tv The Story With Martha Mac Callum FOX News August 26, 2021 12:00pm-1:00pm PDT
what an absolute tragedy it is today. >> sandra: it is. and we are praying for all those involved and the u.s. servicemembers who have lost their lives. we are going to continue to cover it. our coverage continues on the fox news. >> martha: thanks very much, john and sandra. good afternoon, everyone. i'm martha maccallum. right now on "the story," we're about to hear from the pentagon. this will be the first time that we've heard from john kirby, the spokesman there since we learned the awful tragic sickening sad news that 12 u.s. service members lost their lives. john kirby is at the podium. let's go there live. >> we'll take questions.
i will moderate the questions as we have done before. i will call on you. please you ask your question, identify yourselves and your your let so the general has an idea who he's talking to. we have a hard stop at 3:30. general mackenzie, over to you. >> john, thanks. this is a hard day today. as you know, two suicide bombers detonated in the vicinity of the abbey gate at hamed karzai airport. the attack on the gate was followed by a number of isis gunman that opened fire on civilian forces. we know 12 u.s. service members have been killed in the attack and 15 more service members have been injured. a number of afghan civilians were killed and injured in the attack. we're treating some of them aboard hkia. many others have been taken to hospitals in town. we're working to calculate the total losses. we don't know what that is right
now. their loss weighs heavily on us all. i'll talk about that as i go through my prepared remarks. we continue to focus on the protection of our forces and the evacuees. while we're saddened by the loss of life, we're continuing to execute our motion. our mission is to execute u.s. citizens and those at risk. despite the attack, we're continuing the mission. as of today, we have approximately 5,000 evacuees awaiting airlift. we've evacuated 104,000 from hkia. 60,000 from the united states and 37 by our allies and partners and that includes bringing out 5,000 americans. as the secretary of state said yesterday, we believe there's about 1,000, probably more than
1,000 americans citizens left in afghanistan at this point. we're doing everything we can in concert with our state partners to reach out to them and help them leave if they want to leave. not everybody wants to leave. yesterday we brought in over 500 american citizens. it would be difficult to overestimate the number of unusual challenges and competing demands that our forces on the ground face. the threat to our forces from isis-k is very real as we have seen today. i would also like to express the sense of pride i have in the creative, determined and professional way that our forces have overcome those challenges and to deliver the results that we talked about in my opening portion of the remarks, the number of people that we extracted from afghanistan. would be remiss not to mention the contributions of the coalition partners. they start with us on the ground at hkia and the agency and international partners that supported the evacuation.
the sailors and marines and all the others that supported the mission. moreover, this evacuation could not have been done without the amazing flexibility of u.s. transportation command and the airlift provided by the united states air force. no other military in the world has anything like it. i'd like to thank the host nations that have provided access to their facilities for the processing, the care and the feeding of our evacuees. i also need to acknowledge the temporary suffering that some of our evacuees have had to endure. know that we continue to execute our number 1 mission, which is to get as many american citizens and other evacuees as possible out of afghanistan. we also continue to expand the capacity at our intermediate facilities to ensure safe, sanitary and human conditions for our evacuees while continuing to look for ultimate ways to expedite the processing and transfer to the united states or other destinations.
i'd like to close out my remarks today by taking a moment to describe the heroism that our marines, soldiers and sailors are exhibiting as they screen the people who are coming on to the air field. this is close up work. the breadth of the person you're searching is upon you. while we have overwatch in place, we have to touch the clothes of the person coming in. you all can appreciate the courage and dedication that is necessary to do this job. and to do it time after time. please remember that we have screened over 104,000 people. finally, i'd like to offer my profound condolences to the families of our service men and women and afghan civilians that lost their lives today. we have put more than 5,000 u.s. service members at risk to save as many civilians as we can. it's a noble mission and today we have seen first hand how dangerous that mission is. isis will not deter us from accomplishing the mission.
