A leading Democratic senator is “furious” at President Joe Biden, a former colleague, over his administration’s “inaction” in getting the remaining Americans they left behind in Afghanistan.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut is frustrated over the administration’s “delay and inaction” in facilitating the evacuation of several aircraft full of Americans and Afghani allies who are still stranded in the Taliban-controlled country.
Reports Sunday and Monday said that multiple charter planes operated by private rescue organizations containing hundreds of American citizens and Afghani allies remained stranded at an airport in Mazar-i-Sharif for days on end though they are ready to leave the country.
However, according to those reports, the State Department is responsible for the delays and appears to have done little to expedite their departure.
The inaction has led to unusual criticism from Blumenthal, a member of the Armed Services Committee, of his longtime Senate colleague-turned-president and his administration
“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 said.
“My office joined forces in this humanitarian mission with an incredible coalition of advocates—NGOs, former servicemembers, & journalists—to try & evacuate our fellow citizens & Afghan allies,” he continued.
“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,” he added.
“There will be plenty of time to seek accountability for the inexcusable bureaucratic red tape that stranded so many of our Afghan allies,” Blumenthal continued.
“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,” the senator added.
“I expect the White House & State Department to do everything in their power—absolutely everything—to make this happen. These are Americans citizens & Afghans who risked everything for our country.
“We cannot leave them behind,” he further noted.
Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace that no Americans have been allowed to leave Afghanistan since all U.S. forces pulled out of the country last week.
“In fact, 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, the lead Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said.
“State has cleared these flights, and the Taliban will not let them leave the airport,” he continued.
But a State Department official has reportedly told The Washington Free Beacon that at president there are few government resources available to assist the private organizations attempting to evacuate hundreds of Americans and Afghan allies from Mazar-i-Sharif.
“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.”