tv CNN Newsroom With Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto CNN August 26, 2021 6:00am-7:00am PDT
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message of the u.s. government, the evacuations are continuing, and the harsh reality for many afghans on the ground. they cannot reach the airport that is the country's only emergency exit. this morning all access points to the airport in kabul have effectively been cut off. a source tells cnn there are about 150 american citizens remaining in afghanistan. those people need military escorts to the airport, and u.s. forces are now racing against the clock to get them out safely. complicating all of this, credible reports of an imminent terror attack just outside the airport gates. in the last 24 hours, a total of 13,400 people have been evacuated from the country, some 5,100 by the u.s. this is down from the 19,000 evacuated in total yesterday. this is new video obtained by cnn. it captures the desperation outside the kabul airport. some afghans have been waiting
for days and nights on end, hoping for a slim chance to get through those taliban checkpoints and the threats and on one of the few remaining flights out of the country. i've spoken to people who have tried to go through this. you see the smoke dispersed there, most likely to control the crowds. a local journalist who shot this video says the taliban even sprayed water on people to push them away. they're not allowing access for many afghans. our team of reporters covering this developing story from all angles in these critical last hours of the evacuation, let's begin with cnn's nick payton walsh. he is in doha. nick, you have reported this morning that the fact is the window is closing and it's closing before that august 31st date. >> reporter: i mean, i think as many expected familiar with the operation, there would need to be a period of days at the end it shifted from evacuation to the military withdrawal. i understand from a source familiar with the situation on the airport that they don't
expect to be still be doing the large bulk of processing of applicants, of afghan evacuees by the weekend. so as the 36-hour window left for them to work in, less now, in fact, given the time currently in kabul. so this operation coming certainly to a close. doesn't mean, for example, if an american passport holder turns up saturday, sunday they'll be refused evacuation, but that the large numbers we've been seeing daily, remarkable that they are, in the tens of thousands now reduced, though, to 13,000 in the last 24-hour period. that that may get even less still, for the simple fact, jim, we've been reporting the gates are shut. abby gate, a key access point is closed. the crowds around it appear to be dispersed and lessened. you saw there the images of the taliban controlling access to the airport as well. so it's exceptionally hard if you are an siv applicant to get into the airport at this point. and that, of course, means that
the ability for them to continue airlift at this particular point is reduced if they haven't got the client personnel for that. one important exception to point out, there's always been this wild card of the afghan security forces controlling their own access point to the airport often used to get friends, colleagues, et cetera in. that occasionally has askewed the figures made it hard to understand why they keep get sog big from. that may play a role in the days ahead certainly. but the threat is there. the gates have been closed because of a bomb threat outside, i understand, and there is, you know, great pressure to get priority afghans in. so many won't. we're hearing stories of buses on the outside to the airport not able to get in. and we are also, of course, hearing of great concern about local embassy afghan staff, people who worked at the uss you embassy, often face to face with the u.s. diplomats over the years. i understand at this point just over a thousand of them who they still need to get onto the airport, but a very successful operation to get quite a lot 6 them at this point. things are moving exceptionally fast.
allies appear to be departing and the u.s. appears to be looking to its next phase now. jim? >> nick payton walsh, thanks very much. let's go to cnn's kylie atwood at the state department for more on the status of americans remaining in kabul. so, we saw this warning yesterday saying that americans need to leave immediately certain gates at the kabul airport due to the severity of the terror threat there. what is the latest on that threat, and what does that mean for americans who still remain and want to leave? >> reporter: yeah, well, as far as we can tell, that threat persists. it is still there. we haven't seen a security update from the embassy, which indicates that that imminent threat, that threat around the gates of the kabul airport is still in existence. what that means for the americans on the ground, jim, is that they are going to have to get to the airport in other ways. we heard just in the last hour from the top u.s. diplomat on the ground there, and what he said was he couldn't get into the details of the threat.
