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Biden news: President’s approval rating drops over Afghanistan as Trump rants at ‘woke generals’

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Joe Biden has said American troops will stay in Afghanistan until all remaining US citizens —and citizens of American allies — are evacuated from the country after receiving criticism for the chaotic withdrawal of US forces.

In a defensive interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday, Mr Biden said there was no way of avoiding “chaos” by leaving Afghanistan, and that he was committed to evacuating Americans and US allies out before the deadline of 31 August, but that if any US citizens were still in the country, his forces would “stay till we get them all out.”

In Thursday’s Pentagon briefing it was revealed that a further 2,000 people had been evacuated in the past 24 hours, but bottlenecks in getting people into Kabul airport, rather than flight capacity, are the real challenge.

The State Department says that 6,000 people have been processed at the airport and spokesperson Ned Rice says they hope to get 20 flights off the ground tonight which could clear the majority of them.

On the domestic front, new unemployment claims have sunk to a pandemic low, and the Biden administration has announced it is wiping out $5.8bn of student debt for disabled Americans.

Key points

  • Biden claims ‘chaos’ was unavoidable with Afghanistan withdrawal
  • Biden suffers in polls on foreign policy
  • Trump rants at ‘woke generals’ and wants to blow up Afghanistan bases
  • State Department: 20 flights to leave tonight, 6,000 processed and waiting at airport
  • White House still facing criticism for withdrawing, as questions raised over intelligence
  • US forces to stay until all Americans and allies evacuated, even after 31 August
Thursday 19 August 2021 10:42 , Gino Spocchia

Hello and welcome to The Independent’s rolling coverage of the Biden administration and the ongoing response to the United States’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.

US will ‘stay’ until citizens and allies evacuated, Biden says

Thursday 19 August 2021 10:51 , Gino Spocchia

US President Joe Biden told ABC News on Wednesday night he was committed to doing “everything in our power” to get Americans and US allies in Afghanistan out before a 31 August deadline, after he was criticised for failing to anticipate the fall of Kabul to the Taliban at the weekend.

Mr Biden, who was asked what he would do if there were Americans remaining in Afghanistan after 31 August, affirmed that “if there’s American citizens left, we’re gonna stay till we get them all out.” There are believed to be 10,000 – 15,000 Americans alone in the country.

It follows the airlifting of Americans from the roof of the country’s embassy in Kabul on Sunday as the Taliban advanced on the Afghan capital. Many argued that the scenes were reminiscent of the fall of Saigon and Vietnam in 1975, when Americans were also forced to flee.

Mr Biden said in the ABC News interview that “chaos” was unavoidable. That has been disputed by intelligence officials and his opponents.

US presence in Kabul depends on pace of evacuations

Thursday 19 August 2021 11:03 , Gino Spocchia

The US president, who said he was committed to evacuating Americans and allies, said the presence of US troops in the country was dependent on getting thousands of US citizens and allies out a day.

US officials said on Tuesday they had evacuated 3,200 people from Afghanistan, including all Embassy staff, since the fall of Kabul on Sunday, which Mr Biden described on Wednesday night as being “five days ago”.

That figure was apart from a group of US staff left working from Kabul’s international airport, as well as 6,000 US troops carrying out the evacuation.

© Provided by The Independent

Biden brushes off chaotic Kabul airport scenes as ‘five days ago’ in curt interview

Mark Milley says there was no indication of Afghan government’s fall

Thursday 19 August 2021 11:21 , Gino Spocchia

Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Wednesday there was no intelligence to suggest Afghanistan’s army would deteriorate in just 11 days, amid criticism for failing to anticipate the US’s chaotic withdrawal from the country.

Mr Milley said he wanted to respond to news reports about the supposed intelligence suggesting otherwise, and that he had sworn in a testimony to Congress about “multiple scenarios” being indicated by US intelligence.

That timeline, he said, was anywhere between weeks and years. He added: “There was nothing that I or anyone else saw that indicated a collapse of this army and this government in 11 days”.

© Provided by The Independent

US Joint Chiefs Chairman: No indication Afghan Army would collapse in 11 days

Biden under fire for saying ‘chaos’ was unavoidable

Thursday 19 August 2021 11:41 , Gino Spocchia

Mr Biden came under attack on Wednesday night after he said said there was no way the US could have withdrawn from Afghanistan “without chaos ensuing”.

Among the voices was Nikki Haley, Donald Trump’s former US ambassador the UN, who tweeted that it was “such a slap in the face to the thousands of Americans still in Afghanistan”.

US cannot extend forces beyond Kabul, says Austin

Thursday 19 August 2021 11:55 , Gino Spocchia

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Wednesday that the US does not have the ability to collect Americans and allies, as well as refugees, from beyond the boundaries of the airport in Kabul.

“I don’t have the capability to go out and extend operations currently into Kabul,” Mr Austin said. “And where do you take that? How far do you extend into Kabul, and how long does it take to flow those forces in to be able to do that?”

Mr Austin, a retired four-star Army general who commanded forces in Afghanistan, was speaking at his first Pentagon news conference since the Taliban swept to power in Kabul on Sunday.

It comes amid reports that 10,000 – 15,000 Americans, as well as more than 50,000 Afghans, are awaiting airlifts from the country, after the Taliban retook Kabul with unexpected speed. The militant group, according to reports on the ground, was making it difficult for individuals to reach Kabul and the airport.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Former CIA officer says ‘probably not’ an intelligence failure

Thursday 19 August 2021 12:05 , Gino Spocchia

Paul Pillar, a former CIA officer who teaches at Georgetown University, has said in interview that Mr Biden understood the risks of withdrawing from Afghanistan, but that the US president was “functioning as his own principal analyst”.

“The Taliban was eventually going to prevail,” Mr Pillar told the BBC on Wednesday . “But the speed or pace, or when something is going to happen, is essentially unpredictable.”

“Was this an intelligence failure? My guess is probably not”.

