tv Smerconish CNN August 28, 2021 6:00am-7:00am PDT
i'm michael smerconish in philadelphia. that's the one and only observation on which we can all agree about the suicide bombing outside the kabul airport thursday that killed 13 u.s. service members, among the more than 170 people who died with another 200 plus wounded. and now matters have only been made worse by the inevitable partisan bickering and finger pointing. take a look at these lead editorials published friday. some two leading newspapers, "the wall street journal" called it a massacre. the "los angeles times" referred to as a tragedy. it was both, actually. things are not so black and white or red and blue. the journal wrote the jihadist
attack that everyone feared finally happened. president biden spoke to the country thursday, his expression of empathy and loss but he didn't duck responsibility for the failure to provide enough force to execute a safe evacuation. my position is would any been able to a safe evacuation for everybody? and the journal wrote what a position for the u.s. to be in, relying on the enemy that has spent years trying to kill americans. as we're committed to leaving, our chief concern is isis-k. therefore, we've partnered up with the idea that based on the idea that the enemy of the enemy is my friend. and the report concludes saying the botched withdrawal and jihadists on the attack and only in afghanistan. well, i hope there's not truth in that, say that there is, what
was the alternative? staying longer? defying the agreement? putting more american lives at risk? then there's the "l.a. times" the attacks are not the work of the taliban nor are the attacs a sign of failure by the biden administration as a host of arm chair critics. we support biden's decision to draw u.s. forces from afghanistan by august 31st. the l.a. times reports that we' evacuated 100,000 people. two key lines jumps offer the page. month war ended with a smooth bloodless withdrawal and, isn't this a god awful tragedy and a inevitable one. well, i buy into the inevitability argument. but still doesn't president biden own the way the evacuation
was handled. to that point, i found the interview with peter ducey of fox news to be revealing. >> mr. president, there has not been a u.s. serviceman killed in afghanistan since 2020. you set a deadline. you pulled troops out, you sent troops back in. 12 marines are dead. you said the buck stops with you. do you bear any responsibility for the way things have unfolded in the last two weeks? >> i bear can responsibility for fundamentally all that's happened of late. but here's the deal, you know, i wish you would one day say these things, 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 commitment was made -- and that was a year before. in return, he was given the commitment that the taliban
would continue to attack others. but would not attack any american forces. >> the president was trying to have it both ways. first, saying that he bears responsibility, but in the next sentence pointing a finger at donald trump. as the national review's charles b. cook tweeted biden's position was this sort of thing was always going to happen which is why it caught us by surprise. which underscores why we're leaving and that's why we need to strike back so the mission will go on. thursday night on fox news, former president trump responded in kind. >> this tragedy should never have taken place. it should never have happened. and it would not have happened if i were your president. >> like i said, i'm a believer in inevitability in this case. so i can't accept all that donald trump said either. i'm sure there were better ways to stage this withdrawal but iams also pleased that we're getting out. if i sound like i'm speaking in
circles maybe i am. i prefer to call that nuance. i hear people describe this as black or white. no shades of gray or purple. it's simply that. this is most summarized by a caller to my radio program on friday. don, the father of a marine currently stationed in afghanistan, here he's telling me what his son just told him. >> we just want to get all the americans, those who helped us out, and he says, i'll stay if it even takes my life. >> wow. >> as an american parent, i say, hey, everybody should stop trying to tear this country apart. let's put it together, and stop tearing the country apart, let's hang together, and let's stop quarterbacking on what think should happen. it's just a continue wages of this hate that we have for one another with people on the ground trying to save american
interests and americans and that just drives me [ bleep ] nuts. >> he nailed it. he's right, of course, i think i said, the only thing certain is it's so damn sad. in addition to the sadness in the wake of this attack there's a growing desperation for those who remain on the ground. as president biden's withdrawal deadline approaches it's a race against the clock to find and extract the remaining americans who want to leave. and that likely means that thousands of afghan translators and others could be left behind. the white house says another attack is likely which makes it even more difficult and precarious. u.s. coalition forces have evacuated 111,000 people since august 14 but they're not alone in the effort. extraordinary underground forces also at play as "the wall street journal" puts it a disparate group of aid workers and former spies scrambling to get as many