i can assure you of that. all americans should be proud of the men and women of the armed forces that are facing this head on. we appreciate your thoughts and prayers for all of our service members that are carrying on this mission today. john, i'm now ready to take questions. >> thanks, general. start with lita. >> thanks, general mackenzie. this is lita with a.p. thanks for taking the time to do this. can you give us your assessment of the isis threat going forward? what are you seeing on the ground now? does this cut the evacuation short do you believe? and are people able to get on to the airport now and then finally, the president has warned that any attacks against the u.s. would be answered. will this attack be answered militarily by the u.s.? >> a number of questions there. let me try to take them in
order. first of all, the threat from isis extremely real. we've been talking about this several days. we saw it manifest itself in the last few hours with an attack. we believe it's their desire to continue the attacks and expect the attacks to continue and we're doing everything to be prepared. that includes reaching out to the taliban providing the outer security cordon around the air field to make sure that they know what we expect them to do to protect us and we will continue to coordinate with them as they go forward. we're continuing to bring people on the air field. we just brought a number of buses, aboard the air field over the last couple, three hours so we continue to process. we'll continue to flow people out. the plan is designed to operate while under stress and under attack. we will continue to do that. we will coordinate very carefully to make sure that its safe for american citizens to come to the air field. if it's not, we'll tell them to hold and work other ways to get them to the air field. i think our mission remains we're still committed of flowing
people out until we terminate operations at some point towards the end of the month. i think we have the ability to do all of those things as we go forward. let me come back. you talked about going after isis. yes, if we can find who is associated with this, we'll go after them. we've been clear that we're going to retain the right to operate against is superior in afghanistan and we're working very hard to determine attribution to determine who is associated with this would you wardly attack and prepared to take action against them. 24/7 we're looking for them. >> david? >> general, david martin with cbs. 27 casualties is a terrible number. 12 dead. can you explain the circumstances of these attacks which has resulted in such high casualties for the u.s.? >> sure, david.
first of all, you understand we're still investigating the exact circumstances. what i can tell you is this: the attack occurred at a gate. the gate we have to check people before they get on to the air field. we have to ensure they're not carrying a bomb or any other weapon to make its way on an aircraft. that requires physical screening. you have to get very close to that person. so while the air base itself is sur rounded by walls, we're bunkered in, at these gates where people actually come on the air field, there's no substitute for a young man or woman standing up there conducting a search of the person before we let them on. the taliban have conducted searches before and sometimes they have been good, sometimes not. before this attack we passed 104,000 people too. we'll find ways to get better.
you don't want to let somebody on an airplane carrying a bomb. that could result in massive result of life if an airplane was destroyed. so you have to do the searches. we work with our afghan partners to conduct the searches, but americans have to be in danger to do the searches. there's no other way to do it. again, i cannot tell you how impressed i am with the daily heroism of the men and women out there doing this work. typically soldiers, sailors and marines doing that work and they're right up close to thousands of people flowing through the air field. you've seen the images. to be able to get up and do it day after day is remarkable. this time looks like somebody got close to us. we'll find out why, try to improve our procedures. 12 service members dying, nobody feels that closely more than me and everybody else in the chain of command and we recognize that we have to evaluate our procedures going forward. same time, there's attention
there. have to let people on the air field. that's why we're there. we're not there to defend ourselves. we're there to defend ourselves while we process american citizens first and the other categories of people to a place where we can fly them out to a safer, better future. >> to be clear, this suicide bomber was going through the gate being searches, checked by u.s. service members when he detonated his vest? >> david, that would be my working assumption. he did not get on the installation. it was at the interface point where they try to come in where this attack occurred. we're gathering the information. as you understand, we're investigating that. right now the focus, we have other active threat strings, extremely active threat streams against the air field. we want to take the steps to protect ourselves there. our focus is that. the next few hours, we'll learn more about what happened here.
i'm sure we'll be able to share that with you. right know the focus is going forward ensuring that another attack of this nature does not occur because as you know, the pattern is multiple attacks. we want to be prepared and ready to defend against that. >> courtney? >> can you tell us a little bit more about these extremely real additional threats from isis? concerned about more suicide attacks and also about some of the steps that you may be taking to mitigate future attacks. would it include putting u.s. troops or marines outside the gates or outside of the airport for additional perimeter security? finally, with all of this, is there any discussion about sending any additional u.s. troops to kabul for security? >> let me answer the last part first. we assess we have the forces we need to protect ourselves there. i'm always in a constant dialogue with the secretary. if i needed anything else, i'd
take to him immediately. think we have what we need. let's talk about the threat streams. very real threat streams. what we would call tactical. imminent. they range from rocket attacks. they would like to lob a rocket in there. we have good protection against that. we have our anti-rocket and mortar system, the gun systems that you've been familiar with. they're effective against these kinds of attacks. we are well-positioned around the boundary and we would be in good shape should that attack occur. we know that they aim to get a suicide vehicle in the they can from a small vehicle to a large vehicle. they're working all those options. we just saw their ability to deliver a walk-in, a vest-wearing suicide attacker. the other thing we do, we share versions of this information with the taliban. so that they can actually do
some searching out there for us. we believe some attacks have been thwarted by them. again, we've been doing this since the 14th. this is an attack that's been carried out. we believe it's possible that others have been thwarted. we cut down the information that we give the taliban and they don't give the full range of information that they have and we have given them the time and space to prevent the attacks. the other thing we tried to do, push out the boundary even further so we don't get large crowds at the gate. clearly at abbey gate today, we had a larger crowd than we would like that goes to show you the system is not perfect. we have large elements of standoff at other gates and we want to keep that in place. standoff for attacks like this is always the best defense. unfortunately we don't have the opportunity given the geography of the ground we're on to gain that standoff. let me close up your question by saying, we take the threat of these attacks very seriously. we're working them very hard.
