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tv   The Lead With Jake Tapper  CNN  August 26, 2021 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT

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evacuation but a mission that has to continue in a dangerous and deadly environment. >> the chaos outside kabul airport became a catastrophe when two bombings tore through the crowds and skilled 12 service members and dozens of a gan civilians. the victims thrown across the street and this man able to sit up unlike so many others. afghans desperate to leave the country and even pushing come of the injury in makeshift we will barros. we expect the attacks to continue and we're doing everything we can to prepare for the attacks and we're working right now to determine attribution and determine who was associations with this cowardly attack. 24/7 we're looking for them.
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americans were sold to stay away from tree different gates and only to approach when instructs. these are the first u.s. troops killed in afghanistan since before january of last year. it comes hours before the august 31st deadline. still the evacuation operations condition including for though the who are still in afghanistan. the plan is to still operate while under stress. we'll continue to make sure that the mission continues. they will continue to push out the security corridor and shared some information to prevent attacks. >> we believe it's possible that
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others have been thwarted. we cut down the information we gave the taliban. they don't get the full range of information that we, have but we give them enough to act and time and space to prevent the attacks. >> the situation on the ground has been fluid for weeks changing by the hour but these attacks mark a much greater shift. general mckenzie made it clear they would use the forces available, aircraft overhead including fighters and gunships and apaches there on the field and drones to do what it takes to keep an eye on the airport and secure the u.s. troops that continue to work through a dangerous environment to try to evacuate as many afghans as possible. >> if the evacuation is going to continue as general mckenzie said it is, how do these terrorist attacks change how they are conducting security checks at the airport. >> there is ongoing communication with the taliban. okay of that intel from isis-k will be shared with the taliban and they have been instructed or
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asked to push out the security perimeter to keith a bigger secure area but mckenzie said not all of these taliban fighters can conduct the security checks. the final investigation have to be done by u.s. forces and face to face which introduces an inherent risk to any non-combat operation and certainly one of this size. >> we knew in the last 24 hours there was a heightened threat. buses were lined up outside the airport. not letting anyone in. the biden administration was publicly talking about an explosion that they feared would come from an isis-k terrorist. all they had to do was turn on cnn. who more information did they need before they allowed them to
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walk up to their perimeter all the way up to the u.s. marines. let's not forgot that they had step days to look at the operations and that's why they told americans to stay away from the gates until we instruct you to do so because there's security threats. they weren't about to ivac ate them. the challenge was to continue in a way that allowed them to get to the pace this is what happened here. the operation continues even as the threat still there and still persistent. let's go to cnn's phil mattingly live at the white house. we're waiting for president biden to begin speaking.
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he was. promised a swift and forceful response to any disruption. obviously this is the worst kind of disruption. what are we expecting to see him now. >> the pentagon made the capability they had to follow out the message if they are able to identify where folks are associated with these terrorist actually are. i think the operative issue here is we haven't heard from the president yet today. over the he's been huddled with hit top advisers receiving regular updates about a situation that the administration acknowledges is extraordinarily fluid and it's not what the recourse will be in terms of what the support going to have to answer or lay out when he speaks to the american public. there are a matter of questions,
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some that you just outlined with orrin, how the evacuation is continuing. how are you getting americans inside the gates? how are you getting afghans inside the gate? what is the process? will u.s. forces have to expend more effort to get outside the gates to go extract people? these are all open questions that i'm told the administration has been mulling over the course of the last several hours and, of course, this is all on a timeline. the timeline has not changed. there's no expectation according to congressional democrats that the august 31st deadline will be shifted in any way and part of reason is the exact rationale that the president pointed to for coming out of afghanistan by august 31st was exactly what we saw happen this morning. you noted this has been a very, very real intelligence threat that the administration has been tracking over the last several days. the president has repeatedly said in private meetings with foreign leaders, publicly to the american public, that this was the biggest concern, that every day u.s. personnel were on the ground was a day where the risk was increasing. that risk increased to the highest level this morning and as pentagon officials made clear
