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tv   Ayman Mohyeldin Reports  MSNBC  August 20, 2021 12:00pm-1:00pm PDT

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welcome to msnbc on a busy friday afternoon. president biden giving an update on the chaotic situation, the evacuation of americans and afghans as the white house continues to deal with the fallout from the crisis unfolding in afghanistan. the president says evacuation flights have resumed. that is of being paused for several hours. sources tell nbc news the flights stopped temporarily because qatar, the first batch of evacuees were taken, didn't have the capacity to take any more people. this has its situation outside the airport gets more desperate. thousands of afghans hoping for a chance to get inside and get on a plane out of the country. the president defended his situation to get out of afghanistan in a report that nearly two dozen diplomats at the u.s. embassy in kabul sent a cable to tony blinken warning of
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a possible taliban takeover and urged an airlift operation. >> i made the decision, the buck stops with me. i took the consensus opinion. it would not occur if it occurred until later in the year. it was my decision. >> as we wait for the pentagon briefing on afghanistan to begin here, i'm joined now by nbc news white house reporter josh letterman. "wall street journal" national security reporter vivian sala many:i want to start with you on this. today was the second time this week we heard from president biden on afghanistan. is he striking different tone today? >> the tone from the president was similar. very defensive of his administration's handling of this debacle over the last week and a half or so. there did seem to be some good signs of progress in the numbers. in terms of the through put
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they're getting people out of afghanistan. the president saying that in last 24 hours or so they have been able to get out 5700. that's an increase and more in line with the 5,000 to 7,000 or 9,000 or so figure that we heard from white house and pentagon officials that they wanted to be able to get to. but we also interestingly heard the president seeming to open the door in these remarks to a slightly broader mission set here, more ambitious goals. not only pledging that he will get all americans who want to get out of the country out of the country but then when asked by a white house reporter whether that pledge also applied to afghans who might be in danger or who work with the u.s., the president said, yes. he would extend that commitment at least to those who are applying for that special immigrant visa program. that's going to create a really large challenge particularly if we get up against this deadline of the end of the month and there are still afghan who's need to be evacuated there. we also heard the president slightly opening the door to
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u.s. capabilities trying to go beyond the airport to actually get folks who might be trying to get to the airport in kabul but have not been able to get there because of taliban checkpoints or other challenges there. the other thing that was so interesting to hear from the president was this slight distance between what the president is describing as the situation and what we are all seeing and hearing from our colleagues on the ground there. he suggested no military citizens are having trouble getting to the airport. that is certainly not consistent with some of the reports that we're all hearing about the chaos and desperation at the airport. the president also saying in response to a question about the criticism from our allies, he's heard nothing from our allies questioning u.s. credibility when in fact we heard just in the last 24 hours from the former nato secretary-general saying he was ashamed after nato
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countries came to our aid in the days after 9/11. certainly a lot of other foreign leaders the president has been speaking to in the last few days have also been speaking publicly to say how displeased they are with the way the u.s. is handling the last week or so in afghanistan. >> i want to bring you in this here, tia, and reference something that josh brought up. the president addressed as well. the u.s. embassy in kabul did put out a statement today. it says that the gates to the airport may open or close without notice. and "the u.s. government cannot ensure safe passage to the airport." the you're talking to people in afghanistan. it seems like the mission there from the embassy. what is happening outside the airport right now? >> well, what i can tell you is that from inside the airport from the united states of america, there are diplomats, former diplomats, former u.s. service members would are trying to connect to people on the ground. they're talking to their contacts and former
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interpreters. people they had green tea with and laughed with and made promises to on behalf of the u.s. government that they're trying desperately to get them in and get them on a plane. it's no the happening. some of those afghans are making it to the airport. but then they're out there for days. with he no he that there have been some women who have been out there for three dawes now. just to mention the sanitation part of it. where would they go to the bathroom? how do they eat? it's a desperate situation for a lot of people. when we talk about leaving afghans behind, we're not only letting this them down, we're letting down the diplomats who serve there.