we're doing a variety of things. as you know, we have ah 64 attack helicopters on the ground. they have very good thermal and optical imaging systems. aircraft overhead that have also had very good images systems. we have unmanned aircraft that have the ability to look. all of these systems are being applied in defense of the air field, all on a continual basis, all vectored by the intelligence we receive and we use the taliban to protect us as much as possible. >> alex horton, west end post. alex, you there? >> yep. just unmuting. general, this is alex horton with "the washington post." thanks for doing this. can you give us a sense of where you are in casualty notification for these folks on the ground? how long you expect it to take given it's a large number?
and also, can you tell us a little bit about how the forces have reacted? you said you introduced a little -- probably more stand off at this point. what other measures are you taking to increase security after the attack? >> i believe the process is ongoing. i do not have visibility on it. my visibility is on the practical threat that we face in the theater. i'm not that person. in terms of practical things we're doing. we reached out to the taliban. we told them, you need to continue to push out the security perimeter. we identified roads that we would like for them to close. they will be willing to close them. we assess the threat of a suicide born vehicle threat is high right now. we want to reduce the possibility of one of those vehicles getting close. so we're moving aggressively to
do that. we talked about the overwatch. we have the unmanned aircraft and other drone systems that have very good optical and other means of looking down. we look what happened around the gate. we identified patterns. highly trained people to take a look at that we also have our aircraft that we fly locally. av-64s that i mentioned and other manned aircraft that come off of the carrier that we have off of the coast as well as u.s. air force aircraft that we bring up from out of afghanistan. everything from f-15s to ac-130 gun ship. the ac-130 gun ship has a highly targeting capability. we know that visible demonstration hoff these kinds of isr tends to dissuade the attacker. they know if we can see them do it, we're going to strike them immediately. we'll be prepare to do that
should it become necessary. we're looking very hard. we assess we're in a period of heightened threat right now. >> can you tell us if you think your recommendation for staying potentially after august 3 up with would change because of this threat stream or are you concerned about the threat stream? the u.s. military and the taliban have been coordinating closely on various things. do you still trust the taliban and is it possible that they let this happen? >> as to whether or not they let it happen, i don't know. there's nothing to convince me that they let it happen. as to whether or not i trust them, that's a word that i use carefully. it's not what they say. it's what they do. they have a practical reason for wanting us to get out of here by
august 31. they want to reclaim the air field. we want to get out by that day, too, if it's possible to do so. so we share a common purpose. as long as we kept that common purpose aligned, they've been useful to work with. they have cut some of our security concerns down. they've been useful to work with going forward. long-term, i don't know what that will be. i will tell you this. any time you build a noncombatant plan like this, you bring in forces, you expect to be attacked. we didn't -- we thought this would happen sooner or later. it's tragic it happened today. we're prepared to continue the mission. ebb have a great opportunity to have dialogue with my chain of command. i won't be able to share with what my advice has been with what you know and understand, gordon. we can continue to conduct our mission even while we receive attacks like this. >> even before today's attack,
you were four days or so from leaving. how soon will you have to start diminishing the evacuation flights if it does continue to make space and time for the military retrograde, withdrawal of troops there and our equipment? >> without getting into specifics, the plan is designed to maximize the evacuees even as we begin to prepare to draw down the force on the ground. we recognize a need to balance the two. we won't get to a point that we turn off the spigot. it would get closer to the end date. it's not useful for me to share that date with you right now, when we draw down those flights. we will at some point. i want to emphasize again, the plan is designed to maximize pushing people out, even as we reconfigure the force, continue to defend ourselves and bring out our own equipment and our own military personnel. >> if i could follow up with you
on that. will you have to develop alternative routes to get the remaining americans in kabul that want to leave safely to the airport? >> i will tell you that we worked over the last week, we have brought in hundreds of americans by working alternate routes to get them in by establishing contact with them, by directing them down a steady different way to get to the airport. our task force, jsac does that on the ground very effectively and coordinate with admiral basely, the commander there. so we continue to do that. that is not something that we're beginning now. we will continue to do that until the last moment. >> jennifer griffin, fox news. can you say was there one or two suicide bombers at the abbey gate and was it a male bomber and can you give us anymore details about the second explosion that occurred after
