President Joe Biden rejected recommendations from Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to gradually withdraw U.S. service members from Afghanistan, according to a new book by journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.
News outlet CNN obtained a copy of the book, "Peril," before its Sept. 21 release.
"Previously, (Blinken) had been foursquare with Biden for a full withdrawal," the authors write. "His new recommendation was to extend the mission with U.S. troops for a while to see if it could yield a political settlement. Buy time for negotiations."
Austin proposed a "gated" withdrawal in three or four stages during negotiations to keep the pressure on.
But Biden wouldn’t budge.
"Our mission is to stop Afghanistan from being a base for attacking the homeland and U.S. allies by al Qaeda or other terrorist groups, not to deliver a death blow to the Taliban," Biden said during a National Security Council meeting held during a foreign policy review, according to the book.
Biden has been heavily criticized for the chaotic withdrawal that led to the swift takeover of Kabul by the Taliban and resulted in the deaths of 13 U.S. service members.
Blinken on Monday during testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee defended the president’s decision and his agency’s handling of the evacuation mission, arguing that Biden inherited a disastrous situation from former President Donald Trump.
"We inherited a deadline. We did not inherit a plan," said Blinken.
The administration, he added, was handcuffed by Trump’s agreement with the Taliban.
Biden "immediately faced the choice between ending the war or escalating it," he said.
"Had [Biden] not followed through on his predecessor’s commitment, attacks on our forces and those of our allies would have resumed and the Taliban’s nationwide assault on Afghanistan’s major cities would have commenced."
Several congressional committees are investigating the withdrawal.
Much of "Peril" focuses on the Trump presidency and his hold on the GOP after leaving office. But it also details Biden’s thinking process on running for president and how he hated to even mention Trump.
Aides "frequently warned each other to please avoid the 'T' word," the authors write.
The book also details Biden’s first few lonesome months in office as the COVID-19 pandemic was still raging.
He referred to the White House as "the tomb" and was not comfortable living in the residence, according to the book.
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