The Atlantic’s Packer: Biden Misled on Afghan Allies Refusing to Leave, ‘It Was Bureaucratic Obstacles’

On Monday’s broadcast of CNN’s “The Lead,” George Packer, a staff writer at The Atlantic, talked about his article on the exit from Afghanistan and said that the Biden administration’s claim that fewer than half of the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders chose to leave the country isn’t true and that “it was bureaucratic obstacles” that kept people who “were desperate to get out” from doing so.

Host Jake Tapper stated, “So, Special Immigrant Visa applicants, SIV applicants, Afghan allies who applied to be evacuated who served the U.S. in some capacity over the previous 20 years, they were a central portion of your report. You found two areas where the Biden administration misled the public. First, an official insisted that a vast majority of those SIV applicants were in and around Kabul and therefore could be evacuated. Second, Biden claimed that fewer than half of SIV holders chose to leave. Take us through the process of debunking those two claims.”

Packer responded, “Well, this is either wishful thinking or deliberate deception. President Biden said more than once, several times, and his aides began to repeat it that more than half…the SIVs chose not to leave when they could have. When, in fact, what the experts, the lawyers, the advocates working with those SIVs told me was, no they couldn’t leave. Because either their families did not have complete sets of passports yet and they were waiting for them and they were very hard to get or they were waiting for the U.N. flights, which are the flights that are supposed to take them out of Afghanistan and to the United States. In other words, it was bureaucratic obstacles. These people were desperate to get out. They’d been waiting for years. One man I wrote about extensively, Najeeb Monawari, had been waiting for ten years for his visa after serving for four years with the Green Berets, much of it in combat. So, these are people whom we owed the highest debt to and whom we failed. And the failure goes up to the highest level. Because there simply wasn’t, I think, enough concern that this could all go bad very quickly and we needed to take action sooner rather than later.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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