tv Andrea Mitchell Reports MSNBC August 26, 2021 9:00am-10:00am PDT
wants to leave, but you want to get every american citizen who wants to leave out of that country before the military departs. >> my thanks to john brennan and congressman gallego, a big thanks to all of the other correspondents and guests who joined me this hour. we will take a quick break. we will continue our coverage there in afghanistan. again, 60 people hurt, at least 13 dead according to the taliban. we are not going to take a break, but "andrea mitchell reports" does start right now. and thank you to craig melvin. good day. this is "andrea mitchell reports" in washington with breaking reports out of afghanistan. two separate bombings one near the southeastern abbey gate where thousands of people have been waiting to gain entry and escape taliban rule and the second at the nearby baron hotel. taliban news saying 13 people were killed some of them
children by the suicide attack. two u.s. intelligence officials tell nbc news while they have no attribution for today's suspected attack, the assumption is that it was caused by isis-k and considered an adversary of the taliban. president biden has been briefed on the kabul explosion and has been monitoring all of the developments on the security team in the situation room all morning starting before the explosions took place. let's get to white house correspondent kelly o'donnell and richard engel. if you are live for us in doha, what are you hearing? >> so i was at that airport earlier this morning. i am now in doha, qatar, and what i am hearing from a security source at the baron hotel and what the taliban are saying to nbc news and videos, very, very disturbing videos that are circulating on social media are all putting together a
fairly consistent story, that there was a complex attack in the area between the baron hotel which is right up against the air base where the evacuation is taking place and built practically against the outer perimeter, and in the area exiting that hotel leading to the abby gate and there is a corridor 2 hun yards long and in that corridor flanked on either side by very tall, concrete blast barriers, afghans have been gathering and they've been gathering there since the fall of kabul, since the evacuation began, and that in this corridor is where we understand this attack took place and the videos we've seen show bodies that have been thrown into a sewage drainage canal that runs right along -- right in this corridor between the blast barriers and between the baron hotel and the
abbey gate. it appears that it was a mass casualty event. >> richard, thank you to that, i know you'll be standing by. courtney, what do you have? what is the latest? are there any americans injured? >> yeah. we now know from u.s. military officials there were three, at least three marines who were injured in this attack. pentagon press secretary john kirby tweeted there were reports of u.s. casualties and afghan casualties. remember, in this case the u.s. considers the word casualty could be injured or killed here. we don't know anything beyond that. we are, as richard was saying, seeing media, social media, videos of what appeared to be afghan civilians injured in this, as well. it's important to point out here. what we know so far is this complex attack included at least two explosions. so the one that injured the u.s. marines was over at the abbey gate. there has been a u.s. military
presence at that gate for the past week or so. they've been helping to allow -- to keep the crowds back to a certain extent and also to allow people to come through that gate, primarily, third country nationals and afghans. there's also been a consular presence at that gate at times to help the u.s. marines know -- so they know who they can let through or not. the second explosion at the baron hotel which as richard was explaining is very close by. you can walk it, it's such a close distance. it's a little unclear still who -- how many people may have been around at that explosion location. at the abbey gate there have been crowds outside of these gates for the past week or so at times and large and potentially unruly crowds and that's presenting a concern for u.s. officials and they're worried about a threat from isis-k, which is the isis affiliate there in afghanistan. they had specific intelligence
that isis was trying to target some of those gates and target americans who may be trying to go through them to get on these evacuation flights. as you mentioned, andrea, there is not a firm sense of who is behind these attacks at this point, but all signs are pointing to isis. >> and isis-k, of course, is as we've been pointing out, also an adversary of the taliban. courtney, do you know whether flights were taking off during the -- or in the aftermath of these explosions? >> that's something else that we're trying to get to. there are some reports that flights were still able to take off in the midst of all of this, but we've been also -- the entire evacuation operation has been hampered by this security threat. there's been an isis threat for about a week now, but it accelerated and it was ramped up overnight leading to, as you all
know, andrea, the embassy telling americans not to come to the gates because of this threat. we were having a difficult time getting a sense of how many flights may still have been landing and taking off. the evacuation efforts have been on a roll the last three days. they've been getting thousands of people out every single day on military flights and the charter aircraft and the military and the white house were really relying on that momentum to continue through these next several days in order to meet the august 31st deadline and with this attack at the airport today, it's not clear if they will maintain that same throughput over the last 72 hours, andrea. >> courtney, i know you have to get back to reporting, but richard engel, let's talk about that because we were told by secretary blinken yesterday. as you know, they've been gearing up these efforts to try to get all of the americans out.
