Blinken says 175 Americans remain in Afghanistan, ‘several detained’ by Taliban

by mcardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News

Late last week, during a hearing that was largely overshadowed on the national stage by talk of investigations into former President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Antony Blinken revealed that a number of Americans remain in Afghanistan nearly two years after the U.S. completed its long-lampooned exit from the country. 

Testifying before a meeting of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Blinken faced questions from Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), who demanded an accounting of how many Americans remain in Afghanistan, which since the U.S. exit has been fully reconquered by the Taliban and has become, as it was pre-2001, known for wanton oppression, excessive poverty, human rights violations, and welcoming international criminals. 

“There are several Americans who are being detained by the Taliban ,” Blinken told Wilson. “We are working to secure their freedom. The families have asked that we protect their identities and don’t speak publicly to their cases.”

Wilson, though, did not accept this as a full answer. 

“Those are being detained. How many other Americans are there?” Wilson asked.

Blinken responded, “As we speak, American citizens who identified themselves to us who are in Afghanistan — some of whom have been there since the withdrawal, some of whom went back to Afghanistan — there are about, that we’re in contact with, about 175. Forty-four of them are ready to leave, and we are working to effectuate their departure.”

President Joe Biden has been criticized for two years for his handling of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, which was as slapdash as it was ineffective. 

Republicans, who regained control of the House earlier this year, have promised to investigate Biden’s role in the evacuation, which included the death of 13 U.S. servicemembers at the hands of a suicide bomber at Kabul’s airport. 

“I questioned @SecBlinken regarding the failed 2021 Afghanistan withdrawal, once again calling for answers from @POTUS regarding the US surrender and murder of 13 US servicemembers,” Wilson tweeted after the hearing. “The global war on terrorism is not over, the American people are being put at risk without answers.”

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, has written to Blinken demanding he produce documents and other information related to Biden’s handling of the withdrawal. 

Blinken has resisted honoring these requests even as McCaul has sent numerous letters. 

“The Committee routinely receives highly classified documents and information from the Department on the most sensitive issues confronting U.S. foreign policy, including ongoing threats posed by foreign adversaries,” McCaul wrote in his most recent letter. “A ‘diligent’ process working in good faith to produce these documents ‘as soon as practicable’ would have produced them long ago.”