tv White House Press Secretary Holds Briefing CSPAN August 26, 2021 6:25pm-6:48pm EDT
our interest in going was to prevent al qaeda from reemerging. first we get bin laden, wipe out al qaeda in afghanistan and prevented from happening again. terrorism has metastasized around the world and we have greater threats coming from other countries closer to the u.s. we don't have military encampments there, we don't keep people there. ladies and gentlemen, it was time to end a 20 year war. thank you so much. >> we take you live to the white house where press secretary jen psaki is holding a briefing. this is live coverage on c-span. >> president has spoken a lot about the need to and -- two
and. how do you and the wars in afghanistan if the u.s. is still continuing to attack isis-k? >> this is a specific case today were 12 individual service members and 15 who were wounded today. certainly, i would expect any president of the united states would be clear that he would avenge those deaths and the acts of terrorist and i don't think that came as a surprise to anyone. the president stands by as he outlined to all of you in the last hour his commitment to bringing an end to this war as he is implement it over the course of the last month. what we are talking about is avenging these deaths from terrorists. not sending tens of thousands of troops back for an endless war that we have been fighting for 20 years. >> when the obama administration was bringing in syrian refugees,
there was a lot of pushback from various states about refugees coming into their communities. how do you see that situation this time around? is this going to be different? do you anticipate the same pushback and hard feelings? >> we will see. what we have been working to do is to work closely with governors, with localities, with local leaders to give them detailed briefings on what our vetting process looks like, what the background check process looks like before any individual comes into the united states. that is a background check process that is thorough before they are allowed to come in and step on u.s. soil. we also know that there are some people in this country even something congress who may not want to have people from another country, as refugees to the united states. that is a reality. we can't stop or prevent that on our own. we will continue to communicate
our intensive vetting process and we will do that behind the scenes. we will continue to convey clearly that this is part of who we are, part of the work of the united states and not back away from that. >> there is an american detained by the taliban as of last year and i wonder if the administration has been in negotiations to release him as part of the broader initiative? >> we have certainly raised his case at every opportunity. i don't have any update on that. >> you said there is a threat in the remaining days that the troops are there. are there any additional precautions being taken to protect them? >> i don't think i will get into operational details of where is happening on the ground. certainly, there are steps taken to protect our troops on the ground by the commanders who are leading the efforts on the ground. >> just last week, the president
said we make clear to the taliban that any attack will be met with a swift response. was this an attack? were forces disrupted? would this qualify as a swift and forceful response? >> the present -- president addressed just that we will not forgive, we will not forget, we will hunt you down. he was referring to the attack of terrorists from isis-k who launched this attack and killed u.s. service members. i don't think he could have been more clear. >> at least 67 house democrats have signed onto a letter asking the president to raise the refugee cap in 2022 to at least 200,000.
is that something that the white house is willing to extend? >> i have not talked to the president about that specific question. we are trying to get our muscles working again both in our systems and an incredible refugee groups that are working on welcoming refugees from around the country and working on getting our vetting processes and systems around the world need to be in good shape in order to welcome refugees to get as many as we can, but i have not had a conversation with him all -- beyond raising the cap. i wonder if the administration knows how many green cardholders are still in the country or outside of the kabul airport. or if there may be efforts to go out and rescue other people. >> yes on the latter question.
on the former question, the vast majority are within the kabul facility. there have been -- there has been a lot happening today. of the 1500 that they briefed on yesterday, roughly 500 have been evacuated. we're talking about roughly an additional 1000 that we believe remain in afghanistan. the vast majority over two thirds informed us they were taking steps to leave and we are in touch with. that's what we are working through and focused on every single day. >> you are saying that those missions have taken place. >> i'm not confirming that they have or haven't. we are committed to getting american citizens home and out of afghanistan should they want to leave.
that includes people around the country. >> earlier today, carol mckenzie said they are focused on other afghan threats to u.s. service members on the ground. or all of the threats the u.s. is currently facing from isis-k or are there other groups that may be bad actors? >> i am not going to detail additional information about ongoing life threats. >> do we know if the president still feels as though the chaos and the violence that we have seen on the ground in kabul was all unavoidable even at this point? >> do you mean from 11 days ago? i would say if we go back to 11 days ago if that is your specific question, we certainly didn't anticipate that the leadership of the afghan government would leave in the manner or would topple and the manner in the timeline that they did or that the afghan national
security forces would cease to protect the airport and parts of kabul. that is not what we anticipated. that is true. what i will reiterate is that within 24 to 48 hours, we had secured the airport and since then, we have evacuated more than 104,000 people. >> how would you describe the relationship with the taliban in light of the attack and are they still helping out? >> again, this is not friendship or relationship where there is trust. we are continuing to coordinate to move american citizens to move afghan partners and our allies out. the fact that we have evacuated 7000 people in the last 12 or 13 hours is evidence of that. >> two republican senators so far have called on the president to resign over the attacks on afghanistan. what's going on with that? >> this is a day were u.s.
service members lost their lives at the hands of terrorists. it is not a day for politics. we would expect that any american whether they are elected or not would stand with us and our commitment to going after and fighting and killing those terrorists wherever they live and to honoring the memory of service members and that's what this day is for. >> yesterday when i was leaving the white house, i spoke to a group at the white house gate who said that they were service members here and america in our armed forces, various branches. they had their photos on posters and they are seeking help for their families to be prioritized groups we are helping mainly those who have helped us in the mission. they are currently in the military, but they are not people who fit the description or the criteria for getting assistance. however, in our interview, they
told me that they are getting assistance. it can you speak to this prioritization and who really is was bull to get assistance going forward considering what happened today? to make sure people know who we are allowing into the country at this point. >> i'm not sure that i totally understand your question. american citizens which i assume these u.s. service members are. >> they are american citizens they have family members there but they say they went to the state department and the state department is helping them get their family members and they wanted to get attention so that other people in the situation could get there family members in. i'm asking you to clarify. >> are you concerned that we are helping the family members of people who have fought by our side for the last 20 years?
