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U.S. Completely Pulling Out Of Embassy In Kabul Over The Next 72 Hours; Taliban At Gates Of Kabul As U.S. Embassy Staff Evacuates; At Least 304 Dead After 7.2 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Haiti. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired August 15, 2021 - 06:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. We're grateful to have you here on this NEW DAY, Sunday, August 15. I'm Christi Paul.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Boris Sanchez. We begin with breaking news in Afghanistan where we are witnessing history. Taliban fighters have reached the gates of the capital city of Kabul.

PAUL: A statement issued by the Taliban just a short time ago asks for calm saying its fighters are now on the outskirts of Kabul and want to take control of the capital peacefully. But in the meantime, the effort to get Americans out of Afghanistan is at full force right now. A U.S. official tells CNN the goal is to get embassy personnel out by Tuesday if not sooner.

What you are looking at here is CNN video of helicopters shuttling employees from the embassy for that evacuation. President Biden has authorized sending in another 1,000 troops to carry out the operation which brings the total to 5,000.

SANCHEZ: Let's get more on the fast-moving developments in Afghanistan and get straight to CNN's Nick Paton Walsh, who joins us now live from Kabul. Nick, there were -- there was an intelligence assessment just a few days ago that said that this would be taking place in 30 to 90 days. U.S. intelligence didn't anticipate that this would happen merely within hours. Bring us up to speed with what you're seeing.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's important to have a sort of slight pause on where we feel we are in terms of Kabul's security. From what we can see, we are not seeing the Taliban entering the city from multiple points at this stage as some of the reports have suggested. In fact, a source in the presidential palace, who, obviously, have skin in the game here to fashion the narrative in a certain way in fact suggested that some of the panic today was caused by a clash at a bank which we've heard from other sources too which caused people to react.

Intermittently heard sounds of occasional cracks of gunfire. Not abnormal frankly in Kabul at a busy time. What is abnormal is the scale of American helicopters circulating around the area of their embassy. I have not seen anything like there in 20 years in terms of the volume. So clearly a lot of American activity right now.

Where does this leave Kabul? Well, the talk at the moment from the presidential palace and from government figures, too, is of, I think, continued negotiation, the possibility of some kind of transitional government emerging.

I should emphasize here speaking to the presidential palace minutes ago they were clear that President Ashraf Ghani at this stage has not assented to a transitional government which most likely would effectively cause him to lose his position here, and that talks are continuing. There appear to be indications from the country's defense minister that possibly officials are headed to Qatar in Doha. That is most likely to talk about the terms of a ceasefire here. And so it does seem as though a plank of diplomacy is beginning to formulate today under pressure, of course, by the fact that the Taliban have in the last 24 hours continued on gains -- again, gains that were thought unthinkable frankly.

Jalalabad in the east essentially the only way out of this country for pro-government forces that seem to remain has fallen to them absolutely isolating Kabul apart from its airport where 3,000 U.S. marines are coming in now. And I can tell you, too, since the crackles of gunfire began earlier on significant panic inside the city. People even seen carrying their suitcases walking in direction of the airport because the traffic was so gridlocked here.

I've had people coming up to me I have known for years simply saying they're going to the airport right now, there's nothing more that can be done, they want to get out. A lot of this is because the information isn't clear and it vacillates from the government going the Taliban are in the city. Those things are not the case at this stage but it is clear that the Taliban are involved as they have been for a period of time, but today with greater urgency in negotiations with the president, with his advisors, with the Americans at some location here.

It's not clear if it is in Kabul. It was said to me very clearly by the presidential palace that there are no Taliban in the presidential palace at this point, having these negotiations but a lot moving here today. I have never seen a day like this in 20 years in Afghanistan. It is seismic and the pace in which the Taliban appear to be able to dictate how this unfolds is utterly startling and a chronic indictment of U.S. intelligence assessments.

Thirty days was their worst idea. Well, we are here right now. It is essentially encircled. You can just see in the fact that there are apaches flying over the embassy compound here, releasing defensive flares that they are not relaxed about getting their people out.


This is moving fast. And Joe Biden suddenly with a wave of his hand it seems bringing 1,000 more troops into country. Something announced last night, is a startling move and shows, I think, the urgency of what they are trying to do and the scale of the security crisis they are facing here. PAUL: Nick, you talked about people in Afghanistan who are trying to get out. How plausible is it for them to get out?

