NBC Breaks Silence: Army ‘Faults’ Biden Admin With Afghan Disaster

24-hours after NewsBusters reported that the broadcast evening newscasts ignored a Washington Post story detailing an internal Army report on the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, ABC and CBS were still tight-lipped about how the report blames White House and State Department officials for hindering the evacuation efforts. NBC Nightly News was the lone broadcast newscast to break the silence, on Wednesday.

(Video forthcoming)

Instead of reporting on this highly damning report, ABC’s World News Tonight bragged that Super Bowl LVI was going to be the hottest since 1973 as temperatures reach 90 degrees. Meanwhile, on CBS Evening News, anchor Norah O’Donnell thought time was better spent talking about a water main break in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

“We all remember those desperate scenes during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, which has left Americans still stranded there,” NBC anchor Lester Holt announced at the top of the segment. “Now a highly critical report by the Army faults the Biden administration for not seeing what was coming.”

The NBC report was delivered by chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell, and she was surprisingly unvarnished in how the Army’s assessment laid blame at the feet of President Biden’s people:

The chaotic and deadly U.S. evacuation from Afghanistan stunned Americans and the world and cost the lives of 13 U.S. soldiers. Now a damning new report blames the Biden administration for being slow to evacuate U.S. citizens and Afghan allies.

According to an Army investigation first obtained by The Washington Post, one national security official saying “an evacuation would signal ‘we have failed.’”

According to the report, three days before Kabul fell, Rear Admiral Peter Vasely, the top commander in Afghanistan sounding alarms to acting U.S. Ambassador Ross Wilson,” she told viewers. “But another military official telling investigators: ‘The embassy needed permission for withdrawal and the ambassador didn’t get it.’

She even leaned on former State department officials from previous Democratic presidencies (Bill Clinton’s and Barack Obama’s respectively) to bring forth criticism:

WILLIAM COHEN (former secretary of defense): When did the State Department start to increase the processing of those who were seeking to emigrate to the United States? Was there anyone in the White House who was holding up the processing by sending the signal by saying ‘don’t wrap this up or ramp it up’?

(…)

REP. TOM MALINOWSKI (D-NJ, former assistant secretary of state): The fundamental problem is that we decided to leave Afghanistan precipitously without a plan to get people out. And that’s everybody’s fault.

And if the silence from ABC and CBS on the Army report doesn’t get your attention, perhaps their silence on the fact “dozens of Americans are still stranded in Afghanistan,” as Mitchell reported, will. She also noted that those left behind include “thousands of Afghan allies, including many women protesters at risk but not permitted by the U.S. on the flights taking people out.”

This latest example of bias by omission was made possible by the endorsement of United Healthcare on ABC, and Capital One on CBS. Their information is linked.

The transcript is below, click “expand” to read:

NBC Nightly News
February 9, 2022
7:15:11 p.m. Eastern

LESTER HOLT: We all remember those desperate scenes during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, which has left Americans still stranded there. Now a highly critical report by the Army faults the Biden administration for not seeing what was coming. Here’s Andrea Mitchell.

[Cuts to video]

ANDREA MITCHELL: The chaotic and deadly U.S. evacuation from Afghanistan stunned Americans and the world and cost the lives of 13 U.S. soldiers. Now a damning new report blames the Biden administration for being slow to evacuate U.S. citizens and Afghan allies.

According to an Army investigation first obtained by The Washington Post, one national security official saying “an evacuation would signal ‘we have failed.’”

According to the report, three days before Kabul fell, Rear Admiral Peter Vasely, the top commander in Afghanistan sounding alarms to acting U.S. Ambassador Ross Wilson. But another military official telling investigators: “The embassy needed permission for withdrawal and the ambassador didn’t get it.”

Congress has now ordered a broader investigation.

WILLIAM COHEN (former secretary of defense): When did the State Department start to increase the processing of those who were seeking to emigrate to the United States? Was there anyone in the White House who was holding up the processing by sending the signal by saying ‘don’t wrap this up or ramp it up’?

MITCHELL: The report also citing testimony from an army officer who went door to door at the U.S. Embassy on August 15, the day Kabul fell, urging staff to get ready to leave, but says some were, quote, “intoxicated and cowering in rooms.”

The military is saying very clearly that the State Department was very slow, unwilling to recognize the urgency of evacuating the embassy?

REP. TOM MALINOWSKI (D-NJ, former assistant secretary of state): The fundamental problem is that we decided to leave Afghanistan precipitously without a plan to get people out. And that’s everybody’s fault.

MITCHELL: Tonight, dozens of Americans are still stranded in Afghanistan, along with thousands of Afghan allies, including many women protesters at risk but not permitted by the U.S. on the flights taking people out.

[Cuts back to live]

Ambassador Wilson was not available for comment, but the State Department says cherry-picked comments don’t reflect the months of work that was already underway or what U.S. diplomats did to evacuate U.S. citizens and Afghan allies. Lester?

HOLT: Okay, Andrea, thank you.

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