Democratic Senator ‘furious’ with Biden for stranding Americans and allies in Afghanistan
Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) called on President Biden and his administration to end its “delay and inaction” and help evacuate Americans and allies still stranded in Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover of the country.
“My staff & I have worked night & day to secure the safe passage of two planes waiting in Mazar-e Sharif to take American citizens, at-risk Afghan allies, & their families to safety,” Blumenthal tweeted. “My office joined forces in this humanitarian mission with an incredible coalition of advocates—NGOs, former service members, & journalists—to try & evacuate our fellow citizens & Afghan allies.”
“I haven’t yet spoken publicly about these efforts because we worried that heightened attention would only escalate tensions & put these people at even greater risk of being targeted,” he continued. “I have been deeply frustrated, even furious, at our government’s delay & inaction. There will be plenty of time to seek accountability for the inexcusable bureaucratic red tape that stranded so many of our Afghan allies.”
Six planes carrying hundreds of Americans and allies remain grounded at an airport in Mazar-i-Shariff for days as the Taliban refuses to allow their departure. A situation some are describing as a “growing hostage situation.”
“[The Taliban] are not clearing the airplanes to depart. They’ve sat at the airport for the last couple of days,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) said on Sunday. “We know the reason why is because the Taliban want something in exchange. This is really turning into a hostage situation where they’re not going to allow American citizens [to] leave until they get full recognition from the United States of America.”
RELATED: Top GOP House Rep says Americans held hostage by the Taliban: ‘Turning into a hostage situation’
A State Department spokesperson said the U.S. does not have the capabilities on the ground to assists the private charter planes in evacuating Americans and allies.
“We do not have personnel on the ground, we do not have air assets in the country, we do not control the airspace — whether over Afghanistan or elsewhere in the region,” the official said. “We understand the concern that many people are feeling as they try to facilitate further charter and other passage out of Afghanistan.”
Blumenthal went on to urge the Biden administration and the State Department to do “everything in their power” to get the stranded Americans out of Afghanistan.
“For now, my singular focus remains getting these planes in the air & safely to our airbase in Doha, where they have already been cleared to land,” Blumenthal continued.
“I expect the White House & State Department to do everything in their power—absolutely everything—to make this happen. These are American citizens & Afghans who risked everything for our country. We cannot leave them behind,” he added.