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those are people. i'm going to add right now, it doesn't matter if they also some of them thought maybe the mission should be over. all of them will agree it should have been better than this. >> you paint a reality on the picture there. we want to go to a briefing with john kirby here, the pentagon press secretary. and also army major general william taylor. >> good afternoon, everybody. thank you for being here. and for really the important work that you're doing. we're working. i know it's not easy. i'm glad that absolutely we're in this together. the through put increased. we continue to observe steady progress in kabul. i'll run through some of the specifics here during that update. first, the military footprint in kabul is approximately 5,800
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total troops on the ground. >> our mission to defend kabul airport and evacuate people from afghanistan as quickly and safely as possible continues. we're doing everything we can to maximize safe evacuations. and the past 24 hours, 15 c-17s arrived with several hundred more troops that allowed us to get to that 5,800 number and also some supplies. this morning for the previous 24 hours, 16 c-17s and one c-130 departed kabul. these flights contain nearly 6,000 passengers including a couple hundred passengers. as the president noted earlier today, we have airlifted
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approximately 13,000 total evacuees during the operation. in total, since the end of july, the number of people moved out of afghanistan is greater than 18,000. 18,000. there are siv applicants at risk afghan who's worked alongside us throughout our time in afghanistan. and other vulnerable afghans including women and childre many of the flights stopped in staging bases in qatar and other and military personnel are active will i processing passengers for their follow on flights to other destinations. we did pause flights earlier today leaving kabul. why we adjusted resources and personnel to ensure a temporary capacity issue at one of our stopover locations. although flight operations have resumed. and u.s. military flights to qatar and other locations departing and departing kabul as we speak right now.
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we're looking at addition allocations for these initial flights to land. we're grateful for our allies including germany where flights will land today who are cooperating with us in this global effort. aircraft availability is not an issue. we continued to maximize each plane's capacity. we're prioritizing evacuation of people above all else. and we're focused on doing this as safely as possible with a great sense of urgency. we have not experienced any hostile acts since my last update. the troops on the ground are steadfast and extremely dynamic environment. we see a tremendous amount of discipline, humanity and professionalism in their mission. we continue to assess the operating environment and will aggressively address any threat to the mission. the safety and security of american citizens and service members are partners who remain in kabul alongside us in the afghan people is absolutely our
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top priority. i want to reinforce we're focuseded on the mission of this great national importance. the massive effort is the result of team work and the tireless commitment of u.s. military to supporting the u.s. government around the world. >> okay. bob, there you are. you're not in your normal seat. >> thank you. president biden in his remarks earlier today made a reference to having, i forget what word he used, essentially rescue 169 americans outside, beyond the perimeter. can you explain how that happened? >> yeah. he's referring to small number of people that our troops -- they were very close to the perimeter. the perimeter of the airport. very close. and in a short amount of time with a short amount of distance,
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some of the troops were able to go out there and retrieve them and bring them in. >> okay. that's 169 americans or do you know the breakdown? >> i don't have the breakdown of everybody. >> related question would be are they going beyond the perimeter to do that? they rescue americans and our afghan partners in need. one way or another potential future operations the main focus is and making sure that as the general said that air operations resume and continue as unimpeded as possible. but clearly, we will be prepared and postured if we have to do something additional. i won't speculate right now.
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>> did the u.s. troops have to go through any taliban checkpoints? >> no. >> and then can you, general, can you talk a little bit more about this flight pause? how long did it last? and can you -- can you say when it started? >> yeah. early this morning. lasted about six to seven hours. it was allowed to ensure that flights at or intermediate staging basis could receive more personnel. they are ready to fly in kabul to leave. >> this is qatar, sfligt. >> were there any other locations. >> do you have permission to fly afghans from kabul to the united states or only to a third country? is that what the holdup was? >> that was not what the holdup was. that was capacity. that was just the room to fly in
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additional people. that fwhaz that process. they go back to the united states and we did this at fort lee. fort bliss will be able to receive additional siv applicants. for those that are not in the siv applicant process, there has been no final determination about whether they will be able to come right back to the united states again or in what timetable. that's a different category. people are not part of that technically part of that process. that is something we'll be working out. i haven't seen an estimate. i don't know that we have an exact estimate. >> military intelligence estimates about how many al qaeda remain. we know that al qaeda is a
