OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
Sen. Josh Hawley revealed this week that President Joe Biden ordered his administration to fill up American evacuation planes from Afghanistan with as many of the country’s citizens as possible, even if they were not vetted.
“This email was shared w/ me by an American official present in Afghanistan during the evacuation who was shocked by Administration’s failure to vet Afghans before they were evacuated. Email details orders from Joe Biden to fill up the planes – even without vetting,” said the Missouri Republican.
NEWS: This email was shared w/ me by an American official present jn Afghanistan during the evacuation who was shocked by Administration’s failure to vet Afghans before they were evacuated. Email details orders from Joe Biden to fill up the planes – even without vetting pic.twitter.com/LJq0dHlcm0
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) October 26, 2021
“Total inflow to the U.S. must exceed the number of seats available. Err on the side of excess,” said an Aug. 16 email to American officials involved in the evacuation from Afghanistan. “This guidance provides clear discretion and direction to fill seats and to provide special consideration for women and children when we have seats.”
Hawley, who says he obtained the email through a U.S. official who was outraged by the Biden administration’s failure to vet Afghan refugees flown into America, published the email Tuesday afternoon on Twitter. Hawley maintains that Afghan evacuees were not throughly screened with intensive interviews before they arrived in the United States.
The email, which has the subject line “presidential directive,” provides some of the firmest proof to date that the Biden administration decided to forgo proper vetting procedures in its rush to evacuate scores of Afghans following the Taliban’s takeover just weeks after the U.S. military retreated from the country.
The senator pressed these issues during a Tuesday hearing involving Colin Kahl, the Pentagon’s undersecretary for defense policy, the official involved in managing the catastrophic and deadly evacuation.
“We now know that we’ve got major problems of vetting of the people who were brought to this country, who were evacuated and brought to this country,” Hawley said.
“So, you testified in September that those evacuated, about 6,000 American citizens, you testified in September that the [Special Immigrant Visas] were about 1,200 to 1,300, that leaves about 116,700 people, based on the 124,000 neo-number that you’ve been offering, 116,700 people who were not citizens, who were not SIVs, and we just don’t know much about who were those people?” he added.
The official responded by claiming that about 84 percent of the Afghan citizens evacuated by the administration were deemed to be at risk of being targeted by the Taliban regime.
“It’s a mishmash of a lot of different categories,” Kahl said.
Last month, White House press secretary Jen Psaki had the unenviable task of attempting to explain why Biden failed to listen to the advice of his military officials, Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the head of Central Command and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, regarding Afghanistan.
“As @POTUS told ABC, ending the war in Afghanistan was in our national interest. He said advice was split, but consensus of top military advisors was 2500 troops staying meant escalation due to deal by the previous admin. @SecDef, the Chairman, and GEN McKenzie all reiterated,” Psaki said as a defense on Twitter.
She went on to tell reporters that “there were recommendations made by a range of his advisors.”
“Look, I’m not going to get into specific details of who recommended what. But I can — I would reiterate a little bit of what I conveyed before, which is that there were recommendations made by a range of his advisors — something he welcomed, something he asked them to come to him clear-eyed about, to give him candid advice,” the press secretary said.
“What is also clear though — and I’d also note, again, what Secretary Austin said today is that was not going to be a sustainable, over the long term, troop presence. We were always going to look at escalating the numbers, at potentially going back to war with the Taliban, at risking casualties. That was not a decision the President was going to make,” she added.