'State Dept Doesn't Seem to Care': Afghan Evacuees 'Have Free Reign' of US Military Base
07:42 GMT 09.09.2021 (Updated: 13:23 GMT 06.08.2022)
Last week, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that more than 40,000 Afghan evacuees had entered the US since the Taliban* seized power in Afghanistan in mid-August.
Afghan evacuees stationed at a military base in Blackstone, Virginia, apparently feel at home and and are at liberty to leave the base using rideshare apps without being controlled by the authorities, Fox News has reported.
The broadcaster cited Republican Congressman Mark Green who said that he has sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken
, asking him to clarify the situation with the Afghan evacuees at the Fort Pickett base.
Green referred to an unnamed source “with knowledge of the situation” who made the allegations to his office that the evacuees held at Fort Pickett “basically have free rein of the complex and have even been allowed to leave despite not having completed the vetting process”.
The congressman argued that soldiers stationed at Fort Pickett have no authority to "arrest or stop" any of the evacuees from leaving the base on their own free will, irrespective of vetting status.
“My source has made shocking allegations,” Green wrote in the letter, adding that the source told him that “several evacuees have been picked up by Uber drivers without any permission from authorities, or being cleared to leave.”
The congressman also suggested that the problem exists not only at Fort Pickett, and that the Pentagon is not necessarily to blame in this specific regard because the military gets orders from Blinken.
6 September 2021, 08:26 GMT
“The State Department is failing to give [the Pentagon] adequate information… They don't know exactly how many [evacuees] are even there. So they can't account for someone if they don't return. And they are telling the people if you go and you don't come back, that will end your Visa processing. If they want free, they are gone. There is nobody to keep them from leaving,” Green asserted.
He remained downbeat about a Fox News host’s remarks that General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, insisted that Afghan evacuees are allegedly going through several levels of databases to define their validity for transportation to the US.
Green, in turn, argued that “we don't have biometrics on a good portion of these people and we can't really get information from State because they won't provide names […]”. According to him, US authorities “won't even tell us how many American citizens they evacuated. We tried to get that number through the National Defense Authorisation Act (NDAA) the other day and I could not get that past. It is just crazy. This State Department is a complete failure”.
"We have no way of knowing who they are and we've had talks with people who are saying they know Taliban is in some of these flights. So this is one of the greatest security risks this nation has ever had and this president and this State Department don't seem to care,” the congressman added.
The remarks came after media reports said earlier this week that former US special envoy for Guantanamo Closure, Lee Wolosky, will lead the Biden administration's legal efforts on resettling Afghan evacuees in the US. More than 40,000 Afghans have been evacuated
from Afghanistan in what was praised by President Joe Biden as the “largest airlift in history” but slammed by POTUS’ EU allies who reproached him for failing to extend the evacuation deadline.
*The Taliban is a terrorist group banned in Russia and many other countries