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Leaked notes show chaotic planning of US evacuation from Afghanistan

US President Joe Biden’s administration was still scrambling to organize the evacuation of allies from Afghanistan mere hours before the Taliban took over Kabul in August, leaked notes from a White House meeting indicate.

Axios obtained the notes from a White House Situation Room meeting on August 14, 2021, which showed officials still discussing the details of what needed to happen just hours before the Taliban secured Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul on August 15.

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In the meeting, which took place between 3:30 and 4:30pm, deputies reportedly “agreed in the near term that we may begin relocating nuclear family units,” but still had to “consider whether additional family member categories should be included.”

The notes also revealed that the US government – less than a day before the evacuation – still needed to identify which countries could serve as a transit point for evacuees and whether foreign nationals who were “immediate family members of U.S. citizens in Afghanistan” required “additional screening and vetting” before they could be brought to the United States.

A spokesperson for the US National Security Council (NSC) told Axios that while it would not “comment on leaked internal documents,” the “cherry-picked notes from one meeting do not reflect the months of work that were already underway.”

The US evacuation of Kabul, which took place between August 15 and August 30, 2021, was heavily criticized for appearing ill prepared and disorganized.

At least 183 people – including 13 US military servicemen – were killed at Kabul Airport in an Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) bombing on August 26 as evacuations entered their 12th day. Days before, at least seven Afghan civilians were killed in a stampede at the airport, while at least another seven died just days before that incident as thousands of Afghans attempted to cling onto a US Air Force plane leaving the country.

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