Republican figures ramp-up attacks on Biden following interview

Thursday 19 August 2021 12:15 , Gino Spocchia

Mr Biden was accused of issuing a “bald-faced lie” by Republican senator Tom Cotton, who was among the many voices condemning the US president for saying “chaos” was unavoidable in Afghanistan.

It comes as more than 10,000 Americans and thousands more Afghans remain in the country. They are awaiting evacuation from the Taliban, who surprised the world by retaking Kabul on Sunday within weeks of the US withdrawing from the country.

Congresswoman Liz Cheney said that Mr Biden’s remarks were “truly ignorant and shameful”, and Meghan McCain — the daughter of the late Republican senator John McCain— said the Democrat was “like Jimmy Carter on acid”, in an apparent reference to the American withdrawal from Saigon.

She shared a clip of the chaotic scene around the airport in Kabul, where several people have been shot in recent days.

State governors offer to take Afghan refugees

Thursday 19 August 2021 12:40 , Gino Spocchia

11 state governors have announced plans to take Afghan refugees after the US government said it will settle 22,000 of those who are seeking asylum after fleeing from Afghanistan.

Governors of 11 states – six of whom are Republican and five Democrat – have said they would be willing to take in the refugees, who will be taken to temporary locations at Fort Bliss, Texas, and Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, upon their arrival.

One US official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Reuters that “too many things have to go 100 per cent correctly” to evacuate all of those who have applied for Special Immigration Visas (SIVs). That includes the chaos around the international airport in Kabul.

© Provided by The Independent

Governors offer to take 22,000 Afghan refugees as Pentagon reveals where they will go

What will happen to Afghan refugees arriving into the US?

Thursday 19 August 2021 13:00 , Oliver O’Connell

Two temporary facilities have the capacity to cope with tens of thousands of new arrivals from Afghanistan, according to a spokesperson for the Pentagon, John Kirby, who detailed what will happen to visa applicants arriving into the US.

Mr Kirby told Fox News that the two facilities — at US military sites in Texas and Wisconsin — will allow the US to vet at least 22,000 refugees who have applied for Special Immigrant Visas for Afghans (SIV).

The visa scheme offers places for Afghans who worked with the US in the two decades American forces were stationed in the country, and covers family members. According to reports, SIV applications were backlogged before the unexpected fall of Kabul to the Taliban.

© Provided by The Independent

What will happen to Afghan refugees trying to make it to the US?

Omar calls out ‘hateful rhetoric’ on Afghan refugees

Thursday 19 August 2021 13:15 , Gino Spocchia

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar expressed sympathy with Afghans awaiting evacuation from the country, and called out commentators on Fox News for what she said was “hateful rhetoric” about refugees.

Ms Omar, in an appearance on MSNBC’s “The ReidOut”, attacked Fox News hosts Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson for fear-mongering in the days after Kabul fell to the Taliban — forcing both US civilians and refugees to flee.

Mr Carlson has suggested that the number of Afghan refugees “could swell to millions” and was tantamount to an “invasion”. Ms Ingraham has alleged that they would be “potentially unvetted” and asked: “Is it really our responsibility to welcome thousands of potentially unvetted refugees?”.

“This is their playbook,” said Ms Omar, a Democrat. “They know how to whip up their base into frenzy….There are people whose lives are going to be at risk, and we have to do everything that we can to bring them to safety.”

© Provided by The Independent

Ilhan Omar calls out Fox for anti-refugee rhetoric on Afghanistan

Republicans divided on refugee issue

Thursday 19 August 2021 13:30 , Gino Spocchia

While Republicans and Fox News anchors have been among the most vocal to criticise US President Joe Biden for America’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan since Sunday, the American right has been largely divided on the issue of taking-in refugees who worked with the US.

While figures such as Tucker Carlson have claimed that Afghan refugees would arrive in “your neighbourhood”, moderate Republicans including Mitt Romney have joined with Democrats in calling for the evacuation of US allies.

“Now under immediate threat by the Taliban, we have a duty and moral obligation to assist these brave men and women,” said senators Mr Romney and Mike Lee in a statement on Wednesday.

Steve Cortes, a former Trump spokesman and current Newsmax host, was meanwhile ridiculed by a former communications chief for Mike Pence, who referred to the famous words enshrined on the Statue of Liberty….

Two thirds of Americans say war was not worth fighting

Thursday 19 August 2021 13:45 , Oliver O’Connell

As many as two-thirds of Americans believe the two decades long war in Afghanistan was not worth fighting, amid criticism of America’s withdrawal.

According to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, roughly two-thirds said America’s longest war was not worth fighting.

Approval of US President Joe Biden was more evenly divided, with 47 per cent of respondents approving of his handling of international affairs, and 52 per cent approving of the president on national security.

The poll was conducted 12 — 16 August, as the two-decade war in Afghan ended with the Taliban returning to power and capturing the capital of Kabul, before US civilians and asylum applicants were able to leave.

Polls weeks before the withdrawal suggested as many 70 per cent of Americans supported the country’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, following a deal agreed by former president Donald Trump and the Taliban last year.

Biden looks to 2022 midterms with Afghanistan withdrawl

Thursday 19 August 2021 14:00 , Gino Spocchia

“Although the picture coming out of Kabul is by no measure a pretty one,” writes The Independent’s Andrew Feinberg of the fall of Kabul, Joe Biden’s “actions appear to be driven by a recognition that the judgement voters will render next November (during the 2020 midterm elections) will be influenced far more by events at home than by events in a faraway land most Americans could not pick out on a map.”

© Provided by The Independent

Biden shows almost Trumpian defiance by digging in over Afghanistan

CIA director was away from DC when Kabul fell, report says

Thursday 19 August 2021 14:15 , Gino Spocchia

CIA director Bill Burns was not in Washington DC when Kabul fell and an evacuation of US officials and civilians was mounted, according to Axios.