people out of afghanistan as they can. these private rescue efforts face huge risks due to taliban checkpoints on the airports and roads. one such group is task force pine pineapple. as of thursday morning, they use what they call the underground railroad system, the pineapple express, if you will to evacuate. they say they've evacuated more than 630 people during a three-day period and one of the missions was under way at the airport when the deadly attack occurred. i'm joined by a member of task force pineapple. former s.e.a.l. jason redmond. he served with valor and purple heart. he's the author of "overcome crush adversity with leadership techniques of america's toughest warriors." jason, thank you for being here. how did this come to pass? >> michael, it was so much of what you talked about, there's
so much partisan bickering and politics, you nailed it. it's not black and white. we do not live in a black and white world. the reality is there's an amazing, amazing amount of afghan people who truly saved american lives who prevented attacks who employed information. who protected us, who interpreted for us and did all of these incredible things. and so many veterans in special operations, ground troops across the battle perspective developed relationships with these people. the task force pineapple started with scott mann, they were trying to get out, lieutenant general scott mann is founder of task pineapple, one of them. they created this mission of former intelligence, spy operatives, if you will, they managed to get this individual out through this mechanism,
using a lot of the methods that we utilized. when they realized this work, so many others said, man, we've got so many people. that's where i got four days ago, trying to help amazing, amazing afghans who all they want is the opportunity to live their lives. not only that, they want to be recognized for the amazing effort they put in for us. the american government told them we would do that. we provided them visas. we provided them -- we told them them, hey, we will get to you safety and we've failed to do that. what the american government is either unwilling or unable to do. >> help understand something, is this off the books? are you doing this with or without the blessing of the u.s. government? >> this is without. i will say that we are working to try and, you know, one of the greatest things about this is all of us are just leveraging our networks. i mean, it's just all the people
we knew while we were in the military or both in afghanistan, outside of afghanistan, even in different places around the world, as we're looking at how do we try and safely bring these people. and i mean, you nailed it. it is such a tragedy, what is happening. and there are people that are terrified for their lives. and you have individuals that will want to look at this as a black and white scenarios. some of the headlines you read off, oh, this is war, this happens. you know, it's easy to say that, there are a lot of americans they don't understand. when they think of afghanistan, they think of this far-off, mountainous desert place that's filled with terrorists but that's not the reality. everywhere in the world, there are people. these people are mothers and fathers and sons and daughters and they have children. and they want to live a good life. they want to live a free life and have the opportunity. do all of the things we want to accomplish. >> i get it. jason, let me ask this question, because i applaud it sounds
awfully noble and patriotic. but how do you know the people that you're letting in or providing passage can be trusted? >> michael, because they've already been vetted. we're focusing on the individuals that were already provided visas. that means not only did they work for the united states government in some capacity, or supporting american forces. but all of the individuals we're bringing in that already have approved visas, these are individuals that could not get out. so, we thought what could the u.s. government have done better -- i think you made the -- could we have even done anything. well, there was no security that went outside the lines of the kabul airport. everything just stop ted kabul airport. the hamid karzai airport. so anyone trying to get there was deterred relentlessly by the taliban. the taliban, we have reports of taliban killing, beating kids, doing all kinds of things that the taliban does which prevented so many of these individuals who
were given the green light to get out not to be able to get out. >> a quick question because i'm limited on time. have any of your, i'll call emextractions turned violent. has the taliban existed and have you had to deal with isis-k? >> absolutely, we have -- we call them shepherds, people trying to move people out to get them out to freedom. we would have shepherds that were on the line. literally, they were listening to the taliban scream and beat people. shoot. we had instances where the taliban would shoot and cause stampedes. we had an incident where one of our family's 6-year-old girl was almost killed. one of the families that i was trying to shepherd out, a daughter almost drowned. they were moving off a canal with water in it. i mean, these are things, it's just not american what's happening. i think for those of us within task force pineapple, america has taken care of the people who have taken care of us.
