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Thomas Gallatin / September 6, 2021

Biden Admin and Taliban Sideline Rescue Efforts

The State Department refuses clearances for private rescue flights, while the Taliban looks to be holding other flights hostage.

As if Joe Biden’s disaster in Afghanistan weren’t bad enough, the ongoing efforts to get American citizens, green card holders, and Special Immigration Visa (SIV) holders evacuated from Kabul on privately funded flights have been stymied by both the U.S. State Department and the Taliban.

Rick Clay, the head of a privately funded and run rescue flight operation called PlanB, recently explained that he and two other private rescue organizations have been stuck with full flights at Kabul’s Mazar-i-Sharif International Airport waiting for clearance from Biden’s State Department.

Clay stated: “This is zero place to be negotiating with American lives. Those are our people standing on the tarmac and all it takes is a f—ing phone call. If one life is lost as a result of this, the blood is on the White House’s hands. The blood is on their hands.” He further noted, “It is not the Taliban that is holding this up — as much as it sickens me to say that — it is the United States government.”

Names of some 4,500 Americans, green card holders, and SIVs were listed on Clay’s manifest, 800 of which have been given to the State Department. “If we can get aircraft in a pick up people and bring them out,” Clay argued, “why can’t we take them to Doha [Qatar] to the refugee center or other refugee centers? This makes no sense.”

Meanwhile, a hostage situation has developed in Kabul. According to Representative Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the Taliban is refusing to give clearance for flights to depart Kabul’s airport. “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 complained. “State has cleared these flights, and the Taliban will not let them leave the airport.”

The confusing and seemingly contradictory information regarding the hampered efforts of private organizations to rescue Americans and Afghan allies is unconscionable, and blame falls entirely at the feet of Biden for his disastrous withdrawal. Of course the Taliban would exploit its advantageous position to hold Americans hostage in an effort to extract more concessions from Biden, such as pallets of cash and full recognition from the U.S. as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. But the notion that an already humiliated Biden administration would stymie efforts by private organizations to show them up in working to rescue Americans they left behind is entirely believable, despicable as it is.

Biden made the fanciful assertion last week that the withdrawal was an “extraordinary success,” but that’s a farce, especially in the light of 13 dead Americans and his broken promise to not leave any Americans behind. In fact, Americans have watched the worst-case scenario come to fruition — at the end of a 20-year war, the enemy has literally been given the victory, and now the Taliban finds itself in a stronger position of power today than before the war started. Now, the prospect for a resurgence of terrorism leading to more Americans dying appears unavoidable.

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