Mr Burns was visiting the Middle East and northern Africa as part of a nearly week-long trip to meet with his regional counterparts; on Sunday, when Taliban militants took control of the capital. Mr Burns was in Egypt when Kabul fell.

“The fact that Burns was on an overseas trip suggests the agency didn’t think a collapse was imminent,” Axios’s Barak Ravid wrote in the story. It followed Gen Mark Milley, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, saying “nothing” indicated the Afghan government would fall in “11 days” of the US withdrawing.

Joe Biden has come fire not not preparing or ordering an earlier evacuation of Americans, allies, and Afghans from the country before it collapsed.

© Provided by The Independent

CIA director was abroad while Kabul fell, report says

Biden says Taliban have not changed

Thursday 19 August 2021 14:30 , Gino Spocchia

US President Joe Biden, in a tense interview with ABC News on Wednesday, said the Taliban had not changed since they were ousted by American forces in 2001, but were in fact experiencing an “existential crisis”.

“Do they want to be recognised by the international community as a legitimate government? I’m not sure they do,” Mr Biden said. “They care whether they can hold a society together”.

“There are a lot of places where women are being subjugated, he went on to say, “[and] the way to deal with that is putting economic, diplomatic and international pressure on them to change their behaviour.”

It follows Mr Biden defending his decision to end America’s longest war, and the Taliban suggesting women would have more freedoms under the militant group this time around. That remains to be seen, with reports already suggesting otherwise.

Republicans complain of Taliban taking US military equipment

Thursday 19 August 2021 14:45 , Gino Spocchia

A group of House Republicans will reportedly try forcing the Biden administration to reveal how much US military equipment was left behind in Afghanistan, after Taliban fighters were pictured with American weapons after retaking the country.

According to the Daily Caller, the Republicans sit on the House Armed Services Committee and will introduce legislation on the matter.

A group of Senate Republicans, meanwhile, wrote to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Wednesday asking for information about the equipment taken by the Taliban.

“It is unconscionable that high-tech military equipment paid for by US taxpayers has fallen into the hands of the Taliban and their terrorist allies,” the letter said. “Securing US assets should have been among the top priorities for the US Department of Defense prior to announcing the withdrawal from Afghanistan”.

It comes amid criticism of the country’s withdrawal from its so-called “forever war”, which was agreed by former Republican president Donald Trump, and carried out by Joe Biden. Many US civilians, allies, and refugees were still in Afghanistan when the Taliban retook the capital on Sunday.

Nikki Haley called out for ‘memory hole’ regarding Taliban talks

Thursday 19 August 2021 14:51 , Oliver O’Connell

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley has been called for blasting current diplomacy with the Taliban as “dealing with the devil”, but ignoring similar efforts when she was serving in the Trump administration, which began negotiations with the group.

On Wednesday Ms Haley tweeted:

In an appearance on CNN’s New Day on Thursday, Jake Tapper said in response: “There is this attempt to memory hole the last four years under President Trump of an attempt to have a peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban.”

He added that the Afghan government was excluded from those talks and that while he was not faulting the Trump administration to achieve a peace deal, Mr Tapper noted that there is an attempt by figures such as Ms Haley, former vice president Mike Pence, and former secretary of state Mike Pompeo to pretend that there is something demonstrably different between the two approaches.

“They are pretending that the previous effort did not happen,” he said.

Secretary Austin and General Milley arrive at White House for national security meeting

Thursday 19 August 2021 14:56 , Oliver O’Connell

According to the White House schedule, at 10am President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will meet with their national security team in the Situation Room to hear intelligence, security, and diplomatic updates on the evolving situation in Afghanistan.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley were just seen arriving at the White House.

Democrats want investigation after chaotic US withdrawal

Thursday 19 August 2021 15:08 , Oliver O’Connell

Congressional Democrats are vowing to probe what went wrong with the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, after US President Joe Biden said only last month that it was “unlikely” the Taliban would retake the country following 20 years of war.

Sen Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said lawmakers will investigate what he described as the “Biden administration’s flawed execution of the US withdrawal,” as well as Donald Trump’s actions, after he signed an agreement with the Taliban to withdraw.

“The Committee will seek a full accounting for these shortcomings as well as assess why the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces collapsed so quickly,” Mr Menendez said in a statement, which was seen by The Associated Press.

© Provided by The Independent

Democratic-led committees vow investigations on Afghanistan

Still problems for many getting to Kabul Airport

Thursday 19 August 2021 15:10 , Oliver O’Connell

There are credible reports of people with US passports or green cards not always being able to get through to Hamid Karzai International Airport.

While the US is in control of the airport, the streets outside are only accessible via Taliban checkpoints. They are thronged with increasingly desperate people.

Police investigating possible explosives in truck near Library of Congress

Thursday 19 August 2021 15:13 , Oliver O’Connell

The Associated Press is reporting that police are investigating reports of possible explosives in a truck near the Library of Congress. The area is being evacuated.

Capitol Police are shitting down roads around Congress and are telling people to avoid the area.

Cannon congressional office building evacuated

Thursday 19 August 2021 15:20 , Oliver O’Connell

Staff in the House of Representatives Cannon office building are being told to relocate to the Longworth Building, expanding the evacuation and shelter in place alerts issues for the Library of Congress buildings.

Police vehicles have been seen heading into the area.

Was Biden handcuffed by Trump’s Taliban deal in Doha?

Thursday 19 August 2021 15:25 , Oliver O’Connell

While Joe Biden suggested on Wednesday night that he would have withdrawn US forces from Afghanistan without an existing agreement between the Taliban and the Trump administration, questions have been raised about the responsibility of the former president for the chaotic scenes from Kabul.

“If he thought the deal was bad, he could have renegotiated,” said Chris Miller, who was acting defence secretary in the final months of the Trump administration, in an interview with The Associated Press. “He had plenty of opportunity to do that if he so desired”.

