Biden’s Afghanistan announcement

1 min ago

The history behind where Biden will make his Afghanistan remarks today

From CNN’s Kevin Liptak

President Biden will announce he is ending America’s longest war today from the White House Treaty Room on the third floor of the residence — a location very rarely used for public events within the president’s private quarters.

The Treaty Room is where President George W. Bush announced the first airstrikes in Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001.

Meaning, Biden’s remarks will be a symbolic book-end as he announces all US troops will be withdrawn by Sept. 11.

4 min ago

Biden spoke to some predecessors, and Afghan President ahead of Afghanistan speech

From CNN’s Betsy Klein

President Biden spoke to some of his predecessors about the decision to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday. 

“He did talk to some of his predecessors, let me see if I can get you more of a readout of that. He will talk a bit about that speech, as well, that starts in 39 minutes,” Psaki said at the briefing.  

CNN’s Kevin Liptak notes that when then-President Barack Obama announced troop decisions on Iraq, the White House said at the time that he’d spoken with former President George W. Bush to inform him ahead of time. 

Psaki also confirmed that Biden spoke with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday, which, she said, was still ongoing at the start of the briefing. A readout is forthcoming.

She also outlined White House outreach ahead of the remarks.  

“We have done a lot of outreach… to inform members of Congress, allies, partners and regional countries. That includes called – not always the President, although he has made a number of calls, but from senior officials to nearly 15 members of Congress, 44 countries, NATO, the EU and the UN. These consultations and conversations are continuing, but just to give you a sense of how much engagement outreach we’ve done today,” she said. 

2 min ago

White House acknowledges some military and national security advisers disagreed with Biden on Afghanistan

From CNN’s Kevin Liptak

Some of President Biden’s military and national security advisers disagreed on the path forward in Afghanistan, the White House acknowledged on Wednesday, but Biden ultimately determined there was nothing a sustained US troop presence there could do to solve the country’s problems.

“The President welcomed the advice, welcomed, at times, disagreement, about what the appropriate path forward should be,” press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

“I will leave it to them to speak to their viewpoints,” she said of military officials when asked whether Biden overruled their advice to leave some troops behind.

“The President asked for a review. He asked for that review not to be sugarcoated. He wanted to hear different points of views. He welcomed debate. And ultimately he made the decision that because the terrorist threat has evolved,” she went on.

CNN has reported there was not consensus among the President’s team on whether to withdraw all troops from Afghansitan. 

During deliberations with senior national security and military officials, Biden chafed at suggestions US troops should remain in Afghanistan for much longer, according to people familiar with the matter, reminding his advisers that – like his two predecessors — he promised voters he would end the country’s longest war.

Among those advocating against a withdrawal, Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had been among the most ardent, suggesting earlier in the deliberations that pulling American troops from Afghanistan could cause the government in Kabul to collapse and prompt backsliding in women’s rights, according to people familiar with the conversations.

6 min ago

Biden administration will hold classified briefing for all senators on Afghanistan decision, Schumer says

From CNN’s Nicky Robertson and Daniella Diaz

Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told CNN the Biden administration will hold a classified briefing for all senators on the Afghanistan decision.

“I think President Biden has come up with a careful and thought-out plan,” he told John Berman on CNN’s ‘New Day.’ “Look, John, the President doesn’t want endless wars. I don’t want endless wars. And neither do the American people.”

President Biden will formally announce his decision to withdraw all American troops before Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that led the US into its longest war.

“It’s refreshing to have a thought-out plan with a set timetable instead of the President waking up one morning getting out of bed and just saying what just pops into his head and having the Generals walk it back,” Schumer said.

22 min ago

How Congress is reacting to Biden’s decision to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan

From CNN’s Jeremy Herb

President Biden’s decision to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11 — the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — prompted a split on Capitol Hill among both Republicans and Democrats, creating some strange bedfellows over what to do about America’s longest war.

Many Republicans slammed the decision as premature, but other GOP lawmakers cheered US troops finally coming home. Most Democrats said they supported Biden’s desire to finally wind down the longest war in US history, but some said they were concerned about losing hard-fought gains in Afghanistan.

What some Republicans are saying:

Republican hawks responded with swift condemnation.

“Precipitously withdrawing US forces from Afghanistan is a grave mistake. It is retreat in the face of an enemy that has not yet been vanquished and abdication of American leadership,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican. “Leaders in both parties, including me, offered criticism when the prior administration floated the concept of a reckless withdrawal from Syria and Afghanistan.”

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, another hawk who repeatedly criticized the Obama administration’s withdrawal from Iraq and drawdowns in Afghanistan, said a full withdrawal was “dumber than dirt and devilishly dangerous.”

“President Biden will have, in essence, canceled an insurance policy against another 9/11,” Graham said.

And Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said it was “outrageous” and had no justification.

But some Republicans who have joined McConnell in attacking Biden on multiple fronts had a different view — even beyond libertarians like Sen. Rand Paul, the Kentucky Republican who fought his GOP colleagues while he pushed Trump to remove US troops from the Middle East.

Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, said Tuesday he was “glad the troops are coming home.”

What some Democrats are saying:

On the Democratic side, there was plenty of praise for Biden’s decision from lawmakers long skeptical of an extended US presence in the Middle East.

“For nearly 20 years, we have adopted a costly war-based approach to national security and counterterrorism policy with no clear endgame,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat. “While our withdrawal comes years late, President Biden recognizes the reality that our continued presence there does not make the US or the world safer.”

But some Democrats said they had concerns about prematurely withdrawing from the country and losing the gains that had been made, particularly when it comes to women’s rights in Afghanistan.

Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is a longtime advocate of Afghan women’s rights, said on Twitter Tuesday she was “very disappointed in @POTUS’ decision to set a Sept. deadline to walk away from Afghanistan.”

“Although this decision was made in coordination w/our allies, the U.S. has sacrificed too much to bring stability to Afghanistan to leave w/o verifiable assurances of a secure future,” the New Hampshire senator wrote. “It undermines our commitment to the Afghan people, particularly Afghan women.”

Top national security Democrats said they supported the decision, but they acknowledged the risks it carried.

Senate Foreign Relations Chair Bob Menendez of New Jersey, told reporters Tuesday he wants to get troops home after a very long war, but is worried “we don’t lose what we were seeking to achieve.”

24 min ago

White House: US will “have what is needed to secure a diplomatic presence” in Afghanistan

From CNN’s Jason Hoffman

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

White House press secretary Jen Psaki would not detail how may, if any, special operation troops would remain in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of combat troops, but did say the US will “have what is needed to secure a diplomatic presence.” Psaki said those assessments will be made over the coming months by the Defense and State Departments in coordination.

“This will require a diplomatic solution and even as we are withdrawing our troops, we will continue to support diplomatic and humanitarian work. We will ask other countries to step up,” Psaki said, responding to CNN’s Phil Mattingly at Wednesday’s White House press briefing.

A senior administration official previously said some troops will remain in the country to provide diplomatic security, though the exact number had not yet been decided.

There are also several hundred US special operations forces in Afghanistan that often work for the CIA on counter terrorism missions. Those troops are not publicly acknowledged and are not part of the formal calculation of 2,500 troops in the country. It’s not immediately clear what will happen to those individuals.

13 min ago

Afghan president says he spoke to Biden and “respects” US decision to withdraw troops 

From CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh in Kabul, Afghanistan

Rahmat Gul/AP
Rahmat Gul/AP

Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani said he spoke to President Biden and that he “respects the U.S. decision” to withdraw forces from his country.

“Afghanistan’s proud security and defense forces are fully capable of defending its people and country, which they have been doing all along, and for which the Afghan nation will forever remain grateful,” Ghani said on Twitter Wednesday.

Biden is due to announce within hours that American troops will leave Afghanistan by Sept. 11, ending 20 years of military involvement in the country in response to the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

13 min ago

Here’s what we know about Biden’s announcement today on Afghanistan

From CNN’s Kevin Liptak

President Biden is expected to formally announce his decision today to withdraw the remaining 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan before Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that led the US into its longest war.

“We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan hoping to create the ideal conditions for our withdrawal, expecting a different result,” Biden will say in his remarks, scheduled for 2:15 p.m. ET.

“I am now the fourth American president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats,” he will say. “I will not pass this responsibility to a fifth.”

In a sign he views his remarks as a historic bookend to the prolonged conflict, he will deliver them from precisely the same spot in the White House Treaty Room that President George W. Bush announced the start of the war on Oct. 7, 2001.

Afterward, he’ll visit the section of Arlington National Cemetery where many of America’s war dead from Afghanistan are buried.

Biden will say in his speech that American diplomatic and humanitarian efforts will continue in Afghanistan and would support peace efforts between the Afghan government and the Taliban. But he’ll be unequivocal that two decades after it began, the Afghanistan war is ending.

“It is time to end America’s longest war. It is time for American troops to come home,” he’ll say.

The deadline Biden has set is absolute, with no potential for extension based on worsening conditions on the ground. Officials said after two decades of war, it was clear to the President that throwing more time and money at Afghanistan’s problems wasn’t going to work. Some US troops will remain to protect Americans diplomats, though officials declined to provide a precise number.

Biden has spent months weighing his decision, and determined a war in Afghanistan that killed some 2,300 troops and cost more than $2 trillion no longer fit within the pressing foreign policy concerns of 2021.

Read more about Biden’s remarks here.