WALSH: I hate to say it's going to be very tough for those people here who have not got out yet to leave. There are limited aircraft. The massive operation that the U.S. certainly, on paper, has been discussing is going to be imperiled, I think, by the security situation here at this stage, no doubt about that. And they are involved dozens of aircraft at the airport, processing or getting on to planes, thousands, tens of thousands of Afghans who have been loyal to the government.

So, a dark time for them certainly because they simply don't know what kind of Taliban society they are walking into at this point. It is not the Taliban who run Kabul at this stage. It is seeming to be clear the Taliban from their messaging wants to stay on the outskirts, wants to stay at the city's gates. Many have thought they simply don't want to move into a very hostile city of 6 million and possibly engage in street to street fighting simply because in the longer term that would almost certainly turn this capital city against any government they might be able to form down the line.

So, it is possibly in their interests some sort of peaceful negotiation of power here. But really essentially how this folds out, sorry, unfolds, comes down to what President Ashraf Ghani has to say to this transitional government, appears to be being negotiated. It does appear they being very keen for that government to contain Taliban but also all political spectrums inside of Afghanistan which will surely include remnants of his current government.

A ceasefire coming into play has been very important, too. And so that's all fine in terms of a calm plan for how we move from this position to a place where there is less violence, but the unanswered question, and I occasionally hear crackles of gunfire here, which I should stress is not a sign of anything changing here, normally just nerves, what is worrying people, I think, in Kabul and in cities around Afghanistan is the nature of the Taliban that they are dealing with.

They are able to put up a very organized, clean face when it comes to addressing the outside world, but they are not a homogenous group. There are extremists within their ranks. There are reports of atrocities at times in the past.

And so I think there are many here deeply concerned that while they may receive assurances from the Taliban, it may be difficult for that to leave them comfortable sleeping at night here as the hours unfold. But extraordinary, frankly, just to watch the pace of which things are unraveling here.

SANCHEZ: Nick, I have spoken to several people who served in Afghanistan and you spent a lot of time there, as well, and they have a sick feeling about what they're watching. And I think for a lot of people in the United States there is a fundamental question of how this could happen. If the United States had been training an Afghan military for the better part of 20 years and helping prop up a government for the better part of 20 years, it seems like there was no resistance to the Taliban at multiple layers in their advance toward Kabul.

WALSH: Look, I mean, there has to be a slight moment of cold recognition of how much America has cared about the Afghan war for the last 10 years. It's a war that a tiny proportion of the population have fought in. It's a war, the interest in which being so low that the Biden administration by reports calculated they could simply withdraw and there would be minimal public engagement in that fact.

Now we are seeing the utterly predictable scenes here of the Taliban moving fast and that seems changing. For military veterans who spent time here, who lost friends here, who fought here, who have seen the constant bid of the United States over, not so much a 20-year presence, but 21-year presences as each tour began and new people came in trying to send a message of success, it will be heart-wrenching to see this.

But, frankly, in the cold reality of what we have always seen is going on here for years despite the messaging of the U.S. government that the Afghan security forces were up to it. Even President Joe Biden referring to them as 300,000 in number, which is fictional. We always knew they weren't that good. They weren't that big. A small rump of them very professional commandos fighting hard. But they have been unable to race towards the different fires that need putting out.

So it's essentially where the -- sadly to say, the long deceit of America's presence here, that they were building an Afghan army that could do the job for them essentially assumed as the Americans have made it clear they are leaving and have physically done that job, that army has crumbled, as has the notion that there was anything other than an ugly messy exit for the United States here.


But I should say all of this, Americans' opinions in all of this is obviously important in America. But it's the Afghans here who are dealing with the brunt of those decisions, the brunt of that inadequate application and welcome deceit to some degree by the U.S. as it builds an army and a project here that was on paper very different to how it was on reality.

And it's amazing all the people you speak to are not surprised by the inevitability of what we thought would happen with the Taliban actually coming to fruition. What surprised everybody is the speed.

