Ric Grenell to Newsmax: Afghanistan 'Political,' Not 'Intelligence' Failure (Newsmax/"Stinchfield")
By Charles Kim | Friday, 20 August 2021 10:09 PM
Former Ambassador Ric Grenell told Newsmax Friday that intelligence reports warned that Afghanistan was in danger of falling to the Taliban in June by operatives on the ground there, but the political office holders did not listen.
''Let's be clear, what this means is this was not an intelligence failure,'' Grenell said during ''Stinchfield'' Friday night. ''This was a failure of politics and the political people to not listen.''
Grenell, who served in the administration of President Donald Trump, said that, through his contacts in the intelligence community, he learned that 22 out of 23 political and economic officers serving in Afghanistan warned in a July 13 cable to the administration of President Joe Biden that a ''disaster'' was unfolding in the war-torn nation, and that there was evidence the Taliban were regrouping to take power as U.S. forces prepared to pull out.
''I don't know if he saw the dissent cable, but I do know for sure that the cable went to Secretary of State (Antony Blinken) and (he), then has an obligation to tell the president,'' Grenell said.
He said that there were also earlier warnings going back to June when the U.S. closed the U.S. air base in Bagram.
''There was a human cry from intelligence officers and from State Department officials saying 'do not close Bagram,' and have American troops and NATO troops, 2,500 American troops, (and) 5,000 NATO troops (stay),'' he said. ''Don't have them leave when you still have the American embassy open and Americans still in Afghanistan.''
The Biden administration has come under fire for the way it executed pulling out of Afghanistan after 20 years, causing chaos as the Taliban swept through the country in 10 days, taking the capital city of Kabul last Sunday and sparking a mass exodus of American citizens, third country nationals, and Afghan refugees scared of the fundamentalist organization's rule.
Grenell said that during the Trump administration, the president was often frustrated from reports on the ground impeding a U.S. exit, which he desired, and ran on during his successful 2016 campaign.
''(Trump) wanted these troops out a long time ago, years ago. We adjusted because of the reality on the ground in the information that we would get,'' Grenell said. ''President Trump would be very frustrated by saying, 'We need to move forward, we need to get our troops home.' And we were going down little by little, but he always listened to the people on the ground as frustrating as it was to hear that things weren't going well.''
Grenell also said there was a very clear understanding of what the consequences would be if the Taliban were to move on any city while U.S. troops were drawing down, with only 2,500 in the country for the last several months.
''The Taliban heard very clearly from President Trump there was a credible threat of military action if they made a move on to a city,'' Grenell said. ''The Taliban did not hear that same credible threat from Joe Biden because they clearly did it under his presidency, they moved to take over the country. ''
Former President Trump put out a statement Friday night saying that the Taliban knew what they would get if they harmed Americans.
"This Afghanistan Disaster wouldn't have happened with Trump," he said in the statement. "The Taliban knew I would rain down fire and fury if any American personnel or interests were harmed, the likes of which have never been seen. This is a catastrophe of historic proportions."
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