Trip to Afghanistan "a scene from a spy novel"
President Barack Obama walks down the steps of Air Force One under the cover of darkness as he arrives in Afghanistan Tuesday. (photo credit: AFP/ Getty Images)
May 1st, 2012
07:58 PM ET

Trip to Afghanistan "a scene from a spy novel"

The following is from the pool producer who traveled to Afghanistan with POTUS Tuesday.

It was a scene from a spy novel.

A little after 9:30pm, I arrived at a back gate of Joint Base Andrews. No guard or intercom, I just drove up and it opened. I was in. The security guards verified my identity and I made my way to the rendezvous point. Typically, this would be the base passenger terminal, but not tonight. Very few people knew what we were doing there, so we met in a dimly lit parking lot.

Our bags were screened and we gave up all our electronics – laptops, mobile phones, cameras, anything that might have tracking software – were put into bins. We would get them back about an hour after takeoff.

On a bus we drove onto the tarmac. Air Force 1 was in shadow. No lights on, inside or out.

We boarded. Just before midnight, the President arrived. We didn't see him, but more Secret Service agents boarded, the door was closed, and we were off. No lights on in the cabin for takeoff and initial ascent. All window shades down.

In fact, we would not see daylight for more than 24 hours. The plan was to arrive in Afghanistan after dark and leave before daybreak. As we descended steeply to the runway, again, all inside cabin lights were turned off.

We landed at Bagram Airfield at 1020p local and got onto Chinook helicopters that were waiting with rotors spinning. The short flight to Kabul was also in blackout – no use of any flashlights or even phones due to their backlit screens. Pilots and gunners used night vision goggles. After landing at ISAF headquarters we took a short motorcade to the Presidential Palace

In the ornate atrium of the King's Residence, Presidents Obama and Karzai signed the Strategic Partnership Agreement, a document that is intended to shape the US-Afghanistan relationship for the next decade.

We hopped back in the motorcade for the drive back to ISAF and the helicopter lift to Bagram. Again, in blackout conditions.

In a hangar at Bagram Airfield, General John Allen, ISAF commander, gave a rousing warm up talk to about 3000 servicemembers – most of them Army from the 1st Infantry Division. The President spoke to troops, thanking them for their service and making sure they knew that the entire nation is behind them.

"I know it's still tough. I know the battle's not yet over. Some of your buddies are going to get injured and some of your buddies may get killed and there's going to be heartbreak and pain and difficulty ahead. But there's a light on the horizon because of the sacrifices you've made."

He then spent 45 minute shaking hands and taking photos with as many troops as possible. During a visit to the hospital on base here, the President gave out ten purple hearts.

At 4am here – 7:30p in the US – the President addressed the nation – that is, he addressed the United States – from Afghanistan. It may well be the first time an "Oval Office Address" has been given from outside the country.

11 minutes later, we ran to the plane to make it out of there before sunrise.

soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. Howard

    AFGHANISTAN IS JUST ANOTHER CAMPAIGN STOP FOR OBAMA ... and, since neither Obama, or Karzai can be trusted, this so called last minute victory, after running America into the ground for the past 3 1/2 years, will probably fall apart, right after the November election.

    May 1, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • DEcember 2012


      May 1, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
      • Howard

        Instead of governing and leading ... once again, Obama is exploiting the Presidency, our tax dollars, and even America's Foreign Policy, in an attempt to get himself reelected.

        May 2, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Ryan

      Howard, don't you think there's a problem with how your thinking works? You don't think that saying that Obama can't be trusted isn't a bit much? I can understand if you don't agree with his policy decisions, but this nonsense about him being out to destroy the country is ridiculous, and I wish people who think that would take a step back and really think about what they're saying before they say it. There is no conspiracy. Obama was born here, he loves his country, and he really does have the best interest of the country at heart. Being a community organizer takes a lot of compassion and caring. If you people would quit being so ignorant, and actually look up what it means, you might realize that it requires the kind of people that care about each other and others. The fact that he taught constitutional law is a great addition to that compassion and caring. If you have a problem with his policy, I want to point out that he did what was necessary to get us out of this rut, and is still trying all that he can to do more. The problem isn't him, or even the Democrats. The problem is that his opposition is doing everything they can to keep him from doing what he needs to do, because they would rather the country fail under his watch, because it means that people are more likely to vote them back into power when it happens. Guess what? Despite what the Republicans have done, we're still coming out this recession. It may be slow, but it's happening, and I'm satisfied with that. In four years, if Obama is reelected, we will be far better off than we were at the end of 2008. If Mitt Romney wins, I see us going back to what got us into this mess in the first place.

