by WorldTribune Staff, February 11, 2022
Calls from Jill Biden and Pope Francis for special favors to get certain people out of the chaos enveloping Afghanistan made a bad situation worse, according to the commander of U.S. troops in charge of the evacuation of Kabul.
Rear Adm. Peter Vasely “said the Pentagon was being pulled in all different directions from Biden officials, lawmakers, members of the media and even the Vatican as it carried out the largest evacuation since Vietnam ahead of the Taliban takeover,” the Daily Mail noted in a Feb. 10 report.
Asked during testimony for a U.S. Army investigation into the Aug. 26 terrorist bombing that killed 13 U.S. service members and an estimated 170 Afghan civilians whether it was true that Jill Biden and Pope Francis had called in to seek help for specific people who were in harm’s way, Vasely said: “That’s accurate. I was being contacted by representatives from the Holy See to assist the Italian military contingent … in getting through groups … of special interest to the Vatican. That is just one of many examples.”
Vasely said the requests were added “distractions” to the already chaotic withdrawal from Kabul, adding “I cannot stress enough how these high-profile requests ate up bandwidth and created competition for already stressed resources.”
Vasely’s declassified remarks were made public after a Freedom of Information Act request from The Washington Post.
During his testimony, Vasely said demands were pouring in to the U.S. operations center in Kabul through emails, text messages and phone calls in such a high volume he felt the need to take certain forces away from the established rescue plan to form a “coordination cell” to work on the special requests from the White House and beyond.
“You had everyone from the White House down with a new flavor of the day for prioritization,” Vasely told Army investigators.