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tv   CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield  CNN  August 15, 2021 11:00am-12:00pm PDT

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about 100 miles away from ta had hit sea port area from yesterday's earthquake. thank you so much. >> hello. thank you so much for joining me this sunday. we begin with this breaking news, the collapse of afghanistan's government. right now taliban forces have taken over the capitol city of kabul and the presidential palace. the u.s. embassy is completely evacuated, we're told. the american flag on the building, taken down. choppers have shuttled u.s. personnel of the kabul airport for flights out of the country. still unclear whether flights are actually happening. sources tell cnn afghanistan's president has fled the country afghan for reportedly tajikistan. in desperation, long lines of
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people, afghan citizens trying to withdraw whatever cash they have in atms, banks, trying to also secure flights out of the country. as all of this unfolds, the u.s. is sending troops into afghanistan. 5,000 to ensure what president biden calls an orderly and safe drawdown. we have yet to hear from the president today. but his secretary of state this morning defending the decision to withdraw forces from the country. >> when the president came to office, he had a decision to make. the previous administration negotiated an agreement with the tall wan that said our forces, only about 25 00 would be out of the country on may first. and the idea that the status quo could have been maintained by keeping our forces there, i think is simply wrong. >> let's go straight to kabul afghanistan cnn international security editor nick paton walsh
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is there for the breaking developments. nick, while we have reported from our state department correspondent that all u.s. personnel have been evacuated from the u.s. embassy, taken to the airport, do we know if they're able to get on flights and leave the country? >> reporter: obviously we are not on the airport. i can't give you a precise break down as to how flights are leaving. we have been hearing them constantly. and interestingly, helicopters too. i've just, in fact, seen some trace if ier, the red lines you see in the sky going upwards from kabul to what look like the helicopters possibly flying overhead. hard to tell what was flying that, but a sign of somebody on the ground taking shots of the helicopters flying over. it shows how complicated and difficult this particular mission is and how this american presence here which will continue to grow, it seems, is risking running up against the
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new owners of kabul, the taliban, who while there may be pockets of resistance in the city, we haven't heard much gunfire since dark fell earlier, i've heard witnesses saying how in one instance, they seem to have peacefully taken up in a school and disarmed their security guards they've seen around it. it is staggering to see the swiftness in which they've moved into a city of 6 million people, a feat, an act which nobody in the last 20 years could have been possibly thought was even in the wildest dreams of this insu insurgency. it probably began to come around the even more staggering, i mean, moment for the history books, frankly, today, but possibly the key part of the entry will say that the president of afghanistan left here, didn't announce it. he was supposed to have been
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involved in a possibility of creating a transitional government here. that never happened. a source close to him, one of his officials said to me they just ran away. they simply during the afternoon, him and his advisers got on a plane and left. we don't know exactly where they've gone. it's still fluid at this stage. it's startling that 24 hours after he delivered a recorded address to the nation saying he was going to stick it out, that he was looking for a negotiated settlement, we then heard reports that possibly today taliban were in the presidential palace negotiating maybe some sort of deal, but clearly whatever was negotiated there was not to his liking and rather than stick it out and try and engineer this transitional movement, the vacuum has been filled by the taliban here. now, this is a city which obviously is on edge. there's suddenly, they're seeing 20 years worth of one administration disappear and the people who have been at times
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attacking the city because of the americans and other forces inside it now moving in. they say the taliban, the taliban say this is about providing order. they've moved in to stop looting and in the last few minutes released a message offering assurances to foreigners, diplomats, everyone, basically saying they want peace. they want to offer security. but i do think there are many in the city waiting for tomorrow morning to first light to see exactly how life, it seems, under the taliban here will look. >> you're right, nick. it's extraordinary. the president, the country has fled to presumably save himself and a few others. you mentioned the taliban says it wants it to be a peaceful transition, but have there been any reports of violence, pillaging, of anything that people fear? >> reporter: i have to tell you we've not been able to go out in the city in the dark. we heard initially crackles of
