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tv   President Biden Delivers Remarks on Afghanistan  CSPAN  August 20, 2021 3:47pm-4:19pm EDT

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about -- i was very worried about that. i must've put my hand to my chest, because that photograph was taken of showing me on my back with my hand up to my chest. i do not remand lying on my back. i do remember jason taking my hand and comforting me, and telling me i was going to be ok. i was a little perplexed because i did not realize i was showing how upset i was. >> this week, you also hear from massachusetts democrat jim mcgovern. jamie six, views from the house, sunday at 10 p.m. on c-span. listen on the c-span radio app. >> earlier today, resident biden delivered remarks on rescuing
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afghans after the taliban seized control. >> good afternoon. i just met with the vice president, secretary blinken, secretary austin, and other members of the national security leadership team on the situation to discuss the efforts to evacuate american citizens. also vulnerable afghans. i want to provide the american people with a brief update on the situation and afghans in. since i spoke to you on monday, we have made significant progress. secure the airport, and flights are to resume.
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not just military flights, but civilian charters and other countries. ngo's taking out vulnerable afghanis. we now have almost 6000 troops on the ground, putting the 82nd airborne providing security. the army 10 mount divisions. the 24th marine expeditionary unit. this is one of the largest and most difficult airlift in history. we are the only country capable of projecting this much power on the far side of the world with this degree of precision. that is united's of america. we have already evacuated more than 80,000 -- 18,000 people since july. 13,000 since we began on august 13. thousands more have been evacuated on private charter flights as legitimate united
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states government. this number includes american citizens and permanent residents, as well as their families. it includes applicants and their families. it includes afghans who work alongside us, served alongside of us, gone into combat with us, and provided valuable assistance to us, such as translating and interpretation. the united states stands by his commitment we made to these people. it includes other vulnerable afghans, such as women leaders, and journalist. working in close coordination with the management of the night -- unite -- new york times and washington post, we have evacuated all 204 of their employees in afghanistan on military aircraft earlier this week. we have established the flow flights, and we have increased people who are moving out of the country. we pause flights to process the
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evacuees in our transports. our commander has already given the odor for outbound flights resume. even with the pause, we moved 5000 evacuees yesterday. we are working on a variety of ways to verify that number as we work on this, because we do not know the exact number of people who are there. we do not know who may have come home, and we want to get a strong number on exactly on the people are there, how many american citizens are not coming where they are. among them americans -- the americans we evacuated, many got over the wall using military assets. we are also facilitating flights for our allies and partners. we are working under close coordination with nato on this evacuation. for example, we provided
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overwatch for the french convoy bringing hundreds of people in the french embassy to the airport. these operations are going to continue over the coming days before we complete our drawdown. we are going to do everything that we can to provide safe evacuation for our afghan allies, partners, and afghans who might be targeted because of their association with united states. let me be clear. any american who wants to come home, we will get you home. make no mistake. this evacuation mission is dangerous. it involves risks to our armed forces, and it is being conducted under difficult circumstances. we cannot promise what the final outcome will be. it will not be without risk or loss, but as commander-in-chief, i can assure you that i will mobilize every resource necessary, and as an american, i
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offer my gratitude to the brave men and women of the united states armed forces who are carrying out this mission. they are good. as we continue to work the logistics evacuation, we are in constant contact with the taliban, working to ensure civilian have safe passage to the airport. we are particularly focused on aching sure every american who wants to leave can get to the airport. where we have seen challenges for americans, we have thus far been able to resolve them. we have been able -- look we -- we made it clear to the taliban that any attack on our forces, or disruption of our operations at the airport, will be met with swift and forceful response. we are also keeping a close watch on any potential terrorist threat at or around the airport, including from the isis civilians in afghanistan who
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were released from prison when the prisons were emptied. to make everyone understand, the isis in afghanistan have been his sworn enemy of the taliban. i said all along, we are going to retain a laser focus on our counterterrorist mission, working in close coordination with our allies and partners. we will work with all of those who want to ensure his debility in the region. blinken is whitney -- with me today. he consulted on the way forward, so that afghanistan cannot be a terrorist base to attack united states or our allies. for 20 years, afghanistan has been a joint effort with our nato allies. we went in together. we are leaving together. now we are working together. we will bring our people and afghan partners to safety.
