CIA Director William Burns met with Taliban leader

Taliban Takeover

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, William Burns, met with a top Taliban leader in Kabul as the United States rushes to airlift Americans and Afghan allies out of the country.

Marc Polymeropoulos, a former CIA senior intelligence service officer and author of “Clarity in Crisis,” believes there is some backchannel negotiating going on.

“There should be,” Polymeropoulos said. “As a matter of fact, this is a tactical situation. I would imagine he would have asked for things like an extension past Aug. 31, and some other assurances about, you know, the protection of US forces there”

A U.S. official told The Associated Press Burns secretly swooped into Kabul to meet with Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar on Monday.  It was not clear what exactly they discussed.

But on Tuesday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said his group would accept “no extensions” to the Aug. 31 deadline.

President Joe Biden also said he is sticking to that timeline.

“Make no mistake, it doesn’t seem like the Taliban is willing to listen,” Polymeropoulos said. “All signs point to a withdrawal on the 31st, which I think is going to be really problematic in getting out the remaining Afghan allies.”

Mujahid told a news conference the U.S. must stick to its self-imposed deadline, saying “after that, we won’t let Afghans be taken out” on evacuation flights. 

“The bottom line, who’s going to suffer the most are Afghan allies, who might number in the tens of thousands,” Polymeropoulos.

Polymeropoulos said the national security community is not happy about this because they work on the ground with these allies.

“The administration has made a calculation that the risk of potential attacks on U.S. forces is not worth the gain of extracting the remaining Americans and our Afghan allies.” Polymeropoulos said “And, that’s pretty hard to stomach.”

Biden defended his decision.

“Every day we’re on the ground is another day that we know ISIS-K is seeking to target the airport and attack both us and allied forces and innocent civilians,” Biden said, referring to the Islamic State group’s Afghanistan affiliate, which is known for staging suicide attacks on civilians.

“In my view, we should do everything possible, including, potentially get into armed conflict with the Taliban,” Polymeropoulos said. “We talk about wounds of war, I think we’re going to have some moral wounds amongst our U.S. military or even our diplomats there who have to be the ones to leave people behind, see it on their faces”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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