Mr Biden, in an address to the nation on Monday night, said “The choice I had to make, as your president, was either to follow through on that agreement or be prepared to go back to fighting the Taliban in the middle of the spring fighting season”.

Mr Trump, meanwhile, has called for Mr Biden to resign for the unexpected fall of the Afghan government, while also calling the Taliban strong negotiators.

© Provided by The Independent

Was Biden handcuffed by Trump’s Taliban deal in Doha?

Capitol Police: Active bomb threat

Thursday 19 August 2021 15:35 , Oliver O’Connell

A tweet from the Capitol Police describes the ongoing situation as an “active bomb threat investigation”.

Pentagon briefing: 7,000 evacuees have left Kabul

Thursday 19 August 2021 15:40 , Oliver O’Connell

Major General Hank Taylor says that the US military footprint in Kabul is now more than 5,200 troops on the ground.

Multiple gates are now open for processing and access to Hamid Karzai International Airport.

13 C-17s have arrived and 12 have departed in the past 24 hours. A cumulative total of 7,000 total people have evacuated from Kabul’s airport — 2,000 in the last day. Since flights began in late July approximately 12,000 people have departed.

The US military is committed to the safe evacuation of as many people as possible by maximising capacity of flights.

F-18 fighters are over Kabul to provide oversight and air support for the evacuation operation. They have been providing overwatch for the duration of the operation.

More on active bomb threat near Capitol

Thursday 19 August 2021 15:42 , Oliver O’Connell

Law enforcement officials have told the Associated Press that investigators on scene outside the Capitol are trying to determine whether the suspicious device in the pickup truck is an operable explosive and whether the man in the truck was holding a detonator.

Biden says threats elsewhere than in Afghanistan

Thursday 19 August 2021 15:55 , Oliver O’Connell

Facing down criticism for US forces failing to fully withdraw Americans, allies and Afghan refugees before the collapse of the armed forces and government in Afghanistan, US President Joe Biden said America “should be focusing on where the threat is the greatest”.

The Democrat, in an interview with ABC News, refused to say Al-Qaida was the biggest threat facing the US, and that in fact, it was no longer “rational” to continue to focus US military power there, after the assassination of Osama bin Laden and others who carried out the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“We should be focusing on where the threat is the greatest,” said Mr Biden, who named Syria, East Africa as places where the Islamic State group poses a “significantly greater threat” than in Afghanistan.

“And the idea we can continue to spend a trillion dollars, and have tens of thousands of American forces in Afghanistan, when we have North Africa and Western Africa — the idea we can do that and ignore those looming problems, growing problems, is not rational.”

Pentagon briefing: Kirby says some agreement with Taliban must continue

Thursday 19 August 2021 15:57 , Oliver O’Connell

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby notes that “a certain measure of agreement with the Taliban on what we are trying to accomplish has to continue to occur” for operations to continue to evacuate people out of Hamid Karzai International Airport.

Mr Kirby notes that any attack or hostile interactions from the Taliban will be met with a full response from the US forces.

More on Capitol Hill bomb threat

Thursday 19 August 2021 15:59 , Oliver O’Connell

Reporter Morgan Basking tweets: “SCOTUS police tell me that a man was harassing LOC officers, told them he has explosives in his truck. Area from Independence to Md Ave and 3rd St NE is barricaded, bomb dogs out and sniffing.”

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate are not in session today.

Pentagon briefing: Process of getting SIV applicants through gates is ‘working’

Thursday 19 August 2021 16:04 , Oliver O’Connell

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby says that the process of getting Special Immigration Visa applicants through the gates at Hamid Karzai International Airport is “working”.

Images from on the ground in Kabul still show a desperate scene with one report of “chemical irritants” being used to disperse crowds at the east gate of the airport.

More evacuations in ongoing Capitol Hill bomb threat

Thursday 19 August 2021 16:05 , Oliver O’Connell

Staff at the Madison Office Building at the Library of Congress, initially told to shelter in place, are now being told to evacuate, per an alert sent to Andrew Solender of Forbes.

Snipers deployed over Capitol Hill bomb threat

Thursday 19 August 2021 16:07 , Oliver O’Connell

Law enforcement officials have told the Associated Press that police are deploying snipers to the scene where a man in a pickup truck claims to have an explosive device near the US Capitol.

The White House says it is also monitoring the situation and is being briefed by law enforcement.

Pentagon briefing: Airlift capacity is there, but processing is not

Thursday 19 August 2021 16:09 , Oliver O’Connell

The Pentagon says the capacity to airlift individuals out of Afghanistan is between 5,000 and 9,000 per day, but that level has not yet been reached.

While plane capacity may be there, the processing of the line of people waiting has not reached that level.

By opening up another gate and increasing the number of US consular staff, Mr Kirby says the US believes they we will soon be able to see “an opening of aperture” to increase the flow of people out of the country.

Pentagon briefing: People are leaving from civilian side of airport

Thursday 19 August 2021 16:14 , Oliver O’Connell

A limited number of people are still leaving from the commercial side of the airport, according to press secretary James Kirby.

He notes that the Pentagon figures are focused on numbers departing on US government flights, but a limited number of commercial and charter flights are also departing.

Pentagon briefing: How many Americans are still in the country?

Thursday 19 August 2021 16:17 , Oliver O’Connell

Q: How many American citizens remain in Afghanistan?

A: I don’t know.

Video: Capitol Hill evacuations underway

Thursday 19 August 2021 16:18 , Oliver O’Connell

Exclusive virtual event ‘Afghanistan: A nation abandoned?’ – 1 September

Thursday 19 August 2021 16:34 , Oliver O’Connell

Sign up now and join our expert panel, including our defence editor Kim Sengupta, as they discuss the situation in Afghanistan and what the future holds for the country.

The Independent has provided decades of award-winning journalistic coverage from the ground in Afghanistan. And now we are holding a webinar Afghanistan: An abandoned nation? to discuss the future Afghanistan faces and what lessons can be learned from the past.

