Pentagon spokesman defends remarks that Kabul wasn't in 'imminent' danger of falling to Taliban

Pentagon says 17,000 have been evacuated from Afghanistan

Pentagon says 17,000 have been evacuated from Afghanistan dek: Pentagon says about 2,500 Americans have been evacuated from Afghanistan; Lucas Tomlinson reports.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby stood by his comments last week that Kabul was not in “imminent” danger even though two days later the Afghan capital collapsed into Taliban control.

Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson pressed Kirby during a Pentagon news conference Saturday about his statement on Aug. 13 that “Kabul is not right now in an imminent-threat environment.”

“How could you get that so wrong?” Tomlinson asked. 

Kirby explained that he was sharing the best information he had at the time while acknowledging the public “ridicule.” He said the situation in Afghanistan changed “dramatically” two days later but his comments at the time were an “accurate” reflection of the Defense Department assessment. 

“In the moment that I said it, based on what we knew at the time, it was a true statement,” Kirby said Saturday. “And yes, two days later, things dramatically changed. I readily admit that things moved very, very quickly.”

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby speaks during a briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021. With security rapidly deteriorating in Afghanistan, the United States is evacuating some personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, and U.S. troops with be assisting at the Kabul airport. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Kirby added that “there wasn’t any indication …. that things could evolve as quickly as they did.”

In recent days, the Taliban swiftly took control of Afghanistan, setting off a chaotic and desperate situation for Americans and Afghan allies to rush to the Kabul airport to evacuate the country. About 6,000 U.S. troops are now in Afghanistan to aid with the evacuation effort at the airport. 

As the chief spokesman for the Department of Defense, Kirby said Saturday he’s “100%” committed to being as honest and transparent as he can from the press secretary podium when informing the American public.

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