that's what we will try to do in this situation and continue to do so. >> it's a fascinating story, jason redman, thank you for being here. >> michael, my honor. >> tweet me @smerconish and go to the facebook page. i'll read throughout the course of the program. kathryn, what do we have, in the world of youtube, operation pineapple should get nobel peace prize. eric swenson, i wonder what it is, is it wink and nod kind of stuff or disruptive? i want to know more about a fascinating aspect. up ahead, the biden administration said it was necessary for the u.s. to cooperate with the taliban throughout the u.s. exit from afghanistan, but do the risks outweigh the benefits? and the u.s. carried out an air strike against isis-k, the group claiming responsibility for carrying out the attack. but if you're fuzzy on what they
are and what they want and why they're different from mainstream isis, you're not alone. we'll explain. plus, watch this clip. >> we're going to have to go back in to get isis. we'll probably have to go back in when al qaeda resurrects itself as they will with this taliban. the bottom line is, we can leave a battlefield, but we can't leave the war on terrorism which still is a threat to our security. >> i want to know if you agree with secretary panetta. go to my website at this hour smerconish.com. and answer this survey question, do you agree with leon panetta that, quote, we're going to have to go back in to get isis? wait, what?! sorry, we don't even have time to say they were created by world class bakers! oh, guess we did! seriously?! my bad.
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brings does the need to a suedo attack in that just white house said, white house press secretary jen psaki argued coordination is not preferred yet necessary. yet, the airport situation has largely a nightmare from the get-owe with the u.s. embassy in kabul last week telling americans they couldn't ensure safe passage to the airport. while there's no evidence to suggest that thursday's attack was coordinated between the taliban and isis-k, it clearly raises questions about the taliban security process. as for other logistics, president biden was asked to respond to a politico report that claims our military provided the taliban with a list of names of people trying to leave the country. >> there have been occasions when our military has contacted their military counterparts in the taliban and said -- for example, this bus is coming
through. with "x" number of people on it made up of the following group of people. we want you to let that bus or that group through. so, yes, there have been occasions like that. and to the best of my knowledge, in those cases, the bulk of that has occurred, they've been let through. but i can't tell you with any certitude that there's actually been a list of names. there may have been. but i know of no circumstance. it doesn't mean it doesn't exist, that here's the name of 12 people that are coming let them through. that could very well have happened. >> but in a press conference yesterday state department spokesman ned price teamed to push back on the president's characterization. >> the idea that we are providing names, or personally identifiable information to the taliban in a way that exposes
anyone to additional risk, that is simply wrong. simply wrong. >> i'm joined now by one of the politico reporters who broke the story, andrew decesidero. do you stand by your reporting? >> we certainly do, this is brought to us by lawmakers who pardon meed in a classified briefing earlier on capitol hill this week. it really underscores the extent to which the u.s. has outscore scoresed security to the airport to the taliban. everyone admits this is not an ideal situation, there are no good options but a lot of folks within our government at the highest levels were sounding the alarm about the idea of providing the names to the taliban, specifically the names of afghan allies early on who assisted the war effort and we know that the taliban has been
targeting with brutal crackdowns. >> but what do you make of the president's response that we just played to your reporting, did he get it right? >> well, the president was correct in some circumstances this methodology has been used. at the very end of his answer, he said he wasn't sure if these lists actually existed. we know for a fact that they do exist and that they have been used by diplomatic and military officials on the ground in kabul. and that u.s. central command in particular, for runs that part of the world for u.s. military operations, was spearheading this. >> andrew, it would seem that the key question was did everyone on the list or lists get out? >> that is the key question and that's a question that administration has not provided a clear answer to. and they might not know the answer to that, frankly. yesterday, senator marco rubio who is the senator of the
intelligence sent a letter to president biden with a list of questions based on reporting about these lists. he said he would oppose every one of the president's national nominees going forward unless he gets response from those question. and the top question was, were all of these individuals safely evacuated? and were they aware that their information is out there with the taliban? and those are questions that the administration is going to be forced to answer in coming days. >> among the critics of what you reported, the former president donald trump this week said this -- roll the tape. >> we're using the taliban and giving lists of americans to the taliban so now you just knock on the door and grab them and take them out. this country has never seen stupidity like this. and our country is really in trouble. our country is really in trouble. and it's only going to get worse. what you're watching now is only going to get worse.