>> the root of my question is consistent information for those who need help. i have been doing some reporting around people getting correct information about the process. want to be able to say in my reporting if you meet these qualifications, you are the folks who can come into the country. i think people want to know that information. >> we have been clear that u.s. citizens, their family members, some of them are dual nationals, some of them may have lived her whole lives and afghanistan. the immediate family members which means spouses and children. it also means applicants and others who may be eligible for the range of programs that we have and vulnerable populations, that has a range of meaning. we're going to work to get as many of those people out as we can. there's a range of programs. as individuals have questions, there is information on the state department website and the
dod website. >> democrats in congress are calling on president biden to raise the refugee cap. >> i just answered that question. >> [indiscernible] why did the administration make the decision in late july to not more about that on military aircraft? >> first are would say that we have over the course of the last 11 days evacuated more than 100,000 people. that is a credit to the u.s. military and the men and women who are serving who have been able to conduct and overstate this operation and have done it at great risk. this is an operation that began just two weeks ago. before that time, we also evacuated a number of people. i can't speak to what the
difference of the isis threat would have been. >> despite the lack of true trust that everyone is highlighting, it's a remarkable level of operation. the president is saying is ongoing. after the 31st, is it conceivable that there could be a longer-term relationship on the mutual interest that the president talks about. basically working alongside the taliban, authorities in afghanistan long-term. >> we will continue to work to get people out of afghanistan even after the 31st. we will need to coordinate with the taliban in order to do that.
i'm not going to label that partnership or anything other than continue coordination. we believe we have a great deal of leverage in order to implement that commitment. >> beyond the evacuation, there's going to be that security the terrorism even humanitarian aid. could you see this kind of mutual interest agenda continuing? >> i don't want to get ahead of where we are. we are committed to continuing to deliver humanitarian assistance to the people of afghanistan. there are international partners committed to doing the same thing. u.n. will also have a presence on the ground which will be a mechanism for delivering a great deal of that assistance. i will reiterate again, we need to have continued coordination in order to continue to get people out and evacuate them as we plan to do after the 31st. >> this morning, it was tweeted
that the evacuations won't be wrapping up and 36 hours and they will be evacuating as many people as they can until the end of the mission. what does the administration defined the end of the mission? is it the 31st or we evacuate everyone? >> the end of this mission is the 31st. our commitment to getting the citizens out who may not be ready to depart continues. there is no deadline, there is no and of that timeline. to getting our afghan partners out. i think he put out that tweet because there was a great deal of reporting that was inaccurate that we were ending evacuation flights tomorrow and that is not accurate. >> the president promised earlier that they will continue to get any american who wishes out of afghanistan even after the 31st.
how is the administration going to ensure the safe evacuation for u.s. citizens without troops when even with troop presence, we just saw this attack. >> over the last 11 days, we have evacuated 104,000 people including the vast majority of americans who are in afghanistan. our commitment is not and. we are continuing to work to get every american citizen who wants to leave out before the 31st. we will need to continue to coordinate with taliban in order to get people to the airport and out from the airport. those operational details and discussions are ongoing and as we have more to report, we will provide that information. >> moments ago, you said the commitment to the end of the month. that the commitment remains. the president said that we will try to get as many people out as we can.
is he trying to prepare the american public for a harsh reality that some americans might be left on the ground when we leave? >> there are some americans who may not have decided to leave by the 31st. that is possible. many of those who remain are dual citizens. they may have extended family members or others who they want to bring with them and they are not ready to make that decision yet. our commitment to them does not end. his objective and focus and laser focus is getting every american who wants to leave out now in the next few days. >> [indiscernible] >> we have been reaching out in touch with every single american who has reached out to us and we have contact for. via phone, email, text, was at.
--what's app. our focus is to get every american who wants out by the 31st. >> what hope do you have of porting further attacks the president just told us they were inevitable. isn't the decision to stay potentially the wrong one? >> i would say first that general mckenzie spoke to this earlier today. what he conveyed clearly is that the u.s. military is committed to continuing the mission despite the fact that there are daily risks. despite the fact that there are threats. that speaks to their commitment to this country. anything that the national security team needs, the
commanders on the ground need to thwart, to prevent these attacks, to go after terrorists, they will be granted. i will not go into more details than that. >> you mentioned earlier there were other methods of getting americans to the airport. what will you do for the tens of thousands of afghans with and felt recent papers who are finding it impossible to get to the airport prior to the attacks and there will now be more confusion out -- how they can possibly get out. >> we are also in touch with many many of them and giving them clear instructions on where to meet, when to come to the airport, how they can get out and evacuated from the country. we're also mindful in providing security threats when warranted as we were tonight -- last night to prevent gatherings that would
be a greater attraction to terrorist threats. for those who are eligible for our programs, we continue to work to get as many out as we can. >> it seems like right now, americans and afghan allies still in afghanistan are making two choices. either they stay where they are and risk being hunted down by the taliban or they tried to get to the airport and risk blown up by isis. how does the evacuation continue without the evacuees risking their lives? >> we are in direct contact with every american citizen we have contact information for. we work with each of them and their families on an individual basis on how to get them to the airport and evacuated. that is a process i will not get into more details in how that works. it is not in their interest or
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