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Private U.S. citizens who are desperately trying to get fellow Americans, as well as holders of SIVs and green cards, out of Afghanistan after they were left behind by President Joe Biden are frustrated and “horrified” at what they see as unreasonable and unexplained delays of their evacuation flights from the State Department, Fox News reported Sunday evening.
The delays that have been caused by the State Department are putting Americans’ lives needlessly in danger, according to three sources who spoke to the network.
Rick Clay, the head of PlanB, a private rescue organization, told Fox News the State Department is all that is preventing flights he has set up from leaving the country.
In addition, the network added, two more Americans who are also involved in rescue operations — Fox did not name them to avoid putting them and those in their charge in jeopardy — also said that the Biden State Department is the only entity that is preventing their chartered aircraft from getting out of Afghanistan.
“This is zero place to be negotiating with American lives. Those are our people standing on the tarmac and all it takes is a f**king phone call,” one of the individuals, who has been central to evacuation efforts from Afghanistan by private groups, told Fox News.
“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,” the person continued. “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 person went on to suggest that the reason why the State Department is delaying the flights is political: That is, the “obstruction is motivated in part by embarrassment that private individuals are rescuing Americans that the U.S. government left behind,” Fox News added.
An email seen by the network from military channels instructs anyone trying to get clearance to land in Qatar, even with Americans, must first got through the State Department to get approval for the flight.
Clay said he has a manifest of some 4,500 names of U.S. citizens, as well as green card and SIV holders, and refugees attempting to get to the U.S.
Thus far, he says he’s given the State Department a list of 800 names for the first round of evacuation flights; Fox News reported that it has confirmed Clay’s details.
“It is imperative that we get into Doha where there [are] other refugee centers,” the founder of PlanB told Fox News in a text. “That is where I’ve asked for clearance.”
But, he said, his organization is “having problems getting permission” from the State Department “to land on the return flight” from Afghanistan to a nearby country.
State “is not allowing any private charters carrying refugees [to] land anywhere” in neighboring countries if they are coming out of Afghanistan, he said. Further, the department continues to make different “excuses” as to why.
They include a supposed lack of air traffic controllers and/or radar issues, Clay said. The other two people also involved in separate evacuation efforts confirmed Clay’s account as well.
“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 remarked. “This makes no sense.”
“We still have Americans we can get out,” he added.
Clay said his organization has turned to a bipartisan group of lawmakers including Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis. for assistance with getting State Department approval, but thus far the process has been slow.
“Clay received word on Thursday that their flights out of Afghanistan would eventually receive approval following the State Department’s review of their manifest — a task that could take several days even as just the initial 800 names are subjected to the vetting process,” Fox News reported, adding that as of late Sunday, PlanB had not received departure clearance.