as we know, isis-k per sis tent threats have been in the course of the last few days. what he said, the united states, state department, military are working with americans on an individualized basis to try and get them to the airport in other ways. so he is saying that those crowds outside of the airport are extremely dangerous and they remain dangerous, which is why the united states doesn't want any americans in those crowds right now. particularly important because we are nearing these final days, these final hours of this u.s. evacuation. so they really don't want things to go wrong in the last few hours here. now, we should note that just yesterday, the state department said there were between 500 and 1500 americans still on the ground there. we assume that that number has gone down because we did hear that there were more evacuations overnight. but they are still telling americans, don't head to the gates on your own. get in contact with the embassy
and we will help you get there. >> it's a sad fact. flights may be taking off, but access to that airport is a problem, even for americans. kylie atwood, thanks very much. president biden has been presented with contingency plans, but he is standing by that august 31st withdrawal deadline. cnn's jeremy diamond joins me from the white house. jeremy, i wonder, will anything move the president on this? i mean, if you have a line of buses of americans still can't get into the airport, that's americans, right? not to mention many afghans who are eligible for special immigrant visas who simply can't get to the airport because the taliban is not allowing access. that means, as a matter of fact, people will be left behind. is the president, in your reporting, movable on this? >> reporter: look, i think that they -- the white house has been trying to insist they are nimble on this, that the president is going to continue to watch the facts on the ground. but increasingly what we're hearing from the white house is this notion that they believe they are on track to complete
this withdrawal, to complete this evacuation by august 31st. but at the same time, they are also talking about the possibility of continuing to get people out after august 31st. that includes americans, that includes those afghan special immigrant visa applicants. so kind of double messaging here when you're talking about completing that withdrawal, completing those evacuations by a certain date, but also saying that should some people remain and that some people likely will remain, that the u.s. will do everything they can to get those people out after that date. >> we know that because people can't get to the airport. that's a fact. so when they say complete the withdrawal, what's their definition of complete? >> reporter: yeah, and i think we're getting at the same kind of double messaging here, double speak here from the white house. that doesn't seem to line up every single day with the facts that we're seeing on the ground. i mean, all you have to do is look to twitter to see anecdotal reports of individuals who have green cards, individuals who are
siv applicants who are not able to get past some of these taliban checkpoints. sometimes even getting to the gates but not being allowed in because those are closed. now, listen, the president has been briefed. he was briefed yesterday morning, we know, on these contingency plans for staying. but originally we do know the military had been asking for by this past tuesday to know whether or not the president wanted to extend past august 31st. one last interesting thing to say. amid this controversial trip by congressman seth moulton and congressman meyer, one of the things they came away with which was interesting, was this idea that they actually believe now that they -- the u.s. should get out by august 31st in order to have taliban compliance going forward. and that certainly does seem to be part of the calculus as we get to this point where, as you were saying, it seems inevitable that some people will be left behind. the question is will those be americans or will those only be those afghans who have helped the u.s. but again, the president has committed to getting both of those groups out of the country. jim? >> it's quite a bet to make, right. you're in effect making a bet
that the taliban will cooperate with you after you're out of the country. jeremy diamond, thanks so much. joining me now to discuss, ambassador omar samad, former afghanistan ambassador to canada and france, and muhammad karzai and abdullah abdullah. thank you for joining us, ambassador. first question to you, we know many afghans who worked with the u.s. will be left behind. i've spoken to some, they can't get to the airport. they can't get on the flights even if they're taking off. what is the risk to them? are their lives in danger? >> obviously anyone who decides to stay behind takes a risk. the state department, important state department announcement that the embassy, the u.s. embassy in kabul in the state department has since april told american citizens and permanent residents of the united states in kabul, in afghanistan, to
