U.S. officials in Kabul have given the Taliban “a list of names of American citizens, green card holders and Afghan allies” who should be granted entry through Taliban checkpoints outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA), Politico reported Thursday. This decision to trust the Taliban with this information has reportedly “prompted outrage behind the scenes from lawmakers and military officials.”
The U.S. military has been sharing “information with the Taliban” since Aug. 14 ostensibly to prevent attacks, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr. confirmed during a Pentagon briefing Thursday.
How naive they are!
🇺🇸U.S. general says since Aug. 14 the U.S. military has been sharing “information with the #Taliban,” to prevent attacks. #KabulAiport #KabulBlast #Kabulairport #kabul #Afghanistan #ARMY #Afganistan pic.twitter.com/m2dwDz9NhL
— World Rights Monitoring Center (@WorldBreakingN9) August 26, 2021
The news comes just hours after two Islamic State suicide bombers detonated in two locations near the airport, killing at least 70 people, including eleven U.S. Marines, and one Navy medic, and wounding dozens more.
This collaboration with the Taliban was reportedly meant to expedite the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban takeover of the country.
But the decision to provide specific names to the Taliban, which has a history of brutally murdering Afghans who collaborated with the U.S. and other coalition forces during the conflict, has angered lawmakers and military officials.
“Basically, they just put all those Afghans on a kill list,” said one defense official, who like others spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive topic. “It’s just appalling and shocking and makes you feel unclean.”
A spokesperson for U.S. Central Command declined to comment.
The issue came up during a classified briefing on Capitol Hill earlier this week, which turned contentious after top Biden administration officials defended their close coordination with the Taliban. Biden officials contended that it was the best way to keep Americans and Afghans safe and prevent a shooting war between Taliban fighters and the thousands of U.S. troops stationed at the airport.
In the wake of the debacle in Afghanistan, White House insiders are leaking to the media that Biden’s staffers don’t have the courage to tell him and his and incompetent National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan that their foreign policy decisions are wrong.
“People are simply too afraid to tell Biden (and) Jake Sullivan (his National Security Adviser), they’re wrong. It’s one thing to crack down on leaks (as Mr. Biden has done), it’s another thing to allow a mistake like this,” a former defense official, “who is in regular contact with senior White House aides,” told the Telegraph.
“This White House is very disciplined, especially when it comes to leaks and such. But the downside of discipline is if you’re running things like an autocracy, and you broker no dissent internally, that’s not what the purpose of a White House staff is,” the report added.
Another individual “close to the administration” told the Telegraph he asked Biden, “without success,” to reconsider and “to keep open Bagram Air Base, which has more runways than Hamid Karzai International Airport and has long been the beating heart of American operations in Afghanistan.”
Multiple Republican House members, and at least one senator has called on Joe Biden to step down over his lethal bungling of the crisis in Afghanistan.
My further statement on Joe Biden’s abject failure in Afghanistan that is costing American lives by the hour pic.twitter.com/KaHVMYbKTe
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) August 26, 2021
Biden was asked about the list of Americans that were given to the Taliban during a press conference Thursday afternoon, and said he could not confirm it was true.
I asked President Biden about the @Politico scoop that US officials provided a list of Americans and Afghans to the Taliban for evacuation. He told me a list could exist but he doesn't know.
— Philip Melanchthon Wegmann (@PhilipWegmann) August 26, 2021
He also blamed his military advisors when asked about his disastrous decision to close Bagram Air Force Base. “I gather up all the major military personnel and I ask for their opinions,” he said. Biden maintained that top military brass advised him to close the base.