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President Joe Biden will remove all US troops from Afghanistan before this year's 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, ending America's longest war around five months later than planned, a US official said.
Biden has "reached the conclusion that the United States will complete its drawdown -- will remove its forces from Afghanistan -- before September 11," the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.
Biden will make an announcement Wednesday that all US forces, in coordination with those of Western allies, will leave other than limited personnel to guard US diplomatic installations, the official said.
Biden will not link the departure to conditions on the ground, where there are rising fears that the Taliban could make major gains against the internationally-backed government in Kabul.
"The president has judged that a conditions-based approach, which has been the approach of the past two decades, is a recipe for staying in Afghanistan forever," the official said, calling for a shifting of US priorities.
For Afghans the fighting will likely grind on. The official spoke shortly after US intelligence released a threat assessment report warning that the embattled Afghan government "will struggle" to hold off the "confident" Taliban if the US-led coalition withdraws.
Former president Donald Trump also favored a withdrawal and reached a deal with the Taliban in February 2020 under which all US troops would leave by May 2021 in return for the insurgents' promise not to back Al-Qaeda and other extremists -– the original reason for the 2001 invasion.
The Biden official said that the withdrawal would begin in May and that the delay was largely logistic, with troops possibly out of Afghanistan well before September 11.
The official warned the Taliban of a "forceful response" if they strike US troops on the way out.
"We have communicated to the Taliban in no uncertain terms that is they do conduct attacks against US or allied forces as we carry out this drawdown," he said, "that we will hit back hard."
The threat assessment report published Tuesday by the director of national intelligence said the Taliban "is confident it can achieve military victory."
"Afghan forces continue to secure major cities and other government strongholds, but they remain tied down in defensive missions and have struggled to hold recaptured territory or reestablish a presence in areas abandoned in 2020," it said.
Afghan civilians, wary of the Taliban's return to power, have long paid a disproportionate price in the decades of bloody fighting.
© 2021 AFP
Fox News anchors accused of conspiring behind the scenes with Trump attorneys as they face massive lawsuit over election lies
A new court filing argues that Fox News anchors cannot hide behind the First Amendment after helping former president Donald Trump and his allies spread election lies.
Voting technology company Smartmatic filed a 120-motion asking a New York state court to reject the conservative network's attempt to dismiss a $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit by claiming its coverage was protected speech, arguing those protections should not apply because anchors knew election fraud claims were untrue, reported Law & Crime.
"This is not a game. The First Amendment does not provide the Fox Defendants a Get Out Of Jail Free card," the motion argues. "The Fox Defendants do not get a do-over with their reporting now that they have been sued."
Smartmatic attorney J. Erik Connolly accused Fox News anchors, including Maria Bartiromo, Jeannine Pirro and Lou Dobbs of inviting Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell onto their programs and asking questions intended to promote the former president's claims of election fraud.
"The Fox anchors were not innocent bystanders and the disinformation generated during their interviews was no accident," the motion claims. "Prior to the interviews, the Fox anchors decided to join forces with Giuliani and Powell to disseminate disinformation about Smartmatic. The Fox anchors knew what Giuliani and Powell would say on their shows, asked questions to elicit lies about Smartmatic, and endorsed Giuliani's and Powell's investigation. The Fox anchors added their own defamatory comments about Smartmatic for good measure. This was a scripted performance by the Fox anchors, Giuliani, and Powell to defame and disparage Smartmatic for personal gain."
"The filing only confirms our view that the suit is meritless and FOX News covered the election in the highest tradition of the First Amendment," the spokesperson said.
Reacting to the CDC's advisory to suspend Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccinations due to reports of blood-clotting issues in women, former president Donald Trump -- under whom the coronavirus pandemic raged before he failed to be re-elected -- issued a statement in which he offered up an opinion that the pause is a mistake.
As part of his statement, which also included his racist "China virus" name for COVID-19, Trump attacked fellow vaccine maker Pfizer and the FDA with Trump insisting, "They didn't like me much because I pushed them extremely hard," before taking credit for the medical breakthroughs.
While many critics of the former president -- who is increasingly being referred to to as the "former guy" -- took to Twitter to say he should be ignored, others encouraged him to just go away because he has become "irrelevant."
You can see some responses below:
@Bencjacobs Context: Pfizer announced successful trials on November 9, six days after the election in which the ne… https://t.co/X9XC3sVlPd— J... Fa... (@J... Fa...)1618327651.0
@Bencjacobs Former guy just needs to shut up. No one cares what he has to say. He is irrelevant now. What he really… https://t.co/OuOWbiR3U1— Gwennie (@Gwennie)1618327507.0
@Bencjacobs We really dont have to pay attention to the completely inappropriate ravings of a bitter old man.— mr. G (and the good trouble). (@mr. G (and the good trouble).)1618327459.0
@Bencjacobs I pity the human that had to sit in a room long enough with the Former President long enough to dictate this conspiracy theory.— mpiatt🇺🇸 (@mpiatt🇺🇸)1618327349.0
@Bencjacobs Who. Oh the disgraced twice impeached dumpster fire. He can go away if we let him.— Chris Maye (@Chris Maye)1618327923.0
@Bencjacobs Why the fuck do we care about the rantings of a retired con man in Florida?— Newman 🇺🇲 (@Newman 🇺🇲)1618327283.0
@Bencjacobs Disgraced past president says what? He’s a lunatic.— lesa-with-an-e (@lesa-with-an-e)1618331311.0
@Bencjacobs The guy that hid his own vaccination from the public, now has a strong opinion on vaccinations.— Carlos Rosado (@Carlos Rosado)1618328076.0
@kristirice47 @Bencjacobs His followers. Which has been the problem since he came down the escalator.— Tia Will (@Tia Will)1618327906.0
@Bencjacobs Thank you to whoever got Trump to say “This is all about me, and the vaccines are safe” instead of “Vac… https://t.co/dxng4fzuOI— Will Saletan (@Will Saletan)1618328897.0
@Bencjacobs Who. Cares. What. Trump. Thinks.— Meri (@Meri)1618328274.0
@Bencjacobs Yep. Donald doesn't care who gets sick. Typical former guy.— Max Bingman (@Max Bingman)1618329250.0
@Bencjacobs Why keep posting this garbage? The former guy is clearly unhinged. Let him crawl back in his hole, alone and defeated.— Susan Speakman (@Susan Speakman)1618328165.0
@Bencjacobs Only Tuesday and already I’m out of f*cks to give for anything that fat, orange puss-bag has to say.— Peter Lion (@Peter Lion)1618331222.0
@Bencjacobs My response to ex-president (by the grace of God) Trump is: It is over, https://t.co/hUOGwwuV5e— J. A. Dunleavy (@J. A. Dunleavy)1618329384.0
@Bencjacobs Desperate for attention. Even more desperate to be relevant. Knows nothing about any subject. Pathetic… https://t.co/Rz7XlGhoMc— Paula J Marcotte (@Paula J Marcotte)1618329916.0
@Bencjacobs In more relevant news.... https://t.co/HaO2SFUfky— Political Jerk (@Political Jerk)1618327785.0
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