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presence as well as isis in afghanistan. we talked about that for quite some time. we do not believe it is high. we don't have an exact high figure for you. they register somewhere. we don't have a perfect picture. and our ability our ability. they're there the same numbers that we have to be. there is no al qaeda presence. what i don't think is what we believe is that there isn't a presence that is significant enough to merit a threat to the homeland back on 9/11. i'm confused by that. of can you explain why there is no national interest in afghanistan? why did we have troops there for
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20 years if there is no national interest? >> we is a significant and you heard the president talk about this. the goal was to to defeat al qaeda. and it was to prevent al qaeda from launch ago tacks. we did that and a lot more. it includes the helping with social political economic and progress in afghanistan. the president decided that it was time to end that there was really only two choices. and there was a deadline. because after may 1st, we could come under attack by the taliban. and we hadn't since the doja agreement had been signed or go ahead and complete the drawdown. and the decision was made to complete the drawdown. obviously, we're still going to maintain an overwatch vigilance
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with respect to the counter-terrorism threat emanating out of afghanistan. and if -- and in we need, to we'll take action to eliminate and defeat that threat. >> you just said you don't have intelligence on the ground in afghanistan anymore. how are you going to have overwatch? you still have al qaeda in the country? >> jen, what i said is we don't have the degree of dexterity intelligence to give you a head count, a nose count of exactly how many al qaeda fighters are in afghanistan. nobody's walking away from the fact that they are not there. and we're certainly going to maintain as much vigilence as we can absent a presence on the ground. the other thing is our intelligence capability certainly is -- it's more difficult if you don't have bootsen on the ground swrecht come a long way since we distribute intelligence information. a long way in the last 20 years. and while it's never perfect, we do believe that we will be able
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to have appropriate warning, should there be that kind of level threat coming from afghanistan towards the homeland. and we have also the capability in the region to deal with that. >> thank you. >> thank you. the president also suggested that extending the perimeter outside of al qaeda might put u.s. troops at too great a risk. it was no the clear if the risk is with the taliban or with groups like al qaeda or isis. can you talk about that risk and is it because there was some sort of agreement with the taliban that u.s. troops will not be on the streets of kabul? >> i don't think there was any agreement that we wouldn't be anywhere in particular. risk is a big part of managing any mission. there are other threats in afghanistan and in kabul than those that might be posed by the taliban. and we have to be mindful of. that we talked yesterday about
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you overwatch flights. any -- i'm not going to get into potential future operations. i'm not going to speculate about when or under what conditions we might expand the security per umter to that we're working with. but the president is absolutely right. an expansion does incur extra risk. you have to balance risk versus gain in every particular military operation you're conducting. and that will be no for this one. >> can i fall up on we're also seeing reports that there might be food, water, sanitation shortages for the evacuee that's are there. so i wonder, general taylor, are you making plans to flow in more supplies? >> absolutely. so as understand that that requirement to increase that through put is there. so to ensure that we have food, water, health care and all those things, absolutely. those are part of the other flights. the supplies are being in there
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to make sure that we can take care of that. >> okay. >> a follow up on expanding the mission and the risk to americans. apparently the germans are sending helicopters out throughout kabul to pick up their citizens and bring them to the airport. the reports of the french doing something similar, getting their people out. commandos going in. so, you know, why can't the americans do that? is it too risky for that kind of operation? >> i think the president is clear we'll do whatever we have to do to rescue as many -- to rescue as many americans as want to leave afghanistan. and the secretary is not going to rule anything in or out. i would also note, tom, though there have been spore at addic reports of some americans not being able to get through checkpoints, i fully admit that. by and large, what we've been teeing is that americans are able to get through the checkpoints and are able to get
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on to the airfield. so we are not seeing -- we're not aware of indications that there is that big a need for that. the secretary is going to keep as many options open to him as available. >> the president is doesn't want to risk american lives to say afghans who helped americans for the past 20 years. >> i didn't hear that same way. the president was very clear in his remarks that he knows we have an obligation in the afghans that helped us over the last 20 years. tom, the numbers belie that impression. if you look at the numbers of --
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the general briefing, 13,000 since august 14th, 18,000 total. the vast, vast majority of that number are afghans. >> some are saying 35,000. others are saying is 00,000. >> in terms of what is left to get. >> right. >> i couldn't give you a perfectly predictive about what that is going to look like. we are moving and have been moving a lot of family members. but, i mean, just to give you an example, the general noted nearly 6,000 kaum out in the last 24 hours. 5,000 of them were afghans. i don't accept the premise this administration and this government and our military is not prioritizing moving them out of the country. the numbers don't say that. >> can we go back to the 169