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those risks haven't gone away. in fact, there's every expectation according to officials i've spoken to that there will be more attacks so how the president handles that, how the president and the military personnel on the ground are able to address that while continuing their evacuations, these are all questions that the mr. president have to address when he speaks in a few minutes. jake. >> phil mattingly at the white house, thanks so much. pentagon officials believe that 1,000 american citizens still want to be evacuated from afghanistan and that does not include lawful permanent residents of the u.s. or afghan special immigrant visa resip sense. the centcom commander said the mission to evacuate americans and afghans will continue. cnn's kylie atwood is at state department for us. kylie, what are you hearing about evacuation efforts. we've heard that the u.s. military is -- has been sealing some of the various gates at the kabul airport. >> yeah. so what we're learning is these evacuation efforts are ongoing and certainly there are a number of conversations happening behind closed doors to try and
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make sure they can still facilitate those evacuations. just to give you a sense of the numbers that we're looking at here. the state department said today there are about a thousand americans that they have been in contact with and two-thirds are making moves to get out of country and there are some of those who they believe are on their way out of the country or who have already gotten out of the country. that's a little bit confusing, but what that tells us is this is extremely fluid. i know that there are americans at the airport who are waiting to get on some of those evacuation flights. there were americans who got on evacuation flights before explosions this morning but the key question sheer how much those americans aren't yet at the airport because we heard from the top state diplomat this morning that they told americans not to go to the airport on their own because of the sensitivities and because of the dangerous situation around these gate. they said they are working on alternate ways to get those folks to the airport. my understanding is that those
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alternate routes are still under way but the state department isn't being very specific with us because of the dangerous security situation on the ground there but our understanding is that this evacuation is still under way but they are making changes on the fly given what we saw happen this morning. jake? >> kylie atwood at the state department, thank you so much. i want to go now to cnn's tom forman and, tom, it's fair to say that most people watching the show are not familiar with the basic geography of hamid karzai international airport in kabul. you've been taking a closer look at where these two explosions happened. give us a lay of the stade de gerland this really is a challenge of time and geography. take a look at the airport right here. if we move into a different picture of it here, can you see that this is the main road coming up to it, this is where the taliban has been doing a checkpoint out here and people have spread out along these walls in both directions. hundreds of yards, thousands of poem and this is where this attack took place. first at the abbey gate and the
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baron hotel, as we've heard, a stone's throw away. these are the areas where a lot of people, a lot of americans, a lot of brits, a lot of europeans and voers been funneling through as they have opened the gates briefly to let them in as we've heard from the pentagon today. that's when it appears that an attack happened. when they finally reach the point of pushing through there, you say why couldn't you keep them separated. we were talking a minute ago about keeping people back. take a look at the situation as we've been talking about. a tremendous number of people gathered along this area and they are right up against the area where u.s. troops are. that has been the challenge all along and continues tonight challenge. how do you get through the people you want through and keep out those that you don't want to come through or keep them from getting that close? that's what they have to deal with right now, especially in the environment that you just described where we believe that there's still an active effort to attack. they will have to keep moving forward. they say they are ready to operate and continue the
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evacuations upped stress and upped attack. they will have to be able to do that if this is going to be successful because as you noted somewhere out here in the country there are roughly a thousand american citizens, not counting all the other people we might want out, somewhere out in the country who may have to come in through that barrier and remember in here are roughly are 5,000 troops who ultimately will have to come out, too. jake. >> tom foreman with the logistical challenge of excavating all these individuals, evacuating all these individual. we're standing by for president biden to address these horrific terrorist attacks. we're going to squeeze in a quick break. stay with us. we'll be right back. oh yeah, we gotta take off. you downloaded the td ameritrade mobile app? yeah, actually i'm taking one last look at my dashboard before we board... and you have thinkorswim mobile- -so i can finish analyzing the risk on this position. you two are all set. choose the app that fits your investing style.
