During a tense exchange with the ‘most interesting guy in the press’ Peter Doocy of Fox News, President Joe Biden blamed the Trump administration for negotiating a deal with the Taliban that he said boxed in his options.
Biden went off a pre-planned list of reporters he said he was ‘instructed to call on’ following his remarks on the situation in Afghanistan and the terror attack that resulted in the deaths of 13 service members Thursday.
After working his way through a list, Doocy, who also followed Biden on the campaign trail, was one of the six members of the press the president called on.
While Biden waited for Doocy to get the mic, he smirked. Then Doocy was clear and forceful in his questions.
‘There had not been a U.S. service member killed in combat since February of 2020,’ Doocy told him. ‘You set a deadline, you pulled troops out, you sent troops back in, and now 12 marines are dead,’ he said
(At the time of the press conference, the Pentagon had confirmed a lower figure.)
‘You said the buck sops with you. Do you bear any responsibility for the way things have unfolded the last two weeks?’
President Joe Biden bowed his head as he listened to a question from Steve Doocy of Fox News as he took questions after giving an update on the situation in Afghanistan and the deaths of 12 servicemembers
Biden griped his notebook with both hands and was quick with first answer.
‘I bear responsibility for fundamentally all that’s happened of late,’ Biden responded. – before pointing to the deal the U.S. made with the Taliban for a May 1 departure of all U.S. troops.
‘You know – I wish one day you’d say these things,’ he told Doocy. ‘You know as well as I do that the former president made a deal with the Taliban that he would get all American forces out of Afghanistan by May 1. In return the was made – that was a year before.
In return for the commitment, the Taliban would continue to attack others but would not attack any American forces. Remember that?’ he asked Doocy while pointing at him.
‘I’m being serious. I’m asking you a question,’ he told Doocy.
Doocy made an attempt to say something but was quickly cut off by the president.
‘Is that accurate to the best of your knowledge, yes or no,’ said Biden, trying to get Doocy to commit to an answer.
Doocy responded by saying, ‘Do you think the people have an issue with the way things have happened?’
While the Fox reporter spoke, Biden put put his face on his hands – still gripping the top of his notebook – in clear frustration.
Biden got in a tense exchange with Steve Doocy of Fox News
‘You know as well as I do that the former president made a deal with the Taliban he would get all American forces out of Afghanistan by May 1,’ Bide told Doocy. Here Trump Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo meets with the Taliban political affairs chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Doha, Qatar, on September 12, 2020
The talks resulted in the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners, as the U.S. committed to withdrawal by a date certain
Former President Trump has blasted Biden’s handling of Afghanistan as incompetent. Trump brought troops down to 2,500 after negotiating a departure date. ‘I wish Joe Biden wouldn’t use September 11 as the date to withdraw our troops from Afghanistan for two reasons,’ Trump wrote in April. ‘First, we can and should get out earlier’
Thursday’s terror attack, which Biden attributed to ISIS-K, now poses a major political and military challenge
He lifted his head, took a breath to compose himself and answered.
‘I think they have an issue that people are likely to get hurt. Some as we’ve seen have gotten killed, and that it is messy.
‘The reason why, whether my friend will acknowledge it or has reported it, the reason why there were no attacks on Americans as you said from the day I came into office was because a commitment was made by President Trump: I will be out by May 1.
‘In the meantime, you agree not to attack any Americans That was the deal. That’s why no American was attacked.’
Biden seemed content with his answer and braced for the follow up question. His eyes widened and his body tensed. His hands dropped to in front of his body.
‘So you squarely stand by your decision to pull out,’ Doocy asked.
The president dug his heels in and demonstratively said, ‘Yes, I do.’
‘Because look at it this way folks, and I have another meeting for real. But imagine where we’d be if I had indicated on May the first that I was not going to renegotiate an evacuation date. We were going to stay there,’ he said.
‘I’d have only one alternative: to pour thousands of troops back into Afghanistan to fight a war that we had already won relative to the reason why we went in the first place.
‘I have never been of the view that we should be sacrificing American lives to try to establish a democratic government in Afghanistan, a country that has never once in its entire history been a united country.
‘And is made up of different tribes who have never ever ever got along with one another. So as I said before, and this is the last comment I’ll make, we’ll have a chance to talk about this unfortunately beyond because we are not out yet.
‘And so, as I said before — and this is the last comment I’ll make, but we’ll have more chance to talk about this, unfortunately, beyond, because we’re not out yet — if Osama bin Laden, as well as al Qaeda, had chosen to launch an attack — when they left Saudi Arabia — out of Yemen, would we have ever gone to Afghanistan? Even though the Taliban completely controlled Afghanistan at the time, would we have ever gone?
‘I know it’s not fair to ask you questions. It’s rhetorical. But raise your hand if you think we should have gone and given up thousands of lives and tens of thousands of wounded.
‘Our interest in going was to prevent al Qaeda from reemerging — first to get bin Laden, wipe out al Qaeda in Afghanistan, and prevent that from happening again.
‘As I’ve said 100 times: Terrorism has metastasized around the world; we have greater threats coming out of other countries a heck of a lot closer to the United States.
‘We don’t have military encampments there; we don’t keep people there. We have over-the-horizon capability to keep them from going after us.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, it was time to end a 20-year war.’