leave. so obviously things took on a different turn once the taliban entered kabul. at this point there are four categories that are priority, priority issue. u.s. citizens, foreign western citizen, u.s. permanent residents, siv applicants with the legal documents, and the american and foreign forces who are on the ground who have to leave by august 31st. >> so we know those groups, and the fact is i've spoken to various organizations and teams trying to get people in those categories out, and sadly they're failing to. they can't get them onto those flights. my question to you is has the u.s., in effect, abandoned them, abandoned the country? >> well, that's a loaded question, meaning that there was an agreement for a long time, you know, since february 2020,
that the u.s. is leaving. it was supposed to be may 1st. it was extended to september 11 and then changed to august 31st. so there is a political timetable here. then there is the humanitarian issue focused on kabul airport. even though there are 35 million other afghans we have to also focus on because they are going to face a lot of hardships if government doesn't come up with a solution of governance in afghanistan. but the focus is on the airport. i think within the next four, five days hopefully, the u.s. will do everything possible, its allies will do everything possible to get as many people out. remember, there are some african americans, mostly they're african americans who stayed behind who probably want to stay behind or they don't feel safe enough to travel to the airport. so what do you do? you have to talk to the taliban to see what happens after august 31st. i hope that the u.s. and others will engage the taliban in
finding ways and solutions for americans and others who want to leave. that's the only other option left. >> i want to ask you, though, do you trust those negotiations with the taliban? until weeks ago, the taliban was carrying out terror attacks itself, attacks that killed, targeted and killed afghan civilians. the taliban fought a war against the u.s. for 20 years. can the u.s. -- do you as a member of the afghan government, the former government, believe you can trust whatever agreement afghanistan or the u.s. makes with the taliban? >> trust in political terms, diplomatic terms has to be on paper, first of all, has to be negotiated. then it has to be executed and implemented and verified, and make sure that it sticks, you know. it's not about me saying something or anybody claiming something in media or just by --
to statements that are for p.r. purposes. so i can tell you that there is no way that anybody can say, i can trust or the taliban can say anything about others. what we need to do is keep on engaging. if we cut off all ties, if we abandon afghanistan, if we leave the country and the 35 million people in it at the mercy of we don't know what -- >> hasn't the u.s. done exactly that? it has very little leverage now. >> the u.s. has been in afghanistan for 20 years, has done -- i have been witness to everything that the u.s. has done. $2 trillion, 2,500 deaths. 200,000 afghan deaths. we tried everything. the afghan leader fled at the last moment, so part of the responsibility is on the afghans themselves.
this is their country. >> yes. i get the argument. i get the argument for sure. i understand. ambassador omar samad, it's good to have you on. we appreciate your perspective. >> thank you. well, the delta variant is pushing covid hospitalizations to levels not seen in months in this country. also causing a surge in cases among children. a new cnn analysis shows which groups of children are being most impacted by coronavirus. you'll want to see these numbers. plus, former president trump is threatening to invoke executive privilege to block house investigators from getting their hands on documents related to the january 6 insurrection. does he have the legal authority to do that? why is he blocking access? what does he have to hide? more on that ahead.
is there a need for covid-19 booster shots yet? still the subject of debate. the cdc advisory committee will meet next week to answer that question or attempt to. yesterday pfizer and bioin tech began submitting data to the fda to get approval for booster shots for their vaccines. cnn senior medical correspondent elizabeth cohen joins me now with more. elizabeth, do we know how close they are for approval to this? is it close? >> jim, this is moving really quickly. in fact, the biden administration is talking about it almost as if it's a done deal when it doesn't have fda or cdc review yet which is quite unusual. so, let's take a look at some of the basics on the time lines for booster shots. booster shots is a third shot of
the two that you already got. so as we know, pfizer has already begun its process of applying to the fda for approval. and biden had said that he plans to start boosters september 20th. that is soon. in studies, boosters were given about four to eight months after the second dose. in other words, this third dose, this booster shot, given about four to eight months after the second dose, so we expect that once they are approved -- and it is, of course, expected to be approved -- it would be for -- you would be getting it about four to eight months, somewhere in there, after your second shot, jim. >> new details about covid-19 infections in children. what more are we learning, particularly about kids age 16 to 17? >> right, jim, we spent the last year and a half talking about covid thank goodness doesn't seem to affect kids as much as adults. what we're finding when we look at new cases per capita, actually kids are more affected than adults. so let's take a look at what this data a analyze significance
