After a morning of mysterious reports and odd denials, President Obama did indeed make a surprise trip to Afghanistan today on the one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death. The president arrived in the country to sign an agreement that will designate Afghanistan as an official "non-NATO ally," which is also a symbolic commemoration of the new post-war era. He plans to address the nation live from Bagram Air Force Base later tonight, at 7:30 p.m. ET, which will be the middle of the night local time.
The New York Post first reported earlier today via a breaking news alert that Obama had traveled to Afghanistan, but that story was denied by the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. That led to some heated speculation about the President's actual whereabouts from Mediaite, which has since taken their post down. The president's official schedule was suspiciously light today (just three meetings, all closed to the press) and now we know why. His arrival under the cover of darkness was officially confirmed around 3:00 p.m. ET, almost one year exactly, to the hour, that Seal Team 6 was raiding bin Laden's Abbottabad compound.
ABC's Jake Tapper added more details about the "Strategic Partnership Agreement," including this quote from an administration official that “We won’t repeat that mistake" that the Soviets made when they left Afghanistan, adding that the agreement will last through 2024 to “send a message to the Taliban that they can’t wait us out.”
UPDATE: Zeke Miller at BuzzFeed has a timeline and an explanation of the earlier "false" reports and the White House's denials that were technically correct, because he wasn't actually in Kabul at the time they were made. An Afghanistan news service jumped the gun, but the U.S. acted quickly to tamp the story down due to security concerns.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.