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please? there are several follow up questions. first of all, the president said it was 169 americans. you say americans are having no trouble getting through checkpoints to the best of your knowledge except for any anecdotes that may be out there. >> thank you. >> my questions are this. first of all, what was the situation of these 169 americans that required u.s. troops to go outside the perimeter and get them? why these 169 americans? when did this happen? how long did the mission last? was it 169 americans all together? did you feel you had safe passage from the taliban? tell us more about this. >> i don't have that level of detail. general, do you? >> no. not that detailed. >> i'm sorry. u.s. troops went out sued the wire at the airport to rescue
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169 americans and -- that's what the president said. and neither of you have any additional information about that? >> barbara, i'm happy to take the questions that you ask back and try to provide additional context. i don't have that level of tactical detail here today. but i'm happy to take those questions and i'm happy to take a look and see if we can find answers for you on that, absolutely. my understanding of what happened was they were really just outside the wall. it wasn't very far to go. it wasn't so much assessing them on to the field. so i think that's the context in which i understand the incident. your questions are fair. i'll go back and see if we can provide additional context. >> you also tell us then, just for the record, have american troops in any other instance or circumstance gone outside the
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wire at the airport going into the city to get people? have american troops at all left the airport to go get people? and do you -- you said you had extended capacity. so do you -- the secretary said the other day you didn't have the capacity to really go get americans. so do you now have the capacity to do that? and is there any other circumstances in which you've done it? >> i don't know of any other circumstance. since wednesday, we have flown n you heard the general update you every day. we have flown in additional capacity, additional forces. security is in a more stable position at the airport. so if there would be a need to do something additional to help americans or other people at risk that we need to get to the airfield, we would examine those options. tee them up. weigh the benefits versus the
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risks and then offer up opportunities to the secretary to make a recommendation and we would go from there. >> so now, just to make sure i understand what you're saying, for the first time this many days into the operation, the u.s. military has the capability and capacity to go into kabul and get americans for the first time? >> we have additional capacity now as we have flown additional forces in. but as i said earlier, i'm not going to talk about potential future operations one way or the other. every decision is made is weighed against the risks and betts benefits of what you're doing. the other thing i'd say, as i mentioned to tom, there hasn't been that demand signal now. most americans are going -- they're getting through the checkpoints and getting on. i'm not suggesting that in every case it's gone on unimpeded.
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>> why did you wait so many days to have that capacity? >> we've been flying in forces consistently over the course of the last week. and we have been nothing but transparent to you about what we've been flowing in. so again, we will obviously do whatever we can and if there is a need to do this and it's an operation that we can talk about, we'll talk about it. >> okay. >> yeah? >> defense secretary austin just now in a briefing call with house lawmakers said the reports americans have been beaten by the taliban in kabul. is the u.s. military under orders to stay at the airport and not go protect them? >> i think we've been talking about this throughout the entire briefing. we're certainly mindful of the reports. and they're deeply troubling. we have communicated to the taliban that that's absolutely unacceptable. that we want free passage through their checkpoints for documented americans. and by and large, that's happening. and as we talked about before, the mission right now as you and
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i are speaking is to keep security at that airport sound and to keep air operations moving. even after this delay. i'm not going to speculate about anything -- any changes to that mission at this time. if there is a change, and we feel like we need to execute that change, then we'll do it. >> does that require a conversation with the taliban? >> i'm not going to talk about potential future operation ands what that would look like in any way, shape or form. i haven't gone to phone yet. tracy wilkinson? >> hi. thank you. just to follow up on my colleagues' questions, we have reports of, you know, american helicopters going out and picking up people from multiple locations. both americans and afghans. so you want to know -- i want to understand how that -- how that mission changed that you
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actually despite what generals austin and milly said yesterday, you are actually going out of the airport and picking up people. can you elaborate on that? >> thank you for those reports. i can't confirm the reports at this time. >> yeah. megan? >> so i feel like we're kind of bifurcating the issue between americans and afghans. you said americans are not having any issues and you settled with the taliban that they're not going to have any issues. but have you made that same negotiation over afghans? because that's where most of the reports are coming from. afghans are not being allowed through. >> we've seen the reports too. we made it clear to the taliban that these afghans with the proper credentials should be allowed through the checkpoint. again, megan, certainly we recognize that there have been multiple cases of afghans even some credentialed afghans being assaulted and beaten and harassed.
