Kirby’s New Shameful Response About Kabul Airport Bombing Digs the Hole Even Deeper

We’ve covered Joe Biden’s apparent lack of empathy in response to the disaster that happened in Maui, saying “No comment” with a smirk, and then on Thursday, insisting he didn’t want to talk about his planned trip to Hawaii on Monday.

But that isn’t the first time he — and his administration — have displayed that attitude. We saw the Gold Star parents speak recently about how upset they were over their children having been killed at the Abbey Gate bombing at the Kabul airport during the withdrawal from Afghanistan, and yet, they got no answers from the Biden administration — and particularly the callous way in which Joe Biden dealt with them, checking his watch, and even telling them his son died in action as well.

On Thursday, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications in the White House John Kirby if Joe Biden was going to talk with any of the Gold Star families or talk about what happened. Kirby’s response was shameful. 

“He certainly has talked about Afghanistan and the decision to withdrawal and the evacuation and how it was conducted,” Kirby said. 

That wasn’t even responsive to the question being asked. How can you duck a question about talking to the families? But that’s exactly what he did. That’s just simply shameful when you treat families that way, as though they aren’t worthy of your respect or time, and you’re treating their children who gave their lives for this country as though they are expendable. Yes, Biden has spoken about the withdrawal — without ever admitting the bad decisions he made. This makes one very concerned that it could happen again and holds no one — including himself — to account for any of the failures.

But if Kirby could make his response to the question worse, he did so with the next answer to Tapper.

Tapper told him how Sgt. Taylor Hoover’s mother described the messages she got from her son during that time — that it was chaos, that the “chain of command was unclear,” and they were “sitting ducks.” Tapper said a lot of people were concerned about how the withdrawal was conducted.

Kirby’s answer was incredible. He said that CENTCOM did a “pretty exhaustive investigation into this” and that “barring any decision that could have impacted mission success, there wasn’t much that could be done to prevent that attack from coming, as tragic as it was.”

What a cold-hearted response to a Gold Star mother’s plea for answers.

Not to mention that that’s just not true. All of this would have been prevented by a competent withdrawal.  It could have been prevented by holding on to Bagram and defending that, a much more defendable position, as my colleague Matt Dempsey has observed in a great post.

The Kirby clip went viral and was excoriated by people, saying what a horrible person he was. Imagine any former military person throwing the military under the bus like this to defend Biden. But John Kirby has shown before how low he can go when he even denied the chaos Sgt. Hoover spoke about — what we all saw unfolding before our very eyes in the reports.

Many things could have been done, but perhaps one that was so poignant was testified to by Sgt. Tyler Vargas-Andrews. They had a lot of information about an attack coming, including descriptions. They spotted the suspect, but they were denied the authority to shoot.

“Plain and simple, we were ignored. Our expertise was disregarded, no one was held accountable for our safety,” he told the committee.

He also described the moments after the blast:

“I’m thrown 12 feet onto the ground but instantly knew what happened. I opened my eyes to Marines dead or unconscious and lying around,” he said through tears.

“A crowd of hundreds immediately vanished in front of me and my body was catastrophically wounded with 100 to 150 ball bearings now in it.”

Vargas-Andrews lost an arm and a leg, lost a kidney, and has endured 44 surgeries.

Here he is at the grave of his friend, Sgt. Hoover, whose mother now wants answers.

Vargas-Andrews also said that Joe Biden tried to shake his hand, although he had lost his arm, then started talking about his son.

These are the people to whom Kirby is saying, “Oh, hey, nothing we could have done,” when he offers such a shameful response.

Perhaps one of the worst things about this response and denial of any responsibility is that these are the people still in charge at this point. Because they fail to take responsibility for anything, it could happen again.

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