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terrorist attacks at the kabul airport. the terrorist group isis-k has claimed responsibility. the pentagon confirmed 12 u.s. service members were killed and 15 wounded after two explosions outside the airport at a nearby hotel. more than 60 innocent afghans were killed and several civilians injured. u.s. allies have been expressing lots of again with the manner of this braul. the french president was saying they weren't sure they could get out all the people woe would like to evac aid. the elysses palace sort of tidied up those remarked a
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little bit said this act is condemned and frafns will try to evacuate out all the people that they can and they are worried about the situation happening earlier. the prime minister spokes afterwards calling the attack barbaric, despicable and said the british would continue, he said, until the last moment trying to evacuate out all the people that they believe they have responsibility for and he said most of those people are already out so on the one hand you have the shortened concern and the resolve to get out the last of the people and i'm interested in one point, jake and you just referred to touch the isis-k had a claimed this. interestingly the individual that they named as being responsible and we can't prove that it is. but this is their propaganda. they named this person an gave him the last name logari which
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means in their speak, isis speak, is from logar province, about 30 miles from kabul so their message here is we haven't plucked out some suicide bomber, from you know, some wave, far flung province in part of afghanistan. no, the guy that did this lived his life just outside the capital. >> nic, obviously this evacuation effort that the u.s. military has been heroically performing, keep the airport as safe as possible, but it's been an international effort to get as many people as have left afghanistan out. last i heard it was more than 80,000. how are today's events likely to impact the international evacuation effort? >> you know, we were hearing through the day and in fact before this suicide bombing took place, reports were coming if i think from danish, canadian,
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from others who were essentially saying these were the last of their evacuation flights that were happening. the germans still had people they want to continue to -- to evacuate out. clearly for them, you know, it's going to heighten security concerns, but i think compared to the united states britain also still had a relatively high number of people that they'd vacated and still in relative terms of the nation still quite a number that they wanted to get out but relative to the united states i think a lot of nato partners had already significantly drawn down an got out most of the people they wanted to leave, but it's very clear even those like the british troops who were based at the airport who had, you know, whose security posture was about as far out as, you know, permissible and putting themselves also in a line of
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danger just the same way that the marines who so tragically died today, you know, this is not going to be -- it would seem that the british are going to like the united states be more cautious about that going forward. >> nic robertson, thanks so much. let's bring in the former assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs under george w. bush mary beth long. she's been assisting with the evacuation efforts. god bless you and thanks so much for the efforts. i know so much is being done by private citizens and veterans and people whose job it is not but so many have risen. the original dunn skirk a heroic thing. at the same time it's also kind of sad that it needs to happen but thank you for what you've been doing. you've been communicating directly with commanders on the ground and been in contact with people who were trying to evacuate. have you spoken to any of them since the attack? what are you hearing? >> i have actually. first of all, condolences to the families that lost both on the afghan side and the marine side
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but as is often the case people have locked up the gates once again and in fact as you know they are securing the gates. abbey gate is the only gate that we understand will be open in the future and we still have at least from our rolls at least 60 to 100 u.s. citizens who have been going to the gays for three or four days at a time yet to get in and it looks like it will be even more difficult. >> one of the things that doesn't make any sense to me and i guess terrorism never makes sense but sometimes there is some sort of message that they are trying to send. the u.s. is leaving, right? like the u.s. is going so this isn't an attack to say get out of this country which is one of the reasons we've had u.s. terrorist attacks against u.s. forces in the previous 20 years. what message do you think isis-k is trying to send here? >> there's two messages. the u.s., you have failed to secure your perimeter and that's a basic fundamental expectation of any of your operations, so shame on you for having done it.
