President Biden spoke on Sunday afternoon to address the chaotic situation in Afghanistan, after which he took some questions.
He said that the U.S. would welcome Afghan allies escaping the Taliban into the U.S., but only after they have been properly vetted. He said they would have to be "screened and cleared" at military bases and transit centers before being allowed to enter the U.S.
The president said that the U.S. has set up processing stations in other countries, "working with more than two dozen countries across four continents." He said “When planes take off from Kabul, they go to U.S. military bases and these processing stations."
"Once screened and cleared, we will welcome these Afghans…to their new home in the United States of America," Biden pledged.
He continues to make the case that his decision to pull the troops out of Afghanistan was a binary choice to either stay there, in which case we would have had to send additional troops and continue losing blood and treasure or pulling out as he did.
"Look, I had a basic decision to make," he said, when asked about a new CBS News poll that questioned his competence and how he chose to exit Afghanistan, not whether to leave. "I either withdraw America from a 20-year war that depending on whose analysis you accept is costing us $150 million a day for 20 years or $300 million a day for 20 years. I either increase the number of forces we keep there…or I end the war, and I decided to end the war," Biden replied.
He avoided the criticism he has received that we had not lost any of our military members in a year and a half, or that keeping the status quo, with our approximately 2,500 troops, and having Bagram Air Base as our eyes and ears in the area, near enough to the borders of China and Iran, would justify our staying there longer.
But what he is being reminded of is that the real question about his judgment and competence was over how he chose to exit. Rather than spend months quietly getting everyone out who wanted to leave, working with our allies and the Afghani forces and interpreters that were allied with us, instead it was done in such a way that it could potentially be setting up the worst hostage crisis in our history, if the Taliban decides to go in that direction.
The president also said the Taliban has to make a decision as to how it plans to govern.
"Look, the Taliban has to make a fundamental decision. Is the Taliban going to attempt to be able to unite and provide for the well-being of the people of Afghanistan, which no group has ever done, since hundreds of years?" Biden said.
He highlighted his administration's efforts to evacuate Americans and the Afghans who worked along side of them.
The U.S. evacuated "approximately 11,000 people out of Kabul in less than 36 hours," the president said. In total, American forces have evacuated 33,000 persons since July, he added.
"Our first priority in Kabul is getting American citizens out of the country as quickly and as safely as possible," Biden said.