August 23, 2021

Former Sec. of State Mike Pompeo ran back to Fox "news" to once again blame Biden for the Taliban surrender he and Trump negotiated. As William Saletan at Slate explained last week, Pompeo "laid the groundwork for the Taliban takeover. Now he’s blaming Biden."

Mike Pompeo, Donald Trump’s former secretary of state, blames President Joe Biden for the chaos in Afghanistan. “We’re letting the Taliban run free and wild,” he complained a few days ago on Fox News. Pompeo, who is laying the groundwork for a 2024 presidential campaign, argued that the insurgents were taking over the country “because we have an administration that has refused to adopt a deterrence model, the one that President Trump and I had.” He claimed that he and Trump had kept Afghanistan “stable,” that they had “never trusted the Taliban,” and that thanks to their steely resolve, “the Taliban didn’t advance on capitals” in Afghan provinces.

None of this is true. Like many other Republicans who now profess anguish over the Taliban’s victory, Pompeo supported the U.S. withdrawal. But he didn’t just endorse the pullout; he directed it. He cut a deal with the Taliban to remove all American troops and to release Taliban fighters from Afghan prisons. He vouched for the Taliban’s assurances, even as the insurgents staged hundreds of deadly attacks. And he defended the ongoing troop withdrawals, undercutting the Afghan government in its own talks with the Taliban, as the militants besieged provincial capitals.

Two years ago, Pompeo began pushing for a deal with the Taliban. Hawks urged him to stipulate in the agreement that the Taliban had to turn over al-Qaida operatives. They also asked him to reject any demand for a “premature release of Taliban prisoners.” He did neither. Under the deal, signed on Feb. 29, 2020, the U.S. government pledged “to withdraw from Afghanistan all military forces of the United States, its allies, and Coalition partners … within fourteen (14) months.” The deal also specified that the Afghan government would release 5,000 prisoners, five times as many as the Taliban had to release. There was no requirement to hand over al-Qaida operatives.

That hasn't stopped him from continuing to lie about the deal they struck at every opportunity, as he did again on this weekend's Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo on Fox. Here's Pompeo's revisionist history, transcript via PoliticusUSA:

We were determined to get this right. Everyone knew that President Trump wanted to get men and young women back home. We always knew that conditions had to be right to achieve that. Had to have the administration on the ground right to do that. This administration leaving equipment and civilians behind. We drew down from 15,000 to 2500 and kept the order that had been there. We didn’t have the chaos. All the while we took 12,500 soldiers. When we got to that point, we went back and looked at the conditions.

We wanted to get those last numbers out but we never found the conditions right to do so. So we continued to pound the Taliban when they violated the agreement when they moved on a checkpoint or moved in a place that they weren’t permitted. We used American power and made clear to the Taliban that there would be real consequences. What happened here, Maria, is you had a leader who was unprepared to do that.

When the Taliban pushed on the Trump administration, we pushed back even harder and imposed real cost and when the Biden administration pushed, they withdrew to a commercial airport that in no way has the capacity to get our people out with the speed that needs to happen to keep them safe. This is an incompetent method of getting our folks out and presents real risk. I pray that we get them all home but I’m watching today even now they haven’t yet organized in a way to push the American power out in a way to make sure that we can get Americans out of the country.

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