US diplomats in Kabul wrote a memo last month warning Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Afghanistan’s government could quickly collapse — appearing to contradict President Biden’s contention that the US government was surprised by the swift Taliban advance.
Nearly two dozen diplomats signed the memo, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, on July 13 urging the State Department to begin processing vulnerable Afghans for visas to the US and to begin evacuation flights by Aug. 1.
The Biden administration launched Operation Allies Refuge one day later, but the Journal reports that evacuation flights didn’t accelerate until last week when the Taliban had already seized major Afghan cities and neared Kabul.
The memo reportedly predicted an Afghan government collapse shortly after Biden’s Aug. 31 deadline to remove most troops from the 20-year US intervention.
Blinken read the memo, which was signed by 23 US citizens working at the Kabul embassy, a source told the Journal.
Fox News said it confirmed the Journal’s report. State Department spokespeople did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.
Biden said in a Wednesday interview with ABC News that “there was no consensus” within the US government on whether Afghanistan would fall to the Taliban.
On Monday, Biden said in a speech at the White House, “The truth is: This did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated.”
Previous reports said US spy agencies anticipated the collapse of the Kabul government within weeks or months of Aug. 31.
Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has backed Biden up, saying Wednesday, “There was nothing that I or anyone else saw that indicated a collapse of this army and this government in 11 days.”
Last month, Biden insisted, “The likelihood there’s going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely.”