Obama defense secretary: Biden calling Afghan withdrawal a success hurts credibility'

Leon Panetta had advised Biden to take full responsibility for the chaotic withdrawal.

Updated: November 7, 2021 - 3:24pm

Former Obama Defense Secretary Leon Panetta criticized President Joe Biden for calling the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan a success, saying it "hurts your credibility as president of the United States."

Panetta, who also served in the Clinton administration, told Chris Wallace's "Fox News Sunday" in a pre-recorded interview that he had advised Biden to accept responsibility for the mismanaged withdrawal, but instead, the president called it a success.

"I've told presidents this at various jobs that I've had that the most important thing about the responsibility as president is to be honest with the American people," Panetta told Wallace. "That means not only taking credit for your successes, it means telling the American people when you make a mistake because they know you've made a mistake. You know you made a mistake."

"Frankly, to play this game of kind of always portraying your worst mistakes as some kind of success hurts your credibility as president of the United States," he continued, adding that it's "no secret" Biden "made a mistake" with the withdrawal from Afghanistan, and that the "execution was not conducted right."

In the days following the ISIS-K suicide bombing outside the Kabul airport where 13 U.S. service members and dozens of Afghans were killed, Biden called the evacuation mission an "extraordinary success" as they "completed one of the biggest airlifts in history, with more than 120,000 people evacuated to safety."

The Pentagon confirmed two weeks ago that there were nearly 450 Americans still in Afghanistan, Fox News reported.