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we found that hole and if we can find this hole we can find a lot of other holes and i think the second one was you made a deal with the taliban, but you forgot we're going to contest the taliban's authority over kabul. kabul has always been a contested area. they have split. this is now the taliban versus the haqqani network and others and we are flat-footed on that. >> you're part of 40 former government officials working around the clock to evacuate american citizens and evacuate lawful permanent residents, siv holders, tell me how these efforts are going. do you have a way of moving forward in light of the terrorist attacks? >> we haven't asked for money and basically everyone have left their jobs and family and have been doing this for about a
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week. we're very disappointed. last night we had over 60 u.s. citizens waiting to get in. they never got in. we had a busload of green cardholders, finally got those in today and had another busload that had been waiting for three or four days. it's only going to get harder. unfortunately, the situation outside the airport that has prevented u.s. citizens from getting in is only going to be exacerbated and we are discouraged. we are, however, already pivoting to over-the-land efforts to get people out. >> over boarders? >> over borders, all kinds of operations. >> you're not going to go into detail. >> so you're abandoning some of the flight efforts? >> no. we're just dividing our resources in order to be prepared whenever things shift. we're not optimistic since we're down to one gate and we've been using seven gates and we haven't greatly reduced. very few people got in last night. we're looking for alternatives and have shifted resources accordingly. >> you've been in contact with a
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woman from california who was stranded and she was assaulted. >> yes, she was. she was assaulted waiting to get inside the embassy, our marines knew she was there and others and did not have the authority to let u.s. citizens in and people like her that were pushed to the back of the line were beaten severely while they waited for us, unfortunately, to respond and we didn't get there. >> beaten by the taliban or beaten by people there. >> beaten by the taliban. >> has the state department, the biden straight been at all receptive to your efforts? are they using you as a way of enhancing their efforts? >> no. as a matter of fact they are not. i just learned multiple attempts to state department and the department of defense have been basically been brushed off. they are not interested in our list of u.s. citizens who are trying to get in. they were not interested in our list of u.s. grown cardholders.
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they take our efforts -- >> here he comes. >> oh, of course. >> president biden. here's president biden. let's listen in and thank you so much for being here. >> it's been a tough day. this evening in kabul as you all know terrorists attacked that we've been talking about, worried about, that the intelligence community has assessed, has undertaken an attack by a group known as isis-k. took the lives of american service members standing guard at the airport and wounded several others seriously. they also wounded a number of civilians and civilians were killed as well. ave been engaged all day in constant contact with the
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military commanders here in washington and the pentagon as well as in afghanistan and do had a. and my commanders here in washington in the field have been on this with great detail, and you've had a chance to speak to some so far. the situation on the ground is still evolving, and i'm constantly being updated. these american service members who goff their lives, it's a overused word but it's totally appropriate here, were heroes, heros who have been engaged in a dangerous selfless mission to save the lives of others. they are a part of an airlift and evacuation effort unlike any seen in history with more than
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100,000 american citizens, american partners, afghans who helped us and others taken to safety in the last 11 days. just in the last 12 hours or so another 7,000 have gotten out. they are a part of the bravest most capable and the most selfless military on the face of the earth, and they are a part of simply what i call the backbone of america, the spine of america, the best the country has to offer jill and i, our hearts ache like i'm sure all of you do as well, for all those afghan families who lost loved ups including small children vore been wounded in this vicious attack and we're outraged as well as heartbroken. being the father of an army
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major who served for a year in iraq and of that was in kosovo as a u.s. attorney for the better part of six months in the middle of a war, when he came home after a year in iraq, it was diagnosed like many, many coming home with an aggressive and lethal cancer of the brain who we lost. we have some sense like many of you do what the families of these brave heroes are feeling today. you get this feeling like you're being sucked into a black hole in the middle of your chest. there's no way out my heartaches for you, and i know this. we have a continuing obligation, a sacred obligation to all of you, families of those heroes.
