No one anywhere in the world predicted that the Afghan government would fall to the Taliban in a matter of days, White House press secretary Jen Psaki claimed Tuesday.
Psaki made the statement in defense of President Joe Biden’s withdrawal of U.S. forces from the country, an evacuation effort that concluded Monday. The withdrawal did not go according to plan, however, with what Biden promised to be a “safe and orderly” withdrawal devolving into a desperate evacuation of U.S. citizens and Afghan allies and refugees. Reporters pressed Psaki during a Tuesday press briefing on whether the Biden administration had adequately prepared.
“I don’t think anyone assessed that they would collapse as quickly as they did. Anyone — anyone in this room, anyone anywhere in the world,” Psaki responded. “If you have anyone who did I would be surprised.”
ABC News reported Aug. 15 that the U.S. intelligence community warned Biden that the Afghan government could fall in a matter of days, but the administration didn’t listen. (RELATED: ‘That Didn’t Happen Just Once’: Gold Star Fathers Allege That Biden Looked Down At His Watch When All Fallen Service Members Came Home)
“[U.S.] leaders were told by the military it would take no time at all for the Taliban to take everything,” an anonymous U.S. intelligence official told ABC News. “No one listened.”
“The intelligence community assessment has always been accurate; they just disregarded it,” the official reportedly added, speaking about the Biden administration.
Biden delivered an address defending his withdrawal efforts Tuesday, arguing that the U.S. has achieved its goals in Afghanistan and that there was no reality in which the military withdrawal could have gone smoothly.
The White House has worked to defend Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan amid a hail of criticism since late July. Biden vowed earlier this year that the exit would be safe and orderly and that every U.S. citizen would be evacuated. In the end, however, the evacuation cost the lives of 13 U.S. service members killed in a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport and left large numbers stranded after the Aug. 31 deadline.