© Provided by The Independent

Afghanistan: A nation abandoned? Sign up to our exclusive virtual event

The panel will be hosted by foreign editor David Harding and the panel will consist of foreign correspondent and commentator Patrick Cockburn, Camelia Entekhbifard, editor of Independent Persian, and Lieutenant General Sir Simon Mayell, a commander who was the Middle East advisor in the Ministry of Defence and myself, the Defence and Diplomatic Editor.

The event will be held on Zoom from 6.30-7.30pm (UK time) on 1 September.

Sign up here for free.

Capitol bomb threat based on claims of drive

Thursday 19 August 2021 16:35 , Oliver O’Connell

Reports of an explosive device near the Capitol are based entirely on the statements of the driver in the suspect vehicle who claims to have explosives.

Lauren Boebert belatedly discloses husband’s earnings to FEC

Thursday 19 August 2021 16:50 , Oliver O’Connell

A freshman member of Congress from Colorado is finding herself under increasing scrutiny by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) over nearly half a million dollars her husband earned in 2020 which she did not initially disclose on her required FEC paperwork.

Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, an outspoken right-wing Republican who was one of many to support former President Donald Trump’s ongoing false claims about the 2020 election, was reported by the Associated Press to have amended her paperwork on Tuesday to include that income.

But the $478,000 Jayson Boebert, her husband, made from his consulting business in 2019 was not the only problem spotted by FEC officials with Ms Boebert’s paperwork.

John Bowden reports.

© Provided by The Independent

Lauren Boebert belatedly reveals husband earned $478k consulting for energy company

ABC accused of misleading post of Biden interview on Afghanistan

Thursday 19 August 2021 16:55 , Oliver O’Connell

ABC News has been accused of misleadingly editing the transcript of a response Joe Biden gave to a question about the Taliban when posting it to Twitter.

Observers say it removed important context from the response.

© Provided by The Independent

ABC accused of misleading edit in Biden interview on Afghanistan

Capitol Hill bomb threat suspect is communicating with law enforcement

Thursday 19 August 2021 17:04 , Oliver O’Connell

The man outside the Library of Congress who has indicated he has an explosive “is communicating with law enforcement on the scene by writing on a dry erase board”.

11 US governors volunteer to take in Afghan refugees

Thursday 19 August 2021 17:09 , Oliver O’Connell

The US government said it will settle 22,000 refugees seeking asylum after fleeing from Afghanistan, with 11 state governors announcing plans to take the refugees, but questions remain about the efficacy of the resettlement process.

The Pentagon announced on Monday that it would “create additional capacity to support refugee relocation in the US.”

The first destination for the refugees would be temporary sites under assessment at Fort Bliss, Texas, and Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, Department of Defense official Gary Reed said at a press conference, adding that other sites will be designated if the need to do so emerges.

Anuj Pant reports.

© Provided by The Independent

Governors offer to take 22,000 Afghan refugees as Pentagon reveals where they will go

Taliban in control of 2,000 US-made armoured vehicles

Thursday 19 August 2021 17:16 , Oliver O’Connell

US officials have told Reuters that the current intelligence indicates that the Taliban control at least 2,000 US-made armoured vehicles, between 30 and 40 aircraft.

They are also in possession of an untold number of small arms.

DC mayor briefed on situation at Capitol Hill

Thursday 19 August 2021 17:19 , Oliver O’Connell

Capitol Hill bomb suspect throwing dollar bills

Thursday 19 August 2021 17:20 , Oliver O’Connell

An eyewitness says she saw a man in a black pickup truck in front of the Library of Congress shouting he had “a bomb” while tossing dollar bills out of the window.

Capitol police are responding to an “active bomb threat investigation” after a man in a pickup truck threatened to detonate an explosive device near the Library of Congress in Washington DC.

Bevan Hurley has more details as this situation unfolds.

© Provided by The Independent

Man at Capitol with bomb throwing money and talking to police ‘with a white board’

More than 1 million vaccine doses administered in a day

Thursday 19 August 2021 17:24 , Oliver O’Connell

A White House official says that 1.02 million Covid-19 vaccine doses were administered in 24 hours, including 562,000 newly vaccinated individuals.

This is the first million-plus day of shots in close to seven weeks and a 31 per cent week-over-week increase in the daily average of people completing their vaccine series.

Capitol Hill bomb threat suspect claims to have propane tank in cab of truck

Thursday 19 August 2021 17:34 , Oliver O’Connell

The pickup truck driver at the centre of a bomb threat near the Library of Congress, a white male from North Carolina, claims to have a propane tank in the cab with him and is making anti-government statements.

GOP senator test postive for Covid

Thursday 19 August 2021 17:39 , Oliver O’Connell

Republican Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi has tested positive for Covid-19.

He has mild symptoms and is fully vaccinated.

Mississippi is going through its worst outbreak of cases since the start of the pandemic. Only 36 per cent of people are fully vaccinated and the daily average number of cases is 3,526.

Since March 2020, there have been 396,394 confirmed cases of Covid in the state, and 7,916 deaths.

US jobless claims hit a low for pandemic

Thursday 19 August 2021 17:55 , Oliver O’Connell

Some good news for the White House today regarding unemployment claims.

Per the AP:

The number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell last week for a fourth straight time to a pandemic low, the latest sign that America’s job market is rebounding from the pandemic recession as employers boost hiring to meet a surge in consumer demand.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that jobless claims fell by 29,000 to 348,000. The four-week average of claims, which smooths out week-to-week volatility, also fell — by 19,000, to just below 378,000, also a pandemic low.

The weekly pace of applications for unemployment aid has fallen more or less steadily since topping 900,000 in early January. The dwindling number of first-time jobless claims has coincided with the widespread administering of vaccines, which has led businesses to reopen or expand their hours and drawn consumers back to shops, restaurants, airports, and entertainment venues.

The White House released a statement from Joe Biden celebrating the news.

