A classified State Department cable from July suggests that Secretary of State Antony Blinken was warned that Kabul would fall into Taliban hands by the August 31 troop withdrawal deadline, a report from the Wall Street Journal on Thursday revealed.
The Wall Street Journal reported:
About two dozen State Department officials serving at the embassy in Kabul sent an internal memo to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and another top State Department official last month warning of the potential collapse of Kabul soon after the Aug. 31 troop withdrawal deadline, according to a U.S. official and a person familiar with the cable.
Sent via the State Department’s confidential dissent channel, the memo warned that the Taliban would quickly gain control of Afghanistan and “offered recommendations on ways to mitigate the crisis and speed up an evacuation.”
The WSJ continued:
The cable, dated July 13, also called for the State Department to use tougher language in describing the atrocities being committed by the Taliban. The classified cable represents the clearest evidence yet that the administration had been warned by its own officials on the ground that the Taliban’s advance was imminent and Afghanistan’s military may be unable to stop it.
On July 8, just five days prior to this memo warning of an Afghanistan collapse, President Biden expressly said that Kabul would not be another repeat of Saigon in 1975.
“Mr. President, some Vietnamese veterans see echoes of their experience in this withdrawal in Afghanistan. Do you see any parallels between this withdrawal and what happened in Vietnam?” Biden was asked on July 8. Biden replied:
None whatsoever. Zero. What you had is you had entire brigades breaking through the gates of our embassy — six, if I’m not mistaken. The Taliban is not the South — the North Vietnamese army. They’re not — they’re not remotely comparable in terms of capability. There’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy in the — of the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at all comparable.
At this stage, it remains unclear whether this intelligence made it to the president’s desk or if Blinken acted on it. But this new revelation contradicts several public statements from Biden himself and other administration officials, including notably Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, who this week said no such intelligence existed. Given the dire timeline laid out in this memo, it also raises questions about why Biden would take a vacation when he did at Camp David – the presidential retreat at which he was vacationing when Afghanistan fell to the Taliban.