We kind of knew this would happen because in our hearts we have been seeing that simply things were unlikely to be up to the job of holding back a dedicated disciplined insurgency when nobody felt was that the house of cards was going to come down in a matter of seconds. It felt like maybe you might be talking about months. I am stunned.

SANCHEZ: Yes. The asymmetry in what you are saying, Nick, that this was utterly predictable and what we have been hearing from the White House and President Biden saying that this was not inevitable, it is notable. Nick Paton Walsh from Kabul, thank you so much. Let's focus on the messaging now from the White House because after announcing the deployment of an additional 1,000 troops to Afghanistan President Biden has another message. He's been firm on his initial decision to withdraw the remainder of troops to end the nation's longest war and now he says he will not hand this war down to the next president.

PAUL: CNN's Arlette Saenz live with us from the White House right now. It seems like there is -- there are competing words in that statement, Arlette. Help us understand what the White House is saying now and what plan might be in place moving forward.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi and Boris, President Biden is spending the weekend, he currently is in Camp David, and we are waiting to hear from the White House what the latest reaction is to these developments relating to Kabul overnight.

The president has been kept abreast of this developing situation in Afghanistan. Just yesterday he convened a secure video conference call with top U.S. officials, including the secretary of state, Lloyd Austin -- or Tony Blinken and the Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. And it was after that conference call that the president really released this robust statement on Afghanistan, breaking his silence after not speaking about it since Tuesday. And in that statement the president said that he was authorizing an additional 1,000 American troops to head to Kabul to help with the drawdown of U.S. personnel and also to help evacuate those Afghan allies who helped the U.S. military so much over the course of the past 20 years.

And in the statement the president said that they have sent a specific message to the Taliban that if they were to take any actions on the ground that would put U.S. personnel at risk, that there would be a strong and swift military response from the United States. So, that is something to keep in mind as we are seeing the situation in Kabul develop.

But the president also issued a very firm defense of his decision to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan by the end of the month. I want to read you a bit of what the president said. He said, when I -- he particularly pinned part of the blame on -- saying that he was hamstrung by President Trump saying, "When I came to office, I inherited a deal cut by my predecessor which he invited the Taliban to discuss at Camp David on the eve of 9/11 of 2019 that left the Taliban in the strongest position militarily since 2001 and imposed a May 1, 2021 deadline on U.S. forces."

President Biden said shortly before he left office he also drew U.S. forces down to a bare minimum of 2,500. "Therefore, when I became president, I faced a choice -- follow through on the deal with a brief extension to get our forces and allies' forces out safely, or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again in another country's civil conflict."

President Biden said, "I was the fourth president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan -- two Republicans, two Democrats. I would not and will not pass this war onto a fifth." So President Biden really remaining resolute in his decision to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan but all of this that we are seeing unfold is certainly happening under President Biden's watch. It was just over a month ago that the president said it was highly unlikely that the Taliban would seize the control of Afghanistan and right now they are on their way to doing just that.

Now, I also want to note that yesterday Secretary of State Tony Blinken spoke with the president of Afghanistan, Ghani. And one thing that President Biden said in his statement was that he has directing Blinken to support Ghani and other leaders to prevent further bloodshed and pursue a political settlement.


We will see if there are any other conversations that are playing out today and we also know that members of the House are expected to receive an unclassified briefing on Afghanistan. That was already scheduled last night. Participating in that will be Secretary Austin, secretary -- and also secretary -- sorry, chairman of the Joint Chiefs Milley. But certainly this is a quickly evolving situation and the White House has really -- really not anticipated much of the speed with which we've seen the Taliban make these gains over the course of the past week.

SANCHEZ: Yes, President Biden also a few weeks ago saying that this is no comparison to Saigon in Vietnam in 1975, the evacuation of the embassy there, and yet we are seeing helicopters evacuate personnel from the U.S. embassy in Kabul as we speak. Arlette Saenz, thank you so much from the White House.

Let's talk about next steps. President Biden is sending another 1,000 troops to Afghanistan as the Taliban makes major advancements toward the country's capital.