baron hotel? was that a car bomb or a suicide bomber? finally, there are state department employees that are side by side with u.s. marines at the gate. were there any other u.s. citizens killed in the attack and why were the marines so close together that so many were killed in one strike? >> we think one suicide bomb at abbey gate. i don't know if it was male or female. don't have that information. don't know much about the second be bomb except one went off in the vicinity of the baron hotel, which is a deeply bunkered structure. as far as i know, there were no u.k. military casualties as a result of that. may have been afghan casualties. but it will take us time to actually learn how many afghan casualties. we took some aboard the installation. many were taken to hospitals in town. what i see is get i get open open source reporting about the
nature of the casualties. we're trying to gather more information about it. so the last point, i would tell you, i don't know that -- i don't know the size of the bomb and the size of the bomb is directly related to how many people are affected by the blast radius. we're going to investigate that. as i noted before, you're at the interface point. somebody has to look somebody in the eyes and decide if they're ready to come in. we'll find out what happened. beyond that i would not want to speculate at this time, jennifer. thank you. >> any other american citizens from the state department that were killed? >> none that i'm aware of now. >> back to the phones. laura seligman. >> thanks for doing this. a couple questions. first of all, can you tell me -- we heard reports of a third and possibly a fourth attack in kabul today. can you confirm those? and then also, can you tell us
how are you still conducting the evacuation flights? are you concerned about man pads and other threats to the aircraft? >> we've had indications of other attacks but not able to run that information down. so we see it, we get open source reporting on it. i can't confirm there's other attacks in kabul away from hkia today. the safety of our aircraft coming in and out is a paramount importance. obviously, you have the opportunity there to -- for 450 or more people to die if you have a mishap with the aircraft. we know that isis would like to get after those aircraft if they can. we don't believe they have the man pad capability of doing it. they have taken shots without effect. we think that will continue. but as you know, military aircraft have a variety of self-defense systems which are more vulnerable are the charter
aircraft that don't have those systems. so with our isr, we look at the approach and departure pattern to see if we sign of something that might post a threat. that's one of the things that we look at throughout the day and throughout the night as we conduct our operations. really, the aircraft, the only way we get people out of there. we're keenly sensitive to our aircraft. >> one more question. we have to keep moving and then give the general a chance to close out. >> general, i know you said early, but at this moment in time, how do you believe the suicide bombers made it through check points, whether it's taliban or afghan forces to the marines? you think it was a failure or evade them and make to it the marines? >> clearly if they're able to get up to the marines at the entry point of the base, there was a failure somewhere, a
failure by taliban operating with various degrees of confidence. some are scrupulous. some are good. some are not. i don't know the answer. you can be assured we'll look at it and make all of our practices better as we go forward. >> general, we're going to let him close out. general, any closing thoughts you might have. >> thanks, john. again, i'd like to say today is a hard day. the thing i come back to is the remarkable professionalism that the force on the ground is showing. as i noted before, ultimately at these screening points in particular, you have to get up close and personal to the people that you're bringing out. there's no way to do that safely from a distance. we should bear in mind that we've been doing it for well over a week. we brought 104,000 people out. that's a tremendous number of contacts that every marine, soldier and sailor has had to have. it's a very heavy heart that i
do this conversation with you today. nobody feels it more than me or the other members of the chain of command. we'll do everything we can to improve our practices there to make sure it's as safe as possible for our folks on the ground doing this dirty, dangerous work. thanks, john. >> thanks, general. thank you. >> john, will you take a couple questions? >> nope. that's the end of it. >> neil: there you have it. john kirby at the pentagon and general mckenzie taking questions there, command of u.s. central command. i want to bring in our next guest. get his reaction. special commandner afghanistan and deputy assistant secretary of defense, joseph felter. a research fellow at the hoover institution. thanks very much for being here. we just heard i think a very measured response from the
commander. he said the mission continues after recognizing the death of 12 u.s. service members today, 11 marines and a navy medic. he said the threat is very real and very much ongoing, particularly in -- he framed the idea of a small to large vehicle attack saying that is something that isis wants to carry out. we don't know whether this attack is attributed to isis. there's a lot there, sir. so joseph, your reaction to what we just heard. >> martha, first of all, again, condolences to the 12 families that lost loved ones today. they'll get a knock on the door here with the june normed marine or paratrooper giving them devastating news. our condolences to them and their families. an acknowledgement for general mckenzie. it's a tough time, a tough mission. my reaction today is continue the mission. we cannot stop the mission. the mission is to get every american out and as many green
