The Pentagon responded to a report by Politico indicating officials knew of and prepared for an imminent “mass casualty” threat at the Kabul airport hours before a terror attack that claimed the lives of 13 United States soldiers.
Politico on Monday published a story which alleged – via classified notes of the meeting that the outlet had obtained and interviews with Defense officials – that top officials had warned other department leaders to prepare for a “mass casualty event.”
Classified detailed notes had reportedly shown Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin “instructed more than a dozen of the department’s top leaders around the world to make preparations for an imminent ‘mass casualty event.'”
Gen. Mark Milley, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, revealed officials had discovered “significant” intelligence ISIS was planning a “complex attack.”
The Politico report indicates that Lloyd had warned of the tremendous risk to military personnel.
“I don’t believe people get the incredible amount of risk on the ground,” he had purportedly said, according to the notes.
Despite knowledge of a planned “mass casualty” event, commanders struggled to close Abbey Gate, the location where American citizens had been advised to gather.
“Americans decided to keep the gate open longer than they wanted in order to allow their British allies, who had accelerated their withdrawal timeline, to continue evacuating their personnel,” Politico writes.
They note that American troops “were still processing entrants to the airport at Abbey Gate” when the suicide bomber struck, killing nearly 200 people.
13 U.S. service members were among the dead.
The Politico column goes on to outline specific measures taken in order to prevent the “mass casualty” event.
One such measure included “notifying Taliban checkpoints of the potential threat” and “asking them to account for it in their screening procedures.”
That is a significant revelation considering, as the Daily Mail reports, that the suicide bomber “slipped past a Taliban checkpoint to get close to an evacuee screening point at the Kabul airport.”
It outlines how American forces were asked to rely on the Taliban in part for their safety and how such faith may have backfired.
The Pentagon responded to Politico’s reporting by blasting the outlet for what they considered irresponsible journalism.
“This story is based on the unlawful disclosure of classified information and internal deliberations of a sensitive nature,” Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said in a statement to Politico.
Where has he been for the last four years? Classified information was leaked on a nearly daily basis under former President Donald Trump.
Kirby went on to suggest that the Pentagon had tried to squash the story.
“As soon as we became aware of the material divulged to the reporter, we engaged Politico at the highest levels to prevent the publication of information that would put our troops and our operations at the airport at greater risk,” he said.
The article comes as Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan have faced increasing calls to resign or be impeached over their handling of the Afghanistan crisis.
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