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no question. by and large, we have made it clear what the credentials look like, by and large, they're getting through the checkpoint. and we have not seen that become a major issue. >> now that president has opened the door to having rescue missions into the city, are commanders on the ground speaking with the taliban about, you know, letting those missions go off unobstructed? >> first, i want to say those discussions with commanders and taliban haven't stopped, right? that's a continuous piece of what is going on. the xwe are we talking to the taliban to go out and rescue folks like mr. kirby said, that is not -- those demands have not been brought to the commanders as of yet. >> but the president opened up that possibility. so it would stand to reason that commanders would start -- >> we all heard that. i think we all heard that same
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comment from the president today to ensure that we use all the capability we have to meet the mission. >> so as of now, they're not asking for that specifically? or planning for that? >> as of this point -- you just said two things, planning and asking. as i always said, prudent military planning is always continuously happening. we're always forecasting for those type of things and planning for that. request, no. i can report that hasn't yet -- we have not received those. >> general, are these really regular calls to the taliban and a deep confliction with the syrian army? do you recall the russian arm. >> i deconfliction calls regular and is there fairly good communication? do they speak good english? do they understand what we're
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conveying? >> i think the continued regular talks at the tpc at that level, those things continue. you heard reported earlier in the week about centcom commander having communications. centcom has other military channels open that there is continuous at that level. then at the tactical level, as with he speak, you know, at the two star level, those type of talks happen. these are the discussions that are thoopg allow the further increase of information to the checkpoints who have needs to come through, what passes look like, you know, what are the right credentials to get through? who needs to come? and then, you know, at the lowest tactical level, those other discussions, of course, those are always i would say probably a little harder buchlt those are happening. >> general millie the other day talking about the after action process will continue. you know, now is not the time to
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talk about it. but any emerging theories on why the afghan army collapsed? you've been studying this for years? is there any theory? the negotiated settlements? they started last year at the village level and then went to the district and province level. any emerging theories? >> as a chairman said, after action reviews will happen at the appropriate time. and, you know, that guidance has been given. and i would tell you that the operations level that focus is just like president lawser focused on the current flights of the current mission right now. zbllt can i ask about taliban communications? you get a sense there is a strict command structure or is -- is there a sense of various taliban militias around the city if you talk to one taliban leader, these guys and these militias are going to say i'm not going to listen, i'll do my own thing. can you talk about that? is it a problem?
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>> i can't give you personally that level of detail. what say positive is there is constant communication. it is being received. we're seeing that things that we're asking for passage and that is happening and getting better. >> so for the time being, have all u.s. flights from kabul airport gone to qatar? and a follow up. now with going, plans going to ramstein, have the other nations have offered to house afghan evacuees and of those, which are the most viable? lachtly, you are looking for foreign facilities or is it exclusively american facilities like ramstein in these foreign countries? >> qatar is the first weigh station for the evacuation flights that we've been conducting. and because we've been doing it so consistently, that's one of the reasons we reached capacity
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there as quickly as we did. we're grateful for other countries who have already agreed to accept additional numbers and we're working out the details of that with them right now. i'll let those countries speak to their contributions and the state department. but from a military perspective, we are in need of additional capacity and we're grateful that other countries are going to be helping us out with that capacity even if it is awe temporary basis. but to help us with the through put. we saw what happened today when that was the limiting factor. it wasn't aircraft on the ground. it wasn't people cued up and manifested. it was a destination. it's good to have that freed up right now. and as i think i answered jen's question, obviously some of -- a large portion of the individuals will come to the united states and we've got three military
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bases set to receive them. we want to get up to 22,000 capacity. we're not there yet. understandably. but we're building out to that. and as the secretary made clear, we think we can get 22,000 in relatively short order and we'll see where that goes. >> but aside from siv, p-2s, other afghans at risk, would you look at say installations like in italy or in continental europe? >> that is a better question put to the state department. that wouldn't be our call to make. >> john, does the secretary
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currently possess the authorities and needs to call up more forces if needed or does he have to ask the white house for that? >> if he makes major muscle movement in terms of additional forces of a significant size, he would absolutely want to have that conversation with the commander in chief. >> given major movement may happen in the future, is that like preauthority in effect -- >> i won't get into the planning process, gordon. we feel like with the additional capacity that we have that should there be a need to expand the mission in any way that we have what we require. and if that would change, if it would require a change, can you bet that general mckenzie would flow up his recommendations. the secretary would review them
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and go from there. >> have any more forces been under deploy orders? >> no. >> and then how long was the airfield, six hours, three hours, two hours? >> roughly six to 7 1/2 hours. >> during that time, what was happening? were you trying to get other countries to accept the refugees -- the evacuees or what was happening. >> on aur field, processing continued. so when we say what is happening, flights were paused to allow for backlog, to ensure reception of folks leaving kabul. so we were scheduling other flights and ensuring that we could get those flights out first as we brought other flights in. >> the since that pause has restarted in that six, seven hours, how many flights have gone out since then? >> before i left -- right before i came in here, we had three leave qatar and one kabul.
