Intelligence agencies are pushing back Wednesday against the White House narrative that the sudden fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban caught the administration off guard.
The New York Times reports intelligence sources who claimed by July their reports seriously questioned the Afghan military’s ability to resist the Taliban, even as Biden was telling reporters at the White House that it was unlikely that the government would fall.
“The likelihood there’s going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely,” he said July 8th.
While even the intelligence agencies could not have predicted the nearly immediate collapse of the Afghanistan government, Biden failed to acknowledge growing concerns from analysts in the Summer.
A White House official pushed back against the intelligence narrative, noting Biden and his team never got a “high confidence” level warning of a complete military collapse in Afghanistan.
The Wall Street Journal reported sources from both the military and intelligence branches saying they warned Biden about the fragile situation in Afghanistan, in particular the Taliban’s ability to seize major cities with little or no resistance from the Afghan military.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley, the Journal reports, urged Biden to keep a force of about 2,500 troops in the country and continue seeking a peace agreement. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also express concerns about a full withdrawal.
Biden advisors Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan also reportedly had concerns about the Taliban but did not disagree with the president because they knew his commitment to completing the withdrawal.