by Bernard P. Lawson, The Chicago Times

September 17, 2021

WASHINGTON — General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., commander of US Central Command, stated on Friday that it is unlikely any ISIS-K members were killed in a Kabul drone strike on August 29, which resulted in multiple civilian casualties.

“We now assess that it is unlikely that the vehicle and those who died were associated with ISIS-K or a direct threat to US forces . . . This strike was taken in the earnest belief that it would prevent an imminent threat to our forces and the evacuees at the airport,” McKenzie said.

Although McKenzie took full responsibility for the strike it was approved and later touted as a successful strike by President Biden and members of his administration.

The drone strike, which was meant to target ISIS-K operatives, killed an aid worker as well as up to nine of his family members, including seven children.  The strike was thought to be on a vehicle containing bombs and operated by ISIS-K militants and was ordered after a suicide bombing at Kabul airport in Afghanistan that killed 13 US service members and many civilians on August 26, 2021.


by Bernard P. Lawson, The Chicago Times

September 9, 2021

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will announce on Thursday that employers with more than 100 employees will be mandated to require coronavirus vaccinations or test employees on a weekly basis.

The dictate will require all employers with more than 100 employees to have them vaccinated or tested for the virus on a weekly basis, affecting approximately 100 million Americans.

In addition, the approximately 17 million workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid will be required to be fully vaccinated.

Biden will request that OSHA issue a rule requiring employers to test their employees. Companies must pay for the testing, but the cost can be passed on to employees.

Biden is also signing an executive order requiring vaccination for executive branch employees and contractors doing business with the federal government, with no option to test instead.

Large corporations would also be required to provide paid time off for vaccinations under the rule.  Businesses that refuse to comply with the mandate will face hefty fines of up to nearly $14,000 per violation.

This is a reverse from what the Biden administration told reporters in July that vaccine mandates “. . . were not the role of the federal government.”


by Bernard P. Lawson, The Chicago Times

September 7, 2021

WASHINGTON —  Four of the five Guantanamo detainees released by former President Barack Obama in exchange for former US Army Sgt. Bowe Berghdahl in 2014 now hold senior positions in the Taliban-led interim government in Afghanistan.

According to the Afghan television network TOLOnews, the Taliban-formed government appointed Mohammad Nabi Omari, Khairullah Khairkhwa, Norullah Noori, Abdul Haq Wasiq, and Mohammad Fazl to leadership positions; all of whom were released as part of a 2014 deal between the Obama administration and the Taliban to free Bergdahl, who the Taliban had held as a prisoner since 2009.

Following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan late last month, the Taliban announced that Omari, a former Guantanamo Bay Naval Base detainee with close ties to al Qaeda, would govern Khost Province.

The Taliban announced on Tuesday that Khairkhwa would serve as acting minister of information and culture, Noori as acting minister of borders and tribal affairs, Wasiq as acting director of intelligence, and Fazl as deputy defense minister.

Wasiq will return to his position as the Taliban’s intelligence director, which he held prior to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America.  While serving in that position, US intelligence agencies determined that Wasiq had close ties to al Qaeda.

A district court judge in Washington, D.C., ruled in 2011 that Khairkhwa “was, without question, a senior member of the Taliban both before and after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001.”

Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of the militant group known as the Haqqani Network, is now the Taliban government’s acting interior minister.  Haqqani has been one of the Taliban’s two deputy leaders since 2016.  Senior US intelligence officials confirmed that Haqqani was an informant for the NATO alliance along with Nawazuddin Haqqani.  However, for undisclosed circumstances the United States has now placed a $10 million bounty on Sirajuddin Haqqani’s head.  US sources also confirmed that they have intelligence assets at all levels of the Taliban.

Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse issued a statement on Tuesday regarding the Taliban’s formation of a government, insisting that the trust placed in the Taliban by President Joe Biden and US officials is “pathetic.”

“President Biden still clings to an insane fantasy that the Taliban is kinder and gentler . . . is complete nonsense.  Haqqani is the Taliban’s new interior minister for the same reason the FBI has a $5 million reward on his head: he is a bloodthirsty terrorist.  He is armed, dangerous, and in charge of a country we have just abandoned.”

Publicly, the Biden administration is claiming that recognition of the Taliban government is dependent on conditions being met, yet the withdrawal was also supposed to be dependent on conditions, which the Taliban violated without any response from the Biden administration.  Sources within the White House quietly indicated that formal recognition is imminent with out conditions.  Sources commented that certain Biden officials want the problem to go away as quickly as possible.

After his release, Berghdahl was tried by general court-martial on charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy in which he pleaded guilty before a military judge at Fort Bragg October 16, 2017.  On November 3, 2017, he was sentenced to dishonorably discharge, rank reduction to private, and a $1,000 monthly pay fine for ten months, with no prison time.

