American Journalists, Students, & Allies still Trapped in Afghanistan

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US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan was completed by the August 31st deadline with some very important exceptions. 

Let’s start with the 100+ government-sponsored journalists President Joe Biden had promised to evacuate. These journalists work for the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM) and regularly receive death threats from the Taliban regarding their work.  

On August 25th, a group of more than 60 lawmakers wrote a letter to Biden begging him to consider the evacuation of these individuals and their family members a priority. Despite promises from the State Department, many of them were turned away at the airport. In some cases, their personal information was handed directly to Taliban militants.

Groups that are still trying to evacuate employees include: the US Agency for International Development, the American University of Afghanistan, the National Endowment for Democracy, and the Human Society.

“You would have expected that the United States government, which helped create the space for journalism and civil society in Afghanistan over the last 20 years, would have tried to do more over the last several weeks to assist journalists who made a decision that it was best for them to leave the country,” said Radio Free Europe President Jamie Fly. Especially considering the Administration’s Herculean efforts to evacuate Afghan journalists from private news organizations.

Biden doesn’t seem to mind, though. In a speech delivered Tuesday, he proudly announced that “ninety percent of Americans in Afghanistan who wanted to leave were able to leave.” 

Also left behind were 27 elementary and high school students from Sacramento, California. Most have family members with them, said officials from the San Juan Unified School District.

“We believe that some of these families may be in transit out of Afghanistan, as we have not been able to reach many of them in the last few days,” said Raj Rai, director of communications for the district. “We stand ready to support these students and families in whatever way that we can.”

As horror stories from Kabul continue to make headlines, retired military leaders are calling for the resignation of Biden Administration “yes men” involved in the withdrawal. 

“I think it’s very fair to ask for accountability for senior leaders, and that includes the military leaders as well as the national security adviser and the secretary of state. Somebody needs to be held accountable,” argues retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kelllogg. “I think it’s up to them to resign. If not, I think the president should remove them. It would help the American people if he changed out his national security team becuase we don’t know what ground truth is.”

“[I] am deeply disappointed in the leadership at the Department of Defense, leadership that is in large part responsible for the crisis we have watched unfold in Afghanistan,” adds Texas Rep. Ronny Jackson (R), a retired Navy rear admiral. 

Kellogg and Jackson are demanding the resignation of “incompetent” Biden Administration officials Loyd Austin (Sec. of Defense), Antony Blinken (Sec. of State), Mark Milley (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), and Jake Sullivan (National Security Adviser).

“I am a firm believer that those in charge who are given the authority to make decisions should also accept responsibility for their actions when things don’t go as planned,” continued Jackson, adding that he is “disgusted” by the Biden Administration’s attempt to spin troop withdrawal as a win while Taliban militants ‘parade around in American-made military equipment and American citizens are trapped behind enemy lines.’ 

Author’s Note: It would have been impossible to complete troop withdrawal without setbacks, but the Biden Administration’s celebration of the operation as a win is an insult to those left behind; to those now at risk of becoming Taliban hostages.

Sources:

Several California Public School Students are still Trapped in Afghanistan 

Retired military leaders demand mass resignation of Biden team: Milley, Austin, Blinken Sullivan 

Opinion: The US government left its own journalists behind in Afghanistan 

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