Our economy has created more than 4 million jobs since I took office – more jobs created at this point than any previous administration. Our economy is also growing at the fastest rate in the first half of a year in nearly 40 years.This morning’s news reinforces the historic nature of our economic recovery, due in part to the American Rescue Plan that got relief to those who needed it most, resources to our communities to fight Covid and vaccinations in the arms of the American people.

Taliban’s presence at airport complicates Afghan evacuation

Thursday 19 August 2021 18:10 , Oliver O’Connell

Those being evacuated have to go past Taliban checkpoints where they may have their documents torn up or face physical assault, writes Kim Sengupta in Kabul for The Independent.

© Provided by The Independent

Taliban’s menacing presence at Kabul airport complicates the evacuation effort

US cancels student loan debt for Americans with severe disabilities

Thursday 19 August 2021 18:14 , Oliver O’Connell

The Biden administration announced today that it will automatically erase student loan debt for more than 300,000 Americans with severe disabilities that leave them unable to earn significant incomes.

This will wipe out more than $5.8bn in debt, according to the Education Department, marking the start of a broader overhaul of a scheme often criticised for having overly burdensome rules.

“We’ve heard loud and clear from borrowers with disabilities and advocates about the need for this change and we are excited to follow through on it,” said Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.

The federal government offers student debt relief for people who are “totally and permanently disabled” and have limited incomes. But the current rules require them to submit documentation of their disability and undergo a three-year monitoring period to prove they’re earning little pay.

Advocates have pressed for the elimination of the monitoring period entirely and to provide automatic debt relief to people who the Social Security Administration already identifies as permanently disabled.

© Provided by The Independent

Biden to cancel $5.8 billion in student debt – here’s what you need to know

Readout of today’s White House Afghanistan meeting

Thursday 19 August 2021 18:20 , Oliver O’Connell

Per a White House official, via the pool report:

This morning, the President and Vice President met with their national security team to discuss security, diplomatic, and intelligence updates in Afghanistan.

They discussed the status of operations at Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA), which continues to be secure and operational as a result of DOD’s efforts; our efforts to evacuate U.S. citizens, Embassy personnel, SIV applicants and their families, and vulnerable Afghans as quickly as possible; and that every day we operate troops on the ground are at risk.

The national security team updated the President and Vice President that DOD has evacuated 7,000 people since August 14 and 12,000 people since the end of July.

The President, Vice President, and their team also discussed their focus on monitoring for any potential terrorist threats in Afghanistan, including from ISIS-K.

The President and Vice President met with Secretary Blinken, Secretary Austin, Chairman Milley, Director Haines, Director Burns, National Security Advisor Sullivan, Ambassador Wilson, General McKenzie, Admiral Vasely, Principal Deputy National Security Advisor Finer, Homeland Security Advisor Sherwood-Randall, and other senior officials.

Kabul: Former Afghan footballer died ‘falling from US plane’

Thursday 19 August 2021 18:29 , Oliver O’Connell

A 19-year-old boy has been named as one of the people who died while trying to flee Afghanistan by climbing onto a departing US military plane, reports Sam Hanock.

Zaki Anvari was a former Afghan national youth team footballer who, according to his Facebook profile, lived in Kabul and was once a student at the city’s Esteghlal High School.

Despite the circumstances surrounding his death still being unclear, Afghan officials say Zaki died after falling from the C-17 aircraft while it was in the air.

© Provided by The Independent

Afghan teenager died ‘falling from US plane’ while trying to flee Kabul

Voices: What do those who served in Afghanistan actually think of the Taliban takeover?

Thursday 19 August 2021 18:47 , Oliver O’Connell

Jennifer Barnhill writes:

With the latest news of Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, many may wonder what US military families have to say. Will we have an opinion about watching history repeat itself? What about the ignored warnings? Will the loss of life seem all the more painful now? Was this the right call?

© Provided by The Independent

What do American military families think of the Taliban taking over Afghanistan?

Independent senator tests positive for Covid

Thursday 19 August 2021 18:49 , Oliver O’Connell

Independent Senator Angus King of Maine has announced that he has tested positive for Covid-19.

Mr King, who is fully vaccinated, listed in a statement all of the many precautions he has taken since the start of the pandemic.

“Despite all my efforts, when I began feeling mildly feverish yesterday, I took a test this morning at my doctor’s suggestion, and it came back positive,” he wrote.

“While I am not feeling great, I’m definitely feeling much better than I would have without the vaccine.”

He will quarantine at home.

What is the Doha agreement signed by the Trump administration?

Thursday 19 August 2021 18:59 , Oliver O’Connell

The Taliban peace deal signed in Doha during the Trump administration was once hailed as historic, but is now front-and-centre of a Washington blame game.

Andy Gregory explains.

© Provided by The Independent

What is the Doha agreement signed by the Taliban?

First Afghans fleeing Taliban land in Washington, DC

Thursday 19 August 2021 19:13 , Oliver O’Connell

NBC Washington reports:

Dozens of families who fled Afghanistan after the Taliban took control of the country landed on Tuesday at Washington Dulles International Airport.

A Qatar Airways flight arrived at the airport outside Washington, D.C., in the afternoon. Passengers waited to be relocated by the federal government.

Two senators test positive for Covid-19

Thursday 19 August 2021 19:14 , Oliver O’Connell

Two United States Senators have confirmed they have tested positive for Covid-19.

Senator Angus King, an Independent from Maine, tested positive for the virus in his home state, his office has confirmed.

The news came hours after Senator Roger Wicker, a Republican from Mississippi, also announced he had tested positive.

© Provided by The Independent

Two US Senators confirm they have tested positive for Covid-19

State Department briefing: 6,000 people are at the airport

Thursday 19 August 2021 19:16 , Oliver O’Connell

The State Department says that 6,000 people have been processed at Kabul airport now and will be boarding flights out.

Tomorrow, more consular officers will be on hand to process departures.