card holders and special immigrant visa holders that helped americans out. there's no right way to do the wrong thing. the wrong thing would be to leave short of accomplishing the mission. we don't need to leave on the 31st. the taliban have not lived up to their bargain. we cannot reward terrorists like isis-k by leaving, rewarding them for attacking us. we have to stay and continue the mission. we can do it. it's not easy. to we have the political will. >> neil: let me ask you this. he was asked, will you need more troops to secure the avenues in to the airport. he said no. he believed they could do it with the number of troops that they have. he also said at one point that he has given advice to the leadership and he wouldn't share what advice that was at this point. what do you think about the number of troops that remain on the ground and whether or not we can do it with that number?
>> we have i think 6,000 plus troops there. these are pretty amazing units, these marines and paratroopers and special operators. we have the capabilities and general mckenzie -- let's not give our enemies any information or our plans. this is not the right time to talk about that. if we have the troops -- in addition to the troops, their capabilities, resources, air support, other resources to bring to bear to get our americans to the airport and evacuated. >> martha: we remember those that were lost today. 12 u.s. service members, 11 marines and one navy medic. their families are getting the worst possible news this afternoon. our thoughts are with them. joseph felter, thanks very much for your service. thanks nor being here with us today. >> thank you, martha. >> martha: so let's bring in bret baier watching this with us this afternoon. we didn't hear john -- john
kirby didn't take questions but we heard from general mckenzie. he made it clear the mission continues as does the very real threat that something like this could happen again and soon. >> i wrote that down myself. major active threat streams, active he said again, tactical. anything from rocket attacks to car bombs to more suicide bombers like we saw today. this is two suicide bombers and two different locations. one at the gate, the abbey gate and the direct contact is what happens there with u.s. service members, marines in particular in this case and a large number of them in that bombing killed. i think what was eye opening, may jaw-dropping listening to that briefing was the part where he said that they are working with the taliban telling them some of the intelligence that
they're getting about possible attacks or suicide bombers or vehicle bombs so that the taliban can help them screen them on the outer ring before they get to the airport. put that in perspective for a second. just a few weeks ago, we were bombing the taliban. in afghanistan. we have considered the taliban enemies. now we're giving them intel to help protect our forces and the afghan allies, this is the same taliban that has been harassing u.s. citizens trying to get to the airport and also preventing afghans from getting through. to the extent that this administration and pentagon is trusting the taliban is something. he went on to say there's no reason to believe that the taliban is somehow tied to this. but that -- they don't know that. this is a tremendously dangerous
situation that is getting more so by the day. >> yeah, you know, it's hard to know, bret, how much of that is public messaging in terms of row enforcing the understanding that the taliban has made this commitment and expecting them to adhere to it. i thought that was a head-snapping moment. he said if the taliban searched this individual first, we don't know if they were at that actual gate. the way this has been working is the taliban is searching people, then they get through to the gate where the united states searches them as well. he said americans are in danger when they do these searching. i want to play this sound bite from president biden about what would happen if there were an attack on our forces. this is from august 20. >> we made clear to the taliban that any attack, any attack on our forces or disruption of our
operations at the airport will be met with swift and forceful response. >> martha: so that is the question that needs to be put to the president. we all assume that he will be coming out to speak. we don't know exactly when. but that's the question that he has to answer. what happens now. >> 100%. we heard from the british prime minister that reacted and spoke publicly 1 1/2 hours, 2 hours after this attack. we have not heard from the president or the white house. we have heard from this pentagon briefing. it's going to be imperative on a day like this, on this day, that the president speak to what is next. it's not about what has happened. what comes next? does the president order bagram air base back open in do they send in more troops? this general says he has the troops that they need to protect
the airport and to continue evacuation has been ordered. is that going to be good enough for all the americans still there? when you have one facility and it is now a target and you don't have any other options outside of that, if it's this one facility, so now it is, you know, terrorists go for it and we may see more attacks as you heard from the general. the threat stream is increasing. >> martha: brett, thanks very much. we'll see you in a little while as we continue to cover this throughout the afternoon. the united states military says that isis fighters were behind the two attacks today outside the airport in kabul including one that killed 12 united states service members. jennifer griffin was just in that room and she had questions for general mckenzie. she joins us now. jennifer, your reaction to what we just learned in there. >> what was significant, martha,
