The Washington establishment news outlet Politico has said on Monday that it has obtained classified documents reporting that top Pentagon leaders spoke about plans for a “mass casualty event” in a video meeting the day previous to almost 200 people dying in a Kabul suicide attack.
The outlet said that the document was a transcript of high-level military discussions. Politico claimed Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin told top leaders in over a dozen depts. to prepare for this kind of event in a meeting on Wed., citing these documents. It also quoted Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley claiming to have a lot of information about a “complex attack” by a terrorist group.
Commanders reportedly said the Abbey Gate – where the suicide attack and bombing happened and Americans were close to – to be the spot with the “highest risk.”
“I don’t think people get the incredible risk on the ground,” Politico said that Austin had said.
Politico did not publish the document but instead claimed to have verified the authenticity using an anonymous defense source. The Pentagon has neither confirmed nor denied these reports.
The classified notes supposedly said that a separate phone call happened where Americans were laying plans to close Abbey gate this Thursday, but kept it open to help British allies withdrawal faster. The British based their evacuations out of the Baron Hotel.
At least one, although some accounts reported multiple, suicide bombings happened at the Hamid Karzai International Airport inside Kabul this past Thursday, killing more than 180 people, including 13 United States service members, and hurting dozens more. Abbey gate was still open at this time, and Americans were still processing evacuees at the gate when the attack happened.
Following this publication, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said that Politico was guilty of basing its report on “unlawful disclosure of classified documents”:
“This story was based on the unlawful disclosure of classified documents and internal discussions of a sensitive matter,” Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said in a comment.
“As soon as we are aware of the material given to the reporter, we spoke to Politico at the highest levels to stop the publication of information that might put our troops at the airport at risk.”
Author: Blake Ambrose