Thousands of Americans Remained Trapped in Afghanistan While Charter Flights Depart Nearly Empty


As the Biden administration plans its final abandonment of Afghanistan by the Aug. 31 deadline, bureaucratic snags were snarling efforts in the last few days to get Americans and others out.

It’s estimated thousands of Americans remain in the country, but as of Wednesday, the U.S. government wouldn’t say how many, The New York Times reported.

People desperate to escape were being held back because of questions about, of all things, proper spellings on their passports, according to the New York Post, and bureaucratic breakdowns caused planes to leave Kabul with empty seats. Some flights are even said to be “basically empty,” in the words of Scott Taylor, a former Virginia congressman and Navy SEAL.

Also, the airport at Kabul was delaying or denying landing permits for rescue aircraft, the Post reported.

Evacuation efforts by governments and others are scheduled to end Friday, according to The Wall Street Journal, with the final days through Tuesday designated to remove U.S. troops and some equipment.

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“Disneyland and Mickey Mouse are better at queueing and getting people on rides than the U.S. government is in getting its patriots home from a war zone,” Washington lobbyist Robert Stryk told the Post. Stryk has been involved in chartering evacuation aircraft along with Taylor.

“The system is broken, so we have had to go around the U.S. system by using foreign countries’ intelligence agencies to get Americans through. The issue is if the paperwork isn’t perfect — names are spelled differently with ethnic spellings or if SIV spellings don’t exactly match passports — they can’t get through,” Stryk said.

Regarding his efforts to get people out of Afghanistan, “It’s endless,” Michael Brewer, a San Diego Afghanistan war veteran who specializes in coordinating disaster relief, told The Western Journal early Thursday.

“I’m working with several Senate, House, and government agency offices. I’m also working with a large network of veterans who are effecting rescues. We are tracking nearly 3000 people actively and have facilitated several hundred high risk evacuations.”

“For every one that we get out, hundreds more have been condemned to die. Every night and all day, it’s a desperate and pleading chorus of tragedy after tragedy. Not on the news, but addressed to me personally. People who have heard I helped others reaching out directly, sending me their documents as if I can teleport them out.”

Taylor reported also dealing with thousands of requests for evacuation, the Post said.

Besides Taylor, Stryk and Brewer, other veterans, contractors and aid agencies including Afghanistan’s No One Left Behind — and even former spies — are working to get people out, according to The Wall Street Journal, and U.S. and NATO forces are attempting to rescue people from Taliban-controlled parts of Kabul.

And rare are the times this publication has been able to write positively of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but she and the Clinton Foundation have been involved in the effort too.

Also, some private companies have mobilized rescue efforts, and even though they have adequate money and aircraft, the Kabul airport, controlled by the U.S., is thwarting or denying landing permits, the Post reported.

As thousands push to escape, planes are leaving Kabul with empty seats, apparently because would-be evacuees have been unable to get to them in time, and the Taliban has increased checkpoints on roads to the airport, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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“People have three options at present,” Brewer said. “They can go home and pretend to be good Afghans and hope the Taliban doesn’t discover them. They can try to make their way through countless Taliban checkpoints to Peshawar or Dushanbe and hope to be afforded refugee status in a neighboring country. Or they can fight.

“They can make a stand and fight and die bravely against a newly armed and equipped Taliban with the best arms and equipment we could abandon.

“Truly, I have worked a lot of disasters all over the world. Nothing touches this.”

Should the U.S. make more of an effort to rescue its citizens in Afghanistan?

Defense contractor Erik Prince was providing seats on a chartered plane out of Kabul for $6,500, according to The Wall Street Journal, which reported that White House press secretary Jen Psaki was critical of the move: “I don’t think any human being who has a heart and soul would support efforts to profit off people’s agony and pain if they’re trying to depart a country and fearing for their lives.”

The tone deafness of Psaki’s comments about a situation created by the administration she is a part of is appalling, especially since she apparently thinks jet aircraft are kept aloft by pixie dust.

It’s unclear what Prince’s costs are in his rescue efforts, and The Wall Street Journal has questioned whether he has the resources to do the job. The Post said Taylor and Stryk are using Regulus Global, a logistics company specializing in humanitarian and security operations. It’s all not-for-profit, and Stryk has said his business interests are losing money in the process.

Tens of thousands of Afghans who worked closely with the U. S. government are seeking relief, and while the U.S. focus is now on evacuating Westerners, the other hastily assembled rescue operations are motivated by sympathy for stranded Afghans, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“We have over 6-7,000 Americans and Afghan patriots who need to still get out,” Stryk told the Post. “We are getting a lot of calls. Private citizens are stepping up in the face of complete abject moral and ethical failures by the U.S. government.”

Meanwhile, on top of everything else, further tone deafness is evidenced by the Biden administration: As the situation in Kabul is repeatedly compared to the 1975 U.S. evacuation of Saigon, Vice President Kamala Harris has been, in all places, Vietnam.

That’s right, Vietnam.

What in the world are these people thinking?

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Mike Landry, PhD, is a retired business professor. He has been a journalist, broadcaster and church pastor. He writes from Northwest Arkansas on current events and business history.
Mike Landry, PhD, is a retired business professor. He has been a journalist, broadcaster and church pastor. He writes from Northwest Arkansas on current events and business history.