tv The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN August 31, 2021 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
trend of a changing climate. you can follow me on facebook, instagram, twitter or the tiktok @taketapper. you can tweet the show @theleadcnn. our coverage continues with one wolf blitzer, who is, if i'm not mistaken, right next door in "the situation room." i'll see you tomorrow. this is cnn breaking news. welcome to our viewers here in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room" can breaking news. president biden just delivered his most forceful defense yet of the u.s. withdrawal from afghanistan, declaring america's longest war is now over. the day after the last u.s. military flights left the country, the president is now calling the evacuation operation an extraordinary success, disagreeing with critics who
said it could have been in a more orderly way. he says 100 to 200 americans remain in afghanistan, and he insists there is no deadline to get them out. the commander in chief vowing to continue the fight against isis-k terrorists who killed 13 u.s. service members, warning, and i'm quoting him now, we are not done with you yet. let's begin over at the white house with our chief national correspondent jeff zeleny. jeff, the president waited, what, 24 hours after the u.s. withdrawal to declare on camera that the operation was a success. >> wolf, this was the decision that president biden has long wanted to make, but as commander in chief, he could finally set the course to end america's longest war. he spent far more time talking about the merits of that decision rather than the questions that do, in fact, still remain about the operational decisions that led to a frenzied, chaotic, even deadly war. he was defiant as he spoke today at the white house but left no question he believes he made the
right decision. he said it was time to end this far. >> i was not going to extend this forever war. and i was not extending a forever exit. >> tonight, president biden defiantly marking the end of america's longest war. >> i take responsibility for the decision. now some say we should have started mass evacuations sooner. this coulpresident defending th chaotic departure from afghanistan as a military success. the final act of a 20-year odyssey filled with triumph like the killing of osama bin laden and tragedy at failing to defeat the taliban. >> maybe august the 31st is not due to an arbitrary deadline. it was designed to save american lives. >> the president said more than 5,500 american citizens were evacuated with 100 to 200
storming behind in afghanistan. he vowed to rescue them if they choose as a diplomatic mission, not a military one. >> for those remaining americans, there is no deadline. we remain committed to get them out if they want to come out. >> but leaving americans behind is at odds with the pledge the president made wtwo weeks ago. >> are you committed to stay until all the troops are out? >> yes, yes. >> the president hailed the success of the evacuation led by the u.s. military, with more than 124,000 people air lifted to safety from kabul. but starting it sooner, he said, would have sparked for chaos. >> the extraordinary success of this mission is due to the incredible skill, bravery and selfless courage of the united states military and our diplomats and intelligence professionals. >> he said the war should have ended a decade ago, as he argued as vice president during the
obama administration. he also noted he inherited a deal president trump signed with the taliban, to remove troops by may 1st. >> we were left with a simple decision, either follow through on the commitment made by the last administration and leave afghanistan or say we weren't leaving and commit another tens of thousands more troops going back to war. >> tonight gripping images of the last soldier shown leaving the airport just before midnight in afghanistan. mayor general chris donohue who leads the 82 nt airborne division at fort bragg and was deployed 17 times to the country. not long after, celebratory gunfire from the taliban, now fully back in control of the country. and these images of taliban fighters surveying u.s. military equipment left behind. history will show the war's remarkable toll with 2,461 american service members killed, including 13 just last week. more than 20,000 injured and
more than $2 trillion in u.s. spending. >> to those asking for a third decade of war in afghanistan, i ask: what is the vital national interest? in my view, we only have one, to make sure afghanistan can never be used again to launch an attack on our homeland. >> on that front, the commander in chief delivered a blistering warning to those who launched last week's deadly attack. >> to isis-k, we are not done with you yet. we'll hunt you down to the ends of the earth, and you will pay the ultimate price. >> so the president said he would -- he vowed an unforgiving, precise strategy to go after the terrorist threats of today, not from two decades ago, drawing a distinction there. of course so many questions remain how his government, the u.s. government, will still try and get out those 100 to 200 american citizens remaining in afghanistan and beyond that how this government will deal with
the taliban. but as for the tone in the president's voice, wolf, it was stronger than we had heard him speak at any point about this. it was defiant. it was forceful, but his national security adviser said it should be viewed as one of conviction. wolf? >> all right, jeff. thank you very much. it certainly was forceful. let's get reaction to the president's speech from our chief international correspondent clarissa ward who is joining us from pakistan after doing some truly excellent reporting for all of us in afghanistan. the president called the evacuation, as you heard, an extraordinary success. you saw the conditions firsthand in kabul. how does that tone resonate in the region? >> i think that people in afghanistan were looking for reassurance and recognition from this speech. nobody was expecting president biden to apologize for the way the u.s. ended this war.