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>> since the pause and restart, one left? >> that's right. >> potentially second. >> i can follow up on that quickly? is it accurate and correct that the backlog at that time on the airfield of afghans that couldn't board planes because they couldn't land them anywhere, what that's backlog about 10,000 people? or more? >> less than. i don't have the exact number. sorry about that. it was less than that. >> less than 10. >> but in the thousands? >> right. >> so at that time, since they were there for 7 1/2, maybe as much as eight hours, was there sufficient food, water and sanitation or they sleeping outside? >> it was sufficient. but we are actively continuing to ensure it is sufficient for the future and continuing as we build out even more. >> did the people who were stuck there for so long, did they have
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food, water and sanitation. >> yes. and i are no report they didn't. >> i want to follow up on the 169 americans rescued. was that an incident where a commander took a decision and left the wire to help those people? were weapons drawn? did that commander ask for a higher up authority to leave the wire? >> i'm going to absolutely get more. you know, as you look about the gate, you already see that, you know, soldiers out there are starting now to increase that capability, that security around the gate. but the specific details of that i don't have. but as mr. kirby said, i'm going to get. >> yeah. >> we're just trying to figure out. we've been told there are no hostile interactions with the taliban. if they were stopping those americans from getting to the gate and a u.s. service member had to go to rescue them, was it a tense situation? were weapons drawn? that would count as -- >> i understand the question. >> absolutely.
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>> yeah, tom? >> me or general? >> paul. i'm sorry, paul. sorry. >> two questions. one, if you restarted from -- if you restarted the flights to -- from kabul, the people we hear from inside qatar say the wait is three to five days to get out of there. it's so backed up. where are you flying the people to? are you already flying them to another country? >> yeah. >> so like we said earlier, that constraint of ensuring we have other flights scheduled and the timing of those, that's already being worked and increasing our through put throughout the entire chain requirements of flights. and so flights that left as mr. kirby said some of those were going in and plan for the united states. >> when you say flights left, left qatar? >> yes. >> to the u.s. >> so you're saying right now
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you're at a pace where the incoming and outgoing from qatar is more -- there is some equilibrium. >> getting there. >> you are going -- are they flying to other countries yet? >> i don't have that report. the flight plans yet. i mean that is very, you know, an extremely dynamic piece. but i don't have those flute schedules as of right now. >> okay. follow up. we've seen videos of babies being taken over the barb wire and walls. can you tell us what is going on? are the babies of families that have visas and u.s. pass torts or afghans? are they people with credentials? what is happening? >> okay. >> the video you're talking about, the parent asked the marines to look after the baby because the baby was ill. and so the marine you see
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reaching over the wall took it to a norwegian hospital at the airport. they treated the child and returned the child to the child's father. >> was there only one? >> i'm only aware of the one incident. it was an act of compassion. it was concern about the -- >> are they going to be brought out the father? were they put back out site the airport? >> i don't know. the baby was returned to the father. i don't know where they are now. >> we don't -- i mean obviously we have a responsibility to return a chuld to the child's parent. and i don't know who the parent is or what -- whether there an siv applicant. i don't have that level of detail. this is an act of compassion by the marines. that's exactly the kind of skill and professionalism had the general talked about. >> i got you. go ahead. the. >> i have a question for the general. sir, i wonder if the airport is secure, can you take us back to the breach that occurred on monday. >> okay. >> what is the latest assessment of how that occurred?
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what forces were in the area of that part of the airport at the snum what were the interactions there? >> as we know early on, as we built combat power in and in that early stages, it was very dynamic. we assessed after that happened. obviously reinforced. what i do know is that was quickly fixed and the commanders were able to use the assets they had immediately and then as we built more combat power to ensure that that hasn't happened since then. >> that communication at that level is continuous and
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happening. >> we have time for one more. i haven't taken hardly any from the phones. >> yes, sir. thank you so much. going back to the children that were being passed over the wall. is there going to be any, i guess, regulations stating that this should not be happening? parents are not trying to pass off their children to get them inside the gate. >> i don't know of such efforts to get that done. these are u.s. servicemen and women deplowed in a still dangerous and difficult mission. and i think what you saw there is the same thing that you saw when that air force jet packed with capacity with people wanting to get out. they're doing the best they can to be as compassionate as they can. and again, the baby was not harmed. it was treated for whatever the
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illness was and returned to the father. and i think you're seeing, again, these men and women incredibly brave doing the best they can to be as compassionate as they can. i think you'll tun to see that compassion going forward. we have to get going. thank you very much. >> watching the briefing out of the pentagon today. an update on military movement inside afghanistan. the general there noting that there are now 5800 troops on the ground. part of this operation to evacuate americans and afghan allies from kabul. the general also noted that about 6,000 people between 3:00 yesterday morning eastern time and 3:00 this morning eastern time, 6,000 people were evacuated from the airport there. 5,000 of them were afghans for a total of 13,000 evacuees in the last week or so. but there was much made of a
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pause, a six to 7 1/2 hour pause in evacuation flights from the airfield there because of a backlog, an overflow of people landing in qatar to be sort of -- as sort of a stopover before they could move on to other locations. i want to bring back our journalists and our nbc correspondent. but i'll ask you first, tia. your reaction from what you heard in the briefing here from the pentagon and how it squares with what you've been hearing from afghanistan. >> well, i got a lot of honest answers from what i saw. and the sense of sometimes they didn't have the answer. it does seem that the pentagon and the military are trying to clean up a pretty messy situation. that means not having many answers. it means not knowing exactly what is going on the ground.