it can only go one way. >> andrew, is there any reason to believe any evidence supporting that these lists have been used for an illicit purpose, meaning retribution by the taliban? >> there is not. and the issue that the former president brings up of americans being targeted by the taliban is different than afghans being targeted by the taliban. the taliban is much more interested in seeking retribution against those afghans who served indispensable roles as interpreters and translators for the u.s. military throughout that 20-year war effort. the question is were some of those afghans on that list able to get through checkpoints. we know of no instances in which americans are able to get through based on those lists. but the issue, the heart of it has been, the afghan individuals. many of whom have been approved for superb immigrant visas to come to the united states. that was the program set up
specifically for these types of people who have been thoroughlily vetted and granted entry into the united states. >> and finally and quickly because i'm limited on time. in a broader sense it sounds like the idea of relying on the taliban for security around the airport is a horrible idea, except for all of the alternatives? >> that's right. that's what the administration is saying. they're saying that this idea of pushing back the perimeter of the airport, so that the u.s. controls more essentially in terms of getting people into the airport risks -- it poses many security risks for americans and afghans alike. and it risks an all-out shooting war with the taliban. so, it's a very tough situation. the president is facing some criticism from his democratic allies on capitol hill, even, for example, senator bob menendez who chairs the senate foreign relations committee said in a statement it's clear that the u.s. cannot trust the taliban with our security.
it just goes back to this idea that there really are no good options right now. the u.s. is in final days, maybe final hours of this behemoth evacuation operation. >> right. that's what i was trying to say at the outset this gets presents as black and white but there are shades of gray and purple in this. an andrew, thank you for being here. >> thank you. youtube, we should never have been placed in a position that we needed to depend on the talibans. that's the problem. eduardo, who would we put in that position? i would argue that the afghans won't fight for themselves. up ahead, the attack in kabul immediately had critics calling for president biden to resign or be impeached. what are the political implications for the president in the light of this tragedy? and last night in kabul, u.s.
military forces conducted an unmanned air strike against an isis-k planner in afghanistan that seems to have killed the target. a few weeks ago, america hadn't heard much about isis-k. i'll talk to an expert on thes islamic state and who they are and what can be done to fight them. plus, listen to this. >> we're going to have to go back in to get isis. >> that is the week's survey question, do you agree with secretary panetta, we're going to have to go back in to get isis? go vote. i'll give you results at the end of the hour. go bowling. for people who could use a lift new neutrogena® rapid firming. a triple-lift serum with pure collagen. 92% saw visibly firmer skin in just 4 weeks.
last night, the u.s. retaliated against an isis-k planner for thursday's suicide bombing with an unmanned air strike that they say killed the target. on friday national security advisers warned the president and vice president that another attack in kabul is likely until recently the general public hadn't heard of this offshoot known as isis khorasan. joining me now is the writer of the book "the way of strangers encounters with the islamic state." graham, back become. where did the isis group from him? >> the isis group in afghanistan has been around 2015, 2015. the taliban, of course, has been around since the 1990s. >> what does isis-k want? >> so, they are a full-fledged
isis affiliate. they think that they are working as the standard-bearers for muslims around the world, they think that the abu baghdadi is the lead. they want to unseat the taliban in the end. they want to raise the isis flag over afghanistan because they think their version of jihadism is the right one and the taliban's is the wrong one. so they're fighting the united states and taliban and the rest of the world. >> in simple terms is it isis-k thinks the taliban is who soft? >> yeah, in a way. isis has been persnickety about ideological questions. they've got a weird view of what it requires. they had a kumbaya attitude of
can't all jihadists get along. so they think the taliban have forgotten major components of what islam requires and the main thing is having a kalif. they said that the leader was and they haven't emphasized that and the isis province thinks that's a killing offense. >> it's a lot to comprehend, so isis-k thinks that the taliban is too soft, meanwhile, the taliban is presenting itself as taliban 2.0. you have written that you don't think they're so chill. here's what you've written for "the atlantic." when the taliban ruled afghanistan 20 years ago it implemented a program of startling simplicity, a domestic policy and law and order government according to an interpretation of islamic law alien to modern rights and