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thatablegation is not temporary. it lasts forever. the lives we lost today were lives given in the service of liberty, the service of security and the service of others and in the service of america. like their fellow brothers and sisters in arms who have died defending our vision and our values in the struggle against terrorism, of the fallen this day they are part of a great noble company of american heroes. to those who carried out this attack as well as anyone wishes america harm know this. we will not forgive. we will not forget. we will hunt you down and make
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you pay. i will defend our interests and our people will every measure at my command. over the past few weeks i know many of you are probably tired of hearing me say it we've been made aware by our intelligence community that the isis-k, a archenemy of the taliban, people who were freed when both those prisons were opened has been planning a complex set of attacks on the united states personnel and others. this is why from the outset i've repeatedly said this mission was extraordinarily dangerous and why i've been so determined to limit the duration of this mission. as general mckenzie said, this is why our mission was designed. this is the way it was designed
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to operate, operate under severe stress and attack. we've known that from the beginning, and as i've been in constant contact with our senior military leaders, and i mean constant, around the clock, and our commanders on the ground throughout the day, they made it clear that we can and we must complete this mission and we will, and that's what i've ordered them to do. we will not be deterred by terrorists. we will not let them stop our mission. we will continue the evacuation. i've also told my commanders to attack isis-k assets and we will respond with precision at our time at a place that we choose and the moment of our choosing. here's what you need to know. these isis terrorists will not win. people rescue the americans in
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there. we will get our afghan allies out and our mission will go on. america will not be intimidated, and i have the utmost confidence in our brave service members that continue to execute this mission with courage and honor to save lives, get our americans and partners and afghan allies out of afghanistan. every day when i've talked to our commanders i asked them what they need, what more do they need to get the job done, and they will tell you i've granted every request. i reiterated to them today on three occasions that they should take the maximum steps necessary to protect our forces on the ground in kabul, and i also want to thank the secretary of defense and the military leadership at the pentagon and all the commanders in the field. there has been complete unanimity from every commander on the objectives of this mission and the best way to achieve those objectives.
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those who have served through the angst and have drawn inspiration from the book of isaiah when the lord says whom shall i send? who shall go for us? american military has been answering for a long time. here i am, lord. send me. here i am, send me. each one of these women and men of our armed forces are the heirs of that tradition of sacrifice of volunteering to go into harm's way to risk everything, not for glory, not for profit but to defend what we love and the people that we love. and i ask that you join me now in a moment of silence for all those in uniform and out of uniform, military and civilian, of giving the last full measure of devotion.
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>> thank you. may god bless you all and may god protect the troops and all those standing watch for america. we have so much to do. it's within our capacity to do it. we just have to remain steadfast, steadfast. we will complete our mission and we will continue after our troops are withdrawn to find means by which we find any american who wishes to get out of afghanistan. we will find them and get them
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out. ladies and gentlemen, they gave me a list here. the first call i'm going to call on is kelly o'donnell of nbc >> you said leaving afghanistan is in the national interest of the united states. after today's attack do you believe you'll authorize additional forces to respond to that attack inside afghanistan, and are you prepared to add additional forces to protect those americans who remain on the ground carrying out the evacuation operation? >> i've instructed the military with whatever they need if they need additional force, i will grant it. but the military from the chairman of the joint chiefs, the commanders in the field have all contacted me one way or another usually by letter saying
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they subscribe to the mission as designed. to get as many people out as we can within the time frame that's allotted. that's the best way to get as being americans out as others and regard to finding and tracking down the isis leaders who ordered this. we have some reason to believe we know who they are. not certain, and we will find ways of our choosing without large military operations to get them. wherever they are. trevor of reuters. >> thank you, mr. president. there's been some criticism even from people in your party on the
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dependence from the taliban to secure the perimeter of the airport. do you feel like there was a mistake made in that regard. the no, i don't. look, i think general mcsensee handled this question very well. we inherited a situation particularly since as we all know that the afghan military collapsed 11 days before -- in 11 days. that it is in the interest of as mckenzie said, in the interest of the taliban that in fact isis-k does not metastasize beyond what it is, number one, and number two, it's in our interests that we're able to