they reported to us from the secretary that there were 1500 americans still to depart, 500 have been contacted and 1,000 they were trying to contact to get those remaining 1,000 out for the deadline which is august 31st and before that by several days because they have to begin scaling back. what would this interruption mean? an interruption in flights taking off, people being able to get to the airport, certainly? >> so, yes. more of an interruption of people to get to the airport. the airfield is massive. the airfield -- this blast, because of the number of barriers in place would not have impacted the airfield, would not have impacted the flight line, would not have impacted aircraft in that area, but it would certainly impact access to that gate and there are only so many functional gates on to the air base. the u.s. is trying to get as
many people on to the base who are qualified to leave afghanistan, primarily u.s. citizens and other afghans who have the right paperwork. so if one gate is no longer op raugzal or is taken out of operation or not operational for the time being there are two others that are still working so it certainly limits the ability to get on to that base, but it would not impact the ability to carry out the airlift. while you were talking to courtney we were able to find a video and actually drove through with our colleagues here with our reporting team. that exact corridor a few days ago, and i think you have that video, and i can help put some of the geography together. >> we are showing it as you speak. the baron hotel -- that video, and i can't see it right now, but i can describe it. when you leave the baron hotel you drive through this corridor, a narrow corridor flanked on
either side by concrete blast barriers and in that, if you slow down the video you can see there is a drainage ditch, i believe it's on the right-hand side in the video over my shoulder that drainage, sewage ditch, that would be a possible infiltration route where a suicide bomber could come in through the -- wade through the sewage and debris in that ditch, and that is where we have seen videos showing a number of bodies floating in that filthy water. so when you come out of the baron, you leave and go a couple of hundred yards down this for phied corridor. afghans were gathering there, hoping they could get into the abbey gate. when we went there it was a coordinated effort. we drove and we arrived at the abbey gate and they were expecting us and u.s. personnel and other foreign nationals, other foreign military personnel allowed us through, but that means that there is a military
presence at that gate to allow people in so if the explosions, as we are hearing now took place in that corridor, the u.s. personnel wouldn't be directly impacted. they would have been on the other side of the gate, but these apparently were quite large explosions causing massive casualties and as courtney's reporting, apparently wounding at least three marines. these bases have a lot of corridors and presumably isis was able to infiltrate this one corridor, carry out this attack and that would limit access to the base and it would put isis back on the map. if you remember, isis was defeated. isis was yesterday's story, and isis is not from afghanistan and from iraq and syria. they were pushed out of their caliphate, but there were many isis prisoners inside the jails in afghanistan and as kabul fell the taliban were breaking into
those prisons to release their own militants and some isis prisoners escaped, as well. the taliban has been looking for them, and i know this from speaking to the taliban and also from witness accounts. the taliban have been setting up checkpoints. they've been trying to hunt down some of these isis militants, but there is a lot of confusion in kabul. if you want to hide you can hide and it seems like at least one, perhaps two were able to penetrate perhaps through this sewage canal that corridor between the baron hotel and the abbey gate, carrying an explosion and put themselves back into the public discussion ride on the coattails of the taliban's victory and carried out this attack. >> obviously, this is the goal of our terror groups disorient the enemy and not only the taliban and the united states and cause fear and panic in the civilian society and the
interruption of people getting to the airport is the most dramatic thing that they can do right now with this very short timeline to get americans out safely that the president has said. richard engel, thank you so much for that really explicit, extraordinary reporting. >> i want to let you do more reporting from the situation room, where the president biden was meeting with the national security team and has delayed his meeting with israel's prime minister. the israeli delegation had already arrived at the white house. >> a number of updates. that meeting in the situation room between the president and top national security officials including the secretary of state and the secretary of defense. that has now concluded, but we expect the president will get additional updates through the day and the president calling this an evolving situation and the delay with the israeli prime minister, a first time for joe
biden who has known many leaders on the world stage over the decades and the first time for him to be meeting with neftali bennett, they have since moved off the white house ground which is suggest there isn't any imminent plan for that meeting. another change to the president's schedule to talk about those states where they were ready, willing and able to resettle afghan evacuees. that has been canceled for today and we expect further changes to the president's schedule. namely, the fact that americans have been injured that we would hear from the president directly, and we have want been told that explicitly, and the white house press briefing has been delayed and they've canceled a covid briefing for today, so it gives you a sense
of all hands on deck monitoring of these developments. officials have pointed out repeatedly today that what is playing out before our eyes and the facts that are coming in that are dire are a part of i series of warnings from the president himself. also the vice president has now landed in guam and tells us that she was on a videoconference with the situation room here so that's the technology that's available between air force two and the basement of the white house here. so she was involved in those discussions and andrea, we'll let you know as soon as we hear as to when we will see and hear from the president. >> thank you so much for that and joining me now is lieutenant general h.r. mcmaster, national security adviser for president
trump who was a member of the combined interagency task force in kabul and has detailed knowledge of all of this going back years. thank you very much for being with us. let's talk about the situation on the ground. the likelihood that it is isis-k and how it will impact the evacuation effort. >> this was predicted and predictable that this was going to occur. this is what happens when you surrender to a terrorist organization like the taliban, and i think what's important to recognize is that this is just the beginning, andrea, we have the jihadists in control of a state and also to al qaeda to, isis-k and other jihadist terrorist organizations and we tried too hard, and i listened to reporting, to disconnect the dots. these groups share people, resources and expertise.