but at the same time, they wanted to feel that there was a commitment to helping america's allies, to helping all those people who are still on the ground, the tens of thousands. we don't have a precise number who worked as translators, who worked with the u.s. military, the u.s. embassy, various international organizations, women's rights activists, human rights activists. all these people who really bought in to the american dream and who are now very much worried that their future is hanging by a thread. so they were hoping, i think, to hear more reassurance. we did hear president boyden say, you know, we'll continue to use diplomacy as the primary tool to push for humans rights and women's rights. but of course the reality is that the u.s. doesn't have a diplomatic presence in afghanistan anymore. it is now in qatar. on the other thing, recognition, again, nobody was looking for an apology and no one was even saying this has been a disaster
in terms of at the end of the day 120,000 people were evacuated from afghanistan. that has to be seen as something remarkable in and of itself. but what i think some people felt was lacking from the speech was a tone of recognition of the enormity of the suffering of the afghan people, of the desperation of these people who were willing to crush themselves into taliban check points, to physically grab on to the fuselage of american aircraft carriers because they are so petrified about what the future holds and also recognition of the enormous impact that the u.s. presence, both good and bad, has had on afghanistan over these last two decades. it almost felt like the afghan people were kind of a side note or an appendix in this speech as president biden essentially announced the end of two decades of a war that has claimed, you
know, tens of thousands of afghan lives and had a profound impact on the afghan people. so i think there will be a little disappointment that there wasn't more in the way of reassurance and recognition. but i also think people understand that the americans are really drawing a line under this and that this speech was intended, wolf, for domestic consumption, not for international consumption. >> yeah. we're showing our viewers some video of afghans who were so desperate for food. the country is in horrible shape right now. president biden urged safe passage. you were at the border between afghanistan and pakistan earlier today. do afghans have any real hope to get out safely either via the air or on ground? >> well, all the afghans have to go on right now is the taliban's word. and no one knows what that really means or what that counts for.
so what you are seeing is the airport remains closed. although, the taliban said it would be opening in the coming days. you are seeing people heading to land borders as well. but neighboring countries don't want to take a flood of refugees. we were here in pakistan. you're right next to the taliban flag, taliban fighters, a long line of people trying to get in. but pakistan has said, listen, we have 1.4 million afghan refugees here. we simply can't take anymore. essentially this border is closed. unless you have some kind of documentation that would allow you to come into pakistan or people with serious medical needs. but unless you fall into one of those two categories, you are being met with no at the border. this is a big concern right now. 3.5 million people have been displaced from their homes. there are real concerns about food insecurity, the health care
system being challenged to the brink, so this is a problem that's not going away, wolf. >> certainly isn't. we want you to standby. right now we have new information about a secret deal the u.s. struck with the taliban to help get americans out of afghanistan. our pentagon correspondent barbara star broke the story for us. barbara, what can you tell us? >> we have all known for days that the u.s. was communicating with the taliban on the ground and had what they were referring to as a pragmatic relationship with communicating about operations, communicating to make sure there was no misunderstanding. but we have learned tonight that all of it went much deeper, that, in fact, the u.s. negotiated a secret agreement with the taliban to help evacuate americans out of kabul. now, look, a lot of americans did report they were not able to get past taliban check points. there is no question about that. but this separate arrangement involved americans being told to go to certain muster points, if
you will, rally points and the arrangement called for the taliban to go there as well, pick them up and get them passed the crowds at the airport and guide them towards the gates that were manned by american forces who would be watching for them and could get them through the gates and on to the airport grounds. officials that described this to us say they really do believe that it has a success in getting hundreds of americans out while they acknowledged many americans had problems with the taliban. there was also another chain of events we have learned about. u.s. special operations forces established their own secret gate, if you will, at the airport and they worked phone call centers talking to americans, guiding them, vectoring them into this arrangement saying where are you? walk here. walk there. literally guiding them step by step to get into the airport. at the end of the day, the u.s.
