Gold Star Father Responds To Psaki Book

May 14, 2024

Former White House press secretary and current MSNBC host Jen Psaki has become the center of controversy following comments in her new book, which have upset many Gold Star families. The issue revolves around President Biden’s actions during a ceremony for U.S. service members killed in the Afghanistan withdrawal in 2021. Psaki’s remarks have sparked significant backlash for allegedly misrepresenting the president’s behavior at this solemn event.

The ceremony in question was held to honor the service members who lost their lives during the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, specifically in a bombing at Kabul airport. During the event, President Biden was observed checking his watch, a detail that was captured in photographs and noted by attending family members. However, in her book titled “Say More,” Psaki wrote that President Biden checked his watch only after the ceremony had concluded, a statement contradicted by these visual accounts and the testimonies of Gold Star families.

Darin Hoover, father of the late Staff Sergeant Darin Taylor Hoover who was killed in the Kabul airport bombing, expressed his dismay on Fox News. Hoover accused Psaki of attempting to profit from rewriting the events of that day, which he views as disrespectful to the memory of the fallen soldiers and their families.


In response to the criticism, Psaki told Axios that she would remove the specific details about the timing of Biden’s watch-checking from future reprints of her book and the eBook version. Despite this retraction, the damage among some members of the community appears to have been done.

Gold Star father Steve Nikoui, father of Marine Lance Corporal Kareem Nikoui who also perished in the Kabul incident, shared his feelings on the same Fox News program. He expressed his dissatisfaction with what he perceives as continuous dishonesty and manipulation by the administration, sentiments echoed by other family members affected by the tragedy.

Representative Darrell Issa, a Republican from California, joined the conversation, using the instance to highlight ongoing issues related to the Afghanistan withdrawal, including efforts to evacuate Special Immigrant Visa holders still in the country. He argued that the situation serves as a reminder of the broader implications and failures associated with the end of the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.

The conversation about Psaki’s book and the events it describes extended into the following day, with Mark Schmitz, another Gold Star father, appearing on “Fox & Friends.” Schmitz, who witnessed the ceremony firsthand, claimed to have seen Biden check his watch multiple times as the caskets were received, contradicting Psaki’s account. He described the book as politically motivated and expressed intentions to pursue legal advice on the matter.

This ongoing controversy highlights the deep emotional impact of the Afghanistan withdrawal on the families of the fallen and the broader political and social ramifications of how these events are publicly recounted and understood.

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