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how to bring the people outside inside to the airport. i think they're trying to organize it. it is a very tough situation. it goes back to what a lot of military sources and diplomat uk sources are telling me is that they feel like their hands are tied behind their back. it's not the same situation as even a few weeks ago and a month ago that the americans had on the ground in afghanistan where they could operate and get things done in ways they are used to. we're taubl about kabul as well. we're talking about evacuating americans and afghans from kabul. but we're not talking breast of -- talking about the rest of the country. they're cleaning up a messy situation. it's a little too late for that. that included keeping back ram open and some helicopters bringing people in and having afghans and americans meeting them in other places especially to help save those americans who are in other provinces at the
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moment. it sounds like the military is trying the best that they can but they themselves don't have the answers right now. unfortunately. >> we also heard the press secretary mention that there were afghans that were credentialed and getting to check pounts near the airport and being harassed and in some cases beaten upon trying to get into the airport. does that square with some of the reports that you've been hearing and what do you know about sort of how those situations end up once all is said and done? >> the general mentioned constant communication with the taliban in order to get people across those checkpoints. and that could be the case. but that's higher level taliban officials. the guys that we're seeing on the ground are just the foot soldiers. these are guys who aren't
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connected, who are not really educated for that matter. the they're in their early 20s, late teens. they're power hungry. all they know is how to fight. they've been trained for that their entire lives. the way of forcing the rule of law is with muscle. a woman opened her passport and said i'm an american citizen and she was beat. they are beating them with whips and their butt of rifles. yes, there may be top communication with the top brass of the taliban. but that means nothing to the foot soldiers on the ground. >> i appreciate your perspective on this and your reporting on what's been happening there. joining me now is a press coordinator for the former afghanistan president. first off, i know that you have
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family in afghanistan. how are they? how are you? >> my family is not good. they're in a hiding situation. they're spending two hours in one place and then two hours in another two hours in another p. how i am is a really difficult question to answer. since friday, i haven't slept regularly. i haven't eaten. i'm just trying to help as much as i can. so nothing is -- nothing seems like a normal life. >> we know that the former president karzai met with the taliban just a few days ago. are you hearing anything from government officials still in the country there about what's unfolding and what the future might look like, at least in the short term? >> what will come out of those meetings is really hard to even
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think about it, because this mess that started, it should have been handled in a different way. the way that both administrations were talking about these peace deals, it was a failure from the beginning. what they're trying right now, as you heard the pentagon confirm that there are al qaeda leaders on the ground, so i just have one question for them, is that you're saying, asking u.s. citizens to make your way to the airport and then you're saying the taliban will not do anything to them. what if the al qaeda and haqqani network, recently i have sources that say the airport security was handed to haqqani network. taliban will say, we didn't do it, this is haqqani, this is al qaeda. when they're saying that we have a credential for the afghan
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ministers, governors, and high ranking people in the presidential palace, they cannot even move from their house or wherever they are hiding. how do you want them to come to the airport? like i said, this should be handled in a very different way. and the way i'm helping here is way better coordinated than what i'm seeing from our administration, unfortunately. >> you make a good point, ate question that's been asked of the pentagon and will continue to be asked by our teams that are there trying to get a handle on exactly what is being done in the situations like you suggested. i want to ask you about something that president biden said today. i'll play you a short clip and ask you a question on the other side. listen to this. >> it is a process to try to figure out how we deal with the mad rush of non-americans, those who didn't help, those were not
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on the priority list, there's a whole lot of afghanis who would just as soon come to america. >> what's your message to president biden? you heard his comments there and some of the things he's said in response to questions. what's the message you have for him, the thing that you want the president of the united states to understand? >> well, first i will say i supported president biden. i did campaign, and this is the first time in my life i regret the decision i made. mr. president, i have one message for you. please don't say you're helping those afghans that didn't support your mission. every single afghan that was in afghanistan and after the 2001 -- you know, that americans come to afghanistan, and provided assistance they need, the school they built for them, the hospital, they were appreciated, and every single one was helping.
