Leaked document underscores Biden admin’s scramble to evacuate Afghan civilians: Axios
A leaked document obtained by Axios from a National Security Council meeting a day before the fall of Kabul underscores the Biden administration’s scramble to evacuate Afghan civilians from Afghanistan.
The notes from the White House Situation Room on Aug. 14 shows officials were still working on how they would evacuate Afghan citizens while the capital of Afghanistan would fall to the Taliban on Aug. 15.
The document, labeled “Summary of Conclusions for Meeting of the Deputies Small Group,” had labeled “Pre-departure” and “Post-departure” actions.
The notes showed the Biden administration just began “planning transit processing for evacuees after departure from Kabul.”
“State will work to identify as many countries as possible to serve as transit points. Transit points need to be able to accommodate U.S. citizens, Afghan nationals, third country nationals, and other evacuees,” another point read.
The NSC was going to hold a meeting on Aug. 15 “to address whether foreign nationals who are immediate family members of U.S. citizens in Afghanistan” will need additional screening or can come straight to the U.S., according to the notes.
“Embassy Kabul will notify LES [locally employed staff] to begin to register their interest in relocation to the United States and begin to prepare immediately for departure… (Action: Embassy Kabul, immediately),” the document said.
The chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan has been a sticking point for the Biden administration as thousands of Afghan allies were left behind and now live in fear of retaliation from the Taliban for working with the U.S.
The NSC said in a statement they were “not going to comment on leaked internal documents, cherry-picked notes from one meeting do not reflect the months of work that were already underway.”
“Earlier that summer, we launched Operation Allies Refuge and had worked with Congress to pass legislation that gave us greater flexibility to quickly relocate Afghan partners. It was because of this type of planning and other efforts that we were able to facilitate the evacuation of more than 120,000 Americans, legal permanent residents, vulnerable Afghans and other partners,” the NSC added.
The U.S. and other countries worked for weeks to get as many individuals out after the unexpectedly quick takeover of Afghanistan, with 13 U.S. servicemen losing their lives to a suicide attack on Kabul airport during the process.