Secretary of State Antony Blinken was reportedly vacationing in the Hamptons just hours before Kabul fell to the Taliban, regardless of warnings that the metropolis was in danger.
Blinken was one of a number of top-level Biden administration officers to have gone on trip the Friday before the Afghan capitol was taken by the group on August 15.
President Joe Biden himself was additionally on a visit away, and had arrived at the presidential retreat at Camp David that day.
Blinken was already on trip, in line with a timeline of the occasions main as much as Kabul’s seize compiled by the Washington Post.
The officers appeared to not be overly involved with the state of affairs on the floor, the outlet reported.
Intelligence stories had estimated that Kabul was not more likely to be in danger from the Taliban for a number of months – most likely till at the least late fall.
But the Afghanistan navy collapsed and the warlords swept by the nation in slightly over every week.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken (proper) was vacationing in the Hamptons hours before Kabul fell to the Taliban
The administration’s response to Afghanistan’s swift collapse was broadly criticized, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy blasting the president final week for hiding.
‘Other international locations are questioning whether or not we’ve the resolve to honor our phrase as a result of of the bungled withdrawal. President Biden magnified this harm over the previous week by hiding at Camp David. Delivering incoherent speeches,’ McCarthy stated.
The Blinkens have longtime had a presence in East Hampton, the place Blinken’s father Donald Blinken, a former US ambassador to Hungary underneath President Bill Clinton, has lived seasonally for greater than 50 years, the East Hampton Star reported.
The elder Blinken had designed the stucco residence on Lily Pond Lane himself, and it sits beside that of his youthful brother, Robert’s, the New York Times reported in 1972.
It isn’t clear if the Secretary of State was staying with household or holidaying individually as the state of affairs in Afghanistan collapsed.
The secretary of state’s father, Donald Blinken (pictured) constructed the household’s East Hampton residence alongside his brother, Robert’s. He had served as ambassador to Hungary underneath President Bill Clinton. He is seen talking at the 2017 American Foreign Policy Gala Awards Dinner
The Blinken household has lived seasonally in East Hampton for greater than 50 years. It isn’t clear if Blinken was staying with household when Kabul collapsed
The Biden Administration’s sluggish response to Kabul’s sudden collapse was broadly criticized. Biden is seen on August 16, 2021 at Camp David in a video convention with prime officers. The president hesitated to return to the White House at the same time as chaos unfolded
While the Secretary of State was vacationing, administration officers did not start to scramble for a response till Saturday, the day before Kabul fell.
By the night, Blinken was on the telephone with President Ashraf Ghani, trying to negotiate a take care of the Taliban to remain exterior the metropolis in alternate for his or her place at the desk in a future Afghan authorities, the Post reported.
It isn’t clear when he returned to Washington.
Blinken and different Biden administration official’s seemingly flat-footed response to the Taliban takeover got here regardless of a number of warnings.
A dozen diplomats despatched a confidential memo in a dissent channel to Blinken on July 13 that the Taliban was quickly gaining floor and the metropolis was weak to break down, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The State Department memo, in line with the report, additionally known as for the authorities to make use of more durable language on the violence in the previous from the Taliban and urged them to begin gathering info for Afghan allies who certified for Special Immigrant Visas after working with US forces.
Taliban gunmen police a crowd of protesters making an attempt to lift the flag of the Islamic Republican of Afghanistan throughout an Independence Day rally at Pashtunistan Square in Kabul on August 19. The capital metropolis’s swift collapse appeared to catch Biden administration officers abruptly
The Journal reported that 23 Embassy staffers signed the cable and rushed to ship it contemplating the deteriorating state of affairs in Kabul.
Blinken reviewed the cable, a private conversant in it informed the paper.
State Department spokesman Ned Price informed the Journal: ‘He’s made clear that he welcomes and encourages use of the dissent channel, and is dedicated to its revitalization. We worth constructive inner dissent.’
The memo urged the administration to begin flights evacuating folks out of the nation no later than August 1.
A former CIA counter-terrorism chief additionally suggested the president’s marketing campaign Kabul would crumble inside days with a depleted American presence.
A US Air Force plane takes off from the navy airport in Kabul on Friday, as the Pentagon stated the evacuation of tens of 1000’s of folks from Afghanistan nonetheless faces extra doable assaults
In this satellite tv for pc picture supplied by Maxar Technologies persons are loading on an plane at Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan on Friday
Afghan refugees arriving at the Rota Air Base in Spain on Friday. The airbase is shared by American and Spanish navy forces
But in an interview launched on August 19, President Biden claimed that he was by no means informed that such a fast collapse was doable.
And a day earlier, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated he by no means noticed any intelligence warning that the Afghan authorities might fall so rapidly.
‘There was nothing that I or anybody else noticed that indicated a collapse of this military and this authorities in 11 days,’ Milley stated.
With the ignored warnings, the US and its allies solely started evacuating their folks together with weak Afghans after Kabul had already fallen to the militants.
Blinken revealed Sunday that there are nonetheless 300 American residents ready for evacuation out of Afghanistan as the August 31 deadline for a full troop withdrawal nears.
‘We have about 300 American residents left who’ve indicated to us that they wish to go away,’ the Secretary of State informed ABC’s This Week host Martha Raddatz.
‘We are very actively working to assist them get to the airport, get on a aircraft, and get out of Afghanistan.’
With the rushed evacuation got here bloodshed. This is the aftermath of Thursday’s suicide bomb assault exterior Kabul airport. 170 folks have been killed in the bomb assault and extra are imminent, American generals warned
The Pentagon introduced that it already began withdrawing troops from Afghanistan after 13 U.S. service members and 150 Afghan civilians have been killed in a suicide bombing exterior the Kabul airport on Thursday.
Nearly 115,000 folks have already been evacuated from Afghanistan, together with Americans and Afghan allies. And since the finish of July, 120,000 folks have been relocated, the White House introduced on Sunday.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki stated on Friday the administration can not ‘assure’ everybody will get out.
On Sunday, the White House revealed that from 3:00 a.m. on Saturday to the identical time Sunday, 2,900 folks have been evacuated from the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
Blinken additionally informed ABC that one other assault on the Kabul airport is ‘extremely possible’.
‘This may be very excessive threat,’ he stated. ‘There is a excessive probability of further assaults.’
‘This is the most harmful time in an already terribly harmful mission,’ Blinken added.