Key Trump defense official refutes Blinken, says Trump left Afghan withdrawal plan for Biden
The focus of the Trump administration's plan was to "peacefully negotiate yourself out of Afghanistan with a conditions-based withdrawal," Kash Patel said.
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Kash Patel, former chief of staff to Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller, blasted Secretary of State Antony Blinken for claiming that the Trump administration did not leave President Biden a plan for the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
On the John Solomon Reports podcast on Thursday, Patel was asked if Blinken accurately told Congress that Trump left Biden a deadline for leaving Afghanistan without a plan. "No, absolutely not," Patel replied.
Criticizing Blinken for playing "politics with the national security apparatus of the United States," Patel, who worked on the transition coordination team, said that the Trump administration did not leave Biden a deadline.
"We actually did not leave them a deadline," he said. "It was a negotiation between the U.S. government, the Taliban, and the Afghans. And if that date was not to work for this incoming administration, they could have moved it.
"But what they chose to do was break the entire agreement. And then they thought, since the adults were back in Washington, D.C., and Blinken and Biden were leading the charge, the world will just fall into place for them. And they blew it in Afghanistan. So I think their credibility's shot when it comes to everything Afghanistan."
Trump's overall plan was to "peacefully negotiate yourself out of Afghanistan with a conditions-based withdrawal," he said. "[A]nd the world knew that was President Trump's plan."
Under the Trump plan, the Taliban and the Afghan government had to meet certain criteria if they wanted the U.S. to help them establish "a peaceful, negotiated government in Afghanistan without U.S. troop presence," Patel explained. "The main component of that was an all-out rejection of al Qaeda and ISIS."
If the Taliban and then-Afghan government wanted U.S. funds, "training and assistance in some form of military presence," they would all "have to sit down at the table with each other, like they were doing in Doha," Patel continued, and the U.S. would assist them in reaching an agreement for an interim government with then-President Ashraf Ghani.
"And they knew that they couldn't cross at least President Trump's threat to rain down on them, should they harm a U.S. personnel or allied member," Patel said. "And that was the difference, really, between our plan and their plan."
The Biden administration "guys are running around acting as if there's like a one-pager on how to get out of Afghanistan," he said. "Of course there isn't, that's absurd. Moving 20 years' worth of military presence out of a country is a multifaceted operation that the Department of Defense runs. And if Tony Blinken isn't talking to his Department of Defense colleagues, because they're not coming out saying that there was no plan."
Patel said that there were several components to Trump's plan to leave Afghanistan, including dealing with U.S. military equipment, making peace deals, ensuring that terrorists were not being harbored, not allowing U.S. citizens to be killed, and figuring out what to do with all of them living in the country, as many were working with nongovernmental organizations."
He expanded on Trump's plan for getting Americans out, which was to have followed once a peaceful, negotiated government was in place.
"American citizens would be drawn out first, safely, and we would identify them through the process that is in place when you methodically do something with the military, the State Department, and the intelligence community," he explained. "There's a difference when you evacuate versus proactively go get them."
The plan, he said, "was to make sure we got to every American before we left the military, before we left Bagram [Air Base], before we left equipment, and left a crisis like the Biden administration did."
As for the plan for leaving Bagram Air Base, Patel said that it was "the very last thing we do in country after Americans were out, after our equipment was out and/or destroyed, after the thousands of detainees at Bagram were adjudicated" and airlifted out of the country.
He added that "we bucked" NATO allies at Bagram "when Biden said, 'We're up and leaving.'"