PAUL: U.S. military forces there now total 5,000 strong. The immediate mission, obviously, as we've been saying this morning, helping personnel at the U.S. embassy escape. CNN's Oren Lieberman has more on this. What do we know about the increase in troop numbers there, Oren, and really what the mission will be?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So the mission is pretty much all that's left, which is the rush to the exits at this point and securing that rush to the exit by U.S. embassy staff. And then, of course, there's a greater question of what to do about thousands of Afghan interpreters and their families who are still there totaling more than tens of thousands of people. That remains an enormous question and a timeline that has shrunk to what seems like a matter of hours at this point.

There were already about 1,000 U.S. forces in country mostly in and around Kabul. President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin sent in another 3,000, about 2,000 marines and 1,000 soldiers, to go in and help secure the airport. But they had about 3,500 or 4,000 troops on stand-by in Kuwait. This extra 1,000 comes from that group. They will not be heading to Kuwait. They'll go directly to Kabul to secure the airport and that gives you a sense of how quickly this is evolving and how quickly the response is coming from the Pentagon, that is the situation is deteriorating incredibly rapidly. From this end it looks pretty much disastrous and they're sending in more and more troops to make sure they can get out quickly.

But that also means there are about 2,500 more troops who will soon be on stand-by in Kuwait. We will certainly keep an eye to see if those are sent in as well. Again, that would simply be another indication that this is just going worse and worse.

SANCHEZ: And, Oren, the Taliban had said that they want this potential transition of power to be peaceful. Do we know an assessment of the likelihood that American troops might be involved in any sort of combat while they are on this mission?

LIEBERMANN: Well, the Pentagon has been clear it's very aware that American troops are going into a combat zone. They are going fully kitted out, body armor, weapons, so they are going ready for combat. Essentially it's a question of does the Taliban initiate an attack on Kabul? That's how the Pentagon sees this.

Is that likely to happen? Well, that's a good question. That's what we are all waiting to see. The Taliban says it will not attack the capital during these talks, during essentially negotiations for what happens here, but it's also clear that the U.S. is preparing for the possibility of violence.

This -- and Arlette referenced this part, this is part of the statement from President Biden. He said, "We have conveyed to the Taliban representatives in Doha, via our Combatant Commander, that any action on their part on the ground in Afghanistan, that puts U.S. personnel or our mission at risk there, will be met with a swift and strong U.S. military response."

So clearly the U.S. is preparing for this possibility. What would happen there? First, it's worth noting that that would be the first U.S. soldier or U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan since February of last year, since just before the signing of the Doha agreement that essentially led to all this wind-down. But how would Biden respond? He is making it clear here as is the military that it will respond very forcefully if a service member or if an American citizen is attacked or killed on this very rapid rushed withdrawal at that point.

PAUL: Oren Liebermann, thank you so much for the update. We appreciate you bringing us up to speed there as we watch what is happening this morning, this ongoing siege in Afghanistan. It's going to be the major topic of conversation when Secretary of State Antony Blinken is with Jake Tapper this morning on STATE OF THE UNION. It starts at 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

SANCHEZ: We're going to stay on top of this breaking news, the Taliban closing in on Kabul. The U.S. embassy being evacuated as we speak. We're going to get the latest from the State Department after a quick break. Stay with us.



SANCHEZ: We want to get back to the breaking news out of Afghanistan. U.S. officials telling CNN that evacuations at the American embassy there are well underway. And CNN cameras captured American helicopters coming and going from the embassy in the last few hours.

PAUL: This is a scene that Nick Paton Walsh, who is there, said he was stunned by to see this much activity and the urgency that he is seeing. The hope is to run evacuations around the clock, have the majority of embassy personnel out by Tuesday morning, if not sooner.

People who hold and who have applied for special immigration visas are included, by the way, in plans for evacuation. CNN's Kylie Atwood live at the State Department this morning.

Kylie, good to see you. We understand that you have some new reporting for us? What are you learning?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, what we have learned is that the U.S. is going to be completely pulling all of their personnel out of the U.S. embassy in Kabul. Now, this is a rapid acceleration from where the State Department was earlier in the week.

You will recall they announced on Thursday that they are pulling out some of the U.S. personnel there, that are the diplomats and the contractors there, but we have learned that the U.S. has now decided to pull out all of those personnel. Now, what's going to happen here is that these folks are going to head on these helicopters that we have seen in Kabul at the embassy.


