CNN anchor Jake Tapper took issue with President Joe Biden’s outright dismissal of a nearly 2000-page Army After-Action Report (AAR) detailing his administration’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Tapper addressed the report as he wrapped up Sunday’s broadcast of “State of the Union,” arguing that while he believed Biden cared about the men and women in uniform – and often in harm’s way — he couldn’t understand why that concern did not translate to a willingness to take the investigation “more seriously.”
CNN's @JakeTapper on Biden dismissing a US Army report on the failures of the Afghanistan pullout: "I don't doubt President Biden cares, but I do not understand why he would not manifest that care into taking this investigation more seriously." #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/52CUlqXUu0
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) February 13, 2022
The report, published late last week by The Washington Post, detailed a series of disparities between the assessments of military personnel on the ground and the plans advocated by senior diplomats, government officials, and even the White House.
As The Daily Wire reported:
Marine Gen. Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie, chief of U.S. Central Command conceded that military officials had not necessarily been allowed to execute the plan they would have “preferred,” but were constrained to follow orders from the administration. “When the president makes a decision, it’s time for us to execute the president’s decision.”
McKenzie also referenced the decision to abandon Bagram Air Base — a move that a number of military and civilian experts questioned at the time — and made it clear that the decision had been forced by the White House.
“Everyone clearly saw some of the advantage of holding Bagram,” McKenzie said in a Tuesday interview, “but you cannot hold Bagram with the force level that was decided.”
The report also indicated that no one was on the same page when it came time to evacuate Kabul. “At the embassy, U.S. troops went room to room on Aug. 15, pressing people to meet deadlines and get ready to go, an Army officer from the 10th Mountain Division told investigators. Some State Department personnel were ‘intoxicated and cowering in rooms,’ and others were ‘operating like it was day-to-day operations with absolutely no sense of urgency or recognition of the situation,’” one officer said.
NBC anchor Lester Holt pressed Biden on the report during an interview late last week, and asked directly whether or not he accepted the findings.
“I just want to clarify, are you rejecting the conclusions or the the accounts that are in this Army report?” Holt asked.
“Yes, I am,” Biden replied, adding, “I’m rejecting them.”
Tapper took issue with Biden’s outright dismissal of the report, saying, “It’s difficult to overstate how insulting it is, given the full content of the 2,000 pages of documents in this U.S. Army investigation which CNN has also obtained,” he said, noting that many of the people interviewed during the investigation were career soldiers with “little political motivation to lie and heavy legal and moral obligation to tell the truth in sworn statements.”
“I don’t doubt President Biden cares, but I do not understand why he would not manifest that care into taking this investigation more seriously, absorbing the tragic details, contemplating the obvious failures of his administration. Failures that cost lives,” Tapper continued. “Biden always bristles at this because he feels confident that ending the war in Afghanistan was the right decision, but that’s not the question at hand. It’s not whether, but how the war ended. And what that means to the people who were there when it did finally end. No part of these military interviews ring true because ‘that’s not what I was told?’ If this was not what you were told, then what was? And don’t you have an obligation, sir, to be told? Don’t you have an obligation to Ryan Knauss’s family, to his grieving mother?”
Tapper concluded. “Isn’t that how you demonstrate how much you care? Otherwise isn’t it just words?”
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