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leave on time on targ, and as a consequence of that the major things that we've asked them. moving back the perimeter, giving more space between the wall, stops vehicles from coming through, et cetera, searching people coming through, it's not what you would call a tightly can'ted regimented operation like the u.s. military is, but they are acting in their interests, so by and large and i've asks this very same question to military on the ground whether or not it's a useful exercise. no one trusts them. we're just counting on the
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self-interest to continue to generate their activities and it's in their self interests that we leave when we said and that we get as many people out as we can. like i said. even in the midst of everything happening today. over 7,000 that we've gotten out. over 5,000 americans, so it's not a matter of trust. it's a matter of mutual self-interest, and -- but there is no evidence thus far that i've been given as a consequence by any of the commanders in the field that there has been collusion between the taliban and isis in carrying out what happened today both in front of the hotel and what is expected
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to continue. amir, associated press. >> thank you, mr. president. you have spoken again powerfully about your own son and the weight of these decisions. with that in mind and also what you've said, that the longer we stay the more likelihood that there would be a major attack. how do you weigh staying even one more day considering what's happened? >> because i think what america says matters. the what we say we're going to do and the context in which we sayy that we're going to do it we do it unless something exceptional changes. there are additional american citizens. there are additional green cardholders. there are additional personnel
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of our allies. there are additional siv cardholders. there are additional afghans that have helped us and there are additional groups of individuals that have been -- that have contacted us from women's groups to ngos and others who have expressly indicate that had they want to get out and have gathered in certain circumstances in groups, on buses and other means. that still presents the opportunity for the next several days between now and the 31st to be able to get them out and our military and i believe to the extent that we can do that
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knowing the threat, knowing that we may very well have another attack. the military has concluded that that's what we should do. i think they are right. i think they are correct and after that we're going to be in a circumstance where there are -- where there will be i believe numerous opportunities to continue to provide access for additional persons to get out of afghanistan, either through means that we provide and/or are provided through cooperation with, but they have keen interests. as many of you have been reporting, they very much would
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like to figure out how to keep the airport open. they have the capacity to do it. they are very much trying to figure out whether or not they can maintain what is a portion of an economy that has become not robust but fundamentally different than it had been, and so there's a lot of reasons why they have reached out not just to us but to others as to why it would be continued in their interests to get more of the personnel we want to get out. we can locate them. there's not many left that we can assess that want to come out. there are some americans, we've identified, we've contacted them, the vast majority of them, not all of them, who don't want to leave because they have -- they have dual nationals and they have extended families, et cetera. and there's others who are
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looking for the time, so that's why we continue. i'll take a few more questions, but -- >> i wanted to ask you. >> that's okay. >> you say that what america says matters. what do you say to the afghans who helped troops who may not be able to get out by august 31st? what do you say to them? >> we're going to try to continue to get them out. it matters. i know of no conflict as a student of history, no conflict where when a war was ending one side was able to guarantee that everyone that wanted to be extracted from that country would get out, and think about it, folks. ch i think it's important -- i know the american people get this in their gut.
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there arch, i would argue, millions of a ganny citizens who are not taliban works did not actively cooperate with us as sivs who if given a chance they would be on board a plane tomorrow. it sounds ridiculous but the vast majority of communities in like want to come to america given the choice. so getting every single person out can't be guaranteed by anybody because there's a determination of all who wants to get out as well. any rate, it was a process. i was really pointing to you, sir. >> thank you, mr. president. there are reports that u.s. officials provided the taliban with names of americans and afghan officials to evacuate. were you aware of that? did that happen, and then, sir,
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did you personally reject a recommendation to hold or to recapture baghram air force base? >> here's what i've done -- are i'll answer the last question first. on the tactical questions of how to conduct an evacuation or a war i gather up all the major military personnel that are in afghanistan, the commanders as well as the pentagon. and i ask for their bit of military judgment, what would be the most efficient way to accomplish the mission? they concluded, the military, that baghram was not much value added, that it was much wiser to focus on kabul, and so i followed that recommendation.