sh this data analysis shows. they have more per capita than any other age group, 16 to 17-year-olds. ages 30 to 39 to put it in perspective, 153 cases per 100,000. ages 75 plus, 64 cases per 100,000. so, two notes on that. one, this is really because the older folks are more vaccinated. so it just shows you once again as if we needed more proof that vaccination works. also important to note, for the vast majority of 16 and 17-year-olds or any young people, they are going to be fine. the problem is that a small percentage will end up in the hospital and will die. that means you want to keep these case numbers down so you can keep hospitalizations and deaths down. >> vaccines work, man. get vaccinated for your self, for your children, for others. do it. >> that's right. >> elizabeth cohen, thank you. >> thanks. >> joining me now to talk about this, cnn medical analyst former
city of baltimore health commissioner dr. leana wen. always good to have you back. first if we can talk briefly about a third booster. in your view, looking at the data, have we gotten to that point with the rise of the delta variant that folks like you and me who are vaccinated will need those boosters and soon? >> i think there is accumulating evidence that we do need a booster dose at some point, and that the federal government should be allowing individuals to choose when that point is. what i mean is that the data are showing that the vaccines continue to protect very well against hospitalization and death. however, we are seeing higher rates of breakthrough infections, infections for the most part in vaccinated people, especially after the six-month mark. that means there are some people who might say, hey, i'm generally healthy. i don't really want to get a booster shot at this time. i think that's fine. versus there are other individuals who might have underlying medical conditions
where a mild breakthrough infections could land them in the hospital because they are medically frail. those are people who should get a booster shot sooner rather than later. i believe that patients in consultation with their doctors should be making the decision about when a booster shot is in their own best interest. >> okay. so sad fact is we still have a big portion of the country not vaccinated. we still, therefore, in those unvaccinated places or places with low vaccination rates have big outbreaks of delta. are you seeing any softening of the data, right, in that vaccinations are coming up enough -- enough mask mandates and that kind of thing, that the peak is flattening or the curve, rather, is flattening or are we not there yet? >> i don't think we're there yet. i know right now we are at the highest rate of infections and hospitalizations since the winter surge, since before vaccines became widely available. children -- i mean, our kids are getting hospitalized at record
rates not seen during the pandemic and schools are returning right now. i'm really worried about where we are. i think the federal government has to do a lot more. i am in full support of mandates, for example, to board a plane, to get on a train, to enter federal buildings. we have to go there. i love what san francisco is doing, saying that if individuals want to enter bars and restaurants, they need to get fully vaccinated. we have to go to that step to increase vaccination rates. >> so, interestingly on that topic, i spoke to the c.e.o. of delta yesterday, which is -- which unlike other companies that have now mandated vaccines for their employees is well short of that. they're basically going to charge folks who aren't vaccinated an extra $200 a month to cover the broader health care costs to the company. are steps short of mandates like that, even in a business where there is lots of face to face contact between employees and customers? is that falling short? >> it is, although i do like this idea of an extra surcharge. i mean, health insurance
premiums -- charging more if you're a smoker. life insurance charging more if you're a smoker. i don't see why we shouldn't be doing that when it comes to vaccination. why should the entire society be picking up your cost if you make a decision for something that's impacting your own health and the health of other people. but i think that airlines, i mean, there are a lot of people who are not going to get the vaccine. however, if they need the vaccine to travel, to see their family, to visit friends, that will push them over the edge and i hope that airlines will embrace this. but ultimately this is the job of the federal government. the federal government should be requiring that vaccines are required for travel. >> you're right about costs, right, because more people get sick. we all share those costs. it's a forgotten cost beyond the cost of people's lives and health. in baltimore where you are, i mean just a big jump, they declared a local state of emergency tuesday after the seven-day covid case infection rate jumped 370% since july. why? what's happening there? >> well, i think there is a