They are going to go to the airport. Most of them are heading back to the United States. A core group of these officials, including the top U.S. diplomat in Afghanistan, is going to remain in the country at least for now. That person is going to remain at the airport. This is a rapid acceleration. The United States rushing to get their people out of the country as the Taliban, obviously, are on the edges of Kabul.

Now, the other thing that I do want to note is that U.S. officials have been repeatedly telling CNN over the last few days that there is a problem here in such that the U.S. doesn't have great intelligence on the ground right now. That is one of the things that is fueling the fact that they have decided to get these diplomats home because they really don't know the precise dynamics of what is happening here.

And, of course, one major reason for that is because the United States has pulled out most of their U.S. troops. Those folks were able to collect some intelligence and, as one U.S. defense official put it, this makes the United States blind in the face of some potential intelligence that they used to have getting in. As I said, this is fueling the decision to get these diplomats out of the country, but a very rapid acceleration on behalf of the United States that we have just learned about. And this is something that we are learning is going to happen over the next 72 hours. By Tuesday, it's expected that the U.S. embassy in Kabul is going to be shuttered for now.

PAUL: Kylie Atwood, we appreciate the update. Thank you.

Again, we are following this breaking news out of Afghanistan. You heard her there. All U.S. personnel, that is the development this morning, all will be pulling out of the embassy within the next 72 hours. We are live from Kabul after a quick break.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking News this morning out of Afghanistan. Sources say the U.S. is now completely pulling out all U.S. personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul over the next 72 hours. That is different from what we heard on Thursday from the president who said some personnel would be pulled out.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Right now, as the Taliban is closing in on Kabul, the evacuation of U.S. embassy personnel is well underway. A U.S. official says the goal is to get them out by Tuesday, if not sooner. Right now, you're looking at video shot by CNN that appears to show us helicopters flying above Kabul possibly carrying us personnel.

PAUL: CNN's Clarissa Ward is live in Kabul, Afghanistan. Clarissa, help us understand what's happening there, and good morning.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christi. There was a lot of moving parts here. You mentioned the evacuations of U.S. embassy personnel. I mean, we have just heard a non-stop stream of choppers all morning going back and forth from the embassy to the airport.

We also saw an Apache gunship accompanying several Chinooks. That gives you a sense, I think, of just how tense things are here. And that's because the Taliban are now very much outside the gates of Kabul. We heard earlier a statement from Zabihullah Mujahid who is the spokesperson for the Taliban. He said that they are not going to enter the city violently, that they want to enter peacefully.

He urged people to stay at home not to try to flee. He said that there would be a blanket amnesty basically for anyone who had worked with the government or with security forces as long as they did not try to fight the Taliban.

And we also are being led to believe that there are sort of ongoing last-minute talks between the Taliban between the government of Ashraf Ghani, the Afghan President, to try to come up with some kind of an interim government as sort of peaceful transferal of power. We heard from Afghanistan's defense minister again urging people to not panic, saying that the city of Kabul is still very much under control, that defenses are strong, and that negotiations are ongoing to come to a peaceful conclusion.

But I can tell you, Christi, that message is not being embraced on the streets of the capital. It has been incredibly chaotic here this morning with people just desperately trying to get out of the city. The streets have been choked with traffic long lines outside the passport office. Everybody frantically worried about what will happen when Taliban fighters do enter the Capitol, as it appears may be happening in the coming hours or days depending on how those talks go. We just don't know. Christi, Boris?

PAUL: Clarissa Ward live for us there, you and the crew, take good care there. Thank you so much, Clarissa.

So, we want to continue this conversation here. The Taliban, as she said, at the gates of Kabul. In response to the rapid gains by the Taliban, President Biden, as we said, now authorized an additional 1000 U.S. troops to assist with efforts. Bill Roggio is the managing editor of the Long War Journal. We're also joined by him and CNN Military Analyst, Colonel Cedric Leighton. Thank you both so much for being here. We appreciate it.

Bill, I want to ask you, first of all, when you hear what we are hearing from the Taliban spokesman this morning that they want a peaceful and satisfactory transfer of power to be agreed upon, what do you expect satisfactory to be?