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with regard to there are certain circumstances where we've gotten information and quite frankly sometimes from some of you saying you know of such and such a group of people who are trying to get out. they are on a bus. they are moving from other people and this is their location, and there have been occasions when our military has contacted their military counterparts in the taliban and said this, for example, this bus is coming through with "x" number of people on it made up of the following group of people. we want you to let that bus or that group through. so, yes, there have been occasions like that, and to the best of my knowledge in those cases the bulk of that has occurred, they have been let through, but i can't tell you with any certitude that there's
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actually been a list of name. there may have been. i know of no circumstance. it doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. here's the name of 12 people they are coming, let them through. that very well could have happened. i'll take one more question. wait, wait, wait. let me take the one question from the most interesting guy that i know in the press. >> thank you mr. president. >> that's you. >> mr. president, there had not been a u.s. service member killed in combat in afghanistan since february of 2020. you set a deadline. you pulled troops out. you sent troops back in and now 12 marines are dead. you said the buck stops with you. do you bear any responsibility for the way that things have unfolded in the last two weeks? >> i bear responsibility for fundamentally all that's happened of late. here's the deal. you know, i wish you one day say these things, you know as well as i do, that the former
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president made the a deal with the taliban to get all american forces out of afghanistan by may 1. in return the commitment was made, and that was a year before. in return he was given a commitment that the taliban would continue to attack others but would not attack any american forces. remember that? i'm being serious. i'm asking you a question. no, no, no, wait a minute. is that accurate to the. >> do you think that people have an issue with pulling out of afghanistan and the way? >> i think they have an issue that people are likely to get hurt, some as we've seen have
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gotten killed and that it is messy. the reason why, whether my friend will acknowledge it or has reported it, the reason why there were no attacks on americans, as you said, from the date until i came into office was because the commitment was made by president trump, i will be out by may 1st. in the meantime, you agree not to attack any americans. that was the deal. that's why no american was attacked. >> do you squarely standby your decision to pull out? >> yes, i do. because look at it this way, and i'm going to -- i have another meeting for real, but imagine where we'd be if i had indicated on may the 1st i was not going to renegotiate an evacuation
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date. we were going to stay there. i had only one alternative, for thousands of more troops back into afghanistan to fight a war. i have never been of the view that we should be sacrificing american lives to try to establish a democratic government in afghanistan, a country that has never once in its entire history been a united country and is made up -- and i don't mean this in a derogatory way, made up of different tribes who have never ever, ever gotten along with one another. and, so, as i said before, this is the last comment i'll make. we'll have more chance to talk
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about this unfortunately beyond because we're not out yet. if osama bin laden, as well as al-qaeda had chosen to launch an attack when they left saudi arabia out of yemen, would we have ever gone to afghanistan? even though the taliban completely controlled afghanistan at the time, would we have ever gone? i know it's not fair to ask you questions. it's rhetorical. but raise your hand if you think we should have gone and given up thousands of lives and tens of laws of wounded. our interest in going was to prevent al-qaeda from emerging, first to get bin laden, wipe out al-qaeda and afghanistan,
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prevent that from happening again. as i've said 100 times, terrorism has metastasized around the world. we have greater threats coming out of other countries heck of a lot closer to the united states. we don't have military even campments there. ladies and gentlemen, it was time to end a 20-year war. thank you so much. president biden addressing the nation, vowing to continue evacuations in the wake of the terrorist attacks in kabul that left 12 american service members dead, 15 wounded, countless other afghans wounded. president biden calling it a tough day. he honored the americans that were killed as heroes, serving on a dangerous, selfless mission. the president standing by his
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decision to pull out of af afgha afghanistan. he also condemned isis-k who has claimed responsibility for the attack. he warned, we will count you down and make you pay. phil mattingly is live for us at the white house. phil, the president says that the mission will go on until august 31st. when asked about whether or not he trusts the taliban, he said he doesn't, but it is a matter of mutual interests, that it's in the taliban's interest for the u.s. to leave on time. >> yeah, jake. we have been aware over the course of the last 11 days how reliant they are on the taliban. it has become abundantly clear how acute that reliance is. there is no question about it. and the president framing it as simply they have a shared interest at this moment in time, making clear he doesn't believe they are good people or good guys but that it is a reality and the situation right now for u.s. personnel on the ground and in the mission that they are attempting to complete in terms of these large scale evacuations of both americans and afghan
