American intelligence officials are saying the intel community knew the Taliban was militarily strong and capable of quickly overrunning the Afghanistan government, directly contradicting public statements by President Joe Biden.
What is Biden saying?
As it became clear the Taliban would take over Afghanistan, Biden has been trying to deflect blame for his administration's disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Biden and his officials have claimed, on one hand, that they were bound to an agreement made by former President Donald Trump to remove U.S. forces by May 1, while claiming, on the other hand, that U.S. intelligence did not show the Taliban were capable of seizing Afghanistan.
"That's not true," Biden responded last month when told by a reporter, "Your own intelligence community has assessed that the Afghan government will likely collapse."
What is the intel community saying?
As the Biden administration's blame-shifting goes full throttle, intelligence officials are disputing accusations that American intelligence did not foresee the possibility of swift victory by the Taliban.
One "senior intelligence official" who spoke to the Washington Examiner said the internal question surrounding Afghanistan was never whether the Taliban was strong enough to overrun the Afghan government, but whether Afghan security forces had the willpower to fight.
"We have noted the troubling trend lines in Afghanistan for some time, with the Taliban at its strongest, militarily, since 2001. Strategically, a rapid Taliban takeover was always a possibility," the official said. "We have always clear-eyed that this was possible, and tactical conditions on the ground can often evolve quickly."
CNN similarly reported:
An intelligence assessment produced within the last month assessed that the Taliban were pursuing a total military victory in Afghanistan, a source familiar with the intelligence said, despite ostensibly negotiating for peace in Doha and even as the administration continued to express confidence in those talks.
In fact, CNN reported just last month that U.S. "intelligence assessments paint an increasingly bleak picture of the Taliban's quickening advance across Afghanistan."
ABC News also reported on Sunday, citing "numerous U.S. officials," that attempts to blame the fall of Afghanistan on intelligence failures are simply not true. Those officials told ABC News that "key intelligence assessments had consistently informed policymakers that the Taliban could overwhelm the country and take the capital within weeks," the outlet reported.