the military commander of the taliban is a prominent al qaeda leader and is also the leader of the haqqani network. the leader at the nexus of the taliban. he was the main protector of hamza bin laden, osama bin laden's son as he fought in command of taliban forces. so this is a ridiculous idea that this is really isis-k and gosh, the taliban must be really disappointed. that's crazy, i think, andrea. i'm sure that we will uncover evidence that this has happened with the full knowledge of haqqanis and the taliban if not the most senior leadership. it has the hallmark of the attacks of the hack an is. they are expert at two things, taking people hostage and committing mass murder attacks of this scale. and so they are in charge now and this is what happens when you surrender to jihadist
terrorists. >> general mcmaster, haqqani also has al qaeda connections and there are overlaps here and it is true that isis-k have been active and they're adversaries of the taliban. so can you sort through that? i was going to ask you, in fact, about the fact that haqqani was on the fbi most wanted list was by the taliban put in charge of some security in kabul just last week and showed up at friday prayers. >> all security in kabul. he's the one dictating the terms to us what we can and can't do outside the airport and we don't have the will to do what's necessary to get all of the americans outside because they know they've been thrust into hell. what's important to note is these groups share people. i heard richard's reporting. this isn't the isis of syria and iraq. some of them are because all of those prisoners have been
released now, by the way and are going to be a boon to jihadist terrorism broadly, but isis-k has members in it, and the members who formed it were from the taliban and pakistan which was a splinter group from i taiba which acts as an arm of pakistan foreign policy. these groups change people all of the time and we have to recognize, i think, that this is just the beginning of a much more threat to all civilized peoples. we have handed the taliban a nation state, it's a victory for them. it's a victory for al qaeda and other jihadist terrorists and 20 of which are designated terrorist organizations are in the area between pakistan and afghanistan, and what does control of the territory and resources give them? it gives them a safe haven, and where are the horizon capabilities now, andrea? that's a pipe dream.
once we hand this territory over to them, they've declared victory over the united states of america, the world's only super power and they're using that to rally more and more people to their cause. remember, after vice president biden called president obama in december 2011 in baghdad saying thank you for allowing me to end this god damn war. al qaeda didn't look around and say the americans are gone. i think we'll just stop. what they did is they redoubled their efforts and morphed into isis which became the most destructive terrorist organization in history. they recruited 30,000 fighters almost immediately, took over territory the size of britain and then we had to return and wage a sustained campaign against them to deny them the use of territory. by the way, when they controlled that territory, they conducted over 200 attacks. many of them in europe and some inspired in the united states to
shut down an airliner to attack the brussels airport. we are seeing the beginning of what happens when you surrender to a terrorist organization. let me unpack this in part, the haqqani network is also according to admiral mike mullen and other experts, very closely connected with the pakistan's intelligence service isi. so is pakistan in some way covertly behind part of this? >> absolutely. this is part our serial gulliblity, pakistan acts as an arsonist and poses as a fireman. they should pay the price now. they should suffer diplomatic isolation to force them to make a choice, right? to force them to choose either being treated as a responsible nation and going after these groups selectively or being the
major state sponsor of terrorist organizations and i think pakistan will be faced with a future that looks like an isolated country with a single state-sponsored china. you know what that looks like to me? that looks like north korea. that's what's in the future of the pakistani government and the pakistani people and we always buckle. president trump put in place the first time we had a reason and sustainable approach on afghanistan in august 2017 and the far-right got in his ear and the self-loathing far left and said you need to end this war and the abandonment of that strategy and the coddling against pakistanis. i'll tell you when i saw khan sitting next to donald trump i started to yell at the television and we have to stop the self-delusion. >> let's talk about donald
