Senate

Blumenthal ‘furious’ by delays in getting Americans out of Afghanistan

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on Monday said he is “furious” about the Biden’s administration’s delays in getting Americans out of Afghanistan.

“I have been deeply frustrated, even furious, at our government’s delay and inaction,” the Democratic senator said in a statement.

“There will be plenty of time to seek accountability for the inexcusable bureaucratic red tape that stranded so many of our Afghan allies,” added Blumenthal. “For now, my singular focus remains getting these planes in the air and safely to our airbase in Doha, where they have already been cleared to land.”

Some refugees from Afghanistan are being sent to Doha, Qatar, before they can come to the United States.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in an interview on Sunday had criticized the administration over the evacuations of Americans and Afghan allies from the country, which the Taliban took over in August. 

He said there were planes with American citizens and Afghan allies at Mazar-i-Sharif International Airport outside Kabul that the Taliban won’t let leave.

“In fact we have six airplanes at Mazar-i-Sharif airport, six airplanes, with American citizens on them as I speak, also with these interpreters, and the Taliban is holding them hostage for demands right now,” McCaul said on “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace. 

The planes have been grounded “for the last couple of days” with McCaul saying it is turning into a “hostage situation” with the Taliban wanting full recognition from the U.S. before the citizens leave.

“We know the reason why is because the Taliban want something in exchange. This is really, Chris, turning into a hostage situation where they’re not gonna allow American citizens to leave until they get full recognition from the United States of America,” McCaul said.

Blumenthal says his staff, along with a coalition of “NGOs, former service members and journalists,” have been working “to secure the safe passage of two planes” from the airport. 

The State Department said Sunday it did not have the “reliable means” to confirm if the Taliban was preventing planes with American citizens and Afghan allies from leaving the country. 

Blumenthal said he expects the White House and State Department to “do everything in their power” to bring home American citizens and Afghan allies who were left behind during evacuation efforts. 

“These are Americans citizens and Afghans who risked everything for our country. We cannot leave them behind,” he added.

The Biden administration has touted its efforts to remove Americans and Afghan allies from Afghanistan.

More than 124,000 people were evacuated from Afghanistan before the U.S. pulled its troops from the country on Aug. 31. Most of the evacuees were at-risk Afghans and around 6,000 were American citizens. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken landed in Qatar on Sunday with Dean Thompson, acting assistant secretary in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs. The State Department said Blinken would show his appreciation for countries who helped host Afghan evacuees and worked with the U.S.

Tags Afghan Taliban Antony Blinken Chris Wallace Michael McCaul Richard Blumenthal

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