A Republican congressman said on Tuesday that a U.S. State Department checkpoint has turned away American citizens at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, as they try to evacuate the country.
In recent days, sources on the ground have told the media that the State Dept. has been turning away Afghan allies at Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA), but according to Rep. Mike Waltz (R-Fla.), American citizens are also “being denied by the State Department after they’ve made it through multiple Taliban checkpoints.”
This is in direct conflict with White House claims that every effort is being made to bring Americans trapped in Afghanistan home.
“We are committed to bringing Americans who want to come him, home, said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Monday. “We are in touch with them via phone, via text, via email, via any way that we can possibly reach Americans to get them home if they want to return home,” she insisted. Psaki said on Tuesday that the administration’s evacuation operation depends on cooperation with the Taliban to be a success.
Matt Zeller, a former C.I.A. officer on the Afghanistan desk, told the New York Times on Sunday that Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders are being turned back at a State Dept. checkpoint after making it as far as the airport.
Zeller founded No One Left Behind to help his former Afghan colleagues escape the country. “They make it inside only to be turned back,” he told the Times.
On Sunday night, Mr. Zeller said, veterans and contacts on the ground in Afghanistan organized an operation to bring to the airport hundreds of S.I.V. holders who were considered at high risk of Taliban reprisals. They were able to get the Afghans inside the airport, he said — but were turned back at what he described as a State Department checkpoint.
On Monday evening, Mr. Zeller said, Taliban soldiers approached the Afghans outside the airport gate and separated them according to their paperwork, telling visa holders they would not be allowed to enter.
A State Department official told the Times that this is happening because operations are “focused on American citizens and L.P.R. right now,” referring to legal permanent residents of the United States.
Waltz, a combat-decorated former Green Beret, however, told Fox News host Shannon Bream Tuesday night that American citizens have also been turned back at the airport.
He said that what his office, and many other congressional offices have been hearing from sources on the ground in Afghanistan, is nothing short of “mind-blowing.”
“I can tell you multiple instances in just my own office, much less the dozens of other offices, that are running into this with American citizens that are being denied by the State Department after they’ve made it through multiple Taliban checkpoints,” he said. “It’s just mind-blowing, Shannon, that this is happening.”
American Greatness contacted Waltz’s press office for further comment, and is waiting to hear back.
A big part of the problem, he told Bream, is that the State Department is running the show, and the Defense Dept. is only in a “supporting role.”
Waltz said that frustration with the Biden administration was palpable on both sides of the aisle during a congressional briefing earlier Tuesday with Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, Director of National Intelligence, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
“Today, when we presented Tony Blinken with that very scenario [people being turned away at State Dept. checkpoints], he denied that it was happening,” he said.
“They admitted today in our briefing that they know Americans will be left there,” said Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.), a former Army flight surgeon.
Waltz went on to say that operators on the ground have had to take matters into their own hands to get around the Biden Regime’s incompetency.
“We do have many groups of former special operators, intelligence officers, and others, who are taking matters into their own hands, and are getting the job done despite our own government working with the Taliban,” he said. “They’re the biggest part of the problem, it’s just mind-blowing.”
Waltz added that congressional offices are “acting as operation centers making phone calls to airport managers, helping people get through Taliban checkpoints” in order to work around the Biden administration’s red tape and general incompetence.
“The fact that the Taliban terrorists are dictating to us when we are able to go get our own citizens is to me as a soldier, a congressman, and as an American is just … outrageous and jaw-droppingly stupid,” the congressman said in a separate interview with Fox35 Orlando on Wednesday.
He told America First podcast host Sebastian Gorka that the U.S. does have the military capability to rescue every American stranded in the war-torn country.
“I am in touch with special operators that are there right now telling me that their hands are being tied, Waltz told Gorka. “This is not a capability problem, this is a total lack of political will.”
This is a viewpoint coming out of the White House that thinks America is the problem. That people around Biden are the same people who were around Obama when we had Benghazi, when we had Bowe Bergdahl, and when we had the disastrous pullout of Iraq that led to an ISIS caliphate the size of Indiana.
They just don’t get it, and right now they’re lying to the American people about the consequences.
Waltz on Tuesday, introduced a resolution condemning Joe Biden’s “failure to heed the advice of military and intelligence advisors about the speed and nature of the Taliban offensive, failure to present a coherent counter-terrorism or evacuation plan to the American people, and the damage done to United States credibility as a result of President Biden’s abandonment of our Afghan allies.” Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Minority Whip Steve Scalise, and Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik have co-sponsored the resolution.
“President Biden has embarrassed the United States on the world stage and created the worst foreign policy blunder in our modern history,” said Waltz. “Rather than heeding the advice of military leaders and lawmakers, President Biden created a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan that he alone owns – all for the sake of seeking a headline that he would withdraw our troops prior to the 20th anniversary of September 11th. Now, we will have shamefully given away the freedoms of Afghans, our military equipment and infrastructure, and countless other resources to the hands of Taliban terrorists because of the President’s cluelessness and stubbornness. Additionally, it is growing more likely by the day we will have broken our promise to thousands of Afghan allies who stood should-to-shoulder with our troops on the battlefield that have now been handed a death sentence for our failure to safely evacuate them in a timely fashion. The intelligence community had made clear Al Qaeda 3.0 will come roaring back as the Taliban have made no indication they have cut ties with the perpetrators of September 11th.”
During a press conference on Tuesday, Waltz said: “When future American soldiers have to go back in to deal with the incompetence of this Administration, they are going to have to fight through OUR OWN EQUIPMENT & more lives will be lost.”
When future American soldiers have to go back in to deal with the incompetence of this Administration, they are going to have to fight through OUR OWN EQUIPMENT & more lives will be lost.
That blood will be on the Biden Admin's hands and Congress WILL hold them accountable. pic.twitter.com/zMsc5vaIXJ
— Rep. Mike Waltz (@michaelgwaltz) August 24, 2021
The U.S. embassy in Kabul has advised U.S. citizens not to travel to HKIA at this time.
“Because of security threats outside the gates of Kabul airport, we are advising U.S. citizens to avoid traveling to the airport and to avoid airport gates at this time unless you receive individual instructions from a U.S. government representative to do so,” the alert states.
The notice added: “U.S. citizens who are at the Abbey Gate, East Gate, or North Gate now should leave immediately.”