NBC reporter blasts 'humiliating' Afghan crisis: 'History will judge this moment as a very dark period' for US

Media top headlines August 24

In media news today, critics express outrage as Biden again takes no questions on Afghanistan, DeSantis blasts Associated Press in an open letter, and Psaki gets panned after saying it’s ‘irresponsible’ to say Americans are ‘stranded’ in Afghanistan

NBC News’ chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel tore into the Biden administration’s handling of the turbulent Afghanistan withdrawal. 

Appearing on MSNBC, Engel acknowledged that on a “tactical standpoint,” it “makes a lot of sense” for the Biden administration to adhere to the August 31 withdrawal deadline because the Taliban will cease its cooperation with the U.S. and either “overwhelm” the exit processing at the Kabul airport or even amp up violence. 

“But if you’d step back and look at what is going on, this is the United States, after 20 years, this war used to be called Operation Enduring Freedom, and it’s turned out not to be enduring and they’re not leaving a society that is free,” Engel said on Tuesday. “It is only free according to what the Taliban says will be free, the Taliban promises that it will be free.”

“You could also look at this as a tremendously humiliating- a moment of American humiliation leaving- forced to leave on the Taliban’s clock and with the Taliban’s good graces. So tactically, it makes sense, but I’m not sure how history- I think history will judge this moment as a very dark period for the United States.”

Engel was one of the many reporters who refuted President Biden’s remarks on Friday that described an orderly exit from the Taliban-controlled country. 

“President Biden just described a very orderly process, an American airlift that is going efficiently, that there’s a negotiation with the Taliban, that it may be difficult but Afghans can get to the airport and then get on these flights and then come to places like Doha [Qatar]. It is far more chaotic than that,” Engel told NBC’s Lester Holt. 

Engel spoke about the checkpoints, some of them being “more aggressive” than others and that Americans running the operation at the airport are “afraid” to open the gates in fear of “a rush” of people trying to leave, stressing that there are far more people, particularly those without any documentation, fleeing from Afghanistan than the U.S. initially anticipated.

“So it is a much more complicated airlift. It is now a humanitarian airlift, more of a refugee extraction,” Engel said. “There is an enormous challenge right now of figuring out who these people are, where to put them, how to process them and how to get even more into the process.”

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