Bernard P. Lawson, National Political Reporter/Columnist for The Chicago Times.  Views and comments expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the official position of The Chicago Times.


by Bernard P. Lawson, The Chicago Times

August 30, 2021

WASHINGTON — Under orders of President Biden, Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. announced Monday evening that the last of the United States troops stationed at Kabul International Airport had left, completing the military’s drawdown in the country, despite the fact that hundreds of Americans are still likely to remain.

McKenzie, the commander of the United States Central Command, stated that some American citizens who wanted to leave Afghanistan were left behind.  “We didn’t get everyone out who we wanted to get out,” he admitted.

This in contrast to the promise President Biden told the nation “If there are any American citizens left, we’ll stay to get them all out.”

According to a senior State Department official, the number of Americans want to leave are in the range of 250.  These citizens are now left in the hands and “promises” of the Taliban and ISIS.  It is expected that ISIS and Taliban forces will soon struggle for control of Afghanistan.


by Bernard P. Lawson, The Chicago Times

August 24, 2021

WASHINGTON — US President Joe Biden surrendered to Taliban dictates Tuesday by ordering all US military personnel to leave Afghanistan by August 31.  Biden believes the challenges of evacuating American citizens and Afghan allies can still be achieved, but only with the “help” of the Taliban.  Biden’s unilateral decision is a gut punch to allied leaders who want to give the evacuation more time.

Biden claims the Taliban are cooperating and that security is still in place despite a “handful” of violent incidents.  There have been disturbing reports of Taliban abuse of human rights against American citizens and Afghan allies trying to exit the county.  Americans have been beaten with rubber belts, have had passport destroyed, and Taliban fighters have threated to kidnap females.  There have also been reports of summary executions of Christians.  Even after the Aug 31 deadline, there will be thousands of people who fear retaliation from the Taliban.

The Taliban, who reclaimed control of the country nearly 20 years after being ousted in a US-led invasion following the 9/11 attacks, insist the airlift must end on August 31.  The Taliban have said they will attack the now surrounded US & Allied military forces and will hold no quarter for survivors.

At the Pentagon, spokesman John Kirby claimed that August 31st provides enough time to evacuate all Americans, but he was less specific about completing the evacuation of all at-risk Afghans that will be left at the mercy of the Taliban and growing ISIS presence.

The Biden administration does not know the true number of Americans wanting to leave the country and may have decided to cut them loose if they do not arrive by the Aug 31 deadline.  Some Republicans and Democrats reacted angrily Tuesday to the United States’ apparent compliance with a Taliban edict.

“This is a dereliction of duty on part of the President and top military leaders.  We have the capability to rescue all Americans and allies in-country . . . we do not have to be dictated to by the Taliban terrorists.  It is clear this administration does not have the political will to use military power to protect our people and allies.” said a source in the Pentagon.

In April, Biden announced the end of the United States’ war in Afghanistan, which began in October 2001.  Former President Donald Trump had previously agreed to end the war in May through talks with the Taliban.  However, under Trump, American withdrawal depended on conditions being met by the Taliban, which if not met, would have been countered with punitive airstrikes.

Biden, on the other hand, waited until the Taliban had over run the county and the collapse of the US-backed government and its army, before launching an airlift.  Biden also disbanded military response teams before evacuating civilians.  Biden also abandoned billions of dollars’ worth of weapons to the Taliban.  Some of these weapons include Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.  If we have to return, our own weapons will be used against our men and women in uniform.  One Pentagon source said “. . . standing operating procedure for a retreating army, yes this is a retreat on orders, is to destroy equipment that is useful to the enemy.”

In an unusual move, CIA director William Burns was dispatched to hold secret talks with Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Kabul.  Some sources have indicated a secret agreement or form of tribute was paid to the Taliban to “ensure” the safe passage of US citizens at the expense of sacrificing our Afghan allies.  In other words, the Biden administration will leave our Afghan allies to the hands of the Taliban.

U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said she had credible reports of “summary executions” of civilians and former security forces who were no longer fighting, the recruitment of child soldiers, and restrictions on women and girls to move freely and attend school.  Some other sources in Afghanistan have reported mass kidnappings of women and girls for use as slaves.

From 1996 until the US-led invasion in 2001, the Taliban confined women to their homes, banned television and music, severed the hands of suspected thieves, and carried out public executions.

Bernard P. Lawson, National Political Reporter/Columnist for The Chicago Times.  Views and comments expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the official position of The Chicago Times.


by H. Haverstock, The Chicago Times

August 15, 2021

KABUL – Afghan government surrenders Bagram airbase to Taliban.  As the Taliban seize control of the government, the US embassy has issued new advice to American citizens attempting to flee the country.

Previously, nationals were directed to the Kabul airport, but the embassy informed them that the airport was now “taking fire,” and the security situation had changed.  “We are instructing U.S. citizens to shelter in place,” the embassy said in a statement.

The embassy also posted a Repatriation Assistance Request form and advised Americans not to call the embassy for flight updates or details.

Many in the US government are calling this an embarrassment for our country and shameful that Biden can only provide a “shelter in place” advisory to US civilians left in Taliban hands.