we heard the mission continues and that already they have brought more buses of afghan evacuees in to the airport. they're still letting people through the gates. they're still have several thousand people on the tarmac that they are evacuating. planes are taking off. if you listen to general mckenzie, the most significant thing he said is the threat streams, he described them as very real, tactical, imminent. he said the attackers would like to carry out a rocket attack on planes. in fact, he confirmed that some of the planes taking off in the last week had been shot at, had been fired at. they were not successful. they described the protection measures at the airport. he said the reason the death toll was so high is that the suicide bomber, one suicide bomber got so close to the marines that it was apparently at the gate that the bomb was detonated and these marines were in fact either about to or were in the process of patting down
this bomber. obviously the bombers have been trying to get on to the tarmac. that would be a goal of this -- of whoever was carrying out the terror attack. he described the relationship with the taliban. they set up the perimeter outside the airport back about 500 meters. they were supposed to be checking everyone coming through. we heard abuses of that over time from afghan evacuees, but the u.s. is in constant coordinate with the taliban. that's what somewhat surprising to visualize. but general mckenzie said that they have no indication as of right now that the taliban were involved in any way. he did say they're actively trying to a tribute this attack. there were two suicide bombers. one at the abbey gate at one at the baron hotel. this were no americans at the baron hotel. that's where the british service
members were. no indication that british service members were killed and also no indications that u.s. state department officials were killed in the attack at abbey gate. but what we -- what is very clear from the general, the mission continues. they will continue evacuations. they ramped up security. this was -- it's clear that somehow the bomber got past the so-called taliban security that was on the outer perimeter. they're going to try to push the crowds back further. but you have overwatch. general mckenzie was clear that they have ac-130 gun ships, they have ah-64 apache helicopters and a lot of isr over that airport. there will be i imagine a number of ways in which the u.s. military tries to indicate that any further attackers may be better beware before approaching the airport.
general mckenzie said there's active threat streams suggesting that the terrorist groups that attacked today are trying to get a car bomb or a truck bomb closer to the airport. they're asking the taliban to close certain roads, close more roads. they're actively aware that there could be further attacks with the u.s. on the ground there. back to you. >> terrible day. thank you, jennifer. jennifer griffin. let's bring in retired navy seal commander, david sears. he served in the military 20 years, deployed to afghanistan twice. he's author of the book "smarter, not harder." thanks for being with us, david. when you take a look at what has happened here, the loss of 12 u.s. servicemen today in afghanistan as a result of suicide bombs and you listen to general mckenzie, talk about how they're asking the taliban to close off roads, to prevent what
they're calling an imminent threat stream what goes through your mind, sir? >> yeah, it's surreal to think they're working with the taliban, that we were just bombing weeks ago, days ago, that we have hunted for 20 years and now they're helping us secure an area. i don't think you can have the trust that is there at all with the taliban. they're not to be trusted. either they were complicit in allowing this to get through or they don't have the command and control over their own forces, which is highly likely. really crazy situation that did not have a good ending coming. >> martha: i think that is a great point that you make. we've heard there are probably five different divisions within the taliban. they don't necessarily take orders from the higher ups necessarily and a lot of groups involved and the rivals, the
isis-k. you mentioned, how do we have confidence in this. you think about the messages that the american people have heard the past six or seven days, which is just essentially -- the taliban won't take over kabul or afghanistan. if they do, it will over 60 to 90 days. the next thing you know, the taliban is in charge and we're taking direction from them and they're going to ensure the safe passage of americans are leaving. then the gates are closing, this is very difficult for americans to wrestle with in their heads. what goes through your head when you listen to that? >> when i hear that, what is going through my head is that i'm not being told the truth by our own government. so for whatever reasons,
political or trying to get towards some ulterior motive, we're not being told the truth because we have all of these conflicting things. for example, the same taliban we trust, they let out isis and al-quaida out of the jails. their mortal enemies and competitorses, which they may be. but we keep -- i get this feeling of i'm not getting the full story. the full story is out there for whatever reason, we're trying to be protective of it. another interesting piece coming out of general mckenzie was, he said the mission was to get as many out as possible, if i recall correctly. not get every u.s. citizen out. that's a big difference. i'm astounded and extremely upset over this, especially the loss of life. it's a tragedy.
