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US on track for August 31 withdrawal; House passes $3.5T plan

Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

Is the US on track for the August 31st withdrawal from Afghanistan?

The US is actually doing a pretty good job, getting its own citizens out of Afghanistan despite the chaos that's been seen at the airport and across the country over the last two weeks. It's estimated on Wednesday afternoon, there were about 1,500 citizens of the United States, still in Afghanistan. And some of them, according to Secretary of State Tony Blinken, may not want to leave. The US has been evacuating enormous numbers in the last several days. Over 21,000 people have gotten out. And even though Biden sent his CIA director, William Burns, to potentially negotiate a longer withdrawal date than August 31st with the Taliban, he says, he's going to stick to this deadline. The people who may not get out are the interpreters and helpers that aided the American military, who are native Afghanis, who are probably going to be left behind when the US leaves at the end of the month.

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Why CIA director Bill Burns met with the Taliban

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on the CIA director's secret meeting with the leader of the Taliban, the G7 emergency meeting on Afghanistan, and the future of vaccine mandates following the FDA's approval of Pfizer's COVID vaccine.

CIA director Bill Burns held a secret meeting with the leader of the Taliban. How will it impact the ongoing evacuations?

Well, at the very least, you have to think that America's top priority, ensuring that all Americans get out of Afghanistan, given that the US controls nothing on the ground but Kabul Airport, will be facilitated. I would think that that was the reason for him to be there, absolute top priority. That has been successful. If it was a failure, we would've heard something about it by now, and the situation on the ground would be quite different. That is very different though than what happens after August 31st, and whether or not all of the Afghan nationals working with the Americans and in physical danger are going to be let out. So far, I haven't heard that from the Taliban. Certainly that will be a big piece of the negotiations. But better that he's there than not.

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A Worldwide Threat Assessment

As we noted in the Wednesday edition, the US intelligence community has released its latest Worldwide Threat Assessment. Much of the media focus this week has fallen on President Trump's criticism of the US intel chiefs, but let's begin with the report itself. Here are its key findings:

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