Extra staff are also being deployed to Qatar and Kuwait to cope with transit arrangements.

Thursday 19 August 2021 19:19 , Oliver O’Connell

If the 6,000 people who have been processed at Hamid Karzai International Airport are flown out tomorrow on the 12 C-17s deployed to the airfield, this could almost double the number of evacuees since the end of July in just one day.

Capitol bomb threat suspect surrenders

Thursday 19 August 2021 19:26 , Oliver O’Connell

The AP reports that the man who claimed to have a bomb in a truck near the Library of Congress has surrendered to law enforcement, ending an hours-long standoff that triggered evacuation around Capitol Hill.

Sentencing of 6 January Capitol rioter postponed as online sleuths find new video

Thursday 19 August 2021 19:39 , Oliver O’Connell

A last minute discovery of video footage by internet sleuths may have derailed the criminal defence of a Capitol rioter.

Robert Reeder, who was in Washington DC on 6 January, pleaded guilty to picketing inside the US Capitol during the riot, but maintained after his arrest that he never participated in any violence.

Mr Reeder’s sentencing hearing was scheduled for Wednesday, but just before the trial a group of internet investigators calling themselves the “Sedition Hunters” sent footage of the defendant grappling with Capitol police officers to the FBI.

Graig Graziosi has more of the details.

© Provided by The Independent

Sentencing of Capitol riot suspect suspended as online sleuths find new video

Biden’s booster shot speech was ‘diversionary tactic’ over Afghanistan says Fox host

Thursday 19 August 2021 19:43 , Oliver O’Connell

A Fox & Friends host and guest have claimed that President Joe Biden is promoting Covid vaccination booster shots to distract from the chaos unfolding in Afghanistan.

Host Brian Kilmeade had guest Dr Marc Siegel on Thursday’s show when he asked: “Politically, this was a head fake to get us distracted again, but do we need this third shot?”

Dr Siegel replied, agreeing that Biden was using “diversionary tactics” because the president “didn’t take any questions on Afghanistan”.

Jade Bremner reports.

© Provided by The Independent

Fox host says Biden’s booster shot speech was ‘diversionary tactic’ over Afghanistan

Pentagon photos from Kabul airport in stark contrast to images from outside

Thursday 19 August 2021 19:48 , Oliver O’Connell

Bidens to get their Covid booster shots next month

Thursday 19 August 2021 19:55 , Oliver O’Connell

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden will get Covid-19 booster shots as soon as they can, according to an interview with ABC News.

The presidential couple were given their second dose of the vaccine in January and therefore will be able to get their booster in September, Mr Biden told the network on Wednesday.

Clara Hill reports.

© Provided by The Independent

The Bidens to get Covid booster shots next month

Trump says bomb Afghanistan bases to ‘smithereens’ then bring out military

Thursday 19 August 2021 20:01 , Oliver O’Connell

Trump lashes out at Biden and “woke Generals” with his own playbook for Afghanistan.

The former president’s plan involves bombing bases into “smithereens” resulting in “no chaos, no death”.

White House update on Haiti

Thursday 19 August 2021 20:17 , Oliver O’Connell

Per the White House:

At the direction of President Biden, the United States Government continues to rapidly mobilise to assist the Government of Haiti and the Haitian people after Saturday’s devastating earthquake.

During this morning’s Pentagon briefing, Major General Hank Taylor briefed that:

– Three CH-47 Chinooks and five UH-60 Black Hawks from SOUTHCOM’s JTF-Bravo were deployed yesterday and have already started moving disaster relief personnel and supplies.

– A CH-47 completed about 60% of a move of a Field Hospital to Les Cayes and the rest of that field hospital will be airlifted today.

– The USS Arlington is now underway and expected to arrive later this week to provide additional lift and medical capabilities and serve as another resource for the people of Haiti.

Special Tactics Airmen assigned to the 24th Special Operations Wing are currently augmenting the lifesaving and humanitarian aid efforts in Haiti and are conducting various airfield surveys to bring in humanitarian aid via airlift.

Deputy DHS head sends message to workforce about Afghanistan

Thursday 19 August 2021 20:22 , Oliver O’Connell

Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security John Tien sent a personal message to the DHS workforce regarding the situation in Afghanistan.

He speaks as a veteran with the knowledge that many members of DHS staff served on the ground in Afghanistan, referencing the sobering images coming out of the country, he writes: “I deeply understand the mixed reactions one may feel.”

Third senator tests positive with Covid-19

Thursday 19 August 2021 20:29 , Oliver O’Connell

A third senator has tested positive for Covid-19 after Angus King and Roger Wicker’s announcements earlier today.

Senator John Hickenlooper says: “I’m grateful for the vaccine (and the scientists behind it) for limiting my symptoms and allowing us to continue our work for Colorado.”

State Department: 20 full flights out of Kabul tonight

Thursday 19 August 2021 20:34 , Oliver O’Connell

State Department spokesperson Ned Price says that they hope to get 20 flights of evacuees out of Kabul tonight.

6,000 people have been processed and are waiting at Hamid Karzai International Airport.

Biden approval polling dips slightly overall, but president suffers on foreign policy competency

Thursday 19 August 2021 21:04 , Oliver O’Connell

The latest presidential approval polls as aggregated by FiveThirtyEight show Joe Biden’s overall approval rating has held remarkably steady over the course of the week, dipping just one percent since Monday.

As of Thursday, Mr Biden had a 49.1 per cent approval rating and a 44.5 per cent disapproval rating.

The latest YouGov poll has the president at 49 per cent to 46 per cent when adjusted for quality, recency, sample size, and partisan lean of the respondents.

However, delving deeper into the numbers shows:

…significantly more Americans now disapprove of Biden on foreign policy (48 percent) than approve (36 percent) — a sizable shift from last month, when the country was evenly divided on the question (42 percent disapproving to 41 percent approving).