state of emergency basically all around the country. i'm glad the baltimore county executive declared the state of emergency. it sends the right message. however, i will say in baltimore county, indoor masks are not required. if it's truly a state of emergency, why isn't the county executive and other executives around the country, why aren't they imposing indoor mask mandates? and at the very least requiring vaccinations for people who are entering county buildings or for county employees. i think those are things that are within the power, within the authority of county executives. and if it's truly a state of emergency as it is, i would expect more of these actions to be taken. >> 354% since jump. dr. leana wen, thanks very much. i should mention she has a new book, lifelines, doctor's fight in public health. president trump threatening to invoke privilege and block investigation into the capitol
riot. president biden has the final say. what does trump, the former president, have to hide by invoking such privilege? we'll take a look next. life is full of surprises when you least expect it. (woman laughs) and open. what happened to all your things? i know you needed a place to study, so... and other times, it pays off knowing what to expect. at university of phoenix, you can count on fixed, affordable tuition from the moment you enroll to the day you graduate from your program. learn more about our tuition guarantee at phoenix.edu
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big legal fight over the investigation into the capitol insurrection is escalating. former president donald trump as he has often done is threatening to block the january 6 house select committee from obtaining a sweeping amount of documents from several agencies. attempting to claim executive privilege. lawmakers are casting a wide net on several figures close to
trump including his wife and children. it will rest with the current president and administration. cnn legal national security analyst joins us now to discuss. good to have you this morning asha. so, president does this all the time, right, tries to block access to documents, to testimony, et cetera. can he block this access? >> well, jim, it's going to be an uphill battle for him this time. so, executive privilege is not a personal privilege. it is a separation of powers, principle, that protects the executive branch from congressional or judicial overreach. and so the privilege itself is held by the sitting president. now, even so, because it's about the office, typically presidents want to, you know, keep the scope of that privilege as broad as possible. they don't want to create precedence that could be used against them, for example, or people in their party in the future. but the department of justice in
july wrote letters to potential witnesses in some of these january 6 investigations and they have said that they will not be defending any kind of executive privilege, you know, invocation. and the reason is for two things. one, that these -- the situation here is extraordinary and they need to accommodate congress in their investigation. and the other piece, which is really important, jim, is the department of justice feels that the events of january 6th really arose from trump acting mainly in his personal capacity as someone running for reelection. so trump can try this on his own, but it's an uphill battle without the department and justice's backing. >> okay. it is now up to the current administration. the current department of justice, their position obvious here? >> i think so. and remember that, you know, this is even different than witnesses, right, jim. so witnesses, you know, they can
try to stonewall or whatever. for documents, especially documents belonging to, you know, agencies, the department of defense, those are all within biden's control. they answer to him. and so i suspect that, you know, they will be cooperating with congress. and i think that because of the way the department of justice has distinguished this, it should not have, you know, a huge precedential effect in terms of having long-term repercussions about the office of presidency generally. >> okay. the other thing trump does both in his personal business and presidential life has been to delay, try to, you know, play out the clock here. how long will this take to go through the courts? >> i don't know how long he can delay this. again, it depends on what lawyers he hires. he's not going to -- the department of justice isn't going to do this. he needs his own lawyers who, by the way, are already in trouble in other arenas.
and i suspect the courts will expedite this because i don't think there is a really compelling argument here for him in his personal capacity, you know, or as a former official to say these things need to be protected. if he comes up with some great legal argument that really overrides the current administration's argument, that's one thing. but i think that the delay will be far less than when he was actually president himself. >> asha, thanks so much for breaking it all down. >> thank you. well, the window to leave afghanistan is rapidly closing. thousands of afghans who worked with the u.s. desperate to evacuate and eligible for special immigrant visas. they're just not getting access to the airport and given up. we'll speak with a human rights activist who is still against the odds trying to help people get out.