trump. i don't know who was in his ear, but donald trump was in his ear, both ears, because he did this deal with the taliban, mike pompeo cut this deal in february and february 2020 and they cut out the very weak government and they had the government in afghanistan and they cut afghanistan's government out of the whole negotiation. so wasn't that the original sin? >> i guess you can say there are a number of original since especially the last three. this isn't a partisan problem, andrea, this is an american problem. i want president biden -- i'm not a partisan person, i want him to succeed. i would go back to 2009 when president obama announced at my alma mater, west point, and said
let's enter into negotiations with the taliban and they formed this taliban political commission in qatar. how does that work, andrea when you tell them you're leaving and then try to negotiate? they doubled down on those flaws and then president biden doubled down on them again with what is clearly a failed effort even if it was our mission only to withdraw. you know what's crazy, andrea, if we were going to leave why didn't we just leave? why did we empower the taliban on the way out? why did we cut the legs out of the afghan government by not having them in the negotiations? why did we insist they relief 5,000 of the most heinous people who went back to terrorizing the afghan people? why did we not insist on a cease-fire and we're leaving and leaving on this time line and it
turns out the afghan government and security forces couldn't cope with the psychological blows. >> do you think it's safe right now? general -- >> no, it's not safe. >> no, do you think it's safe to resume evacuations or to extend the deadline -- excuse me? is it safe enough to -- extend the deadline. >> i think the conversation has to happen at the highest levels of the government is what the hell is the mission, andrea? is the mission just to get the hell out or do we want to get all american citizens out? do we want to get all afghans who will certainly be murdered or brutalized as soon as we depart. if that's the mission we need a much different plan than the one we are executing now and it can't be done on the existing timeline. if the mission is withdrawal on this time line, hey, this is what we get and the haqqani network and the taliban trying to humiliate us on the way out so the images here are much
worse than the images in saigon in 1975. you know what, andrea? we're on fast forward in 1979 in tehran in a hostage crisis and unlike taliban rule from '96 to 2001 when there was not one cell phone in the country, we'll be confronted every day with this brutality and what is the administration going to do then? what are those in the administration who came up with the right to protect doctrine going to say? will we stand on the side lines and watch mass executions and watch the horrors that we'll be forced to confront? >> let me just ask whether -- it's very clear that it's in the taliban's interest to get the u.s. out. they say so they want us out and that we're not going leave presumably without getting the americans out but doing this today as we're wrapping up with a set deadline how is it their interest to get involved?
the haqqani network, isis-k. >> yeah. >> let's break down that the taliban does have an interest, a strong interest in getting the u.s. out of there. you've been subjected to these statements from the administration and they're utterly ridiculous. the taliban acts in interest and their ideology. the leader of the taliban, his son was a suicide bomber employed in a truck bomb against afghan forces in helmand prof ins in 2017. what else do you need to know about shara haqqani and as a result of our strategic narcissism and our tendency to define the world only in relation us to and decide what we do, and decisive toward achieving a favorable outcome. we are facing real enemies there. the enemies of all humanity and we have given them more
authorship over the future than they deserve. that's what we're confronting. ? h.r. mcmaster, thank you very much, general. appreciate you coming. >> thanks, andrea. >> joining me now, congressman kinzinger, a lieutenant in the air national guard. first, what are your reactions to what happened at the airport and our attempts to get americans safely out and the report that there are marines injured? >> yeah. i could have listened to general mcmaster for another hour mean is spot on. obviously, first, the humanitarian side of this. it's awful. our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the military members and of course, the families of those outside of the gate, but this was entirely foreseen. in fact, a couple of days ago we had a briefing by the administration in which they laid out the specific credible threat.