      May 1, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
      • Howard

        Anybody who trusts Obama, with what we now know about him, is a fool.
        Instead of governing and leading ... once again, Obama is exploiting the Presidency, our tax dollars, and even America's Foreign Policy, in an attempt to get himself reelected.

        May 2, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • The REAL Truth...

      Aw Howard... you're just sore because Bush didn't go anywhere the last 2 yrs of his 8 yrs of running the US into the ground. Obama – despite EVERY attempt by the Grand Obstructionist Party to continue that downward spiral and make him a 1-term President – has diligently worked toward recovery. His only failure has been his belief that the GOP would actually do something for the country over party. We've all seen how that as gone for the last 3 1/2 yrs.

      May 2, 2012 at 10:34 am |
      • 2cebts4free

        Well said!

        May 2, 2012 at 11:40 am |
      • Howard

        Obama and the media are milking this Afghanistan story, for every drop of political benefit they can. The polls are showing Obama on shaky ground, and he's desperate. Elect a President who is competent, and can save our economy, not a public relations attention hog ... who probably gave away the store, so that a corrupt Karzai would bail him out.

        May 2, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
      • DEcember 2012



        May 2, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
      • Howard

        Bush has been gone for almost 4 years. My concern ... and the concern for most of America, is about our present and our future. Obama has shown that he cannot be trusted to govern our country ... especially our economy ... which he has all but destroyed over the past 3 1/2 years. It's obvious that Obama is all about getting reelected, not what's best for America. Instead of governing and leading ... once again, Obama is exploiting the Presidency, our tax dollars, and even America's Foreign Policy, in an attempt to get himself reelected.

        May 2, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
      • Howard

        You wouldn't know the 'real truth', if it bit you in the arse. Anybody who trusts Obama at this point in time is a fool.

        May 2, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
      • jean2009

        Bush was around for 8 years. It may take 15 years to recover from his mess.

        May 2, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
      • Howard

        Since 2008, under Obama ... the mediocre, and mediocrity has been elevated to a position of undeserved power.
        In November, when all of you obama stooges are neutered, you will once again be returned to your little lives of mediocrity ... where you belong.

        May 2, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
      • Name*Liz Carter

        @The REAL truth,....good post...I agree! They are the most hateful, racist, unreasonable people I've encountered in my life!! I really didn't think I'd live that long!! LOL!!

        May 2, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
  2. mcskadittle

    Howard: your are just another deluded republican pawn

    May 1, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
  3. Traitors be gone

    So we have a coward who NEVER served this country thanking those who have what a JOKE.

    May 1, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • beauxns

      uuummm he's the president of the united states i'd say that counts as serving your country! what have you done?

      May 2, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • jean2009

      He is serving his country! Something he has done since he graduated from Harvard.

      I don't know what you consider someone who served 8 years in the State Senate of Illinois, 4 years as a U.S. Senator, and as the many years of teaching law students, and serving on the board of several non-profit organizations.

      Anyone with a minimum of intelligence should understand these are all forms of serving the citizens of one's country.

      Answer me this.... what have you done other than post inane stupidity on websites?

      May 2, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • DEcember 2012


      May 4, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  4. Sponge-Bob

    More like a scene from a campaign novel.

    May 2, 2012 at 1:28 am |
  5. acdcguy

    I feel sorry for our troops having to endure his antics!!!

    May 2, 2012 at 6:42 am |
    • John

      I am sure the troops were happy to see him.

      May 2, 2012 at 8:37 am |
      • Dean

        Happier to see him leave.

        May 2, 2012 at 8:54 am |
      • DEcember 2012


        May 2, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • beauxns

      he spent 45 minutes shaking hands and taking pics- lets see how much time our troops would give YOU! for anyone that wears the uniform proudly meeting your commandor in chief is an honor- doesn't matter who holds the position

      May 2, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  6. Tim

    I wonder how much this campaign stop cost the American tax payers? WhAT A JOKE!!!

    May 2, 2012 at 9:30 am |
  7. judy

    Glad our president went and gave out purple hearts, Proud of a gutsy president who does what he says. Like saying he would get Bin Lauden if the oppertunity presented itself. Unlike the flip flopper. The same group of repo rejects on this post. Hey weve seen your guy he sucks. Obama 2012

    May 2, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • acdcguy

      You just cracking me up today!!!