foreign policy, to sunni jihadists of all nationalists and persuasions it claims to have comchilled out but its acts suggest that nothing has changed anything. and taliban will turn afghanistan into a place just as miserable for its people, and for the rest of the world as it ever was. and the united states has all but announced that we are willing to let that happen. explain. >> it says that afghanistan can be an orderly place and they can manage this final exit from afghanistan from the united states. and none of that has anything to do with the etiological aspects. isis is saying we're going to be soft so that all of the people and capital stay here. i don't think they'll stay that way, but they're going to be as
harsh as they've ever been. but it's a different harshness. and they're going to be fighting, just like the afghanistan of 1990s when there are many warring factions are most of unfriendly to united states. most of which are very unfriendly to the united states and the taliban will merely be be one of the dominant ones. >> you remind us of the case of the ousted president. what happened to him, 20, 25 years ago? >> the taliban when they came into kabul for the first time in 1996. they said we're not going to exact revenge. but the first act was to get the former president of afghanistan, pull him out in the streets, tear off parts of a body that you don't want to be pulled off, stuff him in his mouth and hang him to a light pole. we heard them say in the beginning they're going to be merciful. i don't think we should trust them on that one. >> another naive question, i think of al qaeda, i think of
bin laden, i think of exporters of terrorism like the comments that will commemorate very soon, september 11th, i think of the taliban as enablers, but not necessarily exporters to the united states of terror. if my model is correct, where does isis-k fall? >> your model is correct. most of the taliban, remember, these are back woodsman from afghanistan, with very little education, most of them couldn't find united states on a map if you gave them two lifelines. they're trying to model and take over earth. they have enemies that the taliban never had. that's my biggest fear about isis in afghanistan, once an even more a chaotic environment there even if isis can't unseat the taliban they can operate in areas and have bases where they've been denied in the past.
so, i think they could be a serious threat and a global threat in a way that the taliban haven't really been. >> so, bottom line, are they headed for civil war, pitting isis-k against the taliban as soon as we're gone, if not sooner? >> yeah. they're already there. i mean, afghanistan is already in a state where many different factions are trying to get their foothold. they're trying to get their weapons. they're trying to get outside backers. and the taliban would love to be able to say we control the country. they control a large part of it but they have enemies and other faction that's will grow up really quickly. so afghanistan, this is a very sad state for it because civil war has been the state of affairs for movie the last half century. they're going to do more and just as bad as ever was. >> graham, that was excellent, thank you so much. i want to remind everybody, answer the question at my
firstname.lastname@example.org. do you agree with secretary panetta, we're going to have to go back in to get isis? >> what exactly are the political ramifications, ron brownstein in the on deck circle. never settle for 25%. always go for 100. bring out the bold™ men put their skin through a lot. day-in, day-out. that's why dove men body wash is new and improved with skin-strengthening nutrients and moisturizers... ...that help rebuild your skin with every shower.
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brownstein. he's also a senior editor at "the atlantic." ron, good to see you, how long until we know what the domestic political ramifications are? >> i think we'll see structural immediately, but i think the long term is different. obviously, none of us can see the future, but we can study the payment. and i think the precedence that we have suggests that while there will almost certainly will be a short-term hit. it's up likely that this by itself, unless attached to other events will take a lasting bite out of the president's standing. in 1983, 240 american, i believe, was the number killed in marine bombing in lebanon, next year, lebanon and then bill clinton won the election. thing sis a broader narrative of whether other events are
overriding joe biden. if not, a problem. if not, a terrible day for america that probably doesn't leave a lasting political scar. >> up until the loss of american life on thursday, i was convinced that if it were wlimented to chaos at the airport and sadly loss of life of people in afghanistan, in the end, americans would have said, that's a tragedy, but i still want us out. the loss of 13 soldiers airmen and marines makes it a little different. i'm not sure. >> look, none of us see the future, michael there's been a debate for decades, such as with vietnam, as to whether there's a direct relationship for public support in america for our president and military action, direct correlation between support and casualties and whether the number of casualties inexorably have that resort. and it's not necessarily