>> martha: yeah, it is a tragedy. you know, there's been a phrase that i keep hearing in these statements from the white house and the state department and the pentagon, "as many as we can." i think the bar has been lowered. you know, we're going to see how many people that they can get out by the 31st. clearly general mckenzie has been cleared to keep going with the evacuations and to continue to pull out. when you look at this as a former -- a retired navy seal, do you have thoughts on a better way to do this, on a better way to run this operation to get these people out safely? >> i don't have a better way to run it tactically at the airport. what those guys are doing there, they are making all the right moves. they're constrained by the strategy of having a choke point. we're going to have one base, geographically located where the enemy knows it is and set a time
frame. if you get outside of that time frame, retake bagram. let the taliban know that you're not going to leave until every citizen is out there. you offer assistance in the panzir valley, take other heads. but you have to show force and come back in and set up alternative things, not have a single point of failure. >> martha: yes. well, we'll see if the president is expanding his thinking in those areas at all. we haven't heard that from him yet and we can confirm that president biden will speak at 5:00 p.m. this evening. we hope this that time line sticks. it's been awhile since the american people have heard from the commander-in-chief. we've had a lot to process over
all of those hours. we look forward to hearing from the president at 5:00 p.m. today. thanks, david. good to have you with us today. >> thank you. >> martha: as i said, we will hear from the commander-in-chief at 5:00 according to the reports that we have. we have breaking coverage as this taliban takeover of afghanistan continues and we'll bring you more after this. stay with us. liberty mutual customizes car insurance so you only pay for what you need. how much money can liberty mutual save you? one! two! three! four! five! 72,807! 72,808... dollars. yep... everything hurts. only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪
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members in a suicide bombing in kabul. that happened at the gate of the airport where u.s. military were screening people to get in the airport. let's turn the peter doocy now who is live from the white house. good afternoon. >> good afternoon, martha. it's been more than six hours of silence now from the president since the first reports from the pentagon of that explosion in kabul came out. it's an hour and change in we expect to hear from him for the first time. that means for the first time, there's notice been a tweet or a statement. the first time that we hear him will be on camera in the east room. followed by that, we'll have 5:45 press briefing from jen psaki. that's the latest that she's briefed at her tenure except the first day when they had to do it in the evening because they didn't have control of the white
house. there's been a noticeable change and focus. yesterday i asked the press secretary about the president and his last remarks about afghanistan where he led with a couple of minutes about the build back better agenda. i asked her if he thinks that is as urgent and time sensitive as the afghan evacuations. she said yes. a lot of people want to know if their paycheck will be affected, if they have child care, rental assistance, things like that. the focus is now on foreign policy. a meeting with the israeli prime minister scheduled for today that came with a big foreign delegation was first postponed. that was moved till tomorrow. the president had a meeting with governors about housing afghan refugees in their states. that has been postponed to another time as well. there's a lot of questions about the way that the president came
to his decision to change u.s. policy in afghanistan. he's been very defensive. he said he squarely stands by his decision, one of the last times that he spoke about this. we'll see if that still holds at 5:00. martha? >> martha: peter, thanks very much. peter doocy. my next guest writes in the "wall street journal" in an open it this week "replace joe biden's foreign policy now." dan henninger, good to have you with us today. a very sad, awful day for americans when we lost more than 12 u.s. service members in a suicide bombing in kabul at the gate of the airport. you know, you wrote this piece the other day. we're waiting for the president to come out now. your thoughts open what we need to hear from the commander-in-chief on his policy and where it goes from here? >> i deally we would hear some admission of error from
president biden. but that's very unlikely. with my expectation would be that when he comes out to speak, he will be very upset at the tragedy that has occurred today at the kabul airport with the 12 service men killed, but he will not be deterred from pulling all of the troops out by next tuesday. and i think he's doing this in concert, we know based on general mckenzie's remarks, he's doing this with the cooperation of the taliban. but you know, martha, one of the main things that president biden has been saying here is that he is doing this, pulling out of afghanistan, because the terror threat, the war on terror has moved elsewhere in the world. you know, this event today reminds me of a very famous terror threat, the attack on the u.s.s. cole in october 2000 just outside of yemen. al-quaida carried out that attack. they pulled up to an american ship, they blew a hole in the