says close to 6,000 americans got out. they very much acknowledge here at the pentagon there could be as much as 200 americans still waiting to get out, and that will be left, they say to a diplomatic mission. >> let's hope they make it. barbara, thank you very, very much. excellent reporting. clarissa ward is joining us once again along with dana dash, retired navy general marks and cnn analyst peter b. "the rise and fall of osama bin la laden." dana, the president hit back on his critics over this massive evacuation and withdrawal. what do you make of his clearly defiant tone? >> defiant bordering on defensive. and that clearly underscores how he's feeling about the intense criticism that he has been
getting over the past two, almost three weeks. and that was underscoring and sort of underherding the message that he intended to send and did send in a very detailed way, the most to date to the american people about what happened, what really happened from his perspective and over the past three weeks but also leading up to the deadline during the trump administration and even going back to the beginning of this war. and there is a reason it is called the forgotten war, wolf. you know this better than i. and it is because for so long, america just kind of stopped largely paying attention to what's going on there, which is why the president needed to come out and speak and give a more fulsome explanation of why he felt it was necessary to leave and what the mission was initially and how it changed or,
from his perspective, was met ten years ago, which was to make it so that afghanistan wasn't a breeding ground for terrorists. there are a lot of unanswered questioned because they're not really answerable right now. but the reality is that he wanted to make sure just like i remember george w. bush did when he was back at a candidate in 2,000. the man who launched the afghanistan war that nation building, especially in a place like afghanistan, which is tribal, which is not -- he's said not welcoming to democracy, was a fruitless exercise, and that's why it is not in america's interest to stay. those topics have not been explained in the more robust way that he did today until he did today. i'm not sure how much of that got across with his, as you call
it, defiant tone. >> that's a good point. general marks, the president called this evacuation mission an extraordinary success. this was, in fact, the largest noncombatant evacuation in u.s. military history. more than 120,000 individuals mostly afghans were evacuated. the u.s. nato allies are doing the evacuation. but how do you think all of this will be judged. >> well, what we have seen over the past couple of weeks is the sausage being made, right? the way it's going to be judged is at the tactical level. we have had this conversation before. the tactical level, our service members always just do wonderful in terms of the tasks that they have to take on and the execution of those tasks. and they make their bosses look good. at the strategic level, it will be criticized, and it should be. there were other things that this administration could have done to get out of afghanistan. and i think the president continues to beat the drum on
the decision to depart afghanistan, which, frankly, i think the american public is well behind and is really not the point. the point now is how, over the course of the last several weeks, did we execute this task to depart? i'm saying when the administration hopes that this becomes ancient history and won't become a topic of discussion. but when the president was inaugurated, he could have very easily taken afghanistan as topic number one and said, look, we're going to end this thing and we're going to begin our withdrawal. having conducted these operations, not to this scale, but they are chaotic. they are messy. but over the course of many, many months, this administration could have had more than one point of departure. could have had multiple points of departure with a larger footprint in place that could have been bolstered to facilitate this departure. so i think those kinds of topics at the military level will be discussed in some detail. but i must say, i do appreciate the president's final comments
at the end of this presentation today is when he acknowledged the human cost and the sacrifice of combat like this. so i thank the president for that. >> yes, indeed. >> the president also said it is time now for the united states to learn from its mistakes. and clearly he believed there are many mistakes. in fact, he thinks the u.s. should have gotten out of afghanistan ten years ago. the last ten years have been a huge mistake he suggested. how momentous is this shift? >> i think his speech was kind of a remix of arguments that i made before. he's also presenting this either role. we either have to leave completely or it's nation building and kind of the invasion of normandy. but we only had 3,500 troops there and 7,000 allied nato troops. 16,000 contracted keeping the airports alive. that force was big enough to maintain the fragile status quo. go back three weeks, you know, the afghan government held every
provincial capital. you know, now we had the taliban completely in control. every jihad group was pouring in according to the united nations. we will have a split screen on 9/11 where the taliban will be celebrating their close allied remain closely aligned. they will be celebrating, too. really this is sort of a de debacle. dana and you talked about his defense in firm. it was more angry and irritated, as if the challenges for him were sort of not correct. and, yet, i mean, there is so many factual inaccuracies in the speech he made. not the best that we have all these terror threats all around the world. which country has more today than any country in the world? afghanistan, the place that we're leaving overnight. it's great that we got 120,000 plus out. but we left a lot of people behind, not least the thousands of students and alumni and staff