downward pressure on public support if people believe that the mission is appropriate and if they believe it is making progress. now, obviously, biden has problems on both of those fronts. but i think most americans believe that getting out as many of ouafghan allies and american citizens is worth while. and if we fundamentally accomplish that, i think the evidence is viewed in a different light than viewed as a failure. if we had gone back and escalated again and suffered casualties as an alternative path, that might be a very different story. >> the republican attack is one of him being totally in over his head. is that sticking? >> i think that is the real risk, right? i mean, if this -- i think the biden presidency right now is a kind of split screen moment. on one screen, he's moving towards, steadily if not imperfectly the biggest
legislative success since any president since lyndon johnson in the 1960s if they pass this immigration bill they will transform everyday life from universal preec-k to child care tax credit. and on the other screen, you have covid again raging, you have concerns about inflation, you have concerns about crime. you have afghanistan. with republican voters you have the border. you have a sense that things are kind of drifting out of control. and i do think, again, history suggests that getting that perception under control, get -- convincing americans that things are in fact moving in the right direction in the here and now is probably going to have a bigger effect on 2022, than exactly what they pass in the next few months. >> right. and it remains to be seen how they resolve the 1.2 trillion versus or concludes or in addition to the $3.5 trillion on
whether the democrats are about to get it from the jaws of victory. you get the final word. >> look, i think the final reconciliation bill, the democratic only bill will be smaller than $3.5 trillion but still a magnitude that will accomplish the biggest legislative success since the 1960s. and since by 2024, a lot of the programs they are creating will be significant assets for biden sore whoever is the democratic nominee. but in 1966, after that democratic congress created medicare and medicaid and passed the vote rights act they lost 47 seats. republicans lost 27 seats after the reagan policy. i think in the near term, you have to convince americans that things are moving in the right direction under your presidency. i think that is the more immediate challenge they will face politically, even though
they want to focus on what they passed. i think getting covid under control. inflation under control. convincing people that afghanistan was managed as well as it could have is probably going to be more critical to fortunes in 2022, not necessarily in 2024. >> ron brownstein, thank you so much. >> thanks for having me. >> for social media reaction from the world of twitter. what do we have? in military matters i never give the president too much credit or blame. it's war. stuff happens. it's tragic but sometimes stuff can't be avoided. i feel the same way about the stock market, chuck. we try to heap the blame where it isn't. i wonder did he really have as much to do with that eventual outcome? i'm not sure. still to come, more of your tweets and results on smerconish.com. it is this, do you agree with secretary panetta when he said "we're going to have to go back in to get isis"?
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and your family safer in an emergency. a week's worth of food and water, radio, flashlight, batteries and first aid kit are a good start to learn more, visit safetyactioncenter.pge.com responded to this week's survey question at smerconish.com. do you agree with secretary leon panetta? the question, we're going to have to go back in to get isis. here are the results. 56% of more than, let's call it 56,000 people who voted. sadly, they agree. i hope he's wrong. i fear that he's right. here are some of the social media reaction that's come in while i've been on air. smerconish, panetta is a
warmonger like the republicans. they should be handled by air strikes. going back with the taliban in charge would be foolish, and start another endless war. i don't know that papanetta, to your first observation, was cheering on the result. that's not where he is coming from. as to your second point, i happen to share it. hopefully we can do whatever is necessary remotely, as was apparently done in the last 24 hours with one of the planners of the isis-k attack that killed 13 of our soldiers on thursday. one more if i have time, and i think that i do. here it is. smerconish, what is sad is you blaming president biden. really? kick rocks. i'm stopping right there. when president trump negotiated the deals, of course president biden takes accountability. baa, baa, baa, stop. hey, i'm staying this. i guess i wasn't clear enough at the outset of the program. there is plenty of blame to go around, but i'm not caught up in the blame game. i just think the whole damn thing is sad, and i'm happy we're getting the hell out. i'll be off for labor day and for september 11. see you soon.
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>> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. >> welcome to our viewers here in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. this is a special edition of the "situation room." we're following two breaking stories right now. a race of evacuations on both sides of the globe. in afghanistan right now, it's down to only three days, three days as the u.s. mission to get americans and afghan allies safely out of kabul enters, and i'm quoting u.s. officials