According to a source cited by CNN, the US State Department’s review of the country’s withdrawal from Afghanistan contains many more findings than the 12-page document that the White House released on Thursday.
While the White House review focused on the constraints posed by the Donald Trump administration, the State Department report has more than 34 recommendations on how the Biden Administration could have performed better during the evacuation.
“The Biden administration inherited a deadline without a clear plan of how to get there, but they then undertook their own review. And in April, Biden decided to go ahead with it and delayed the withdrawal timeline. So they did not exactly take the blueprint they were given in that regard. So some of that is a bit disingenuous to say that their hands were completely tied,” CNN quoted a source familiar with the report.
According to the White House summary, the withdrawal operation should have started sooner but blames the delays on the Afghan government and military, and on US military and intelligence assessments.
However, the White House summary primarily blames the Trump administration for signing a hasty agreement with the Taliban that limited Biden’s options. “President Biden’s choices for how to execute a withdrawal from Afghanistan were severely constrained by conditions created by his predecessor.”
Responding to the summary findings, CNN quoted a spokesman for Trump saying “Biden and his administration are trying to gaslight the American people for their disastrous withdrawal in Afghanistan that directly led to American deaths and emboldened the terrorists.”
Following the US withdrawal in August 2021, the Afghan government collapsed and the Taliban swiftly returned to power. During the evacuation process on August 2021, a suicide attack outside the Kabul International Airport killed 13 US service members along with approximately 170 Afghans.