at the university of afghanistan, 3,900 of whom did not get out and only about 100 did. >> yeah. that's so sad, indeed. you know, you spent a lot of time over there. the president may be ready to put this behind him. but clearly afghans don't have a lot of answers on what their future will look like, do they? >> no, they don't have a lot of answers at all. i mean, and you only need to look at the minds outside the banks in kabul to see what that fear looks like. people are lining up for hours and hours trying to take their entire life savings out of their bank accounts because they are so uncertain. this isn't just a question of people who might on a personal level fear reprisal attacks or fear that women's education is going to be stunted. this is about the very real fear, can the taliban effectively govern a country? they have been an insurgency for 20 years. before that when they were
governing, they weren't doing it in a terribly good manner. can they now effectively govern? what will this transitional government look like. and most importantly, can they provide security? because the whole premise of this withdrawal was predicated on the notion that afghanistan would never again become a safe haven for terrorists. we spoke to an isis-k commander on the ground. we have seen the attacks taking place. they're clearly there. and the question becomes: is the taliban able to contend with that threat and contain it? >> all right. everybody standby. we will continue our special coverage here in "the situation room." just ahead, we will get another take on the president's speech. i will speak with a republican congressman who was just in kabul during the investigation. peter alexander is standing by live. ah, there's no place like panera. enjoy the toasty, saucy chipotle chicken avocado melt
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more now on the breaking news this hour. president biden very forcefully defending the u.s. withdrawal from afghanistan, declaring the 20-year war is now over. let's get reaction from republican congressman peter myer of michigan. he's a member of the homeland security and foreign affairs committees. he's a u.s. army veteran, served in iraq, spent time in afghanistan as an ngo. so you know the area well, congressman. you heard the president say the u.s. evacuation mission was an extraordinary success. what is your reaction to his assessment? >> although our airmen, our soldiers, our marines, our sailers and diplomats on the ground did heroic and tremendous work and pulled off a logical feat, we can't forget we have
left not only american citizens in the hundreds but thousands of loyal afghan allies behind. so this is not a mission accomplished moment. this is a mission that must go on and it must continue. i think it is important that we remember that. we may have closed out the chapter where american troops are on the ground. but that war continues. our issues with islamic extremism in the region continues and we need to acknowledge that sad reality. >> the president promised that the mission to get those afghan friends, remaining out will continue through diplomatic pressure, through international pressure, economic pressure. he says that is not going to stop. they are going to work full-time to help those folks. >> i mean, the sad reality is that's all we can really do at this point. we might be able to do one off missions otherwise through creative means, but we have lost each and every bit of leverage we have, which is frustrating as that was a mission, the evacuation of our allies that we were urging the president,
bipartisan group in congress were urging the president to do since april. and we feared this day would come. it came sooner than the president thought, but at this point today, that's the best we can hope for. and it is shameful it's come to that. >> after your controversial trip with the congressman last week, you told cnn the u.s. was wholly dependent on the taliban. do you think the president can stale make good on his word that every american who wants to leave afghanistan, we're talking about 100 to 200 people according to president's estimate will be able to get out. some don't want to leave because they have large families there they don't want to abandon. >> i think the operative word there is eventually. we missed our window at the airport, that window that closed last night with the final american flights leaving. and we are committed in congress to making sure that happens. our office is handling hundreds of open cases, perhaps over a
thousand open cases that we are trying to manage, american citizens that we're trying to help get out, including hundreds of our allied afghan individuals who served as interpreter or other roles. again, this mission will continue. we will have to get creative through diplomatic channels, but that's a hard promise for the president to make. >> yeah. he says the u.s. will work with every countries and they have better relations with the taliban like qatar and turkey, for example, pakistan, to help get those people free. the president says he does take response bt for his decision but disagrees with those who he says the evacuation could have been earlier and in a more orderly fashion. how do you respond to that? >> i think that is appellate fl inaccurate. if we were evaluating two plane loads of our loyal afghan allies. american citizens who had the opportunity, many were not preparing to leave, assuming based on the state department and based on military guidance that the government would stand for six to nine months after
august 31st, they were on a different calendar. but when it came to our loyal afghan allies, a lot of those folks were waiting on administrative delays on their visas. we could have sped it up. and then you do not have the crowds at the airport. you do not have the crush. you don't have the situations that put the marines at ghost company into an impossible situation to risk their lives to keep those gates open. i think it is a lot of revisionist history to think this is the best way it could have gone. i'm surprised he didn't take congress's advice. when the airport was still open, when turkish airlines was still flying to iz stanbul, nobody wa panicking. >> congressman, thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you, wolf.