side of it, killed 17 sailors. osama bin laden took credit for that attack, carried out by al-quaida. today isis pulled up close to the airport in kabul and killed 12 u.s. service men. looks very much as though the war on terror is up and running right there in afghanistan now. i think it has gotten to the point that the president of the united states is going to have to acknowledge that reality. >> martha: dan, we played it a moment ago. the president said on august 20, just six days ago, we made clear that the taliban, any attack on our forces will be met with a swift and forceful response. the early reporting is that isis-k, according to the long war journal-has admitted responsibility for this attack. what do you expect from the commander-in-chief in terms of
retaliatory attack on isis-k and what kind of time frame that might or should happen in? >> it should come as swiftly as possible. i believe general mckenzie said they're searching hard for isis-k and the perpetrators of this attack. kabul is a city of 4.5 million people. it's a huge place. it's going to be very difficult for us to find isis-k. another point that needs to be made since general mckenzie described how closely they had been working with the taliban. as you mentioned earlier, the part of the taliban in charge of security in kabul now is the hakani network. very famously they've been one of the brutal terrorist networks operating in afghanistan the last 20 years. they're perhaps the most organized terror group in the world right now. they are in charge of security
in kabul. the taliban have given them that assignment, which means the u.s. doing business closely with the hakani network and dependent on them if they think they're going to find isis to retaliate. otherwise, what we're doing is a roll-up of our troops in kabul airport and we will be pulling out by next tuesday. >> martha: we will see if president biden sticks by that timeline. just based on what we've seen thus far, it's a good assessment of where we are right now and we'll be watching. dan henninger, very good to talk to you. >> thanks, martha. good to talk to you. >> martha: we've been looking at these reports that have been coming in the past several minutes. reuters is now reporting that residents in kabul reported a large blast, another blast near the airport.
i want to bring in fred fliess, he served on the house intelligence committee. he's travel to lebanon, syria, saudi arabia and now president of the center for security policy. fred, thanks for being with us. as i said, we've been seeing the last several minutes something that general mckenzie told us that they were worried about. a continuing threat stream and now reports of another large explosion heard in kabul. >> i think this was a sophisticated attack. there will be more attacks like this. what really struck me -- two things struck me from mckenzie's news conference. we know the threatened environment is of the airport. why did one ied kill 12 service members? has to be some type of mediate evaluation by the u.s. military to protect our soldiers that are at stream risks. they're sitting ducks at this airport. we have contracted out security
to a terrorist organization. these terrorists made it through taliban check points. we know the taliban released the most dangerous terrorists from bagram air force base, al-quaida, taliban, these were isis. we're trusting this organization. general mckenzie said we're sharing intelligence with this organization. martha, i'm concerned where this is going. >> martha: why? can you answer that question? a lot of people are asking that question. is this the lesser of two evils? the most organized group -- obviously we are ceding everything to the taliban that overtook afghanistan in record time. did we have to share all of this with them? do we have to count on them for something that we should provide ourselves in terms of security? >> joe biden put us in a hole. he with drew without a plan suddenly. the taliban rushed in. i believe the state department
and the pentagon, they had no choice. they had to get our people out. you and i know they're not going to get most of them out. there's 1,000, 2,000 americans stranded in afghanistan when this is done. i think this is just the best we could do. >> martha: yeah. raises a lot of questions about the timeline. quickly, fred, a couple seconds left. do you expect any change from the president in terms of this tuesday timeline? >> regrettably no. he's so determined to get us out, he's going to stick to that deadline and i'm worried there's further attacks by isis-k, other organizations as the last plane is taking off from kabul. >> martha: they will be emboldened. thanks, fred. that's the story of thursday, august 26, 2021, a day that will go down in the history books. "the story" goes on this afternoon and this evening.
we'll have live coverage of the president's speech at 5:00 p.m. see you tomorrow at 3:00. "your world" gets started in a few seconds. see you then. >> neil: all right. we're getting word that there's been another blast heard by the kabul airport. this just a few minutes ago from residents in the area that said it was unmistaken a blast. we don't know more than that. it comes on the heels of two separate attacks that have already claimed 12 u.s. soldiers and injured 15 others and taken out 50 afghan nationals. welcome, everybody, i'm neil cavuto. we're following the fast-mov