In a blistering example of the damage the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan has done to the Biden presidency, Fox News’ Chris Wallace on Sunday asked a blunt question of Secretary of State Antony Blinken: “Mr. Secretary, does the president not know what’s going on?”
“This is an incredibly emotional time for many of us,” Blinken replied, pivoting away from the sharp edge of Wallace’s question, and into a procedural answer about the U.S. and its “allies and partners” and the consensus around leaving Afghanistan. Wallace was not moved. “Sir, respectfully, I’m not questioning whether or not al Qaeda has a presence. The president said al Qaeda is gone. It’s not gone. The president said he’s not heard any criticism from the allies. There’s been a lot of criticism from the allies. Words matter, and the words of the president matter most.”
On Fox News Sunday, Wallace noted that the Taliban has taken Kabul, and that Biden has said there is no threat of al Qaeda in Afghanistan, while the United Nations reports al Qaeda has a presence in at least 15 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.
“Al Qaeda’s capacity to do what it did on 9/11, to attack us, to attack our partners our allies from Afghanistan, is vastly, vastly diminished,” Blinken said. “Are there al Qaeda members and remnants in Afghanistan? Yes, but what the president was referring to was its capacity to do what it did on 9/11, and that capacity has been successfully diminished.”