>> all right. we will continue to stay on all of the breaking news involving afgha afghanistan, the u.s. withdrawal from afghanistan. we're following other breaking news, including the death toll from hurricane ida. and in the storm's wake more than a million people are still without power. they're suffering amid all the scorching heat and the humidity, and this could go on for weeks. brian todd is joining us from new orleans right now. brian, it is clearly a desperate situation for so many people where you are. >> reporter: that's right, wolf. we're in southern new orleans. heavily damaged by the storm. this massive tree just slammed into this house here and into this house over here. so two houses out at once. we went to these houses today knocking on doors to see if people were okay. we got no response from everyone inside. but this neighborhood very badly hit. some people here also taking their own desperate measures
just to get by while local officials are also warning people of the dangers that remain. even as hundreds of flood water rescues have been carried out, the death toll inches up, the damage is assessed and the clean-up begins. millions of residents along the gho gulf coast facing new threats. >> please don't come home before they tell you it is time. >> more than a million people still without power. that could last as long as a month. >> i'm not satisfied with 30 days. nobody who is out there needing power is satisfied with that. >> reporter: this as heat advisories are in effect for the entire region where ida made land fall. >> the heat index will be 100 degrees for the next two weeks. now is the most dangerous time over the next couple of weeks. so we're asking people to be patient. we're asking people to be careful. >> reporter: add to that limited drinking water, a lack of cell service, gas lines that are
three hours long, making the situation dire. >> the deck is stacked against us at the moment. >> reporter: in a lower-income neighborhood of the section of new orleans, residents are on edge. >> the biggest failure is entergy corporation. they are the only game in town. nine parishes or counties without power. nine? really? >> reporter: the corporation has given no specific timetable for when power will be restored saying it is still working to assess the damage and that residents should be prepared for the recovery to take some time. this line at a food and water distribution center snakes around several blocks. >> the food issue, the water issue, i don't think they have these things out quick enough. >> reporter: she lives with her eight children, her mother and others where the roof and ceiling were damaged by ida. >> there was water all over.
>> reporter: with no end in sight to the power outages, just getting basic supplies is a huge concern. >> we worry about running out of food and beverage. and i have someone with a heart condition. >> reporter: she is concerned that the oppressive heat will make her son's condition deteriorate even more. >> reporter: how worried are you about how bad that's going to get? >> it's going to get rough. you know what i'm saying? no electricity. it will get rough. >> reporter: and we have this just in from the mayor of new orleans. she said that based on an assessment from the entergy company that runs the power in new orleans, they expect some level of transmission of power into new orleans by late tomorrow afternoon or early tomorrow evening. this is a quote from the mayor. that does not mean we will see
all lights on in the city. but they are getting some indication that some level of electricity or light could be transmitted into the city by wednesday evening -- wednesday afternoon or wednesday evening, wolf. >> let's hope that happens. thank you, brian, very much. >> lieutenant governor, thank you so much for joining us. now that you have had a chance to survey the damage from ida, what are your first responders, the citizens there up against as rescue and recovery missions clearly are underway. >> right. we flew, just got back a little bit ago. wide devastation. still areas underwater. the grand aisle was covered with sand. a lot of destruction there. but we are still looking for people to rescue. once we finish rescuing those people, they will be going house to house checking for bodies for the poem that may have stayed
behind. but it is critical to get the power back on and water back to these people, especially the hospitals. it's so critical. >> it is indeed. your governor, john bel edwards, he's been warning that the death toll will likely raise due to the very dangerous conditions. what do you want your residents to be aware of as they start cleaning up and preparing to rebuild? >> well, you know, we have been through this before. i road out katrina 14 miles from the eye. it looked like there was no hope. we will get through it. louisiana is tough. but we've got to get in the next couple days a game plan for entergy. listen, there is 25,000 men and women out there in this heat trying to get the power back on. nobody likes it when the power is out. as soon as they get a full assessment, hopefully we can start getting portions of the state that have the major damage the power back on and get power