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allies that they need those officials. one thing i would note the president making it clear he directed his military leaders to draw up plans to strike those responsible for the attack today and making clear he plans to see that through, jake. >> let's talk about that with oren. the president said he will hunt down the terrorists and make them pay. he suggested that he has an idea of where they might be and who they might be. >> he did. he suggested, first, it was problematic that isis-k members were released when all the prisoners were let out. then he says the u.s. has an idea who is responsible for this. he said it's not certain yet. and then he said he's told commanders there to draw up plans to strike up isis-k assets, forces and capabilities and that will be carried out at a time and place chosen by the united states. we will not forgive. we will not forget. we will make you pay. he pointed out 7,000 people
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moved in 12 hours, he says. >> i want to bring in the state department. the president said the u.s. evacuated another 7,000 people from kabul in the last 12 hours. it is an indication that the operation is continuing. although, not for much longer. >> yeah, that's right. he said the promise to the afghan people is that the biden administration will still try and get them out of the country, even when this mission at the -- at the airport in kabul for the u.s. military concludes. he pointed to two reasons for why the taliban should be interested in wanting to help the united states get those people out. first of all, because they want that airport to stay open. it is not good for the country if it closes. so it is in their best interest to work with the united states, to work with other countries to keep the airport open. the second reason is because of economic reasons. the taliban need u.s. support. he indicated that is in jeopardy if they don't continue to allow afghans to get out of the country. >> nic robertson joins me live.
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president biden is still pledging that the u.s. will try to evacuate afghan allies. the promise was much broader once when the u.s. said they would try to help vulnerable afghans escape. and then they have been narrowing and narrowing the people that have been getting out. these promises are still being made, but when you talk to people on the ground, afghan special immigrant visa holders are not being let into the airport. >> there is something that's falling down that doesn't square up here, jake. you are in touch with people who have the -- this confusion at the final hurdle. and it does appear that the president is now more tightly defining the sort of people that
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can get out. you know, it isn't just americans. it is -- it is -- it does include afghans, and it does include allies. but as you say, the definition of who can -- who can be onboard a plane and who can get into the airport is now much smaller. i think that speaks to the fact that there is now a limited time frame, tighter security, evidently is going to be in place. less places for people to get into the airport. and this, to a degree, is constraining the president above what it previously said. >> all right, nick. general mark joins me here in studio. but the idea of what happens to americans, american citizens, legal permanent resident green cardholders who are still in afghanistan after august 31st, it was up in the air before, maybe a week ago that the u.s. would stay until every american was out. that doesn't seem to be the pledge anymore.
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now he's saying after we leave, we're going to figure out ways to get you out. >> yesterday secretary blinken said that was going to be donewy meetings. i think what happened today is we're going to have to consider alternative means, whether it is military or special operations forces or possibility some of our militaries. it could be assistance movements that we're seeing inside of afghans, the northern alliance. so i would hope that the president lives up to those words and it is not just a campaign promise. >> and phil mudd, very quickly if you can, we're running out of time before it's wolf, the intelligence that president biden relies on to talk about isis, did you hear anything that might suggest where it comes from? >> yeah. quickly, look, it could be vague intelligence. he said it's complex intelligence which means not single source and he suggested he knew who conducted the
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operation, which says you have some fidelity on the intelligence. that's different than a lot of what i saw. bottom line, if they had that fidelity, eventually they will find these guys. all right. our coverage continues now with wolf blitzer in "the situation room." >> this is cnn breaking news. >> welcome to our viewers here around the united states and around the world. the horrific attack outside the kabul airport. moments ago, president biden honored the heroes of the mission in afghanistan, the 12 u.s. service members killed and 15 wounded in suicide bombings. the president making a solemn vow to the isis-k terrorists responsible for the attack, and i'm quoting when he said we will hunt you down and make you pay. the loss of life even greater among locals so desperate to flee the