CNN host Brianna Keilar clashed with Biden’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan over the president’s contention that al Qaeda does not constitute a threat to Americans in Afghanistan.
“We know no circumstance where American citizens are carrying an American passport are trying to get through to the airport,” Sullivan claimed. “To the best of our knowledge, the Taliban checkpoints, they are letting through people showing American passports.”
“Alright. So, we know that’s not true,” Keilar said. “We know there are many instances where that has not been true. And the Pentagon has acknowledged that as well. We also — you know, he also said that Al Qaeda is gone from Afghanistan. But, of course, from the U.N., the joint chiefs, we know that is also untrue. Why is he misleading with his words here?”
“First of all, I reject that characterization with respect to al Qaeda,’ Sullivan said. “Right now our intelligence community does not believe that al Qaeda, in Afghanistan, represents a threat to the United States homeland. That’s what the president was referring to.”
“He has also clearly said over time that al Qaeda could, in the future, represent a threat to the U.S. homeland and that is why he has positioned an over-the-horizon capability with intelligence assets and defense assets to ensure that never happens,” he went on. “And he has pointed out that we have been able to deal with and suppress terrorist threats in other countries that do have attack capabilities against America without a permanent military presence on the ground. We intend to do the same thing when it comes to Afghanistan.”
“Americans who have clearly had problems getting through the Taliban?” Keilar asked.
“First, the president has consistently directed his team to do, and what he has explained, in fact, in that very press conference, is that if there are any issues with Americans through the city, we have dealt with those cases one by one and resolved them,” Sullivan said. “When that information is presented to us.”
“There is another challenge, though, Brianna, which your team has reported on quite effectively, which is Americans who then get to the airport have had a hard time getting inside because of the very large crowds of people outside,” he added. “That is a logistical challenge we’ve been working on over the course of the past 72 hours. We now believe we have alternative methods of getting Americans into the airport. That’s what we’re executing as we speak.”
CNN recently issued a fact-check of President Biden’s claim that al Qaeda is “gone” from Afghanistan.
“Defending the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, President Joe Biden said at the White House on Friday: ‘Look, let’s put this thing in perspective. What interest do we have in Afghanistan at this point, with al Qaeda gone? We went to Afghanistan for the express purpose of getting rid of al Qaeda in Afghanistan as well as — as well as — getting Osama bin Laden. And we did’.”
“Biden’s claim that al Qaeda is ‘gone’ from Afghanistan is false — as his own administration acknowledged soon afterward,” CNN said. “Following Biden’s remarks, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters, ‘We know that al Qaeda is a presence, as well as ISIS, in Afghanistan, and we’ve talked about that for quite some time’.”
“Biden has correctly said in previous prepared remarks, including a speech on Monday, that al Qaeda has been ‘degraded’ in Afghanistan; the terror group is widely viewed as having been substantially weakened by the 20-year US-led war,” CNN added. “But Biden clearly went too far on Friday when he said — while offering impromptu answers to reporters’ questions — that the group does not exist in Afghanistan at all.”
Meanwhile, Americans are still in harm’s way in Afghanistan. The State Department issued a warning on Saturday to Americans to stay away from Kabul airport unless directed by U.S. authorities. Intelligence reports of ISIS terrorists targeting Americans, and even that the Taliban has beaten Americans who are trying to escape the wartorn country, which collapsed after President Biden’s abrupt unilateral withdrawal of U.S. military troops ahead of an evacuation of civilians.
When CNN is fact-checking not only President Biden, but his office’s advisers live on-air, there must really be a serious problem within a Democratic administration.
OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.