back. with so many special needs children and seniors, this heat will take a toll if we can't get them back in some air-conditioning. >> i understand, lieutenant governor, that some hospitals in the region have actually been forced to evacuate patients due to the loss of power and water. how has the coronavirus pandemic further complicating your response to this story? >> well, we're going to need some help with the federal government. we had the head of fema with us today. we've got to get some ass assistance, some kind of temporary medical facility. you know, the nurses and doctors have been pushed over a year with covid. now this on top of it, to have them hunker down, take care of those patients through the hurricane and now dealing with no power and water in a hospital having to evacuate two of them, it just adds to the problem. so hopefully we'll come up with some solutions during the next couple of days that we can increase those medical
facilities, possibly get some kind of temporary medical facility so we can get to those people. plus the people that are going to be coming in injured or hurt in this recovery. so we've got to have room for them as well. >> well, good luck. good luck to you. good luck to everyone in louisiana right now. this has been devastating indeed for louisiana. thanks so much for joining us. >> thank you. just ahead, we'll have more on the impact of the u.s. withdrawal from afghanistan on the region. we're going to talk about that and more. cnn's fareed zakaria is standing by live. sts? it's neutrogena® rapid wrinkle repair® smooths the look of fine lines in 1-week, deep wrinkles in 4. so you can kiss wrinkles goodbye! neutrogena® introducing fidelity income planning. we look at what you've saved, what you'll need, and help you build a flexible plan for cash flow that lasts, even when you're not working,
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following breaking news. al-qaeda now praising the taliban for taking control of kabul and consolidating power over afghan stop after the u.s. withdrawal after a 20-year war. let's dig deeper with fareed zakaria. as you know, al-qaeda issued a statement praising the taliban victory in afghanistan saying in part, we congratulate you on this great victory against the crusader alliance, adding the afghan debacle marks the beginning of the end of western hegemony and military occupation of islamic lands. fareed, what do you make of it? >> well, it doesn't surprise me at all that they would delight in this. but the important thing to ask oneself is what is al-qaeda today? it really is a shadow of the organization that it was in 2001. not just militarily because it's
been on the run. it's been destroyed. the much larger issue is that al-qaeda sought to represent the hopes and aspirations of millions of muslims, particularly in the greater middle east. that's no longer -- that's no longer true, if it ever was because the big revolution of the last 20 years, wolf, is not the war between the west and islam, but the war within islam between the moderates and the fundamentalists, the militants. i think it's pretty clear the moderates have won. saudi arabia is now at the forefront of efforts to modernize, liberalize and open up the country. you look everywhere around the world and the fundamentalists are on the defensive. so i feel like of course whatever is left of al-qaeda is
going to be delighted. but they have a much bigger problem, which is that most of the muslim world has very decisively turned their backs on al-qaeda and its ilk. >> that's pretty critical. president biden acknowledged that the united states has to learn from its foreign policy mistakes. how do you think history will judge president biden for his role in this war and the way it ended? >> it's a big question. and i think that, you know, we journalists we write the first draft of history but we don't get to write the final version. my sense is this. he pulled the curtain from behind a mission that had failed. let's think about it this way, wolf. we spent $2 trillion 20 years, a surge where troops went up to 130,000. and the government and the army, we stood up. could not withstand seven days
of our taliban advance. in fact, it had been slowly capitulating over the last year. that should be -- that should be the biggest wakeup call that we need to hear, which is what will we be told in 2014 and '15 after the surge when the taliban was gaining ground? you know, we had been unable after ten years, after a surge. nothing had worked. and, yet, we convinced ourselves that somehow this was sustainable. remember, we were sustaining this at $50 billion a year. plus, massive numbers of afghan casualties. so i think that biden really forced us to look at that failure in a way that is commendable. the exit itself does strike me as very poorly planned, and it could have been executed better, particularly in the first phase. but, you know, that's, frankly, the larger story is the