Notably, disapproval of Biden’s foreign policy increased by the same amount (7 points) among Democrats (to 18 percent) and Republicans (to 86 percent).

Still, nearly all of the new opposition to Biden on Afghanistan is concentrated among Republicans and, to a lesser degree, independents. Last month, Republicans were evenly divided on whether they favored (37 percent) or opposed (39 percent) the withdrawal; today far more Republicans oppose it (57 percent) than favor it (22 percent).

Likewise, independents swung from 53 percent to 20 percent in favor of withdrawal, to just 39 percent to 27 percent in favor of withdrawal, over the same period. Democrats, meanwhile, have become slightly more pro-withdrawal (60 percent to 10 percent) in the wake of recent events.

Are we looking at a Senate superspreader event?

Thursday 19 August 2021 21:12 , Oliver O’Connell

It’s been eight days since the Senate broke for its August recess, well within the period in which symptoms for Covid-19 show up.

Is the Senate floor the new Provincetown?

Photo: Afghans leaving Kabul on a US transport plane

Thursday 19 August 2021 21:22 , Oliver O’Connell

NBC’s Richard Engel shares this photo of Afghan civilians being flown out of Kabul in a US military C-17 to begin new lives in other countries after the Taliban swept back to power.

House Rules to set measures for infrastructure, budget, and John Lewis voting rights bills

Thursday 19 August 2021 21:35 , Oliver O’Connell

The House Rules Committee will meet on Monday 23 August at 11am to set House floor guidelines for the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill; the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget resolution; and the John Lewis voting rights bill (HR 4).

Are Americans being made to pay for repatriation flights?

Thursday 19 August 2021 21:50 , Oliver O’Connell

It would seem so, and it appears to be State Department policy for Americans stranded overseas.

Jerry Dunleavy of the DC Examiner notes that the State Department’s Overseas Security Advisory Council said on 14 August: “Repatriation flights are not free, and passengers will be required to sign a promissory loan agreement and may not be eligible to renew their US passports until the loan is repaid. The cost may be $2,000 or more per person.”

No viable explosives in Floyd Roseberry’s truck, officials say

Thursday 19 August 2021 21:54 , Oliver O’Connell

NBC News reports that a search of Floyd Roseberry’s truck did not turn up any viable explosives.

Mr Roseberry parked outside the Library of Congress this morning and made threats, leading to evacuations, and a tense stand-off with police.

‘Perfect storm brewing’ in rightwing radicalisation

Thursday 19 August 2021 22:14 , Oliver O’Connell

Frank Figliuzzo, former assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI and MSNBC national security contributor, warned on Deadline: White House on Thursday that the right is becoming radicalised in a way that he has not seen since he worked on Al Qaeda and ISIS.

‘If this isn’t failure, what does failure look like?’

Thursday 19 August 2021 22:17 , Oliver O’Connell

CNN’s Clarissa Ward made a scathing rebuttal to President Joe Biden’s claim that American withdrawal from Afghanistan as the Taliban swiftly took power had not been a failure.

Ward, the channel’s chief international correspondent, reported live from Kabul, where she has been describing chaotic and desperate scenes as Afghan people tried to escape the country.

“It is just an absolute mess. And we heard President Biden say yesterday in his comments to ABC News that this is not a failure, and I think a lot of people outside that airport, particularly those taking the kinds of extreme actions we were just talking about would like to know: if this isn’t failure, what does failure look like exactly?”

Helen Elfer reports.

© Provided by The Independent

If Afghanistan isn’t failure, what does failure look like, asks CNN reporter

Arkansas latest state to welcome Afghan refugees

Thursday 19 August 2021 22:25 , Oliver O’Connell

Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson said Arkansas would welcome Afghan refugees.

Report: US spent $28m on unusable Afghan military uniforms

Thursday 19 August 2021 22:49 , Oliver O’Connell

The US military reportedly spent millions of dollars on uniforms for the Afghan army that were unusable because the camouflage was not suited to the country’s terrain.

According to a US government watchdog covering the US mission in Afghanistan, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (Sigar), Washington spent as much as $28m (£20.5m) buying uniforms that the Afghan military were not able to use.

Gino Spocchia reports.

© Provided by The Independent

US allegedly spent $28m on unusable Afghan camouflage uniforms

Poll reveals two thirds of Americans didn’t think Afghanistan was worth fighting for

Thursday 19 August 2021 23:52 , Graeme Massie

A new poll reveals that two-thirds of Americans do not think that the 20-year war in Afghanistan was worth fighting.

It also found that 47 per cent of Americans approve of Joe Biden’s handling of international affairs, while 52 per cent approve of the president on national security.

© Provided by The Independent

Poll reveals two thirds of Americans didn’t think Afghanistan was worth fighting for

Secret State Department cable warned of Afghan collapse in July, report says

Friday 20 August 2021 00:29 , Graeme Massie

Secret State department cables warned in July that the Afghanistan government could quickly collapse following the US withdrawal later this month, a report says.

Around two dozen officials from the US Embassy in Kabul gave the Biden administration the stark warning in a 13 July cable to the department’s “dissent channel”, according to The Wall Street Journal.

© Provided by The Independent

Secret State Department cable warned of Afghan collapse in July, report says

American veterans scramble to save Afghan interpreters left behind by US withdrawal

Friday 20 August 2021 00:45 , Graeme Massie

As US forces push on with a speedy withdrawal from Afghanistan, veterans of the 20-year conflict are scrambling to save the Afghan interpreters they once worked alongside, and whose lives are now at risk.

The effort is being driven by former service members motivated to help after seeing the desperate situation faced by their former comrades-in-arms. The plight of Afghan interpreters has become especially dire since the Taliban’s rapid takeover of the country.

Richard Hall has the story.

© Provided by The Independent

One last mission: Veterans scramble to save Afghan comrades left behind by withdrawal

Biden says troops will stay in Afghanistan for as long as it takes to evacuate all US civilians
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