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in the past two days, i've also spoken with the british prime minister, mr. johnson, chancellor merkel in germany, and president mccone in france. we all agree that we should reconvene the g7 next week, a group of the world's leading leaders, so we can coordinate our mutual and united approach to afghans to moving forward. we are united with our closest partners to execute the mission at hand. we have also discussed the need to work with the international community. we will provided -- provide humanitarian assistance to refugees in neighboring countries who have escaped the taliban. we will bring international pressure the taliban with respect to the treatment of afghan people overall, including afghan women and girls. the past week has been
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heartbreaking. we have seen got raging -- gut wrenching images of sheer desperation. it is clearly understandable. they are frightened. they are sad. they are uncertain what happens next. i don't think anyone, any one of us can see these pictures and not feel pain on a level. now we have a mission. a mission to complete afghanistan. this is an incredibly difficult and dangerous operation for our military. almost 6000 american forces and men and women are at the airport, putting their lives on the line, and they are doing it in a dangerous place to save other americans, our afghan allies, and citizens of our allies. i talk to our commanders on the ground there every day, as i
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just did a few hours ago. i made it clear to them that we will get them whatever they need to do their job. they are performing to the highest standard, under extraordinarily difficult circumstances. our nato allies are strongly standing with us. their troops are keeping alongside us in afghanistan, as is the case whenever i deploy our troops into harm's way. i take that responsibility seriously. i carry that burden every day. just as i did when i was vice president, and my son was deployed to iraq for a year. there will be plenty of time to criticize and second-guess this operation when it is over. now, i am focused on getting this job done. i would ask every american to join me in praying for the men and women risking their lives on the ground in the service of our nation.
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as events evolve, over the coming days, my team and i will continue to share information and update the american people on exactly where things are. every resource necessary to carry out the mission at hand and bring the american citizens and our afghan allies. this is our focus now. when this is finished, we will complete our withdraw and finally bring to an end 20 years of american military action and afghans in. thank you, and may god bless our troops, our diplomats, and all of those serving in harm's way. i will now take questions. [indiscernible] >> you promise to bring out
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those who helped america in its war effort. you've seen heart wrenching damage at the airport. you made a commitment to get american troops and citizens out. will you make the same commitment to those who assistant -- who assisted the american war effort? number two, what is your message to the american reporters who criticize that conduct of withdrawal and made us question america's credibility? >> i've seen no question of our credibility from our allies around the world. i've spoken with nato allies, the secretary of state, national security advisers. we have been in contact with their counterparts. seesmic, -- excuse me. i have gotten the exact opposite
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interaction, we have committed to what we said we would do. let us put this in perspective here. what interest do we have in afghanistan at this point? with al qaeda we went to afghanistan for the express purpose of getting rid of al-qaeda in afghanistan, as well as, as well as getting osaba bin laden and we did. imagine, just imagine if the attack -- if bin laden had decided with al-qaeda to launch an attack from yemen. would we have ever gone to afghanistan? would there ever be any reason we would be in afghanistan? controlled by the taliban? what is the national interests of the united states in that circumstance? we need and did the mission. you've known my position for a long, long time. it's time to end this war. the estimates of the costs of this war over the last 20 years range from a minimum $1 trillion
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to a think-tank at one of the universities saying $2 trillion. that's somewhere between $150 million a day and $300 million a day. the threat from terrorism has metastasized. there's a greater danger from isis and al-qaeda and all these affiliates in other countries by far than there is from afghanistan. and we're going to retain an over the horizon capability that if they were to come back, to take them out, surgically move, so this is where we should be. this is about american leading the world, and all our allies have agreed with that. and by the way, before i made this decision, i was at the g.7, as well as met with our nato partners and i told them all, every one of them knew and agreed with the decision that i made to end, jointly end our involvement in afghanistan.