BILL ROGGIO, MANAGING EDITOR, LONG WAR JOURNAL: Good morning and thank you. For the Taliban, the only thing to tell -- it has always had a maximal strategy or an objective here, and that is the reestablishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan with its leader as the Emir.

The Taliban have used negotiations to -- as a ruse as a smokescreen. We should never trust the Taliban when they're talking about peace. They do want peace. It's not our version of peace. It's the Taliban's version of peace. It's the peace of the Taliban, and it won't be peaceful for the Afghan people.


The Taliban absolutely would rather take Kabul -- rather than the Afghan government surrender, and take control of Kabul, but it will -- make no mistake, it will take Kabul by force if the government refuses to surrender. There won't be power-sharing, there -- anything like that. Don't expect it from the Taliban.

We -- people that are policymakers, our military commanders, intelligence officials, they've relied on this notion that the Taliban would compromise, that it would accommodate an Afghan government. But that was never going to happen. And so, the Afghan government really has one choice -- two choices, surrender or flee the -- flee the country.

PAUL: So, Colonel Leighton, what is the national security concern for the U.S. right now when we see the expediency by which the Taliban has moved through that country, 25 of their provincial capitals are now in the hands of Taliban, and it's 25 out of just 34? CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, that's right, Christi. And I think the big national security implication here is how do we really organize our armed forces to deal with threats like al-Qaeda, like ISIS, like the Taliban when you are called on to go into a place like Afghanistan and conduct military operations.

You know, we were clearly very successful in 2001 in the wake of 9/11 going in there and toppling the Taliban. Now, the tables have turned. And now what we're seeing is really a wave of Taliban victories because the partners that we had in Afghanistan were not capable of not only unifying themselves but of presenting an armed force that could challenge the Taliban.

And that is something that we really need to take very seriously and understand, because the future implications of the Taliban victory are going to be very, very profound.

PAUL: Bill, you've called, and I'm quoting you, what we're seeing today as the greatest intelligence failure in decades. You say the Taliban planned prepared, organized, recruited, deployed fighters all under the nose of the U.S. military, NATO, and Afghan intelligence. In this 20 year period, where did intelligence fail? Was it early on? Did the Taliban see an opening say 10 years ago when they started to reorganize? I mean, how did the U.S. miss this?

ROGGIO: Yes. And I want to be very clear. I know individuals within the U.S. intelligence and military establishment who saw this, but this is an overall failure in leadership, both political military and intelligence at the top levels. They thought that -- they didn't -- we didn't -- they never understood the enemy. They pretended that the Taliban would disassociate with al-Qaeda. They thought that the Taliban was a group that they could work with. So, they ignored the Taliban strategy, the Taliban's objectives.

And by 2018, General Miller, who was the last commander of Afghan -- of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and NATO as well, he said as the Taliban was slowly seizing control of districts and implementing its rural insurgency strategy where it would take rural districts and expand its control, he said he rejected the security situation on the ground, and said that negotiations with the Taliban is the only measure of success.

The U.S. military -- U.S. military leaders, intelligence leaders checked out on the Taliban. They thought they were going to get a deal on the table. They never believed that the Taliban was capable of overrunning cities. It has -- it actually happened in that time period when General Miller made that statement.

Everyone should have seen this coming. If I was able to see this coming, I don't understand how the U.S. military and intelligence establishment which has billions upon billions of dollars at its disposal was not able to see this. This really is the greatest failure since then.

PAUL: And Colonel, what does that say about the lack of intelligence now that the U.S. will have in that country and how that affects the national security not just the U.S. but of countries around it?

LEIGHTON: Yes, Christi, this failure to understand that Bill so correctly points out is really at the heart of the matter. And when we look at the technical aspect, I'll call it of intelligence collection, the fact that we do not have a really adequate collection, resources, covering Afghanistan makes the forces that are currently in Kabul trying to protect to U.S. embassy personnel and, you know, potentially Afghan civilians, it makes them blind.


And you know, when you're blind, and you're deaf, and you can to tell if it's going on, you're at an incredible disadvantage both tactically and strategically. And that's the kind of thing that we're dealing with right now.

In the future, this is going to be a huge issue because the Taliban who can do many things even when we're watching them. They can really do a lot of stuff when we're not there watching them, at least not watching them in the way that we need to watch them with assets on the ground in an area that can actually collect information and analyze that information.

