No one seems to remember this, but it was just a few months ago that Joe Biden gave the so-called “intel community” a vital new mission. They had, he said, until the end of August to find out where the coronavirus came from. Did it emerge from a pangolin in a wet market? Or did the Chinese military create the virus in a bioweapons lab in Wuhan? Joe Biden assured us he was going to get to the bottom of that. He had the canniest sleuths in the world working on the mystery. They’ll figure it out, he said. You can trust them.
So here we are at the end of August. What’s the answer? Where did COVID come from? So far, no one has told us. We’re starting to suspect that no one ever will. It’s not like the media are planning to push the issue. Putin’s not from China. They don’t care. The coronavirus investigation? What coronavirus investigation? Like Joe Biden himself, they have no memory of anything that happened three months ago. Come to think of it, maybe that was the whole point of the exercise: Announce a fake inquiry into something you have absolutely no interest in learning more about, and then bet on the fact everyone will forget it exists. Pretty tricky. Maybe that’s the real purpose of the intelligence agencies actually — not to gather intelligence, but to provide political cover to the politicians who control them: “That’s a good question, Wolf. I’ll have the CIA look into it, and get back to you.” Right. Just stay on the line. This call may be monitored for quality assurance.
Sounds cynical, we know. But it is striking, when you think about it, just how often politicians invoke the “intelligence community” when they’re lying to you. Joe Biden did it just last month.
REPORTER: Your own intelligence community has assessed that the Afghan government will likely collapse.
JOE BIDEN: That is not true.
REPORTER: Can you please clarify what they have told you about whether that will happen or not?
JOE BIDEN: That is not true. They did not — they didn’t — did not reach that conclusion.
The intel agencies never said the Taliban would sweep into Kabul. That’s what Biden claimed. Do you believe him? Probably not. The intel world may be partisan and deceitful–it certainly is–but we’re betting they’re not completely stupid. Obviously, they knew the Afghan government could collapse. They must have told Joe Biden that, or at least the people around him. Can we prove that they told him? No, we can’t. And that’s the beauty of using the intel agencies for cover. You can make any claim you want to make, and no one can prove you’re lying. Because the truth is highly classified. Maybe you’re starting to understand why no one ever defunds the CIA. They’re too useful.
So that was from July. At the time, Biden told us the intel community “did not reach the conclusion” the Afghan government would fall to the Taliban.” Now it’s August, and the Afghan government has indeed fallen to the Taliban. That’s not our “assessment,” as they say in Washington. It actually happened, as you know. The Afghan troops threw down their rifles. The president ran away. There’s a black Taliban flag hanging over the capital.
So how did this all happen? And more to the point, how did our extravagantly-funded intelligence agencies now know it was going to happen? Well, actually they did, sort of. That’s Joe Biden’s new position, as he explained yesterday on ABC News.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Back in July, you said a Taliban takeover was highly unlikely. Was the intelligence wrong, or did you downplay it?
JOE BIDEN: I think — there was no consensus. If you go back and look at the intelligence reports, they said that it’s more likely to be sometime by the end of the year.
Are you following this, in the space of a single month, the official line went from, “our intelligence agencies think everything is fine in Afghanistan,” to “there was no consensus” in the intelligence agencies that everything was not fine. Or something like that. It’s not exactly clear what Joe Biden was saying. All we can be certain of is that we’ll never get to see the documents he was referring to. So, really, anything could be true. Mark Milley, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, is not so clever. A smarter man might couch his lies for plausible deniability down the road, but unfortunately, Mark Milley is not a smarter man. Here’s what he claimed this week in public:
MILLEY: There was nothing that I or anyone else saw that indicated a collapse of this army and this government in 11 days.
That was totally unequivocal. According to Milley, there was zero intelligence — “nothing that I or anyone else saw” — suggesting a coming collapse in Afghanistan. He literally had no idea what was coming, because no one told him. The people paid to keep track were not keeping track. The intel agencies failed completely. Given their budgets and power, that’s shocking if you think about it. Clearly, someone needs to be fired, if not court-martialed.