extraordinary failure of the last 20 years and the deception. think about all the generals and all the experts and all the cabinet officers who were convincing themselves and the american people that this was something that was working. they were invents metrics by the afghan army which by the end we were told 350,000 and the best trained ever -- those are words of one of the commanding generals. that's the big failure. and i think biden in a sense shown a spotlight on it. nobody wants to see failure, but it was there. >> that afghan army melted away within a matter of a few days. fareed, thank you very, very much as always. coming up a disturbing surge of covid cases among children here in the united states. we're going to talk about it with our sanjay gupta when we come back. s, we keep you smiling with flexible financing on treatments you need - from routine care and dentures, to implants and clear aligners
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with more than 200,000 cases just last week. let's discuss with our chief medical correspondent dr. sanjay gupta. good to have him here "the situation room." sanjay, thanks for doing this. these numbers are pretty serious, pretty awful. i'm very worried about these kids. >> 200,000 cases diagnosed last week. that's a significant increase from the week before. school is about to start. we think about the fact the likelihood of severe disease is obviously much lower in kids, but it's not zero when you start to get denominators this high, you'll get more and more kids getting sick. to give you context, about 450 children have died from covid. that's two to three times worse than the worst flu season over the last 20 years or so. this is significant. obviously, they can transmit if they have unvaccinated parents in the home or other people. that's a concern. and then the concern about the long term symptoms in these kids. so, you know, there's a lot of concern about this and some st
strategies, as well. there is modelling. the predictions are that after school starts, has started in some places already, about 75% of children will be exposed to the virus within the first three months of school. now, if you put in masking, universal masking, 24 to 50%. it does make a significant reduction. you add in testing, as well. it can go as low as 13%. there is no question it's a contagious virus. kids will become infected. look at that wolf. without vaccines that can make a huge difference. >> a lot of parents are reluctant to give their kids 12 to 17 the vaccine. >> i am not reluctant. you know -- >> you've got kids -- >> i got three that fall into that age group and i've looked at the data. i've done the homework. i'm a parent first. i'm a dad first. and my kids all got vaccinated. i mean, it's -- yes, it's true again that the risk of severe disease is lower, much lower in kids but, you know, when doctors say this could be the worst
viral illness they suffer in their lifetime and it can be prevented, i mean, they have the option to do that. >> what also worries me is even if they don't go into a hospital or god for bidbid die, there co be long term effects. >> i hear about kids taking several hour covid naps during the day and developing brain fog, losing their sense of smell. these are significant problems. they could be an indication of something more significant going on that will be long term in the brain. you don't want this virus and there is ways to avoid it. >> what about a vaccine for the kids under 12. the 5 to 11-year-olds? a lot of parents are anxious to see that happen. >> i know. you wish it could be quick. i think the fda is taking time on this and to be fair, pfizer hasn't even submitted all the data yet. the fda really can't be blamed for not moving fast enough if the data has not been submitted. what they have asked for is longer term safety data. they want six months worth of safety data.
two months for adults last year. they want a lot more for kids. they doubled the enrollment size in the trials. so if you look at it all, put it together, september, october, sort of time frame before that data submitted and a couple weeks after that, you could have an authorization. >> sanjay, great to vhave you o the show and in washington "the situation room." thanks for all the great work you do. we'll have more news after this. what's the #1 retinol brand used most by dermatologists? it's neutrogena® rapid wrinkle repair® smooths the look of fine lines in 1-week, deep wrinkles in 4. so you can kiss wrinkles goodbye! neutrogena® at usaa, we've been called too exclusive. because we only serve those who honorably served. all ranks, all branches, and their families. are we still exclusive? absolutely. and that's exactly why you should join. you've been taking mental health meds, and your mind is finally in a better place.
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victims and afghan refugees, go to cnn.com/impact for details on ways to impact your world. thanks very much for watching. i'm wolf blitzer "the situation room." you can always follow me on twitter and instagram @wolf blitzer. tweet the show @cnnsitroom. erin burnett "outfront" starts now. "outfront" next, we will hunt you down. those are the words from president biden as he vows to take on any terrorist that threats the united states now that the afghan war is officially over. the growing mystery in louisiana. the state desperate for food and water and could be weeks before power is restored. republican lawmaker warning of bloodshed as he pushes false and dangerous claims about america's election. let's go "outfront". and good evening. i'm erin burnett. "outfront" tonight president