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Fox News correspondent Lucas Tomlinson confronted Pentagon spokesman John Kirby on Saturday over a prediction Kirby made just two days before the Taliban entered Kabul to complete their takeover of Afghanistan.
During a press briefing, Tomlinson pressed Kirby why he claimed, just two days before the Taliban overtook Afghanistan, that Kabul “is not right now in any imminent threat environment.”
“How could you get that so wrong?” Tomlinson asked.
However, instead of offering a mea culpa, Kirby insisted that he was not wrong in his assessment, and that, in fact, his statement was “true.”
“In the moment that I said it, Lucas, it was true,” Kirby said. “And I understand, I’ve seen the reactions out there on social media to what I said. In the moment that I said it, based on what we knew at the time, it was a true statement.”
“And, yes, two days later things dramatically changed— I readily admit that. Things moved very, very quickly, Lucas, and as you heard the chairman up here just a few days ago say that, you know, that there wasn’t any indication that, you know, that they had received that things could evolve as quickly as they did,” Kirby continued.
.@LucasFoxNews to John Kirby: "Two days before kabul fell, you said from that podium: 'The city is not right now in any imminent threat environment.' How could you get that so wrong?" pic.twitter.com/YiDturvMRb
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) August 21, 2021
When Tomlinson pushed back — noting the Taliban was seizing major cities across Afghanistan in the weeks leading up to the fall of Kabul — Kirby remained adamant that his statement, at the time, was not wrong.
This time, however, Kirby qualified his assessment saying, “the threat is going to change and it could change literally by the hour.”
“But that’s not what you said on Friday [two days before Kabul fell] that it could be changing by the hour,” Tomlinson shot back. “You said there was no imminent threat of Kabul falling.”
Kirby responded, “That’s— again, I think I’ve answered the question.”
Is that true?
While the Biden administration maintains they were caught off guard by the Taliban’s rapid successes, the American intelligence community has said they were warning for weeks that Afghanistan was extremely vulnerable to falling into the hands of the Taliban.
In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported that a State Department memo warned of the imminent fall of Afghanistan.
From the WSJ:
The classified cable represents the clearest evidence yet that the administration had been warned by its own officials on the ground that the Taliban’s advance was imminent and Afghanistan’s military may be unable to stop it.
The cable, sent via the State Department’s confidential dissent channel, warned of rapid territorial gains by the Taliban and the subsequent collapse of Afghan security forces, and offered recommendations on ways to mitigate the crisis and speed up an evacuation, the two people said.
The cable, dated July 13, also called for the State Department to use tougher language in describing the atrocities being committed by the Taliban, one of the people said.
President Joe Biden infamously promised last month that Afghanistan would not fall.
“The Taliban is not the North Vietnamese army. They’re not remotely comparable in terms of capability. There’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of a embassy in the— of the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at all comparable,” Biden said.
Of course, now the fall of Afghanistan is being called “worse than Saigon.”