‘No deadline’ on evacuating Americans from Kabul, says Blinken – live | US news














Blinken says there is ‘no deadline’ on evacuating Americans from Kabul

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As many as 1,500 Americans remain in Afghanistan, Blinken says










In April, the US attorney’s office for the District of Columbia and the civil rights division of the US Department of Justice said that they would not pursue charges against the US Capitol officer, who killed Ashli Babbitt with a single shot.

To some on the far right, Babbitt, an air force veteran and believer in the QAnon conspiracy theory, has become a heroine.

Donald Trump has called for “justice”, saying earlier this month Babbitt “was murdered at the hands of someone who should have never pulled the trigger of his gun”.

Capitol police said in its statement about the internal investigation of the shooting: “The actions of the officer in this case potentially saved members and staff from serious injury and possible death.

“This officer and the officer’s family have been the subject of numerous credible and specific threats for actions that were taken as part of the job of all our officers: defending the Congress, members, staff and the democratic process.”




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An urgent update, readers! Blinken is now not due to speak until 2.30pm ET/6.30pm GMT.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki is due to brief the media at 3pm ET. “Due to” because these briefing often slip back and sometimes by a lot.

The first delay, when we had expected secretary of state Antony Blinken to make public remarks at 12.15pm follows a delay or more than five hours yesterday in what were scheduled to be public remarks by Joe Biden.

The US president had been due to speak at 12pm ET, finally spoke at 5.15pm and didn’t say much, or take questions.

It’s definitely not unusual for these kinds of scheduled addresses to get moved back, and Biden is not a good time-keeper at such events, in general, but 5+ hours for a nothing-burger address that lasted a few minutes and contained little new did rather cast Biden in a less than favorable light amid ongoing fears that many awaiting evacuation will be left behind at the mercy of the Taliban.

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is due to make public remarks at any moment, to update us on the latest situation with Afghanistan and US evacuations.

People evacuated from Kabul wait to board a bus that will take them to a refugee processing center at the Dulles international airport in Virginia today.

People evacuated from Kabul wait to board a bus that will take them to a refugee processing center at the Dulles international airport in Virginia today. Photograph: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Blinken has strongly defended the Biden administration’s decision to pull out rapidly from Afghanistan, although he attracted criticism when he said that the withdrawal chaos was “manifestly not Saigon”, in relation to the US pull out from Vietnam as North Vietnamese forces took over.

For many the situation in Kabul has been manifestly worse than Saigon because the US has been in charge of supporting the Afghan government and training its security forces for the last 20 years before they crumpled in the face of the Taliban in less than two weeks.

My colleague Ed Pilkington reported Blinken’s remarks on Sunday 15 August even as Kabul was falling to the Taliban, the Afghan president was fleeing abroad with no warning, and panic was unfolding in the Afghan capital, writing:


Blinken’s rejection of any parallels with the iconic image of helicopters evacuating personnel from the US embassy in Saigon in April 1975 at the end of the Vietnam war came as the skies over the Afghan capital were filled with Chinooks and Black Hawks ferrying US embassy staff to a secure location at the international airport. The secretary of state made his remarks with Taliban forces amassing inside the capital, and with their representatives already negotiating a “peaceful transfer” of power at the presidential palace.

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The Pentagon is not very happy about the surprise visit of two congressmen to Kabul airport yesterday.

Democrat Seth Moulton and Republican Peter Meijer, both of them Iraq veterans, said they made the stealth visit for the purpose of oversight of a critical situation.

CSPAN
(@cspan)

.@PentagonPresSec on Reps. Moulton & Meijer Afghanistan trip: “We were not aware of this visit. We are obviously not encouraging VIP visits to a very tense, dangerous and dynamic situation…They certainly took time away from what we had been planning to do that day.” pic.twitter.com/JTrcdzAcpa


August 25, 2021

“We were not aware of this visit, and we are obviously not encouraging VIP visits to a very tense, dangerous and dynamic situation at that airport and inside Kabul generally,” the Pentagon spokesman, John Kirby, said.

He added that he did not know whether the two visitors had taken seats on planes that would have gone to American or Afghan evacuees, but Kirby said pointedly: “They certainly took time away from what we had been planning to do that day.”




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