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the first part of your question was, i can't remember now -- >> would you make the same commitment to bring out afghans to assist in the war effort? >> yes, we're making the same commitment. they're equally important as all those sibs we call them who, in fact, helped us. they were translators, they went into battle with us. they were part of the operation, as well as we're also trying to get out as many ngos, nongovernment organizations, women's organizations, etc. we're doing all we can. in the meantime, secretary blinken and i am going to be working with our allies to see to it that we can bring international pressure on taliban. they're looking to gain some legitimacy. they're going to have to figure out how they're going to maintain that country and there's going to be harsh conditions, strong conditions
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we're going to apply and will depend on whether they get help based on whether or not how and how well they treat women and girls, how they treat their citizens. so this is just beginning on that score. [inaudible question] pres. biden: i think we can get it done by then, but we're going to make the adjustment as well. now, justin sink of bloomberg. >> thank you, mr. president. you just said that you would keep a laser focus on counterterrorism efforts. you don't see as great of a threat of terrorism from afghanistan as other parts of the world, but if you and your administration so badly misassessed how quickly the taliban would sweep through afghanistan and we no longer have an embassy there from which to run intelligence operations, how can you at all be confident of your assessment of the risk of terrorism and the ability of the u.s. to conduct over the horizon missions to keep it in check? can you tell americans that they're safe and will remain
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safe from terror attacks in afghanistan? pres. biden: i think you're comparing apples and oranges. one question was whether or not the afghan forces we trained up would stay and fight in their own civil war they had going on. no one -- i shouldn't say no one. the consensus was that it was highly unlikely that in 11 days, they would collapse and fall and the leader of afghanistan would flee the country. that's a very different question than whether or not there is the ability to observe whether or not large groups of terrorists begin to accumulate in a particular area in afghanistan to plot against the united states of america. that's why we retained an over the horizon capability to go in and do something about that if that occurs. if that occurs. but in the meantime, we know what happened around the world. we know what happened in terms
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of what's going on in other countries where there is a significant rise of terrorist or organizations in the middle east, east africa. so the bottom line is we're dealing with those terrorist threats from other parts of the world and failed states without permanent military -- without permanent military presence there. we have to do the same in afghanistan. >> sir, on that initial assessment, we learned over the last 24 hours that there was a dissent cable from the state department. pres. biden: sure. >> saying that the taliban would come faster through afghanistan. can you say why, after that cable was issued, the u.s. didn't do more to get americans out? pres. biden: we got all kinds of cables, all kinds of advice. if you noticed, it arranged from this group -- they didn't say it would fall when it did fall but saying that it would fall to
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others saying it wouldn't happen for a long time and they would be able to sustain themselves through the end of the year. i made the decision. the buck stops with me. i took the consensus opinion, the consensus opinion was that, in fact, it would not occur, if it occurred, until later in the year. it was my decision. now, my next is stephanie ramos, abc. >> thank you, mr. president. two questions for you. the military has secured the airport, as you mentioned, but will you sign off on sending u.s. troops into kabul to evacuate americans who haven't been able to get to the airport safely? pres. biden: we have no indication that they haven't been able to get in kabul to the airport. we made an agreement with the taliban thus far, they've allowed them to go through, it's in their interests for them to go through so we know of no circumstance where american citizens, carrying an american
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passport, are trying to get through to the airport, but we will do whatever needs to be done to see to it that they get through. >> and more, mr. president. last month my colleague interviewed abdul, an interpreter on the front lines with u.s. forces in afghanistan. overnight, we received a photo of taliban militants coming to the door of his home, literally hunting him down. thankfully, he was able to escape, but he is obviously still in mortal danger. what would be your message to abdul, his wife and his three young daughters? pres. biden: we want you to be able to get to the airport, contact us, we'll do whatever we can do to get you there. we've got to get you out. we are committed to deal with you, your wife and your child, to get all three of you out of afghanistan. that's the commitment. >> thank you, sir. pres. biden: meredith lee of pbs news hour. >> you mentioned just now using
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every resource available for evacuations. why haven't you ordered the military to expand the security predicament around the kabul airport? do you have any plans to do so given that will likely require more u.s. troops? and are you considering rescue operations to recover americans and afffan allies stuck behind taliban checkpoints? >> the last answer is yes to the last question. we're continuing every opportunity and every means by which we could get folks to the airport. that's number one. number two, the reason why we have not gone out and started -- and set up a perimeter, way outside the airport in kabul is that it's likely to draw an awful lot of unintended consequences in terms of people who, in fact, are not part of the taliban. we've been in constant contact with the taliban leadership on the ground, in kabul, as well as
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the taliban leadership in daha and we've been coordinating what we're doing. that's why we were able to, for example, how we get all of our embassy personnel out, how we got everyone out of the embassy safely. that's how we helped get the french out, out of their embassy. so the question remains, there will be judgments made on the ground by the military commanders at the moment, and i cannot second guess each of those judgments to be made, but the idea of again, let me get back to the fundamental point i made at the outset. when the decision was made, by me, and it was made some time ago, and i ran for president saying i wanted to get us out of afghanistan, one of the things that is a reality is people now