i have never, actually personally had an administration lay out that threat in that specificity so they knew this was coming and for the rand paul endless war crowd who were stoking this fire, man, we're all tired when your grandma tells you how tired you are and you eventually feel tired. congratulations, the endless war just got fired up again because isis and al qaeda's job was to simply get out of afghanistan and we can live in our respective corners peacefully you know there would not have been a suicide attack a couple of days prior to the u.s. leaving. i feel that as terrible as this is right now the decision we make will be very much determining the future of terrorism not just in the region, but in this world. >> so what should the decision be? >> i think as the general said prior. what is our goal? i think first off in the very least our goal should be to get
every american out and every afghan that helped us out. i think if we fail to do that, if we fall short of that, not just will the retreat from afg have been a massive mistake which is a huge recruiting tool for jihadists and future groups like that, isis can go and say, we've taken some damage and gotten hits and we promise we are now coming back. i think if we leave today and we stop the e vak wagdz short of falling there you that basic thing, this will be the most emboldening thing for the terrorists and embarrassing for the united states. will that put us at risk? yes. what i would personally like to see, andrea is the u.s. take back the airport we never should have abandoned in bagram and stay there until we get every afghan out. if i had my way i would have
kept a residual force in afghanistan and prevented the kind of hell from spreading that we're seeing happen today. let me follow up on that because lindsay graham said something similar today about taking back bagram. bagram was not only abandoned, but broken down and equipment was taken out and it was unwired and the power supply was taken out and the prison was released there -- the prison doors were opened and released of the worst of the worst of al qaeda and prisoners. it's 45 miles from kabul. how do you take bagram back without a major deployment? >> yeah. the 25 miles from kabul issue, keep in mind, we have basically americans all through afghanistan. so air can shorten that distance very quickly. there can be u.s. forces to do it. there's also a pretty significant resistance that
still exists and they're calling themselves the northern alliance again, but it is actually made up of those old tribes, but also afghan national army that didn't just abandon the fight and decided to fight in a much more moderate group that we supported after 9/11. what we will have to do is take that area back and make the determination that we'll be here as long as it takes to get everyone out. i recognize the difficulty of that. the question is for americans do we want to take the impact of this, see this growing threat continue to thrive or are we willing to do tough things? i've got to tell you, no matter what we choose on bagram or anything else, the fact that we were sitting there going, man, we can't keep 2500 troops there. donald trump was telling everyone telling them how the war wasn't worth it and trying to negotiate with the taliban.
this will be forced to the doorstep again and we'll have to make these decisions anyway. >> short term, short of reinserting thousands of troops which is what it would require to take bagram back, what to do about august 31st? would you extend the deadline until we find those thousand americans and make sure they want to leave and get them out? what about the remaining sivs and afghans that run a risk? where would you draw the line and would you extend it further? >> i would if i needed to. the insertion of thousands of troops. we have 5,000, 6,000 troops in kabul that we had to insert because of this. we have to determine do we want to follow through on our word or not, where did the august 31st deadline come from? president biden said donald trump gave me a may 1st deadline, and i said we will get out now. he initially said september 11th and they realized the pr
disaster of that and we'll be out of country by august 31st and this is not a negotiated deadline. that date is may 1st. so why we're sticking to august 31st, i want to stick to this as closely as possible and we do not have a single american in afghanistan, and you will see an immense amount of videos that put tears in our eyes if we see afghans going on the receiving end of the taliban after the united states leave says. i would extend as long as necessary, but we'll see what happens. >> congressman adam kinzinger from illinois, thank you very much. we are awaiting more from the white house and the pentagon. we'll bring you both as soon as they start. stay with us. you're watching "andrea mitchell reports" only on msnbc.
