We had hoped to bring you updates from the White House and State Department this afternoon --- not that we trust anything they say, but we’d wanted to be able to report it --- but they’ve essentially gone silent. Their update earlier today was that there was no update. I am not kidding.
But we do know that the situation keeps changing, hour by hour, and that it just keeps getting more grave. At the time of this writing, we can confirm that there two bombs were detonated. According to initial reports, four U.S. Marines were killed, but the death toll is now up to at least a dozen service members.
The suicide-bomb explosion closest to the airport entrance is described as a “complex attack.” The other explosion was outside the Baron Hotel, where Americans, Britons and Afghans had been told to gather in recent days in order to be evacuated. The only thing we’ve heard from the White House at this writing is that the President “has been briefed.” For more details on this poor excuse for an “evacuation,” here’s an excellent report.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby did come out at 3PM Eastern Time to read a prepared statement and then take questions. He said they think there are “about a thousand” American citizens still in Afghanistan. He maintained that some of them do not want to leave. (!!!) He said they’ve screened “over 104,000 people.” He expressed pride in the actions of our service members and coalition partners and acknowledged that some evacuees have experienced “profound suffering.” In answer to a question, he said that, yes, they anticipated more attacks, perhaps rocket attacks. (Sure enough, later in the afternoon there were reports of another explosion.)
(We pause for this editorial comment: Hey, I thought the Taliban said they wouldn’t attack before the August 31 deadline! Does this mean they LIED? Ah, but, in breaking news, the attacks have been attributed not to the Taliban per se but to ISIS “K,” although this looks to us like a distinction without a difference.)
A bipartisan group of legislators has called on President Biden to extend his August 31 deadline to pull out U.S. forces. An excerpt from their statement: “As Democrats and Republicans, we stand united in our commitment to protecting U.S. citizens, diplomats, intelligence officers, and our foreign partners who are currently attempting to flee Afghanistan.” We’ll see if there’s any response to this from the White House, or if the President is just going to abandon all those people just to be able to say he obeyed the Taliban’s order.
In another update just before our deadline, a reported 60 people have been killed in these bombings, including children.
Also, the White House announced mid-afternoon that our esteemed Commander-in-Chief will make an appearance later in the day, in which he will blame everyone but himself for this travesty. I made that last part up, but that's our prediction. We’ll have an analysis of that and full updates in our Friday morning newsletter.
In the meantime, our Thursday report wouldn’t be complete without this: Taliban fighters joyriding in a Black Hawk helicopter. Just a little something they picked up at Kandahar Airport.
Video appears to show Taliban taking joyride in US Black Hawk helicopter