US Intelligence Failed to Predict Immediate Kabul Takeover, Report Shows

US Intelligence Failed to Predict Immediate Kabul Takeover, Report Shows

( – A bombshell exclusive report published by the Wall Street Journal on October 28 is renewing outrage over America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. Previously undisclosed intelligence reports from four key US intelligence agencies reveal a surprising split in opinion over how to approach the Taliban’s rapid growth in power.

Agencies Split on Area of Focus

The nearly two-dozen reports mentioned in the Wall Street Journal highlight a troubling problem: agencies couldn’t seem to agree on when or if the Taliban would successfully step into power. While all reports concluded that the terrorist organization would eventually gain ground, especially if US forces withdrew from the Middle Eastern region, not a single agency successfully predicted the hostile takeover of Kabul on August 15.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) came closest to making an accurate prediction, publishing a report on the subject in May of 2021. Agents suggested that President Ashraf Ghani’s government would fall victim to the Taliban no later than December.

Yet, the CIA’s small success didn’t last long. Officials at the agency retracted their prediction only a month later in a new report, suggesting that a Taliban takeover was closer to two years away.

Other agencies felt the terrorist organization would either focus on remote villages or simply lack the power to capture a major city such as Kabul. The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) even incorrectly predicted that Ghani’s government was more than strong enough to hold the city through attempted attacks.

Did Failed Predictions Result in Loss of Life?

The release of such information has experts and civilians alike raising an incredibly valid question: did intelligence failures directly contribute to a tragic loss of life during the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan? More importantly, if agencies had managed to predict the fall of Kabul and the subsequent Taliban takeover, could American leaders have strategized to prevent it from happening?

There are no easy answers here. As the Wall Street Journal’s report says, policymakers almost always base their decisions on data released by intelligence agencies. If these organizations never anticipated the capture of Kabul, leaders probably didn’t make decisions with that particular outcome in mind. It’s challenging to plan for the unexpected or unconsidered.

Still, not everyone is ready to blame American intelligence experts. At least one senior administration official who spoke with the Wall Street Journal pointed out that virtually all entities managed to predict the situation would deteriorate. He also dismissed the idea that they should have known Kabul would eventually fall, saying only that the agencies “aren’t oracles.”

These reports can’t and won’t bring back the people who died during America’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, regardless of what they reveal. Still, that doesn’t make them any less valuable to intelligence experts or the military, who can learn from the situation and (hopefully) ensure future missions never unfold this way again.

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