Media top headlines August 24
In media news today, critics express outrage as Biden again takes no questions on Afghanistan, DeSantis blasts Associated Press in an open letter, and Psaki gets panned after saying it’s ‘irresponsible’ to say Americans are ‘stranded’ in Afghanistan
Former CIA analyst Matt Zeller accused President Joe Biden of “gaslighting” Americans in the wake of the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, arguing the White House could have pursued a plan to get individuals now stranded in the midst of the Taliban takeover out of the country sooner.
“Let’s be clear, the president has got to stop gaslighting the country,” Zeller, co-founder of No One Left Behind, said on MSNBC Tuesday. “We could have done this in a very orderly fashion, a plan existed all along.”
That plan, Zeller said, was on evacuateourallies.org and he said the group tried to give it to the administration as early as February. If the White House had been more open to their suggestion, he argued, the country perhaps wouldn’t be in this current mess.
Zeller expressed only modest hope that a deal is being forged following a meeting between leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and CIA Director William Burns in Kabul, saying it was a “weird time to be in” given that Baradar was released from prison in 2018.
The CIA analyst said there was plenty of blame to go around, launching some at the Trump administration for halting the Special Immigrant Visa program that rewards foreign nationals who helped U.S. forces in Afghanistan or Iraq.
Biden refused on Tuesday to extend the Aug. 31 deadline for Americans to be evacuated after the Taliban threatened consequences if any remain in the country past that date. Zeller argued the “devil’s arithmetic” will not allow for that timeline.
“Actual headline: Biden decides to keep August 31 deadline & condemns thousands of Afghan wartime allies to die. #Veterans will never forgive this #betrayal. His administration will forever be defined by one number: those we left behind,” Zeller added on Twitter in response to the news.
The CIA analyst predicted that history will judge this episode not by how many people the U.S. rescued, but how many were left behind. His frustration was just as apparent last week, when he ripped Biden for his Afghanistan speech he said was tainted by a “bold-faced lie” that the administration had planned for every contingency.
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