Afghanistan war veteran and ex-CIA analyst accuses Biden of 'gaslighting the country' over disorderly evacuation effort

·2-min read
Afghanistan war veteran and ex-CIA analyst Matt Zeller speaks on MSNBC
Afghanistan war veteran and ex-CIA analyst Matt Zeller speaks on MSNBC Screenshot/MSNBC
  • An Afghanistan veteran and ex-CIA analyst on MSNBC accused Biden of "gaslighting the country."

  • Matt Zeller said he tried in February to present a plan to the White House to help evacuate Afghan SIV applicants.

  • Zeller also blamed Trump for shutting down the SIV program and said there's "blame to go around."

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Matt Zeller, a former CIA analyst who fought in Afghanistan and advocates on behalf of Afghan refugees, accused President Joe Biden of "gaslighting the country" over SIV applicant evacuations in a Tuesday appearance on MSNBC.

"Let's be clear, the president has got to stop gaslighting the country," Zeller said. "We could have done this in a very orderly fashion. A plan existed all along."

Zeller's remarks came as US forces continue to work on evacuating thousands of people from Afghanistan, a process that has been chaotic and even led to some Afghan civilian deaths.

The Afghanistan war veteran told MSNBC that he tried in February to present a plan to the White House that would've helped with the evacuation of special immigrant visa applicants - those Afghans who assisted US forces during the nearly 20-year long US mission in Afghanistan.

"Had they listened to us, we wouldn't have been in this situation," he said.

The interview took place just after news broke that CIA Director Bill Burns met with Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar in Kabul on Monday.

"That's just how an end of a war that you lose goes I guess," Zeller said in response. "I'm hoping that they're making a deal."

Zeller emphasized that the US would need to stay in Afghanistan beyond the August 31 withdrawal deadline, and said that Biden would be judged not be how many people he evacuated but how many people he left behind.

"There's a lot of blame to go around on both sides of the aisle" when it comes to the evacuation of refugees, Zeller said, arguing that the Trump administration also contributed to the chaos.

"If the Trump administration hadn't purposely shut down this program for four years, we wouldn't have all these people that we needed to take at the last moment," he added. "If the visa program had actually functioned as designed, many of them would have gotten out years ago."

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