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information really just evolving in the last several minutes. two officials have told us that there has been an explosion at the airport. what they can't tell us yet is exactly where it took place. we don't know if it took place inside or outside the fence line near the checkpoints that are manned by the taliban and the closer-in gates into the airport that are manned largely by u.s. military forces. they do believe there are injuries amongst the afghans, and, of course, there are afghans on both sides of that fence. so we want to be very careful here because the information is so fresh, that we simply have very few answers. initially they tell us also that they simply don't have any information about whether any u.s. forces or allied military forces at the air field have suffered any casualties or any injuries. that is simply unknown at this
time. so you can imagine it's going to be very busy there right now while they try to tend to those who may be wounded and try and determine exactly what has happened. and, of course, as cnn has reported for several days now, the u.s. has been very concerned about the threat of an attack at the airport from isis-k, essentially, isis in afghanistan. as you have reported, jim, there is very specific intelligence for the last several days that isis-k was planning an attack at the airport. we don't know if this is isis-k, but it is something that u.s. intelligence and the u.s. military had been watching for around the clock, jim. >> barbara, of course, a question is effect in ongoing attempts at evacuations, there had already been access issues for afghans and even american citizens who want to flee the country. one, because the taliban blocking access. two, because of concerns about
the security threat. i imagine that that, the fact -- if you're just joining us, the news is there has been an explosion at hamad karzai airport, the kabul airport. that is a live picture on the right-hand side of our screen and you can see u.s. planes parked there where these evacuations have taken place from. barbara, i imagine the sad fact is an attack like this blocks, delays further evacuations. >> reporter: well, it may. right now the u.s. military remains in control of the airfield, monitoring and controlling both take-offs and landing of aircraft. that's an important fact. they will have to determine if they believe, based on whatever intelligence they can gather, that it is still safe for planes to take-off and to land. we don't know the answer to that. right now we don't know where the explosion took place. we don't know how big it was, how significant it was. these are just very initial
reports that we are getting. so they'll have to determine first if the airfield is still secure and safe for planes to take-off and land, and we'll be watching that airfield to see if those flights continue. if it happened outside the gate, outside, essentially, the fence line of the airport, the taliban control a good deal of that. they will have to -- they will have to step up and figure out what to do, to be very clear, if there are a number of afghan wounded, they will have to be tended to. u.s. forces are at the gates, which is closer to the airport fence line than the taliban checkpoints. so they will also try to be accounting for all the u.s. military personnel, all the state department personnel, all the allied personnel from other nations, trying to see exactly what's happened here, jim. >> just in the last couple of seconds here, there's been a tweet from the pentagon press secretary john kirby, it says
the following. we can confirm an explosion outside kabul airport, that is hamad karzai international airport, hki, you probably heard that as well. kirby goes on to say casualties are unclear. we will provide additional details when we can. again, that is the headline, an attack at the airport, and something that as we reported yesterday, there had been a credible stream of intelligence about such a risk to the airport. that intelligence indicating the risk primarily from a group known as isis-k, that is the islamic state, a break-off group from the taliban, broke off a number of years ago. let's speak now to nick payton walsh. he's in ca par where many of these evacuation flights have been going. by the way, as you are watching us here, that is a live picture from kabul airport. you can see in the background, those are u.s. military planes on the runway. the c-17s that have been bearing the load, the burden of these evacuations, they're still on the ground. in the last few minutes we saw a
plane take off. nick payton walsh, you have been covering the terror threat to the airport as well. what effect should we expect on the evacuations going forward? >> reporter: yeah, i'm sure this will have a very chilling effect on the evacuation as we understand it in its sort of closing phases. the key thing from the pentagon spokesman kirby's tweets is outside karzai international airport. there is a clear line where the airport begins and where it ends. also, too, where the u.s. or nato-controlled part of it is and where it is not. we are talking about the areas we fear, crowded areas where many afghans are trying to get onto the base. there are areas to the south of that airport near the south civilian side which are controlled by the taliban, and their control does extend to some extent to the areas around the north and the east where a lot of the access gates are into
