According to three individuals familiar with the briefing, many senators rushed out of a secret briefing on Afghanistan with representatives of the Biden administration on Wednesday morning.
According to news reports, Republican and Democratic lawmakers became frustrated after officials from the State Department, Pentagon, Department of Homeland Security, and Office of the Director of National Security failed to answer basic questions during a briefing for members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Officials from the State Department continue to claim that around 100 Americans are still in Afghanistan and wish to leave, both individually and publicly. Some legislators have informed news sites that they don’t understand the accounting, despite the fact that the agency claims to have evacuated more than 75 Americans from Afghanistan in recent weeks. Officials from the State Department have stated that they are unable to provide a more accurate count due to the volatile circumstances on the ground.
“As a general matter, we do not comment on discussions with Congress, especially those conducted in a classified context,” a State Department spokesman told news outlets on Wednesday.
On CNN’s “The Lead” on Wednesday, Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, the senior Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said “everyone walked out” of the meeting, and he questioned if administration officials understood the number of Americans remaining in the country.
“Actually, I believe there are still hundreds of Americans trapped behind enemy lines. “The bulk of the interpreters that you and I discussed did not get out,” he added, referring to Afghan translators who served for the US troops, and adding that he had heard “horrific stories.” “those who live in the nation
“To be honest, I don’t think they know all the answers,” he remarked of the government.
According to a Democratic aide, some members of the committee departed Wednesday’s confidential session because Republican members were not wearing masks as required by Covid-19 standards. Many members are pleased with the State Department’s involvement, according to the aide.
Evacuation aircraft are still departing Afghanistan at a sluggish rate, with one over the weekend carrying another 21 US nationals. Officials believe it takes a lot of time and effort to do background checks on persons who do not have all of the requisite paperwork, especially because of the cooperation required between the US, Qatar, and the Taliban.
The Biden administration wants to make flying out of the nation commonplace, but that won’t happen until commercial aircraft start flying in and out of Kabul, which may take weeks, according to State Department officials.
The anticipated attempts to cooperate between the State Department and private persons or organisations are now underway, following initial friction between the two sides. The State Department speaks with the AfghanEvac coalition twice a week, and individuals participating describe the present situation as less chaotic than it was previously.
Shawn VanDiver, the founder of the Truman National Security Project San Diego Chapter, who is directing the AfghanEvac operation, stated, “I don’t think we could have greater coordination than what we’re creating now.” “We feel like we’re a member of the team and that we’re working for a common objective.”