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gunfire, occasionally. that appears to have slowed down. traffic disputes, people trying to get around in a panic and occasionally gunfire around there. and even the panic that started earlier on today was essentially it seemed people trying to get into a bank and get their money out. that caused security guards to open fire possibly in the air. there's lots of unrest we'll see, of concern among citizens. those who were part of the administration, i should say, possibly the former administration now. seeking to protect themselves, perhaps. we simply don't know what is happening in those areas where they remain an armed strong government presence. we've heard reports of soldiers taking off their uniform and putting on civilian clothes startling day to having lived here under the american presence and the previous government to see this swiftness, and as far as we know now, not a pitched battle for them to win. they seem to have simply walked in, the taliban, it's startling
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end to america's longest war. >> startliing indeed. thank you so much for that. let's get more analysis on the fast-moving developments. with us is dischristiane amanpo. how stunning is it the afghan president would leave to presumably save himself and the taliban would move in as briskly as it did? >> well, fredricka, the afghan president probably remembers the last time this happened as the leader at the time was hanged in the main square when the soviet union pulled out support for what was the central government back then. they're also, despite everybody's professions of disbelief and surprise, most analysts who understood what was not happening in dohar, peace talks that were meant to
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engineer some kind of proper transition from one u.s.-led force to the afghans didn't pay off. the afghan taliban continued to fight on the ground while they continued to make empty promises to the united states in do har qatar. the afghan taliban are doing today what they're doing is very similar to what they did back in 1996 and the 90s. when they also stormed in and by and large took most of the cities, including kabul, without a fight. that is the way it has happened in afghanistan. first, under the taliban for the last 20 plus years. i think you'll probably see history describe this as a day that will live in infamy. you have fast approaching the anniversary of 9/11, the reason for the united states to enter afghanistan and to correctly pub back al qaeda and the taliban which attacked the homeland has now been completely and utterly
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handed back to the taliban. they have been handed back by the united states rapid withdrawal. the land of afghanistan. i think what you're hearing from american military is a deep sense of regret. a deep sense this perhaps did not need to happen. that yes, the united states could choose to conduct its own foreign policy, maybe end this forever war. somehow relieve itself from afghanistan. but what was the facts on the ground is that a very small relatively small group of americans, 2500 were a relatively, according to a lot of military analysts and security analysts, inexpensive price to pay not for talking victory, but for this ongoing strategic stability. in other words, the fact that the united states was still
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there with air power, with its forces, with its military, prevented the taliban from doing what has now achieved. and i think what you're going to be hearing over the next several days, we're already hearing it with interviews and desperate comments from people in kabul and elsewhere, particularly women, particularly the young people who dreamed of a better future, a different future, that they're going to be very scared. that they're going to be hunted down. that they're going to go house to house. they're going to stop women working. they're going to stop girls going to school. and all the progress the united states made with its international partners and with the willing participation of the afghan people is at total risk right now. it's a terribly sad day for anybody who believed in what was going on in afghanistan and the progress that was being made. and the taliban, i think somehow convinced american policy makers that they were different somehow, that they wanted
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international legitimacy. that they would somehow not want to be pariahs and therefore, wouldn't take over the whole country. clearly we've seen that happen. they've taken over the whole country. we don't know exactly how this edition of the taliban is going to govern. but most people are very concerned that there could be atrocities. human rights violations. mass refugees. not to mention recreating afghanistan as a terrorist safe haven. that was the reason the united states went in from the very beginning, and they still have connections with yes, an feebled, but an existing al qaeda and an existing isis who are also in afghanistan right now. it's a very, very sad day. >> it is a very sad day. i was in afghanistan in 2002 and talking to so many women and children who were hopeful about the days ahead. and you tweeted out your recollection of the taliban
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fleeing in 2001. in fact, we want to show some of your reporting from back then. >> this is the third day the city of kabul will wake up to the liberation from the taliban forces and people having going around doing things that in the five years of taliban rule would have made them criminals. playing music in public, women coming out from homes and venturing out to see if they can return to their jobs, get back into the work force. this had been banned under the taliban for the past five years and women and children had suffered greatly because of the inability to provide any work, any money, or any health and nourishment for their families. men are coming out and again, lining up to get their beards cut. this because under the taliban, beards were made to be grown at a certain regulation length. so all sorts of things happening in the city here. the defines it returning to a period of normality.