But no, says Joe Biden. That’s not true. In fact, says Biden, looking straight into the face of his old friend, now the ABC anchor, no one in the entire U.S. government, and certainly not in the White House, could have done anything different or better as we withdrew from Afghanistan. The bad parts your saw on TV were inevitable. No mistakes of any kind were made by anyone connected in any way to Joe Biden occurred. No one can be blamed for anything. No one should feel guilty. Everyone’s sleeping just fine. Thank you very much. Watch:
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you don’t think this could’ve been handled, this exit could’ve been handled better in any way? No mistakes?
BIDEN: No. I– I don’t think it could’ve been handled in a way that there– we– we’re gonna go back in hindsight and look, but the idea that somehow there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens. I don’t know how that happened.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So for you, that was always priced into the decision?
Really, Mr. President? You couldn’t have handled this better in any way? Not a tiny adjustment? Nope, says Biden.
Meanwhile, desperate people tumble from airplanes. Thousands of Americans remain trapped in a country now controlled by the Taliban. But no problem, says the president. How do you assess a statement like that? Our friend Piers Morgan described it as, “breathtakingly arrogant and disturbingly delusional.” That sounds about right if possibly a little understated. Watching it, you wonder does Joe Biden understand what this moment means to the country he leads. We had to leave Afghanistan. He’s right about that. It was always going to be ugly. That’s true. But this ugly? This humiliating? This destructive to America’s authority in the world? This damaging to our future? No. None of that was forgone. None of it was necessary. All of that was a choice that Biden and his advisors made intentionally, over months. They priced it in. They knew this was going to happen. They did it anyway.
What does that say about them? What does it tell you that they left thousands of American citizens behind when they fled, and then seemed markedly unconcerned about what might happen to those Americans in Afghanistan under the Taliban? It tells you a lot. The U.S. government, to restate, exists to serve its own citizens. Period. It has no other purpose. The moment our government stops serving its citizens is the moment our government becomes illegitimate. That’s true. It’s always been true, since the day the country was founded, and it’s obvious to the people who live here. Does Biden understand it? Possibly not. Toward the end of his interview with ABC, there was this exchange. That exchange was never broadcast on camera. Now, television networks edit interviews very often for time. But ABC News appears to edit out portions that made Joe Biden look non-Presidential, incoherent, confused.
We think it’s worth knowing what happened, especially in a moment of national crisis. Here is the transcript we were provided:
STEPHANOPOULOS: I– I think a lot of– a lot of Americans, and a l– even a lot of veterans who served in Afghanistan agree with you on the big, strategic picture. They believe we had to get out. But I wonder how you respond to an Army Special Forces officer, Javier McKay. He did seven tours. He was shot twice. He agrees with you. He says, “We have to cut our losses in Afghanistan.” But he adds, “I just wish we could’ve left with honor.”
BIDEN: Look, that’s like askin’ my deceased son Beau, who spent six months in Kosovo and a year in Iraq as a Navy captain and then major– I mean, as an Army major. And, you know, I’m sure h– he had regrets comin’ out of Afganista– I mean, out of Iraq. He had regrets to what’s– how– how it’s going. But the idea– what’s the alternative?
We’re waiting for the tape, but that’s the transcript. Now the president’s son was in the Navy, not the Army. He was in the Army, not the Navy? It’s not clear from that. We believe he was in the Army, not the Navy. He did not serve in Afghanistan. He served in Kosovo and Iraq. Joe Biden can’t seem to remember those details. We’re not attacking him. We’re not saying this with glee. We’re telling you because it’s true. This is the man leading our country.
Now, the scary thing about what’s happening in Afghanistan is not that it’s collapsing. Afghanistan has always been in various stages of collapse, by our standards for thousands of years. The scary thing about Afghanistan is that it reveals American weakness, and weakness begets aggression. Power vacuums are always filled. The problem with what we just read to you is that it reveals weakness at the very center of the U.S. government. Weakness that possibly can’t be fixed. That’s the real problem. Over time, it’s the real threat.