contingency — including the rapid collapse we’re seeing now.”

REALITY: Biden Scrapped Trump’s Afghanistan Rescue Plan. “Raheem Kassam revealed on Wednesday that under President Donald Trump, Mike Pompeo’s State Department had ordered the creation of a ‘Contingency and Crisis Response’ office whose job would be avoiding ‘a future Benghazi-style situation for Americans overseas.’ But while Biden lied to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday that ‘We planned for every contingency,’ behind the scenes, Biden’s State Department had already ‘revoked the funding and the approval’ for Trump’s response team, according to Kassam.”

I’d also add that had Biden planned for every contingency, things would look several hells of a lot different in Kabul right now.

CLAIM: “Today, the terrorist threat has metastasized well beyond Afghanistan: al Shabaab in Somalia, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Nusra in Syria, ISIS attempting to create a caliphate in Syria and Iraq and establishing affiliates in multiple countries in Africa and Asia. These threats warrant our attention and our resources.”

REALITY: A token force at Bagram Air Base in no way removes our ability to keep an eye on things in Somalia, Syria, etc. Closing Bagram Air Base greatly harms our ability to keep an eye on things in Afghanistan. Closing Bagram first also drastically reduced our logistical ability to get our people out, which is why Kabul is such a mess. Also, the resulting intelligence loss greatly assisted in the rapidity of the Taliban takeover.

CLAIM: “We’ve developed counterterrorism over-the-horizon capability that will allow us to keep our eyes firmly fixed on any direct threats to the United States in the region and to act quickly and decisively if needed.”

REALITY: Afghanistan is landlocked deep in Central Asia. Without at least a token force at Bagram, our ability to respond quickly to fast-moving threats is much slower, and will often require the presence of an aircraft carrier battlegroup that will be kept too busy to deter China.

CLAIM: “The choice I had to make, as your President, was either to follow through on [Trump’s] agreement or be prepared to go back to fighting the Taliban in the middle of the spring fighting season.”

REALITY: Biden had already broken parts of Trump’s agreement. Regardless, Biden’s quick reversal of virtually every other Trump policy — from canceling border wall construction all the way down to shower-head efficiency — puts lie to that claim.

CLAIM: “There was only the cold reality of either following through on the agreement to withdraw our forces or escalating the conflict and sending thousands more American troops back into combat in Afghanistan, lurching into the third decade of conflict.”

REALITY: Biden’s execution of his non-existent plan was so shoddy that he’s had to order 5,000 troops back into Afghanistan. While not engaged in much combat, that’s to the detriment of our people stranded outside the Kabul airport. Meanwhile, “British and French troops are going out into Kabul to rescue their citizens while the US sticks to the airport.”

CLAIM: “I always promised the American people that I will be straight with you. The truth is: This did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated.”

REALITY: Biden administration was warned last month of Afghanistan ‘catastrophe,’ “Conflicting with President Biden’s insistence that he had no intelligence indicating Kabul would quickly fall upon the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken received a cable in July urging that evacuations be accelerated because the Taliban was quickly gaining ground and the capital was vulnerable to collapse.”

CLAIM: “It is wrong to order American troops to step up when Afghanistan’s own armed forces would not. If the political leaders of Afghanistan were unable to come together for the good of their people, unable to negotiate for the future of their country when the chips were down, they would never have done so while U.S. troops remained in Afghanistan bearing the brunt of the fighting for them.”

REALITY: The token force left by Trump last year had suffered exactly one combat death. For more perspective, “In the worst year in Afghanistan, 2010, the U.S. suffered 440 troops killed in action. So far this year in Chicago, 480 people have been shot to death.” I remain in favor of pulling out of Afghanistan (except for that token forced stupidly and hurriedly ordered home by Biden), but to claim that staying would mean a bloodbath for us is a lie.

CLAIM: “Our true strategic competitors — China and Russia — would love nothing more than the United States to continue to funnel billions of dollars in resources and attention into stabilizing Afghanistan indefinitely.”

REALITY: China ramping up Afghanistan involvement amid US withdrawal. “Kabul authorities, the Daily Beast reported Sunday, have become much more deeply engaged with Chinese leaders as the two work toward a deal to invest in Afghanistan’s infrastructure through China’s international ‘Belt and Road Initiative.'”

CLAIM: “In the coming days, the U.S. military will provide assistance to move more SIV-eligible Afghans and their families out of Afghanistan.”

REALITY: As previously noted, those most at-risk can’t be reached since Biden has ordered our troops to remain holed up at the Kabul airport. Meanwhile, “Taliban Going Door-to-Door Executing U.S. Allies” and “Taliban Find A Way to Win Over the Left: Hunting for Christians.”

CLAIM: “We’ll also continue to support the safe departure of civilian personnel — the civilian personnel of our Allies who are still serving in Afghanistan.

REALITY: Biden Ignored Boris Johnsons’ Frantic Calls for 36 Hours as Bungled Bugout Was Unfolding. “Not only did Presidentish Joe Biden leave UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the dark over ‘how it planned to withdraw [and] the pace of its withdrawal’ from Afghanistan, Biden basically ghosted Johnson for 36 hours as the crisis unfolded in Kabul.”

CLAIM: “I am President of the United States of America, and the buck stops with me.”

REALITY: In today’s speech and in Monday’s, “Biden points fingers for Afghanistan debacle after promising he wouldn’t ‘blame others.’

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a very strong need to wash my hands.