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>> you just minutes ago before seeing that on the phone with me saying that afghanistan has been handed back to the taliban. would you describe the taliban right now as a more fortified force? >> they've had 20 years to plan this. yes, you can have all sorts of arguments about why the afghan government didn't stand up. we can talk about corruption. you can talk about where the billions of dollars of u.s. aide were wasted. there are many dis to analyze that. but right now a terrorist organization that has taken over the nation that the united states went to prevent from being precisely that 20 years ago without a fight, except, there has been fights from the outskirts of many of the provin ishl capitols that have fallen
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with lightning speed, strategic, clever operation by the taliban. but you know, they're not making any promises that we can hear or that we can see that will give anybody any sort of comfort. that's the progress that was achieved over the last 20 years. will it be maintained? and i think that one has to ask the question, why was -- why was -- i've asked the questions of former nato and u.s. commanders on the ground in the last few day. they hope airpo is a big part of the u.s. saying it's not abandoning afghanistan. a small force of whether it's u.s. and/or nato or combined, it's one thing for the secretary of state to say that force couldn't have maintained the status quo, but as i say, there
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are many other analysts who believe that was enough to maintain a strategic whatever you want to call it, balance, you know, a strategic sort of stability. whatever it took not to allow fundamentalists caliphate to come back and take over this whole country. create -- try to keep as -- a certain balance. and the truth of the matter is that while the american people probably do and they are probably more than the majority support the withdrawal of american forces, afghanistan is not vietnam. vietnam ripped the country apart in every way. politically, culturally, in every way back then. afghanistan has not ripped the united states apart. it has not been a political hammer by which -- attacking the democrats and vice versa. i think you have to ask
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yourself, seriously, was this result worth it? s a, of course, we wait to see what will unfold over the next few days and weeks, maybe everybody will be pleasantly surprised and democracy and the rights of women will be maintained by the taliban, but most analysts don't believe that will be the case, and many will be asking was it really worth removing a few thousand foreign forces who many officials believe could have stayed for several more years, it might never have fixed the whole problem, but it would have stopped this kind of complete wholesale surrender of afghanistan. >> yeah. very difficult calculus. unclear how the decisions were knead. but now we have the consequence of a variety of decisions that were made. christiane amanpour, thank you for joining us. appreciate it. coming up, the u.s. embassy
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now fully evacuated in afghanistan as the taliban takes control of the capitol city of kabul. we have new information on the u.s. rush to get diplomats out to safety. and talking live with a congressman who was briefed on the situation a short time ago. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ summer is a state of mind, you can visit anytime. savor your summer with lincoln. millions of vulnerable americans struggle to get reliable transportation to their medical appointments. that's why i started medhaul. citi launched the impact fund to invest in both women and entrepreneurs of color like me, so i can realize my vision and give everything i've got to my company, and my community. i got you.
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welcome back as kabul afghanistan falls to the taliban, the rapid pace of the takeover is raising questions about the administration's withdrawal of the country of afghanistan. this morning tony blinken defended the decision and the approach to executing it. listen. >> this is not just about the overall idea of leaving afghanistan. this is about leaving hastily and ineptly. secretary blinken, how did president widen get this so wrong? >> first, as we've discussed before, we were in afghanistan for one purpose, to deal with the folks who attacked uz on 9/11. over the 20 years we brought bin laden to justice.
