Thirteen American service members screening Afghans desperate to fly out of the country died Thursday in a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan.
President Joe Biden called the military members heroes, representing the best of America, working selflessly to help others escape the Taliban regime that has retaken the country.
They were part of the bravest, most capable, most selfless military on the face of the Earth," Biden said. "And they were part of simply what I call the backbone of America. They're the spine of America, the best the country has to offer."
The blast took place at the Abbey Gate as would-be evacuees were searched, leaving scores dead and injured. An Afghan offshoot of the Islamic State took responsibility.
Biden vowed retribution, saying, "We will hunt you down."
Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says US troops will need to go back into combat in Afghanistan — as the region remains on high alert for more suicide attacks, with the death toll from Thursday’s atrocity soaring over 180, including 13 US service members.
“We’re going to have to go back in to get ISIS,” Panetta told CNN, calling Thursday’s twin suicide blasts by the reinvigorated terrorist group “Joe Biden’s worst nightmare.”
“We’re probably going to have to go back in when al Qaeda resurrects itself, as they will, with this Taliban,” he predicted.
“They gave safe haven to al Qaeda before, they’ll probably do it again,” predicted Panetta, who was the director of the CIA and oversaw the US operation that killed the terror group’s leader, Osama bin Laden.
“I understand that we’re trying to get our troops out of there, but the bottom line is, we can leave a battlefield, but we can’t leave the war on terrorism, which still is a threat to our security,” he told CNN.
He said the US appeared to have “pretty good intelligence on the leadership of ISIS,” the terrorist group whose Afghanistan-based affiliate, ISIS-K, took responsibility for Thursday’s blasts.
“I think there’s a pretty good chance we can identify who is involved with this attack. And once we are able to locate them, we have to go after them,” he said.
USA Today’s Daniel Funke, the reporter behind the newspaper’s botched report on President Biden’s watch fiasco has been hammered by critics on social media for playing “the victim.”
Funke originally reported in a “fact-check” Wednesday that accounts of President Biden checking his watch during the solemn transfer ceremony honoring the 13 U.S. service members killed at the Kabul airport terrorist attack was “partly false.” Funke insisted that it occurred “only after” the ceremony.
But the next day USA Today issued a correction admitting Biden checked his watch “multiple times” during the ceremony, as The Post accurately reported on its front page. However it changed its ruling from “partly false” to “missing context.”
Funke then took to Twitter on Friday offering an apology — of sorts.
“As many of you already know, this story has been corrected. Biden checked his watch multiple times during the ceremony. I regret the error,” Funke wrote. “Journalists and fact-checkers are human (yes, even me!) We make mistakes. When we do, we correct them and try to make it right.”
After sharing a link to USA Today’s fact-checking guidelines explaining the “principles we try to uphold,” Funke wrote, “It’s easy to dunk on journalists when we get things wrong. I get it – to many, we’re just another name on a screen. But behind that screen is a person trying to do their best.”
Some gave Funke credit for his mea culpa. But others suggested it was another liberal-media attempt to protect Biden.
“With all due respect, Mr. Funke, your ‘fact check’ carried a direct implication that grieving, gold star families had LIED with their first-hand testimony of the events. Keep your ‘we regret the error’ and apologize, unequivocally, directly TO THEM,” radio host Larry O’Connor told Funke.
“I’d have more sympathy if the ‘fact checking industry’ hadn’t viewed the Afghanistan crisis as a time to protect Biden instead of fact-checking the admin’s lies and obfuscation. We have unknown numbers of Americans stranded and they’re focused on conservative social posts,” GOP strategist Matt Whitlock tweeted.