hamid karzai airport. who would have been in the blast? we know so little about it. there are at times nato soldiers that go out from the perimeter to establish security to at times pick the individuals in the crowd and bring them in. the siv applicants. but, of course, the majority of people you will see in those crowds are simply afghans, desperate afghans, afghans that have been affiliated most likely with the united states, or at least they are desperately trying to prove their affiliation to the united states in order to get onto the airport. but if what we are seeing here is some sort of explosion that's targeted a crowd, it will play into very much the worst fears of people looking at the situation evolve. there was a real fear that the crushing could take lives and it appears it already has. there are real fears the taliban's deadline could result in a winding up of tensions there. it's important to remember, too, we can't immediately presume
this is isis-k in terms of if we are looking at this being some sort of attack on a crowd. that being their m.o. in the past days or so, or years i should say. but there are other elements around there, too. the taliban have been, for all accounts, quite cooperative when it comes to the u.s. presence there, but there's also militants protecting it as well and they are affiliated with al qaeda. it's still early days at this stage. but it does appear as though outside of the airport being hit makes me think that we could be looking at something -- it is extremely hard to tell. >> we don't know. let's just repeat for our viewers joining us now, what we do know is limited. an explosion outside hamid karzai international airport, the kabul airport, that is a live picture of the airport right now. this, of course, is the sole, frankly, exit point for those evacuation flights we have been observing over these last several days. we do not have any information
at this point on casualties, but we do see a new tweet, again, this information is coming in to us by the second. the pentagon press secretary -- press secretary has tweeted, as i've mentionedcasuals unclear a. we'll provide additional details when we can. so nothing new in that tweet. so let's go to jeremy diamond now. because this is been a concern, jeremy, as you know, and we reported yesterday that there were credible threat streams about a terror threat for an attack in this category. attacking the crowds outside of the gates of the airport. have you gotten a reaction from the white house. >> reporter: this is what president biden has been concerned about and white house officials have been concerned about for several days. it is why we have heard repeatedly from the president in these recent days. this warning that things could get nasty in the final days of this evacuation. that while there had not been
any american casualties yet, that certainly was a possibility. of course we have no indication that that is the case at this point. but this is the fear that there were these credible threats. it is why we saw the warning from the u.s. embassy to tell americans not to come to the gates at the airport unless they have been provided with specific instructions to do so. i'm now hearing, jim, though from a white house official that president biden has indeed been briefed on this explosion that took place outside of kabul airport. that of course was already confirmed by the pentagon press secretary that this explosion did indeed occur but i would say the president has been briefed on this. we did see the top military and national security official as riving this morning for a daily briefing for the president in "the situation room." and that is happening around this time this morning. so certainly the president has been briefed on this situation. we'll see if we get any more information from the white house in terms of casualties.
whether the u.s. military personnel at the airport went outside of the wire to respond to the situation, we just don't know that information at this point. but again, this is the impetuous for why president biden has wanted to get u.s. troops, those nearly 6,000 who arrived in kabul to facilitate this evacuation, outside of kabul, outside of harm's way. of course it is a cost benefit analysis here for the president as he tries to evacuate americans and afghans that have helped the u.s. >> it is also reason, this threat, that access to the airport has been very difficult for people trying to flee the country. again repeating what we know at this point, what little we know, a explosion outside of hamid karzai international airport. the pentagon has confirmed such an explosion as cnn reported a few moments ago. there is still no information on casualties. our kylie atwood is at state
department, they issued as you know, kylie, a warning to americans last night to avoid gates at the airport because of credible information about threats to the airport and the crowds outside. what more are you learning and hearing from the state department following this report? >> reporter: yeah, well, jim, they warned americans not only to avoid those gates, but to leave the gates immediately if they were there. so that means that any of those americans who were in the country were told basically go elsewhere. we're going to figure out a way to get you to the airport. but we really don't want you in those crowds outside of these specific gates. now notably the top u.s. diplomat in afghanistan said that crowds outside of the airports are dangerous and that is why the united states doesn't want americans in them.