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the 60 people injured. joining me is courtney kube and kelly o'donnell at the white house. we are awaiting a briefing on that, and what do we know about the marines? >> we are still waiting for someone at the pentagon and it's a matter of who will talk to us and when. >> there were at least three u.s. marines who were injured in the explosion at the abbey gate. two explosions, one at the gate and one at the very nearby baron hotel and that gate has been a place where u.s. military have been guarding for the past week or so, particularly u.s. marines and u.s. soldier, but there is also as you well know there have been counselor affairs officers helping the marines and telling them who they can let through that gate. many americans have been meeting nearby at the baron hotel so that they can walk the short distance across to the abbey gate and get access to the airport. this is also a place we've seen a lot of video just recently
outside of this gate because it's one of the locations that had a large crowd gathering for several days. that presented a real security concern to u.s. military officials because they weren't exactly sure who might be inside that crowd. last saturday, the u.s. got very specific intelligence that isis-k, the isis affiliate there in afghanistan wanted to carry out attacks at the airport and particularly to target americans. that was when the situation there changed. the u.s. -- they were worried about getting americans through those crowds and they were worried about the vulnerability and any potential suicide attackers and the u.s. started working more with the taliban, coordinating with them on the ground so that americans could be -- could still safely transit to the airport and in some cases some other third country nationals and some afghans might be able to transit through that area, again, in the midst of all of this, was there a successful
attack today and a complex attack meaning it occurred in more than one location. in this case, it was two separate locations just outside the airport and we are trying to get to the bottom of, no matter who is behind it, but also exactly how many people may be injured and may be killed including americans. >> and kelly, what are you hearing about what's going on behind the scenes at the white house? we know the meeting in the situation room has ended and he is getting reports in the oval office. >> he is in the oval office according to officials and he has big decisions to make and part of what we are expecting today is as the president learns more after conferring with his national security team and reaching out to commanders on the ground getting all of that information, what will come next in terms of hearing from the president? one of the things that officials here have been reminding us of and cautioning us about is this
kind of dangerous event is part of what the president had been warning about and was putting into his calculation about what should happen next with respect to the evacuation process and the drawdown and withdrawal of u.s. forces at the kabul airport. how does this affect the timeline, that will be the question and there are still some americans and many more afghan allies who are waiting to be evacuated. how will that process go forward? we are hearing from some in congress including the head of the foreign relations committee, a democrat robert menendez of new jersey who is saying he is concerned about trusting u.s. security to the taliban. courtney was just explaining the coordination that has been going and his concern about evacuations and the protection of u.s. personnel going forward. he wants to see that mission completed. we have been told by white house officials that the president's schedule is changing. we have seen lots of evidence of
that already today, a meeting with governors about receiving refugees and helping to resettle them and that has been cancelled and a high-profile meeting and the first-ever meeting with the president and the new israeli prime minister that has been at least postponed and the israeli delegation now leaving the media component of it and leaving the grounds of the white house and so we'll wait it see how does the president proceed from here? they stress that this was a dangerous situation and part of the contingency planning that the president asked for, was considering the potential of this. we have been told about the threats. now we're seeing it play out in all of its horrible detail, but how the president would have to consider does it mean departing as quickly as possible and finding another way to extend beyond august 31st to finish the mission of evacuating the americans and afghan allies and those are the big questions and we'll be looking for some answers. a second note, the vice
president who has been traveling to asia is on her way back and she was briefed using the bells and whistles on air force two. she was scheduled to go to california. we'll see if there will be changes to her schedule, travel for the first lady planned for next week has already been postponed and it gives you a sense of how fluid all of this is and how the president needs to gather the facts and decide what he will do next and how he'll tell the american people about it. andrea? >> a major decision on so many levels. kelly, thank you so much and joining me now, michael lighter under presidents bush and president obama and michael, first to you. let's talk about the people and the players involved and secondly, whether you think the president should extend the deadline despite this or because of it to make sure that americans can get out safely. >> i think you likely won't
extend the deadline. listening to h.r. mcmaster and congressman kinzinger who i have a tremendous amount of respect for, andrea. i don't think we want american policy for afghanistan for now going forward be driven by this very tragic event. what we've seen over the past 20 years is this is a brutally difficult mission and the counter terrorist mission was an exercise and the only thing worse than thinking 20 years ago that we can solve the problem over the past 20 years would be to now, based on this one event think that our strategy should really reverse 180 degrees and the president is largely committed to the august 31st deadline and it certainly will make the evacuation much more difficult. so we may see a few days slip, but i think the likelihood of
