American groups attempting to rescue U.S. citizens, SIVs and green card holders left behind in Afghanistan claim the U.S. State Department, not the Taliban, is preventing them from taking off.
Three different individuals involved in private evacuation efforts told Fox News that the State Department is “recklessly endangering American lives” with their delays.
Rick Clay, who operates the private rescue group “PlanB,” told Fox News that the State Department is preventing the flights from leaving Afghanistan. Clay has roughly 4,500 names on his manifest, 800 of which have been turned over to the U.S. State Department for vetting.
Two other American individuals separately involved in evacuation efforts made similar claims that the State Department is the sole entity preventing their charter flights from leaving Afghanistan. Fox News declined to name the two other people to avoid jeopardizing ongoing rescue efforts.
“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****ing phone call,” one of those individuals 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,” that individual continued, adding: “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 same individual suggested that the State Department’s refusal to let the planes evacuate Americans is motivated, in part, by embarrassment that private individuals are rescuing Americans whom the U.S. government failed to evacuate.
Also from the Fox News report,
After making little to no progress with the State Department, Clay’s group turned to senators from both parties: Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., have all sought to help PlanB and other organizations secure the approval they need to get the evacuees safely out of Afghanistan, organizers and Senate staffers told Fox News. 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.
Clay told Fox News that his team with PlanB is “having problems getting permission” from the Biden State Department “to land on the return flight” from Afghanistan in a neighboring country.
The State Department “is not allowing any private charters carrying refugees to land anywhere in nearby countries if they are coming out of Afghanistan, and is making different excuses as to why, such as pointing to the lack of air traffic controllers and radar issues” Clay told Fox News. The two other individuals separately involved in private evacuation efforts confirmed Clay’s account.
“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.
America: right now there is a private effort to get a plane of US citizens and allies out of Afghanistan. They need @SecBlinken to help get clearance to land in a nearby country.
Biden’s State Department is refusing to actively assist.
Their response: “just tell them to ask.”
— Dan Crenshaw (@DanCrenshawTX) September 2, 2021
Clay received word last Thursday that his flights would be allowed to take off as soon as the 800 names were vetted. As of Sunday, he still hadn’t received clearance.
As the State Department hems and haws, the Taliban is hunting down and executing people who worked with the U.S. and NATO forces.
Clay shared some of the text messages he has received from people hoping to escape, one of which read, “Please save us as soon as possible. My family and I are facing a lot of problems. My children’s health is deteriorating day by day due to many worries.”