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we diminished the threat posed by al qaeda -- we're going to keep in place in the region the capacity to see if any reemergence of a terrorist threat. and on the terms we went in, we succeeded in achieving our objectives. when the president came to office, he had a decision to make. the previous administration negotiated an agreement with the taliban that said our forces, only about 2500, would be out of the country on may first. and the idea that the status quo could have been maintained we keeping our forces there, i think is simply wrong. the fact is had the president decided to keep forces in afghanistan beyond may first, attacks would have resumed on the forces. the taliban was not attacking the forces or nato during the period from which the agreement was made to may first. the offensive to take the capitols would have commenced, and we would have been back at war with the taliban.
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i'd probably be on the program today explaining why we were sending tens of thousands of american forces back into afghanistan and back to war. something the american people simply don't support. that's the reality. that's the context we're dealing with. >> u.s. diplomatic personnel are also getting out of kabul. sources tell cnn the evacuation of the u.s. embassy is complete as the american flag comes down with the building. with us now, kylie atwood and jeremy diamond. evacuation is taking place of the u.s. embassy, but there are still u.s. american personnel that remain. right? >> reporter: that's right. our understanding is that all the diplomats who were at the embassy have been flown to the airport in kabul. they're waiting on flights to get out of the country. that's an area to watch. because there are some concerns about the airport right now. but going back to the embassy, it is fully evacuated minus a few contracting security personnel who i'm told are going
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to be leaving soon. as you said, the american flag has come down. that is a final step that the u.s. carries out when they are pulling out of a location. and we saw preparations for this underway in the last few days. we saw the reports that u.s. officials were burning classified material. they were getting rid of anything that could be used as anti-american propaganda, american flags, anything that has a stamp of the u.s. embassy on it. this has been extremely rapid and chaotic according to sources on the ground. now, secretary of state blinken this morning pushed back. he tribed what's happening as deliberate and orderly. you heard the administration talk about being prepared for the evacuation. they have troops on the ground. as far as we know, all american personnel are safe as they withdraw from the country, but it is worth noting that the biden administration has repeatedly said over the last few months that even though u.s. troops are leaving, america is
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not leaving. u.s. diplomats are not going to be leaving the country. and that is precisely what is happening right now. so there are questions about that promise. and what calculations went into making that promise. now, as we wait here today for more developments, we should note this is happening so incredibly quickly that even folks here at the state department are having trouble keeping up with these developments, and there are americans as you noted, on the ground, still in afghanistan. the u.s., the state department is telling them to stay in place right now because of reports of gunfire at the airport. we should also note that the state department has been telling those americans to get out of the country for months now. but it is a scary reality for those people on the ground. those diplomats still trying to get out. they have the support of the u.s. military, but those afghans who worked alongside u.s. diplomats and u.s. troops who have not yet gotten on u.s. evacuation flights out of the
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country, they don't have that security support, and they are frightened for their lives right now. we're still waiting to see how many of those people the biden administration is going to be able to get out of the country before what appears to be inevitable. the taliban takes over kabul. >> right. and many of those afghans who worked with many of us, the press, as well who were also given some promise that they would get -- be afforded the same kind of securities and potential exit as many other afghans. i wonder, you mentioned there will be some u.s. -- whether it's state department or u.s. personnel, nonmilitary, who are willingly staying in country. what kind of security would they be afforded? how does the u.s. assure their safety if they were to stay in country? >> they won't be provided with security from the u.s. government if they choose to stay there. the u.s. government has been telling those people to get out
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of the country for months now. it is their own decision. now, what the state department is saying right now is they do have a form that the folks can fill out and they'll follow up and try to help them as they're in the process of getting the diplomats out. we should note why the americans would'ven be staying in the country. the assumption is that they have families there. they may have afghan spouses, afghan children who may not have american citizenship. and they don't want to leave until those people have visas to the united states. they're worried about crossing over borders where the taliban obviously has taken over now. and so this is an extremely dicey and personal situation for a lot of those folk who is are still there. we don't really know how many of them, hoping not many of them, but this is something the state department is helping them with. there's no assurance they'll have u.s. military support if the taliban come into kabul. >> jeremy, still no word from
