The Biden administration acknowledged on Thursday that it should have started the 2021 evacuation of Afghanistan sooner, while placing much of the blame for the deadly and chaotic US departure from the country with the Trump administration.
The US retreat, which took place eight months into President Joe Biden’s tenure, was marked by images of Afghans hanging from airplane landing gear and a deadly bombing at the Kabul airport’s Abbey Gate that killed 13 US troops and 170 Afghans, many of whom were trying to flee the resurgent Taliban.
In a 12-page document released to reporters summarizing aspects of a comprehensive government review of the withdrawal, administration officials largely pointed the finger at former President Donald Trump for giving the Taliban a set date for the US pullout of troops and setting other conditions that led to the Biden administration’s hasty departure from the country.
The Biden administration’s description of the withdrawal, written by the National Security Council, comes as the State Department and the Pentagon have delivered to Congress their own lengthy, classified studies of the US’s unexpectedly quick departure from the country in August 2021, as Taliban insurgents rolled over the Afghan national army faster than US intelligence analysts had predicted. Lawmakers will only be able to read those studies inside highly-secured rooms on the Capitol grounds.
The catastrophic withdrawal has continued to serve as one of the biggest black marks on Biden’s record as President, as it undermined one of his main pitch to voters—that he would bring sound decision-making and professionalism back to the White House after four years of messy disruption under Trump.