26 Republican senators ask Biden for info on vetting of Afghanistan evacuees, Americans left behind
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Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., says that President Biden’s ‘feckless’ decision to adhere to the withdrawal deadline caused Americans to remain stranded in Afghanistan
Republican senators issued a letter Thursday demanding President Biden provide the exact number of Americans, green-card holders and special immigrant visa applicants who remain in Afghanistan as well as what type of vetting evacuees are undergoing before being granted entry to the United States.
The group of 26 Republicans, led by Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, have given the president until the end of business Tuesday to give the public a full accounting of who was “left behind” after the last of the U.S. troops evacuated Kabul on Monday.
“We write regarding the humanitarian crisis created by your withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan, and the safety and well-being of our fellow countrymen and allies who you left behind,” the senators wrote.
“The signatories of this letter may have differing opinions about whether the United States should have maintained a military presence in Afghanistan, but we all agree that the arbitrary and poorly-planned method by which you withdrew from Afghanistan caused this crisis,” they wrote.
The senators are seeking the exact number of people still stranded in Afghanistan who want to leave and what the administration is doing to keep in contact with those people. They also want to know the vetting of the Afghan refugees who are not SIVs or green-card holders and whether they were evacuated to the U.S. without any pending immigration application or status with the United States.
“By what criteria did your administration select these individuals for the airlift while leaving American citizens, green-card holders, and SIV applicants and their families behind?” they asked in the letter. “How many evacuees, in total, are Afghans who are not American citizens, green-card holders, or SIV applicants or their families? Please also provide a breakdown of how many of these individuals are adult men, adult women, girls, or boys.”
“What steps did your administration take to verify the identities of these individuals before evacuation?” they asked. “What steps are your administration taking to ensure that individuals are thoroughly vetted and their identities verified before entering the United States?”
The senators also want to know who is in charge of the vetting process and whether the administration is checking for potential criminal records and national security concerns before admitting individuals to the U.S.
The letter comes a day after White House press secretary Jen Psaki said “no one” is coming into the U.S. without a thorough background check.
“I can absolutely assure you that no one is coming into the United States of America who has not been through a thorough screening and background check process,” Psaki said during her daily press briefing Wednesday.
The press secretary said the individuals who have not yet passed the screening have been sent to third countries, like Qatar and Germany, while their paperwork is being processed.
“There are many individuals, as you noted, who have not been through that process,” she said. “And they have gone to lily pad countries as that process has been completed. It doesn’t mean that that’s because there is a flag. It means they have not completed their paperwork. And we were working to save tens of thousands of people. Hence we evacuated them to these third countries.”View PDF
White House to send more than $300 million in aid to Afghanistan despite Taliban control
The White House announced plans Tuesday to send more than $308 million in humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan as millions face starvation under the new Taliban government following President Joe Biden’s withdrawal.
The assistance would be given by the United States Agency for International Development through “independent humanitarian organizations” to the Afghan people, National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne said.
The administration has been criticized for sending aid to Afghanistan previously. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) warned that it would be “foolish” and asserted that the Taliban “would take the money.”
“This brings total U.S. humanitarian aid in Afghanistan and for Afghan refugees in the region to nearly $782 million since October 2021, and we remain the single largest donor of humanitarian aid in Afghanistan,” Horne said, adding that the U.S. has also given 4.3 million COVID-19 doses to the Afghan people.
Assistance will “help provide lifesaving protection and shelter, essential health care, winterization assistance, emergency food aid, water, sanitation, and hygiene services in response to the growing humanitarian needs exacerbated by COVID-19 and healthcare shortages, drought, malnutrition, and the winter season,” Horne said.
China sent assistance to Afghanistan last month to help the nation prepare for winter and build ties between the Chinese Communist Party and the new jihadist government.
“The United States is committed to supporting the Afghan people and we continue to consider all options available to us,” Horne concluded. “We stand with the people of Afghanistan.”
ARTICLE: Fort Hood soldier found dead behind barracks
The soldier was identified as Spc. Maxwell Hockin, who was assigned to 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. He entered the Army in March 2017 as a combat engineer, Fort Hood officials said Wednesday.
Hockin’s awards and decorations include the Army Good Conduct Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, National Defense Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon, officials said.
Hockin had been at the Texas base since July 2017, where he was assigned to the 91st Engineer Battalion.
“The entire Saber family is devastated by the loss of our true teammate and friend Specialist Maxwell Hockin,” Lt. Col. Patrick Sullivan, commander, 91st Engineer Battalion, said in a statement Wednesday. “He had an outstanding work ethic, was a mentor to his peers, and was always willing to help out the team. He will truly be missed. Our thoughts and our prayers are with Maxwell’s family during this difficult time.”
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VIDEOS: How many Americans are still in Afghanistan?
A good question How many American are still in Afghanistan… those who should know don’t.
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