Defense Secretary Contradicts Joe Biden that American Evacuees Can Safely Enter Airport

Afghans gather on a roadside near the military part of the airport in Kabul on August 20,
WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images

The Secretary of Defense and ground reports contradict President Joe Biden’s comments on Friday that American citizens can safely pass the Taliban and enter the airport.

“To the best of our knowledge – Taliban checkpoints – they are letting through people showing American passports. Now it’s a different question when they get in the rush and crowd of all the folks just outside the wall near the airport,” Biden hedged when asked in the press conference.

But Biden’s story does not square with media reports on the ground or with his own Defense Secretary, who said Friday Americans have been abused on the ground.

“Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in a briefing call with House lawmakers just now said Americans have been beaten by the Taliban in Kabul, according to multiple people on the call. Austin called it ‘unacceptable,'” Politico reported.

The Washington Post reported Friday “the militants had set up checkpoints and deployed dozens of fighters to block roads leading to the airport.”

When the WaPo reporter finally reached the gate at the airport by favor of a British officer:

The American soldiers guarding the gate were surprised to see cars on a street that was supposed to be closed to traffic.  “I held my press badge against the windshield, nodded to the guard tower and got out of the car, holding up my hands. After a quick exchange on his radio, he allowed us through.”

CNN reporting on the ground confirms WaPo’s reports, which indicate the Taliban fighters are blocking “access” to the airport “with gunfire and violence.” In another incident, the Taliban even attacked CNN’s camera crew.

“It’s definitely chaotic,” Clarissa Ward stated on the ground. “It’s definitely dangerous.”

ABC’s David Muir asked a reporter Friday on the ground if President Biden was telling the truth about Americans being able to reach the airport.

“The president said he has no intelligence that the Americans have not been able to get [to the Kabul airport]. The question, obviously–does that square with reporting on the ground?” Muir asked.

“I mean–just totally not,” the ABC News reporter responded.

Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø 


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.