      May 2, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Kool-Aid Police

      He also said he would cut the defecit in half, close gitmo, not be influenced by lobbiers, that you could keep your insurance, that he would go line by line in the budget and remove uneeded spending, that Obamacare wouldn't add one dime to the debt, etc, etc etc.............

      May 2, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • jerry

      while our troops are restricted to the point they can not effectively protect themselves...and this moron hands out purple hearts...they should shove them up his@ss, nothing but a campaign stop(damage control to his sinking poll numbers) obama now hands out medals for troops using restraint...hard to wonder we have lost afghanistan...

      May 2, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
      • Richard

        I could spend time here listing bc iusses and similarity with a June 15 1962 Hawaii bc, but I won't. Folks, we have little time left.We need to raise the buzz level to drown out Obama's current message. His new bc gives his father's name, so use that to push the dual-citizen at birth is not a natural born citizen.Aliens within the US, are under consular jurisdiction of their nation.British consulates are authorized in the US under a 1951/52 treaty.The requirement that for consular registration within one year of birth applied only if the father was a Citizen of the UK and Colonies (CUKC) by descent only and the child was also to become a CUKC by descent rather than birth in the UK or colonies. As Barack Obama Sr, was born in the colony of Kenya, he was a CUKC by birth rather than descent. Thus, Barack Obama II was capable of becoming a CUKC by descent without the need for consular registration.British Nationality Act, 1948, applied to Barack Obama. Part II Citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies. 5. Citizenship by descent. (1) Subject to the provisions of this section, a person born after the commencement of this Act shall be a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies by descent if his father is a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies at the time of the birth: Provided that if the father of such a person is a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies by descent only, that person shall not be a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies by virtue of this section unless—(a) that person is born or his father was born in a protectorate, protected state, mandated territory or trust territory or any place in a foreign country where by treaty, capitulation, grant, usage, sufferance, or other lawful means, His Majesty then has or had jurisdiction over British subjects; or When trying to articulate the qualifications for the Office of the US President, it is important to remember s/he is also the Commander in Chief of the military, the militias, and can declare martial law. It is therefore imperative to narrow the possible candidates who from birth on the soil and of the blood of two citizens, would derive loyalty to this soil and people. The natural born citizen, owes loyalty to no foreign nation or people, and is the only pool of candidates for the Office of the US President.A natural born U.S. citizen can choose dual citizenship at majority, but must relinquish foreign nationality before taking political office in the US, and anybody previously a dual-national is ineligible for the US Presidency and Commander of the military.A person born a dual-national is not eligible to ascend to the presidency. It has been said that citizenship carries with it all of the rights and prerogatives of citizenship obtained by birth in this country save that of eligibility to the Presidency.' Luria v. United States, 231 U.S. 9, 22 , 34 S.Ct. 10, 13. John Bingham in the Congressional Globe, House of Representatives, 39th Congress, 1st Session 1866, Who are natural born citizens? All persons born within the Republic, OF PARENTS OWING ALLEGIANCE TO NO OTHER SOVEREIGNTY, ARE NATURAL BORN CITIZENS.

        July 31, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
      • Adriano

        It appears that Obama is mnivog to discredit all birther's by dumping lots of documents out there to say that we so-called birther's are a bunch of whack jobs!His latest move to give him self some legitimacy on the news front was the KILLING of Osama Bin Laden. Folks, he will be re-elected if the country does not demand the truth of his eligibility to be our President!

        August 2, 2012 at 2:03 am |
  8. Dean

    Obama is a lying sack...plain and simple.

    May 2, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  9. gung hoe

    @beauxm Sir you could not be more wrong. I served under carter wouldnt walk across street to have seen him.Just because they are in the service dont mean you like or respect him! Its like where you work some bosses you respect some you detest.Up till obama carter was the worst president on record.But now obama is carter times two.Hopefully our country is able to mend itself once we can get obama out of office.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • jean2009

      Up till Bush, Reagan was the worst president of my lifetime. So there you go.
      Look up the rankings on the Siena College Poll. Obama is ranked 15th, Bush at 39th; Carter at 32nd and Reagan a 18th.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
      • jerry

        siena college pool....hahahaha WTH, you reached deep for this didn't you? hahaha

        May 2, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
  10. estibaliz

    By Ben Stein

    Why was President Barack Obama in such a hurry to get his socialized medicine bill passed? Because he and his cunning circle realize some basic truths:

    The American people in their unimaginable kindness and trust voted for a pig in a poke in 2008.
    (Pig in a poke means: an offering or deal that is foolishly accepted without being examined first. A poke means sack.)