he wouldn't specific get into the threat stream that the biden administration is picking up on. but he said that the threats are imminent and obviously based on what we're seeing with the news of this explosion at the airport, they were certainly imminent. there is a reason that the united states, the state department was putting out that information. warning americans to stay away. now as we have said, as of now there are no reports of u.s. casualties among americans or any of the troops or diplomats on the the ground. of course we're monitoring that. but there are reports of casualties among the afghans. and that is a devastating reality. these afghans presumably are people who are trying to get out of the country, who are worried about staying in the country because they're worried for their own safety given the taliban are now in control. given these constant isis-k threats that we're now seeing. but we're really looking to learn more. and jim, i think the incredibly
important question here is what does this mean for the u.s. evacuation effort? we know that there is still some flights going out of the country. wee know they've been wrapping that up to complete drawdown, but how does this explosion effect that timeline? >> understood, kelly atwood at the state department there. again repeating what we know at this point. explosion to our knowledge outside at a gate of hamid karzai international airport in kabul. that is a live biekt there. you could see the c-17s carrying evacuees in the back ground. we saw a flight take off a few minutes ago, since the reports of the explosion, the pentagon has confirmed it and said at this point no confirmed knowledge about the number of casualties involved. our peter burgen is here now. he has covered afghanistan for
more than two decades. including the terror threat from afghanistan, groups such as the taliban and al qaeda and others. peter, this is what u.s. officials have been warning and they told me yesterday there was cre credible and specific thoughts around the airport because they believed that terror groups in particular isis-k had the ability to carry out such attacks. this is early. but as you watch this, tell us your action. >> well it was reported yesterday there was a very strong threat stream than we had last night's warnings from the state department for americans to stay away. this could be isis-k but it will also be al qaeda. we don't know yet. but al qaeda has presence in 19 of the 34 afghan provinces and isis-k has an ability to strike at will in kabul. to showed that in may when if t
blew up a girl's school and kills people and anyone who do this has had a week and a half to plan because the evacuation has been ongoing for so long. >> no question. and by the way, the u.n., as you note there, has issued a disturbing report that afghanistan has become once again a magnet for extremists from around the world. from as far afield as shing jang to the middle east as well. people fighting to get in there, right to, to organize and to train. so a number of groups capable of carrying out attacks like this one. a question for you is what that means going forward? one, in the immediate aftermath for the waning days of the evacuation but then what follows after the americans are gone if this august 31st deadline is kept? >> well i don't think all o
americans will be gone. this is a hostage crisis of the biden administration construction and yesterday we heard tony blinken saying 1500 americans is in conceivable that they would be evacuated by august 31st. under any circumstance. and that doesn't -- let's not forget the green card holders and the siv 1 visa holders and others. so it seems that the evacuation surely will be halted or suspended and maybe it is over. >> peter burgen, one final question, the taliban, the u.s. one evacuationplace plan is dependent to the taliban. you've heard the taliban say they will allow access to the airport. thoughts about evacuations post august 31st and u.s. officials have said we hope to be able to negotiate a arrangement with them to get people out after the deadline. but we should remember, folks at
home, the taliban, a couple of weeks ago carried out its own terror attack, attacking civilians. is that a plan that is all workable, that the u.s. can reasonably rely on? >> i have no idea. the taliban has already said our red line is august 31st. i don't doubt that is their view. >> mm-hmm. peter burgen, thank you so much. thanks so much for your guidance on this. stand by. we'll have an update. >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. >> this is the breaking news this hour. this is what we know. there has been an explosion outside of the hamid karzai international airport. that is the kabul airport and the really only exit point for the evacuation flights we've seen in recent days. pentagon press secretary john kirby tweeting moments ago we can confirm an explosion outside of kabul airport.
casualties are unclear at this time. we will provide additional details when we can. we also learned moments ago that president biden has been briefed on that explosion outside of kabul airport. a white house official tells cnn. and we are waiting on a pentagon press briefing which will happen in about 30 minutes from now. the back ground on this, as you look at a live picture from the kabul airport, that in recent days and yesterday we reported the u.s. has been very concerned about a credible threat stream about potential terror attacks targeting the gates to the airport and the crowds around those gates. the u.s. believing that terror groups had both the capability and the planning to carry out such attacks. there is still no attribution for these attacks or as we said, any confirmation about casualties. we have our reporters covering the story. let's begin with nick paton
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