Operators of privately sponsored rescue flights are pointing the finger at President Joe Biden’s State Department, saying it is the sole barrier to getting Americans and Afghan allies out of Afghanistan.
White House officials have pushed back against that accusation.
The outlet reported that others it interviewed but did not name also blamed the State Department.
“This is zero place to be negotiating with American lives,” Fox News quoted one individual as saying.
“If one life is lost as a result of this, the blood is on the White House’s hands. The blood is on their hands. It is not the Taliban that is holding this up — as much as it sickens me to say that — it is the United States government,” the individual said.
Rescue flights seeking to land at al-Udeid airbase in Doha, Qatar, where military evacuations landed, need the State Department’s approval to land, Fox News reported.
“It is imperative that we get into Doha where there [are] other refugee centers,” Clay said. “That is where I’ve asked for clearance.”
Clay and the others interviewed by Fox News said the State Department has put up hurdle after hurdle to block private flights from landing in nearby countries.
“If we can get aircraft in and pick up people and bring them out, why can’t we take them to Doha to the refugee center or other refugee centers?” Clay said. “This makes no sense.”
“We still have Americans we can get out,” he said.
Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who has been trying to help PlanB navigate the red tape of Washington, said it was “hard to believe that the U.S. government would deny American citizens and Afghan allies who helped save American lives the ability to evacuate Afghanistan.”
“However, what we’ve been hearing from people actually involved in evacuation is completely different from the administration’s rosy spin,” he said. “When I hear President Biden declare this debacle an ‘extraordinary success’ it not only shows he’s detached from reality, it also calls into question everything this administration is telling the American people.”
Joe Biden abandoned Americans in Afghanistan. Members of Congress, including me and my office, have been working around the clock to get them out – and for days Biden’s State Dept. couldn’t even get out of its own way. Now there are deeply disturbing reports of a hostage crisis. https://t.co/EMGd5wWGxs
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) September 5, 2021
Concerns about private rescue flights follow comments from Republican Rep. Mike McCaul of Texas on Sunday that Taliban officials were not allowing six planes loaded with evacuees to leave from a northern Afghanistan airfield. McCaul said the U.S. could be facing a hostage situation linked to American recognition of the Taliban government.
On Sunday, the State Department issued a general statement on the subject of private evacuation flights.
“We understand the concern that many people are feeling as they try to facilitate further charter and other passage out of Afghanistan,” the department said, according to The New York Times. “However, 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.”
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