Army report on Afghanistan evacuation says Jill Biden contributed to ‘distraction’ of ‘high-profile’ special requests

President Joe Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan last August was an unmitigated disaster in many respects, and now a reported military review of what transpired has provided additional details on just how bad the situation truly was.

One new revelation is the extent to which military officials overseeing the withdrawal and evacuation efforts were swamped with specific requests from “high profile” individuals and officials, allegedly including first lady Jill Biden, Fox News reported.

That bit of news came from Navy Rear Adm. Peter Vasely, a special assistant to the Director of Navy Staff, who asserted that the special requests for specific people to be evacuated caused a major “distraction” and “created competition for already stressed resources” during the chaotic two-week scramble to exit Afghanistan.

“High-profile” figures made specific requests during the evacuation effort

The assertions from Adm. Vasely were just one small part of a roughly 2,000-page U.S. Army report that began as an investigation into the suicide bombing outside the Kabul airport that killed 13 U.S. service members but ultimately became a more generalized review of the broader withdrawal of troops and evacuation of citizens.

That declassified report was obtained by The Washington Post via a Freedom of Information Act request, and the main takeaway was that President Biden’s White House and State Department either failed to fully comprehend the tenuous situation on the ground in Afghanistan or were in denial and dragged their feet in responding to the military’s strident warnings of what ended up occurring.

Among the numerous senior military officials interviewed in the Army report was Vasely, a senior commander of the effort, who described having to divert personnel and resources to create an ad hoc “coordination cell” to handle the deluge of calls, texts, voice mails, and emails from “high profile” figures requesting specific things, such as that certain people be evacuated ahead of others.

That includes White House and administration officials, members of Congress, celebrities, veterans, retired officers, and even internationally known personalities like the head of the Catholic Church.

The first lady, the pope, and others caused potentially lethal “distraction”

The biggest problem for Vasely was that the special requests contradicted the ordered priority list for evacuation, which included U.S. citizens, then lawful permanent residents, and finally Afghan allies who had aided the U.S. war effort. The admiral told investigators, “But you had everyone from the White House down with a new flavor of the day for prioritization.”

“There was all goodness in this, but the lesson learned is it was a distraction from the main effort as they were coming directly to the individuals on the ground trying to accomplish the task at hand,” Vasely said of the special requests.

He also confirmed as “accurate” reports that first lady Jill Biden and even Pope Francis had sought to have specific individuals on the ground in Afghanistan found and evacuated immediately. “I cannot stress enough,” he added, “how these high-profile requests ate up bandwidth and created competition for already stressed resources.”

Biden team disputes and rejects the content of Army report

President Biden and his White House have disputed the Army report, though. In an interview this week with NBC News, Biden himself flatly rejected the report’s findings and questioned the conclusions in comparison to what he had been “told” by advisers and officials at that time.

Likewise, during Friday’s briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki engaged in semantics when asked about the Army report and, concerning what Biden had said earlier, explained, “What the President was rejecting is the notion that there weren’t a range of preparations done in advance over the course of last spring and last summer.”

Latest News