The Biden administration does not know how to safeguard the lives of thousands of American citizens in Afghanistan after it withdrew troops and diplomatic personnel from that country.
A Washington Post report revealed that officials from several departments, including State and Defense, told Senate staff that they do not know of a way to get those Americans to avoid Taliban checkpoints outside Kabul.
The revelation makes it clear that there are thousands of helpless American citizens in Afghanistan who still do not know how to escape the chaos caused by the Taliban after the U.S. withdrew its troops.
According to The Military Times, Senator Tom Cotton’s office set up a hotline for Americans who are essentially “trapped behind Taliban lines.”
“The situation is dire,” the Arkansas Republican said. “But we’ll do everything in our power to help keep you informed and to help get you out.”
Although the exact number of U.S. citizens outside Kabul is unknown, it is possible that as many as 15,000 are still in Afghanistan, Biden administration Homeland Security officials told the Senate.
Recently Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s National Security Advisor, told reporters that the Taliban expressed a willingness to provide “safe passage of civilians to the airport” and that the United States would supposedly hold the Taliban to that promise.
Americans in Afghanistan adrift
The State Department on Tuesday told American citizens and others seeking to leave Afghanistan that they should “shelter in place” until further instructions from the embassy amid a fragile security situation in the Afghan capital; however, the American Embassy in Kabul is no longer staffed.
According to the Washington Post, during a period of crisis in a foreign country, American citizens must notify the local U.S. Embassy of their presence so that diplomats can work to assist them; this creates a database to estimate the number of nationals in need of help.
“Generally, Americans are registered with the Department of State and the Embassy is aware of their presence in country, and the two can (generally) coordinate travel in an emergency. But the Biden administration, for some unknown reason, abandoned our Embassy,” Afghanistan war veteran and intelligence specialist David Grantham told El American.
“So the one location that would manage citizen departures, security, etc., is no longer operational. Now the U.S. is trying to locate known people through all types of congressional offices, military contacts, and NGOs. It’s a mess,” he added.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Washington has evacuated 3,200 people from Afghanistan in recent days, including diplomatic personnel, but tens of thousands remain to be rescued.
The Pentagon estimates that it could remove between 5,000 and 9,000 evacuees a day, including Americans and embassy personnel, as well as Afghan collaborators; however, it is not known how it will do so considering the high number of citizens still seeking refuge.