By Jenny Goldsberry
Top Pentagon officials knew about the attack Hamid Karzai International Airport about 24 hours before it happened. According to a report from Politico Monday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned world leaders around the world to prepare for an imminent “mass casualty event.” Pakistan’s ISIS K ultimately committed the suicide bombing.
The news organization received detailed notes from three classified phone calls. That Wednesday, at about 4:30 PM in Afghanistan, Austin relayed his concerns.
“I don’t believe people get the incredible amount of risk on the ground,” Austin said then.
Later, at about 12:30 AM in Afghanistan, officials talked about the high risk at Abbey Gate. This was the gate Americans were instructed to gather at to enter the airport. They attempted to close it, but their British allies needed it open for the accelerated evacuation of their personnel. Previously, they had been based out of Baron Hotel.
Politico’s source released these notes much earlier, but the Department of Defense prevented them from publishing them any sooner than Monday.
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby called it an “unlawful disclosure” in a statement. “As soon as we became aware of the material divulged to the reporter, we engaged Politico at the highest levels to prevent the publication of information that would put our troops and our operations at the airport at greater risk,” Kirby said. “We condemn the unlawful disclosure of classified information and oppose the publication of a story based on it while a dangerous operation is ongoing.”
The White House did not comment to Politico.
Since then, two ISIS K targets were killed in a U.S. counterterrorism operation.
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