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Douglas Andrews / September 29, 2021

Milley, Austin Reveal Big Biden Lie

The testimony of senior military leaders made clear that Biden lied about the advice they gave him on Afghanistan.

“No, no one said that to me that I can recall.”

That lie, uttered by Joe Biden during an August 19 interview with ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos, won’t be as long-remembered as, say, Bill Clinton’s finger-wagging “I did not have sex with that woman.” But that’s unfortunate. Because as lies go, this one is of far greater consequence than Clinton’s.

Biden was responding to a question about life and death and American national security. Stephanopoulos inquired of him directly: “Your top military advisers warned against withdrawing on this timeline. They wanted you to keep 2,500 troops.”

“No, they didn’t,” replied Biden. “That wasn’t true.”

Stephanopoulos had obviously done his homework, so he gave the president a chance to extricate himself, to walk back what he must’ve known to be a lie. He put the question to Biden again: “Your military advisers did not tell you that, ‘No, we should just keep 2,500 troops. It’s been a stable situation for the last several years. We can do that. We can continue to do that.’?”

And that’s when Biden, who’s spent his entire life lying about matters large and small, doubled down: “No, no one said that to me that I can recall.”

It’s as if none of Biden’s handlers had bothered to tell him that news networks tend to record their journalists’ conversations with U.S. presidents.

We’d suspected it to be a lie as soon as Biden uttered it, but we had to wait until yesterday for confirmation. It was then, during testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley, and head of U.S. Central Command General Kenneth McKenzie, that we learned each of them had advised their commander-in-chief otherwise.

“I recommended that we maintain 2,500 troops in Afghanistan,” McKenzie testified. “I also have a view that the withdrawal of those forces would lead inevitably to the collapse of the Afghan military forces and eventually the Afghan government.” How right he was. And how right General Austin “Scott” Miller was. Miller was our nation’s last commander in Afghanistan, and Biden ignored his expert advice as well.

Milley’s assessment was similar: “We should keep a steady state of 2,500 and it could bounce up to 3,500, maybe, something like that, in order to move toward a negotiated solution.”

And SecDef Austin made clear that Biden got the message: “Their input was received by the president and considered by the president, for sure.” So there we have it. The president ignored the advice of his senior military leaders — which is his prerogative, even if he chooses to lie about it.

Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton and Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan, both veterans, pressed McKenzie and Milley on Biden’s denial that he’d ever received their advice. Their obvious discomfort with the question, and their evasiveness, spoke volumes.

In any case, on August 15, the Afghan capital of Kabul fell to the Taliban without a shot being fired. And that was after months of steady advances by the Taliban — months during which the Biden administration had every opportunity to correct course, to keep that residual force in place a bit longer, to hang onto Bagram Air Base a bit longer. So much for the $84 billion we’d spent to arm and train the Afghan forces over the course of 20 years. And so much for the ultimate sacrifice made by 2,448 American warriors during that long war, and by an additional 13 who died in a Kabul airport suicide bombing that we saw coming.

Is it possible that our cognitively declining president simply didn’t comprehend this straight-up, simple, and consistent recommendation from his senior military leaders? Or that he heard it but forgot it soon thereafter? We suppose. But those possibilities are even more disturbing than a straight-up lie.

Also disturbing during yesterday’s hearings were Milley’s attempts to reconcile his eagerness to give left-wing journalists plenty of privileged material for their anti-Trump books, and his reluctance to share with Congress the substance of his conversations with Donald Trump’s Democrat successor. We can’t think of a Joint Chiefs chairman ever having betrayed a sitting president in such a way nor undermining his commander-in-chief as brazenly as Milley did during his two unauthorized calls with his Communist Chinese counterpart, Li Zuocheng.

Senator Sullivan turned the hypothetical tables on Milley by asking him whether he thought the ChiComs would give him a heads-up before attacking Taiwan. Milley stumbled, and it told us all we needed to know. Sullivan dismissed the idea outright, noting that Chinese President Xi Jinping “would’ve had him shot” for doing so.

Back to the Afghanistan fiasco, Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker pressed Milley more generally about it, and about the damage Biden’s disastrous decision-making had done to our nation’s reputation. “I think that our credibility with allies and partners around the world, and with adversaries, is being intensely reviewed by them to see which way this is gonna go,” said Milley. “And I think that ‘damage’ is one word that could be used.”

As Milley put it, “It was a logistical success but a strategic failure.” Credit this Princeton graduate for his candor here; he’s clearly the smartest guy in the room, and even he knows it was a failure. But he refuses to be held accountable, and so does Secretary Austin. Neither of them had the honor to resign in protest when the president didn’t take their advice. And neither of them has the integrity to resign now that they have overseen Biden’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan – which Mark Alexander detailed in his comprehensive review of Biden’s surrender and retreat.

Meanwhile, a Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, Stuart Scheller, has been sent to the brig to await his fate for having demanded accountability from our military leadership.

We understand the importance of military discipline and the chain of command, and we certainly respect Article 89 of the UCMJ. But we also appreciate honor. And there’s none to be found with Mark Milley and Lloyd Austin.

(Updated)

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