President Joe Biden came under harsh criticism for his behavior at a ceremony held to transfer the bodies of 13 US Marines killed in last week’s suicide terror attack at the Kabul airport.
Biden appeared to check his watch every single time a flag-draped coffin was removed from the hold of the Air Force C-17 Globemaster plane during Sunday’s ceremony at Dover Air Force Base in the president’s home state of Delaware.
“They would release the salute and he looked down at his watch on every last one,” Darin Hoover, the father of Marine Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover, told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “All 13, he looked down at his watch.”
The families of the soldiers met with Biden and according to Mark Schmitz, whose 20-year-old son, Marine Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, died in the attack, the president was told by a woman: “I hope you burn in hell.”
“I hope you burn in hell! That was my brother!” the woman shouted, Schmitz told The Washington Post.
The families also said that Biden responded bluntly when asked to remember the men and women killed in Kabul.
“I said, ‘Don’t you ever forget that name. Don’t you ever forget that face. Don’t you ever forget the names of the other 12... and take some time to learn their stories’,” Schmitz told the president.
Biden responded curtly and did not like the comment, Schmitz told the Post, and reportedly said, “I do know their stories”.
The families were also agitated as they said the president spoke more about his own dead son than the US troops.
“When he just kept talking about his son so much it was just – my interest was lost in that. I was more focused on my own son than what happened with him and his son,” Schmitz said.
Beau Biden, a military veteran deployed to Iraq, died of brain cancer in 2015, and the president has used his death in a bid to connect with families that have suffered similar grief.
Jiennah McCollum, the pregnant wife of Marine Lance Corporal Rylee McCollum, was disappointed by the president’s conversation, her sister Roice McCollum told Post.
“You cannot kneel on our flag and pretend you care about our troops…. This did not need to happen, and every life is on his hands,” McCollum said. “The thousands of Afghans who will suffer and be tortured is a direct result of his incompetence.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended Biden when asked about the meeting.
“While his son did not lose his life directly in combat as they did – or directly at the hands of a terrorist, as these families did that they’re mourning – he knows, as I just said, firsthand that there’s nothing you can say, nothing you can convey, to ease the pain and to ease what all of these families are going through,” Psaki told reporters.
Meanwhile, the emotion from families has become so heated that even Facebook and Instagram intervened to censor one mother’s rant.
Shana Chappell, mother of 20-year-old Lance Corporal Kareem M Nikoui, said her Instagram account was deleted and a Facebook post removed for criticizing the President.
“It seems Instagram took it upon themselves to delete my account because i [sic] am assuming it was because i gained so many followers over my sons death due to Biden’s negligence, ignorance and him being a traitor!” Chappell posted on Facebook.
The US invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 and removed the Taliban from power. American forces occupied the country for about two decades on the pretext of fighting against the Taliban. But as the US forces left Afghanistan, the Taliban stormed into Kabul, weakened by continued foreign occupation.
Daesh struck the Kabul airport on Thursday, killing at least 180 people, mostly Afghan civilians and about a dozen US troops. The terrorist group claimed the responsibility for the attack.