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say to me and to others, many of you say it on air, why did we have to move because no americans were being attacked? why did we withdraw those -- why did we agree to withdraw 2,500 troops? no americans were being attacked. as i said, before, the reason they weren't under these attacks was part of an agreement that trump had made a year earlier. we would leave by may 1st he said, as long as there's no attack on americans in that year period. number one. number two, the taliban was taking large swaths of the countryside, north and south. none of the major areas, none of the major points of the capitals of each of these provinces, but they were all over the country. and the idea that if i had said,
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on may the 2nd or 3rd, we are not leaving, we are staying, does anybody truly believe that i would not have had to put in significantly more american forces, send your sons, your daughters, like my son was sent to iraq, to maybe die? and for what? for what? so the only rational thing to do in my view was to set up and preposition american forces for the purpose of evacuation and the aircraft, to preposition those ahead of time, so that we would be able to begin the process of evacuation of american citizens, sivs and others who helped us. the last point i'll make is this. look, if we had decided 15 years ago to leave afghanistan, it
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would have been really difficult. if we decided five years ago, if we continued to work for another decade and tried to leave, there's no way in which you would be able to leave afghanistan without there being some of what you see now. but what we've done so far is we've been able to get a large number of americans out, all our personnel at the embassy out and so on, and thank god. so far, knock on wood, we're in a different position. scott, npr. >> thank you, mr. president. i just want to follow up on something you said a moment ago. you said there's no circumstances where american citizens cannot get to the airport. that doesn't really square with the images we're seeing around the airport, with the reporting on the ground from our colleagues who are describing chaos and violence.
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are you saying unequivocally that any american who wants to get to the airport is getting there and getting past the security barrier and to the planes where they want to go? pres. biden: i thought the question was how can they get through to the airport outside the airport? and the answer is, to the best of our knowledge, the taliban checkpoints, they are letting through people showing american passports. now, that's a different question when they get into the rush and crowd of all the folks just outside the wall, near the airport. that's why we had to -- i guess was it yesterday or the day before, we went over the wall and brought in how many? 169 americans. so it is a process to try to figure out how we deal with the mad rush of non-americans, those who didn't help, those who are not on the priority list, any afghan, any afghan to be able to
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get out of the country. and so my guess is that no matter what, under what circumstances, there's not a whole lot of aff-- there's a whole lot of afghanis who would come to america whether they had any involvement in the united states in the past at all rather than stay under taliban rule. so what i was saying is that we have an agreement that they will let pass through the checkpoints that they, the taliban control. >> but given this, given the negotiations with the taliban, the scenes that we're seeing, can you fully explain why the plan wasn't to go ahead with these evacuations, both americans and allies before the drawdown began, before bagram was closed looking back several months, whether it was now or several months from now there seemed to be a broad consensus that the taliban would make these gains and these would be needed, at some point.
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pres. biden: at some point. but the point was that although we were in contact with the taliban and doha for this whole period of time, that some point wasn't expected to be the total demise of the afghan national force, which was 300 persons. let's assume the afghan forcehad continued to fight andy were surrounding kabul. it would be a very different story. very different story. but the overwhelming consensus was that they were not going to collapse. the afghan forces, they were not going to leave, they were not going to just abandon and put down their arms and take off. so that's what happened. thank you very, very much. [reporters shouting questions]
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>> we're showing president biden's remarks on the evacuation of americans and some afghans from afghanistan, again, tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern here on cspan. >> walking from washington, d.c. to new york city, former wall street journal reporter neil king reflects on his nearly 300-mile journey. >> doing it a year later with all that has happened, all of us being shut in, all of us being, you know -- walking around behind masks, that long covid winter as we call it which was a pretty horrific thing, the events we saw play out of january 6th at the capitol, which i live nearby, the contested election, there's a lot of bad blood in the air oval
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so it made my desire to go out, i think it was the fifth day of spring and just walk and look up close and very slowly at the country i was going through and meeting people along the way and trying to understand where were we as a country? >> neil king on his 300-mile journey. sunday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on cspan's q&a. >> cspanshop.org is the online store. browse to see what's new. your purchase will support our nonprofit operations and you still have time to order the congressional directory with contact information from congress. go online.
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>> now, a senate banking committee hearing on the true lender rule which was created by regulators last year. consumer advocates see it as a loop hole for predatory high-interest loans not allowed in most states. the banking industry says the rule provides a clear, legal standard and ensures that lenders comply with federal law. >> once you start speaking, there will be a slight delay. please click the mute button until it's your turn to speak or ask questions. you should have one box that will show how much time is remaining. for witnesses, you'll have five minutes for your opening statements. for all senators,

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