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every afghan, you go and knock on their door and they will receive you as a guest. and they will put their life in front of you as i have done it and saved my fellow american citizens' lives at the time in 2012 in afghanistan. so all the afghans that were there, they were supporting the mission, sir, but the way you lifted them out, you abandoned them. >> before i let you go, i want to ask you to help us understand something. i know you and your wife fled afghanistan in 2012. help americans understand what that process was like for you, picking up your life and leaving. >> an aide to the president, a member of congress in afghanistan, had to run for their life in less than 24 hours. all i could do was grab my
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document, to have my son and my wife and run to the airport. after that, spent 14 months in a third country, probably more than 28 interviews, and when i say interviews, each interview was from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and me and my wife were in a separate room asking the same questions, even though everybody knew what we have done in afghanistan. we basically saved lives, that's all we did. and luckily we did make our way to come to the united states, become united states citizens, and trying to, you know, have awareness to people that this process is not easy. i was probably one of the luckiest persons on earth that i came to the united states in 14 months. the refugee process can take five years to 20 years. so it's not an easy process, no.
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>> we appreciate you helping us to understand that a little bit and helping to illuminate what's happening in afghanistan today. thank you so much. >> thank you very much for having me. joining me now is nbc news pentagon correspondent courtney kube. she was in the briefing that just wrapped up a few minutes ago. courtney, it seemed today the flights out of kabul were a big point of conversation. obviously we know the flights were halted for several hours today while officials were trying to figure out what to do with people who were landing in qatar, for example. what do you make of that reality? is this a bad sign for the effort to get everybody out by the end of august? >> i think it's just one more data point in just what a difficult logistical lift this entire operation is. it's worth pointing out, the flights were halted for somewhere between six and eight hours, they stopped them. and since then, only one has gone out. a second one may have.
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so it's still been a significant period of time. now we're talking 10 to 12 total hours since the stoppage and only one or maybe two flights have gone out. if you look back to where these flights were just 24 hours ago on thursday, they had something like 16 flights but in a 24-hour period. now we're talking about one, maybe two, so far all day today. so it is a significant slowdown. and the reason is a capacity problem at qatar. the majority of these flights have been going out, flying do doha. think about it, they've got upwards of 3,000 people out yesterday. they take them to qatar, many of them are sitting there for several days while they're processed. you can only take care of so many people in doha before -- there's just a backlog of people. so then there was this scramble today to try to find other locations to send people to. and that's what led to this stoppage. we know there are thousands of people sitting at kabul airport
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waiting to get out. so what we've been hearing is that the vast majority of americans and afghans who have the correct paperwork, some of them are able to get through to the airport. but there's even a backlog still there. and that's just getting through the gates. even if you have the correct paperwork, there are just people backed up just to get into the gates. so again, this is just an enormous logistical problem. and one thing that we haven't talked a lot about is, once these individuals get to whether it's kabul airport or to doha, they need to be cared for. they're coming with one bag, many with kids, little kids. they need food and water and sanitation and places to sleep. so that just adds to the logistics of this entire operation. >> courtney, before we run out of time, i want to ask you about one other thing. there was a lot of back and forth about something the president said, this idea that the u.s. was leaving the airport
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fencing, the perimeter there, and going out to get 169 people who are outside the airport. there were also some questions around other countries going farther than that to get people. what do you know about the situation there that the general and mr. kirby didn't seem to have a whole lot of detail on? >> so we know of at least two other countries that have gone out on several occasions at least to go get their citizens and bring them safely to the airport. that includes the british and the french. we know they had been doing that. this is the first time we had heard that the u.s. had left the perimeter of the airport at all, throughout this week-long or so operation. john kirby was very quick to say they did not travel far, it was a foot movement, so, you know, people may not be particularly familiar, but there are a number of different gates going into the military side of the airport. and it's a very residential area, in fact there's even more western sort of hotels very close to some of those gates.
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we don't know exactly who these people were or where they were. all we know so far is it was very close movement. there was apparently no interaction with the taliban. but again, it's significant because it's the first time that we've heard that any u.s. military have left the wire. >> courtney kube at the pentagon, courtney, thank you. that wraps up the hour for me. "deadline white house" with nicolle wallace starts right now. hi there, everyone. happy friday. it's 4:00 in the east. president biden today getting out in front of the crisis in afghanistan. and what is quickly turning into one of the largest airlifts in history, pledging a continued surge in resources to kabul while also defending the decision to withdraw from the country. >> let me be clear. any american who wants to come home, we will get you home. make no mistake, this evacuation mission is dangerous. it involves risks to our

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