what congressman kinzinger suggested, a large-scale reinsertion of the u.s. presence is not just unlikely, but it just doesn't have a chance. let me drill down for just a moment with you on some of the players involved. you dealt with them so intensively over the years. the haqqani network with unclear, but certain connections to pakistan's spy agency, the isi, and the newly formed more recently formed isis-k, plus the taliban, the original protectors of osama bin laden, the taliban spokesperson last night telling richard engel that bin laden was not involved in 9/11. so this is the mix of people on the ground there and groups on the ground. this is a point of which i very much agree with h.r. mcmaster which that we in the united
states like to have our lables and our compartmented groups and we think of them almost like the 82nd airborne and the 101st airborne and the fact is that is not how they operate there. it is in many cases a fluid movement of people, groups and alliances and that's what makes it so complicated right now. the taliban, i don't think the taliban of today is the taliban of 20 years ago. frankly, if they are the same taliban, we have a bigger risk than i hope we do. i think the haqqani network in pakistan which has long been associated with pakistani isi and the most noted elements of the taliban remain very dangerous, but a lack of u.s. presence on the ground may change that. isis-k is clearly the group which has the greatest straight antipathy for the west and the united states, but the only good side of that is they also have antipathy for the taliban and the taliban have no love for them either, so although there
are -- the lines aren't as stark as we think, i do think that the taliban, if it is going to be a legitimate governing presence in afghanistan and it's not going to be a liberal democracy, let's make that clear and it will be repress hencible in many ways, it will be brutal and it will be violent and does it pose an ongoing threat to the united states and the west and in that way, isis-k will try to push it in that direction and i think the taliban has great incentive to push back against that because it will find itself completely backed up and completely reliant on western support and all of that will melt away if isis-k becomes the terrorist -- international terrorist presence that al qaeda was in 2001. on all of the people on the ground and we're talking about at least a thousand americans, we understand there's some guidance that the 500 that we have been in touch with, that the state department had been in
touch with would be in the process of being evacuated if they're not already out of afghanistan, and they were still there yesterday. the thousand americans and the sivs and the afghan allies and that all of the others, and the groups that you and i have known for years and the afghan women's groups and the educators and engineers and government leaders and judges and lawyers, that private groups have been trying to get out. are they going to be stranded? >> andrea, especially after the events of today the increasing worry is yes, that they will be stranded, and i know you and i and so many of us that have served overseas have been receiving and fielding dozens and dozens of calls and requests for help falling to this category which is to say they have siv clearance. they don't have a direct tie to the u.s. government because of their work and their service over the last 20 years. they do consider themselves vulnerable. they do fear for their lives,
and they've been in touch with a number of people over the last few days. people evacuated through that same gate that was attacked today and they were sharing pictures along their journey and documenting showing the crowds outside. they waited themselves for a couple of days with children outside before they were able to make it through, and the father of the family said i just can't stop crying today. i keep thinking about all those families who are out there. it's not their fault. they were just as desperate to leave as we were, and we know now there are some firmer estimates, group like matt zeller's group, no one left behind who calculated that the u.s., if it were try to keep at the current clip and stick to the august 31st deadline and withdraw, the 250,000 wartime and the big question is how these attacks change that. isis-k, if it is indeed believed and confirmed to be behind this attack is the bigger u.s. threat. they're just a few years old and
they've conducted dozens of attacks over the years in afghanistan and pakistan and this fertile ground in afghanistan with basically no government in place and widespread local grievances and insecurity. this is the kind of place they look for as they've lost territory elsewhere lost territory elsewhere in the region. for the u.s., we heard from the beginning of plans for withdrawal was remaining american interest, over the horizon interest, keeping the capability they wanted to keep to counter groups like this. this is one of the rare places where u.s. and taliban interests do align. >> and michael, what about the security of those people, our afghan allies and others, other afghans at risk as the state department termed them. is there anything to be believed in the protestations of taliban
spokespeople to richard engle that they changed, will respect the rights of women at the same time they say under sharia law they interpret more extremely than any other islamist group in the world and also saying that women should stay home because their fighters have not been trained to respect them. >> first, let me make clear the moral tragedy of our country leaving behind so many afghanis who supported our efforts the past 20 years is nothing short of tragedy. it is a stain we both have to live with and try to recover from. with respect to the taliban and their pledges of security, i think whether it is risible, it should not be taken very seriously. i think that the taliban of today is different from two decades ago but do i think there will be light, will they allow a
civic society to prosper, do i think they'll protect and honor individuals who served in the afghan national forces and police, absolutely not. i think those people are very much at risk. that does not answer the question of can we work with the taliban in very narrow ways and i hope the taliban sees that as a real need on their part because we will need them. the idea of the targeting happening completely from outside the afghan borders to counter transnational threats like isis-k is far more difficult than people would believe. we have intelligence and able special forces, but doing that across thousands of miles in territory we do not control, we do need as we have had in other parts of the world some cooperation to defeat that threat. the question is will the taliban do that and will they not be so