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president biden today. there are many who are asking wls the president? when is he going to address the nation on this? will he any time soon? >> yeah. as of now, there are no indications that president biden is going to address the nation on the situation unfolding in afghanistan. a pretty remarkable the fact that today as of now, it appears the taliban have, indeed, entered kabul, are in the presidential palace and are in charge of the country 20 years after a u.s.-led invasion ousted a taliban government from power in afghanistan. so the history and the moment that we are in today certainly would call for hearing from the president of the united states at some point. for now, we have heard from the secretary of state who appeared on several of the sunday morning talk shows today to talk about the situation and defend what appears to be a pretty hairied u.s. withdrawal from that country. this is certainly not unfolding as planned. it is very clear that this
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administration was caught off guard by the speed at which the taliban advanced and encircled kabul, even a few days ago. we were still talking about u.s. intelligence estimates of 30 days before that would happen. but one thing that the u.s. does want to make clear is that those 5,000 troops who went into kabul, into afghanistan now to help with the withdrawal of those u.s. embassy personnel and special immigrant visa applicants, that those troops are going to be armed. and they will respond if they are fired upon by the taliban. we will see if anything more unfolds just because the personnel are out of the embassy now, they're in country in afghanistan, and there is still potentially a threat. so a lot to watch over the coming days. >> a lot indeed. jeremy, kylie, thank you so both of you. appreciate it. still ahead, president biden has yet to brief the nation on the collapse of afghanistan. i'll talk about that.
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right now house minority leader kevin mccarthy is leading calls for the president to address the nation regarding the takeover of afghanistan and requesting a second update after a virtual intelligence briefing on the collapse earlier today. congressman garamendi was one of the lawmakers briefed on the call. he sits on the house armed services committee. congressman, good to see you.
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what gave you assurances on that virtual call? >> well, there were little assurances. obviously the situation was rapidly evolving early this morning, at least in california time. the reality is that there is a collapse of the previous afghan government. when their president ran out of the country, that was the signal for everybody to simply give up. obviously, there have been plenty of troops and other presumed leaders in afghanistan that had given up earlier. do we need an additional briefing? things are rapidly changing. we will hear from the president once things are secure, or as secure as possible for our troops as well as our personnel in afghanistan. and the president will bring us up to date. right now we're depending on cnn. >> well, at this point do you feel like -- there really is nothing else that the u.s. can do except to retrieve the u.s.
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personnel. i mean, this country is now under new leadership, the taliban. >> yes. i think that is correct. although, it is not exactly clear what is or who is the taliban leadership. that's going to have to be determined very quickly. one thing we do know that the taliban is not just one organization. it is multiple organizations. ethnic, religious, cultural organizations spread throughout the country. it's highly unlikely that they're operating as a unified government. we'll see what happens. it's going to be very, very important for the united states and for the other countries surrounding as well as europe to establish communication with what will be a new government in kabul. >> the biden administration admits it did not expect the taliban to take over so quickly. how disheartening is this for you if that's the right word
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that you would characterize it as being, and what are the failures in your view? >> well, the failures is the assumption that america and europe could build a democratic government in afghanistan. we did not beginning way back in 2001 and beyond, every year beyond that, we did not appreciate the reality of afghan culture, afghan religion, and all of the ethnic diversity that existed within that country, and we often, over those years, beginning with bush and then obama, and then trump, we worked with a group that was not representative of all the various factions in afghanistan. the result of that is a government that existed yesterday that did not have the support of the people of
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afghanistan, and certainly not the support of the various factions within afghanistan. and so am i surprised? yes. i would have expected the afghan government to be more stable. i would have expected the military to be more stable. but ultimately, what happened now is what was a foregone conclusion. the moment that trump announced the withdrawal of american troops on may first, the taliban simply ceased to negotiate and began to establish themselves and prepare for what is now happening. >> so you see the most recent failure is that of trying to negotiate with the taliban which stretches into the trump administration, but then the biden administration is what is in office right now. and it perhaps had a choice to continue to negotiate with the taliban, to throw that plan out the window, or to do something else. so where do you see the failures
