President Joe Biden's White House staff was too afraid to question him and his National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan over decisions made leading up to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, according to sources close to the administration, the Daily Mail reported on Monday.
Biden is accused of allegedly ignoring warnings that the timetable for the pullback would not leave the army enough time to get American nationals and allies out of Afghanistan safely and orderly.
A former defense official in regular contact with senior Biden aides suggested that there was not much pushback from concerned staffers, because they were "too afraid" of challenging him.
Another source close to the administration told the Telegraph that he urged Biden, "without success," to keep open Bagram Air Base, which has more runways than Hamid Karzai International Airport.
The air base was reportedly evacuated due to Biden’s order to withdraw troops down to the bare minimum, making the use of the key airbase untenable.
A former defense official insisted that the Biden administration stifles internal dissent, saying that "this White House is very disciplined, especially when it comes to leaks and such. But the downside of discipline is if you're running things like an autocracy, and you broker no dissent internally, that's not what the purpose of a White House staff is."
The State Department is now apparently encouraging the White House to extend the Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline out of concern that tens of thousands of civilians could remain trapped in Afghanistan after that date.
But Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told Sky News on Monday that the Aug. 31 deadline for American forces must be enforced.
"President Biden announced that on Aug. 31 they would withdraw all their military forces. So, if they extend it that means they are extending occupation while there is no need for that," said Shaheen. "If the U.S. or U.K. were to seek additional time to continue evacuations, the answer is no. Or there would be consequences. It will create mistrust between us. If they are intent on continuing the occupation it will provoke a reaction."
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