So, it's a failure of collection, it's a failure of analysis, and it's a failure of putting all of this together and making meaningful a intelligence available to our policymakers and leaders. PAUL: Bill Roggio, Colonel Cedric Leighton, you know, your expertise

is something that we certainly value here. Thank you for your time today.

LEIGHTON: Absolutely. Thank you for having me.

ROGGIO: Thank you very much.

SANCHEZ: As the Taliban took city after city in Afghanistan, people fled to the capital of Kabul. But now, the Taliban is closing in there, and people are realizing there may be no safe haven left. We'll explain what's going on in Afghanistan after a quick break. Stay with us.



SANCHEZ: Hundreds of thousands of Afghans who fled their homes trying to escape the Taliban. And many of those recently uprooted have made their way to the capital of Kabul. But with the Taliban ready to enter that capital, soon there may be no safe haven. Here's CNN's Michael Holmes.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Families sleep on the hard ground outside the school in Afghanistan. It may not look like the most comfortable place to rest but at least for now, it is safe, away from the trail of violence left behind by the Taliban's advance. Many bombs were dropped on our village, one woman says. The Taliban

came and destroyed everything. We were helpless and had to leave our houses. One Afghan official in Kunar province where the school is located says there are thousands of displaced families in his province alone, trying to escape the fighting. But for some it is too late.

The Taliban were firing guns next to our house, one man says. Many bullets came our way. In the end, my wife was killed. A hospital filled with wounded civilians shows just how pitched the battle is. One patient says I was on the side of the street. I was hit by a mortar and one of my legs was injured.

Some people taking refuge in the country's capital Kabul thinking it is one of the safest bets with the Taliban on the move. This man left the besieged city of Lashkar Gah two weeks ago, but hopes to return one day. If you ask most people in Afghanistan, 99 percent of the people will say the fighting is not the solution, he says. The only way is peace and the Afghan people want peace. A peace that seems more elusive as more civilians are forced from their homes.


PAUL: I thank Michael Holmes for that report.

SANCHEZ: As we were watching the breaking news out of Afghanistan, with Taliban fighters ready to enter the Capitol, there is another humanitarian disaster happening right now in Haiti after yesterday's deadly earthquake. We have details on that next.



SANCHEZ: Haiti is now under a state of emergency after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the country yesterday.

PAUL: At least 304 people were killed, thousands have been injured, and hospitals are so overwhelmed with patients. Tents have been set up now to handle the overflow. Here's CNN's Patrick Oppmann.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Scores of Haitians are dead and many more are missing or injured following a powerful earthquake that rocked that nation on Saturday. The images are harrowing, people running from their homes, people running from buildings as they collapse down upon them, as well injured people. We have seen -- have had received medical attention outside because of the aftershocks continue to rock Haiti and it's just too dangerous for people to be treated inside hospitals where we are hearing are overwhelmed.

Haiti's new prime minister Ariel Henry is visiting the affected areas. He is only taken over control of Haiti in the last several weeks following the assassination of Haitian president Jovenel Moise in July. So, this is a country that continues to be rocked by calamity and disaster.

And the worst may have not passed as of yet because Tropical Storm Grace has formed and is heading in the direction of Haiti. It could bring heavy winds and rain which could lead to mudslides, could further compromise buildings that have been structurally damaged and could collapse in the heavy rains.

So, while this earthquake did rock Haiti on Saturday, aftershocks continue to impact the area where the earthquake hit. And with this tropical storm on the horizon, the danger has not passed. Patrick Oppmann, CNN Havana.


SANCHEZ: Patrick Oppmann, thanks for that report.

PAUL: All right, breaking news that we're following out of Afghanistan. If you're just joining us this morning, the Taliban is closing in on the capital of Kabul. The U.S. Embassy in a frantic and urgent state of evacuation right now. We've got the very latest on this rapidly unfolding situation. Stay close.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

SANCHEZ: Good morning and welcome to NEW DAY. It is Sunday, August 15. I'm Boris Sanchez.

PAUL: And I'm Christi Paul. We begin with this breaking news out of Afghanistan this morning. We are witnessing history here. Taliban fighters have reached the gates of the capital city of Kabul.