    They wanted so much to believe Barack Obama was somehow better and different from other ultra-leftists that they simply took him on faith.

    They ignored his anti-white writings in his books.

    They ignored his quiet acceptance of hysterical anti-American diatribes by his minister, Jeremiah Wright.

    They ignored his refusal to explain years at a time of his life as a student.

    They ignored his ultra-left record as a "community organizer," Illinois state legislator, and Senator.

    The American people ignored his total zero of an academic record as a student and teacher, his complete lack of scholarship when he was being touted as a scholar.

    Now, the American people are starting to wake up to the truth. Barack Obama is a super likeable super leftist, and not a fan of this country.

    The American people have already awakened to the truth that the stimulus bill - a great idea in theory - was really an immense bribe to Democrat interest groups, and in no way helped all Americans.

    The American people already know that Mr. Obama's plan to lower health costs while expanding coverage and bureaucracy is a myth, a promise of something that never was and never can be -
    "a bureaucracy lowering costs in a free society." Either the costs go up or the free society goes away... an historical truth.

    These are perilous times. Mrs. Hillary Clinton, our Secretary of State, has given Iran the go-ahead to have nuclear weapons, an unqualified betrayal of the nation. Now, we face a devastating loss of freedom at home in health care. It will be joined by controls on our lives to "protect us" from global warming, itself largely a fraud, if believed to be caused by man. She has also signed on to a Small Firearms Treaty at the U.N. This is a back door gun control move. This is approved by the Senate and a 2nd Amendment majority doesn't exist in the Senate now. It will supersede all U.S. Law and the 2nd Amendment. All citizen possession will be eliminated through confiscation. Just Like Great Britain and Australia .

    Mr. Obama knows Americans are getting wise and will stop him if he delays at all in taking away our freedoms. There is his urgency and our opportunity. Once freedom is lost, America is lost. Wake up, beloved America .

    May 2, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • jean2009

      Ben Stein is a moron.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • jerry

      american is waking up...give a marxist enough rope and they do themselves in.. You are correct obama is not a scholar by any sense of the word....he was a second rate lecturer of saw the supreme courts reaction to his health care law and the immigration law.. obama has been in full damage control for two weeks as all of this has come down...he is in trouble and Mitt has not even began to take him apart. This summer many new facts (including the birth cert thing) are coming out...his past fraud and etc.. his place in history will be fraud-in-chief.

      May 2, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
  11. jerry

    well I see obama sent senator Kerry to egypt today to meet with the muslim brotherhood presidential hopeful. The muslim brotherhood hates Israel our long time friend and perhaps only friend in the middl east, and only democracy in that area. Today Israel called up her military reservists as the threat to Israel grows. And here is Kerry in egypt speaking to the leader of the muslim brotherhood to offer help in democratizing egypt.... Remember Kerry, the heavily decorated Vietnam vet who in his 4 month(very short) tour in Vietnam received a bronze star, a silver star, and three purple hearts...and later threw them away in a war protest...well folks, it is a very immoral and dishonorable thing to do (throwing military decorations away) for many reasons...the more prominent reason is those medals are also worn honorably in respect for all fighting men past and present who risk their lives and limbs in combat duty for their country. None of Kerry's wounds were serious and some are disputed even are sent out of country (war zone) on the third purple heart... even then he was an immoral political opportunist...a disgrace to America. And he know is acting in his own ignorant self interest...just another shallow egotist.

    May 2, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
  12. Name*Liz Carter

    @Ryan, beautiful comment; a sane and intelliegent one, but you know we just can't drain out hate. Laws don't abolish hate, and we certainly can't fix stupid! These people are great examples of the ones that Dr Martin Luther King Jr talked about when he said something along these lines; paraphrasing: ' there's no greater enemy that we have to fight than intentional ignorance'!! Let's keep trying though, whenever we can, I guess!!

    May 2, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
  13. Name*Liz Carter

    @Traitor Be Gone,,,,well I suppose then, using your anaolgy of the Commander-in-Cheif's 'Presidential' duty to shake hands, say 'thank you', speak to and to relate to those troops in Afghanistan, the other day, you could have said that for at least half of the first 43!! For some reason though, I don't think you would. It's just Obama,...Huh?? Yet had he NOT done it, you are the one who would have been out here griping about that!! I suppose ALL of us Americans are 'JOKES' then, who haven't actually served in the military, in combat, but tend to shake hands with troops and veterans and tell them 'Thank you for your service'!! You are the JOKE!!

    May 3, 2012 at 8:20 am |