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perhaps in the current administration? was it in intel? was it in ungoverned spaces in afghanistan? or was it this new afghan military, or something else? >> well, first of all, the afghan military had been supported for hundreds of billions of dollars over the previous 20 years with equipment, personnel training. what never happened, and this was apparent, although our intelligence community and the military often denied it. what was apparent was that that military did not have the regional support. it had the support of the central government, but the central government lacked support out in the region. what we'd call the war lords, the leaders of the various factions, never really submitted to the central government in kabul. the result of that was that the taliban which was in some ways still connected in those
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regional areas to the afghan government, they were able to very quickly overcome the central government's support in the various regional capitols. and the regional capitals did what was a long lift in afghanistan, lthey looked at which way the wind was blowing and went with the most powerful group in the region. that was the taliban. eventually collapse after collapse of the various regional capitals, the only thing left was kabul. and what happened there was that the leadership of that government in kabul fled. they left town, leaving no government really a fabric of government in place. and so yes, this is where we are. the n
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the american government over 20 years failed to really understand afghanistan, understand the 3,000-year history of afghanistan which is being repeated once again. these are -- and that failure goes back through all the administrations. it goes back -- i can recall ten years of classified hearings from our intelligence and our military. none of which were willing to recognize the various -- the very nature of afghanistan. >> i understand you on the shared failures. so right now we have yet to hear from the president directly, but we did see his statement yesterday saying the u.s. has communicated to the taliban that any action on their part on the ground in afghanistan that puts u.s. personnel or our mission at risk there will be met with a swift and strong u.s. military response. so now i know i'm not asking you to look into the crystal ball, but are those words that also
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set the stage that potentially the u.s. could find itself in yet a renewed war in afghanistan if it comes to that? >> no. that's not going to happen. what will happen is that our troops as did the hundreds of thousands of troops before them, they will defend themselves. they will act courageously. they will do whatever is necessary to defend themselves. and we need to recognize that over 4,000 americans died there. and hundreds of thousands of americans changed their life to serve in afghanistan. to try to carry out the policy of the american government. policy that obviously has not worked. the troops that are there today will defend themselves, and it would be a serious gross error by any taliban to take on the american military. we will -- they will be very, very sorry that they even attempted to do that.
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but the goal here is to extract from afghanistan americans and those afghanistan people that supported america. that is underway. and there's one other thing that needs to be taken into account. that is over the last four years, many of the immigration laws and regulations in america were changed by trump. we passed a bill out of the house of representatives authored by mr. crow, that is sitting over in the senate, the senate could unanimously pass that today. the president could sign that, and he would have all the authority he needs to extricate from afghanistan not only the americans but any afghanis that assisted the americans and that are in harm's way. >> do you feel confident that mission will be accomplished? u.s. personnel and all those afghans who assisted, helped, committed to helping the u.s. and allied forces will be
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retrieved safely? >> i'm absolutely confident that the americans and those directly associated with americans, children, spouses, and others, yes, they will be. as to all the afghanistan people that assisted the americans, i suspect that will not happen. some of them are still isolated in various parts of afghanistan. quite probably unable to leave those particular areas. over time, and here's where the american government's next step will be. together with our european allies and the surrounding countries, and that is to engage with what is a new government in afghanistan. to engage and to set in place the policies, procedures, and other necessary activities including support to deal with a reality that there will still be in afghanistan men and women and families that are at risk.
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we would want to engage with the new government to provide whatever assurances are possible. and i think we should keep in mind that it is in the interest of what will be a new government in afghanistan that they engage in a meaningful way, and that they do not take steps to harm those people that helped americans, and beyond that, they will have to be part of an international community, and they should recognize that that will require them to act appropriately to protect the citizens of afghanistan. >> all right. u.s. congressman john garamendi, we'll let it go there. thank you for the conversation. appreciate it. still ahead, the death toll growing da dramatically in haiti following a massive earthquake. we'll have more on that next.