morally reprehensible that they do certain things against those people we left behind and make it completely impossible for us to at least have that limited relationship with them. >> won't it diminish our ability to ascertain terror threats there without bagram, military contractors, without the cia, without boots on the ground? >> there's no doubt. we had trouble deterring threats in afghanistan when we were there. let's not make believe today's suicide bombing in kabul is the first one. we had it when we had thousands of troops on the ground. those threats will manifest themselves within afghanistan. we have been extremely successful because of our presence taking out the networks that reach beyond afghanistan. i think that, again, will be very difficult for us. it will require some partnerships with potentially the taliban, whatever government comes to pass in afghanistan,
and continued partnership with pakistanis. we have to make sure they understand, even though we are leaving the region, that they must cooperate with us on key intelligence challenges. >> and justification for withdrawal was the terror threat that got us in afghanistan in the first place was in the rearview window, that al qaeda is defeated, bin laden is dead. can the administration still make that case? >> it is true so far that isis-k has not carried out any attack on the u.s. home land. they carried out dozens of attacks in the region. this one attack if confirmed to be isis-k would be certainly seem to be targeting american forces. that adds to the administration's argument, this is why it is necessary to go. the other thing i want to point out is among the people talking to on the ground, this is really only adding to urgency of people who are there. we know we don't have numbers
from the attacks yet in terms of casualties and so on, but afghan civilians will disproportionately be effected by these actions as they always have been for the past 20 years. this will add to urgency and panic on the ground. you won't just see more displaced people in afghanistan, more fleeing the border to neighboring countries, but also more heartbreaking stories that we're hearing from contacts on the ground and sources on the ground of desperate situations. to mike's point, the taliban made no indication they'll be a liberal democratic government. those i talked to said we don't believe women should be doing anything in the public work space other than working in hospitals, only with women, and possibly teaching, and only two women in that case. who knows what the curriculum would be like. we don't know what this government will look like. afghan civilians will be suffering the worst of it in
weeks, months, years ahead, andrea. >> afghan civilians were presumably in crowds outside the airport, the alert that went to u.s. citizens to clear out, not to go close to the airport last night. and most americans probably observed that, those alerts seriously ramped up last night, but there were reportedly plenty of afghan civilians going to the airport. >> that's correct. a number of people i talked to, keep asking should i go to the airport, is it okay to wait outside, even though some were in touch with u.s. officials that said don't come, some felt their best chance of getting on one of the last evacuation flights is go to the airport. that's why we have seen people camped out there, overnight in fact. i got a source call, families were waiting outside the airport. they said we're going to stay until we get on the flight. we haven't been able to check in with them since then. andrea? >> thank you so much.
thanks to michael lieder as well. grateful to you both. and we are following breaking news out of afghanistan. two separate explosions, at least three service members were injured. 13 people, including children, were killed in the attacks outside the airport. joining me, director of the center on national security at ford ham law, karen greenburg, author of the book subtle tools. karen, what is your reaction to what we're seeing in kabul today? >> yeah, i mean, the reaction is we were told this might happen. we were told by many it would happen, but seeing it is devastating. it speaks so much to what's been wrong with our engagement in afghanistan for so long and in the war on terror generally. it seems worrisome interment of where we might be headed next in terms of engagement with afghanistan and i think with the
region in general and our counterterrorism strategy. i think it is very worrisome, not just in the moment but in terms of what steps are next taken by the biden administration going forward. >> the biden administration was trying to move on from the war on terror 20 years after 9/11 and ten years after the death of bin laden. from your research and what you're seeing, how do we move on from the war on terror? do we accept it doesn't threaten the home land, so it is not a threat to us? obviously we have assets all over the world. >> i don't think we can ignore it. we have to do what many tried to do at the beginning, understand this is a manage counterterrorism strategy that involves a coordinated multi lateral effort that is not necessarily led by the military but by intelligence, law enforcement, and diplomacy. i think we have to be very clear about our aims, are they counter
insurgency, counterterrorism, nation building, none of this was clarified outside the war on terror at the outset of the invasion on afghanistan, and this is a warning sign that we have to be more precise and think of the long term but in a way that tethers what we do, how long we do it. that's maybe a later piece of the discussion of what's happening today. >> and we also hear the august 31st deadline, future of afghanistan is still unknown. what are you watching for next regarding the deadline and evacuations? >> yeah. i mean, who knows what's going to happen next in terms of the deadline. the biden administration may want to get out, may not be able to. i think the burden is on the taliban, how the taliban respond to this is going to be important in the cycle. this is the same 24 hour period that they reached out to other nations to recognize them as the government of afghanistan. so it is on them to take the
next steps. >> karen greenburg, thanks so much. that does it for this edition. chuck todd is up next with "mtp daily" only on msnbc. well, don't worry, andrea, you're not going very far. we're coming back to you in a moment. welcome back to "mtp daily." a pair of explosions rocked kabul, have tloefr the u.s. evacuation efforts into turmoil, just five days before president biden's agreed to deadline to get americans out. u.s. officials tell nbc news at least three marines were wounded in the attack outside the airport. hospital officials are treating about 60 people injured and at least six killed. pentagon press s