During a portion of an interview set to air on Sunday’s edition of CBS’ “60 Minutes” released on Thursday, Robert Gates, who served as Secretary of Defense under former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, said that he felt ill watching the scenes in Kabul during the withdrawal from Afghanistan and “that it probably did not need to have turned out that way.” Gates also said that there was ample time to plan a withdrawal, starting in February 2020 when former President Donald Trump made a deal with the Taliban and President Joe Biden should have begun evacuating once he stated there would be a firm date for a withdrawal.
Gates said, “It was really tough for a few days there. I actually wasn’t feeling very well, and I realized it was because of what was happening in Kabul and I was just so low about the way it had ended, if you will. And I guess the other feeling that I had was that it probably did not need to have turned out that way.”
He added, “Certainly, the military considers the withdrawal the most dangerous part of an operation. But they really had a lot of time to plan, beginning with the deal that President Trump cut with the Taliban. So, that was in February of 2020.”
He also stated, “Once President Biden re-affirmed that there was going to be a firm deadline date, that’s the point at which, I think, they should have begun bringing those people out.”
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