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the death toll in haiti has risen to 724 people after a powerful 7.2 earthquake hit the island yesterday morning. we're getting new images showing the extent of the damages there. buildings covered in bricks and tropical storm grace is hitting the area. matt rivers reports from near the epicenter. >> reporter: we're just not far from the epicenter.
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we just got here not that long ago. what you're seeing behind me, moving forward a little bit here, this is the scene of a multi-story hotel that obviously is collapsed behind me. there's a lot of people here on scene. you're seeing two things happening here at this scene, you're seeing some recovery efforts -- going on here at the scene. this was a relatively luxury hotel. a lot of people bringing out whatever they can find, dressers, air conditioners, metal that goes to the desperation of what's happening in this part of haiti right now. as i think you said in the beginning, at least 700 people have been killed as a result of this so far. thousands of people are injured but those numbers are going to go up because in all likelihood there are still bodies in that rubble behind me. there's a high likelihood of that. and this isn't the only scene like this around this area.
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we go up and down the street that's just behind my camerand you can see damage that goes up and down the street. is it as pervasive as what we saw in 2010? no, i don't think so. this is not as crowded of a place as port a prince, but the damage you can see why the numbers are going to keep going up almost assuredly. it's scenes like this that are very much active, are very much still happening and there's also not a big rescue effort here at the moment. this is one of the more crowded scenes that we've seen here. where are the guards? where are the police? where are security agents? where are firefighters? >> reporter: are rescue crews? they're not here. if they're not here? where else would they be? that's the open question we have right now, fred. >> very sad situation. matt rivers in haiti. thank you so much. for more information about how
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hundreds of thousands of afghans have fled their home trying to escape the taliban. hundreds of thousands uprooted are trying to make their way to kabul. there may be no safe haven. here with cnn's michael holmes. >> reporter: families sleep on the hard ground outside this school in afghanistan. it may not look like the most comfortable place to rest, but
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at least for now it is safe, away from the trail of violence left behind by the taliban's advance. many bombs were dropped on our village, one woman says. the taliban came and destroyed everything. we were helpless and m to leave our houses. one afghan official in kunar province says there are thousands of displaced families in his province alone trying to escape the fighting, but for some it is too late. the taliban were firing guns next to our house, one man says. many bullets came our way. in the end, my wife was killed. a hospital filled with wounded civilians shows just how pitched the battle is. one patient said, i was on the side of the street. i was hit by a mortar and one of my legs was injured. some people taking refuge in the country's capitol, kabul,
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thinking it is one of the safest bets with the taliban on the move. this man left the besieged city of lashkar gar two weeks ago but hopes to return one day. if you ask most people in afghanistan, 99% of the people will say the fighting is not the solution, he says. the only way is peace and the afghan people want peace. a peace that seems more elusive as more civivilians are forced from their homes. >> michael holmes, thank you so much for that report. hello again, everyone. thank you so much for joining me. i'm fredricka whitfield. taliban fighters are taking over the capitol city of kabul and the presidential palace. an eerie quiet as the u.s. embassy there is closed for business. it has now been evacuated.
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the american flag on the building intentionally taken down by american direction this morning. hours earlier you could see smoke rising from the building as embassy staff destroyed important documents. choppers have been seen shuttling americans to the kabul airport for flights out. sources also tell cnn that afghanistan's president has now fled the country. thousands of other afghans are also seeking refuge and long lines of people at the banks at atms this morning trying to withdraw cash as the taliban closed in on the capitol city. meanwhile, would he have yet to hear from president biden today. this morning his secretary of state defended the president's time line on the u.s. troop withdrawal. >> when the president came to office, he had a decision to make. the previous administration negotiated an agreement with the taliban that said that our forces, our rema

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