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U.S. officials provided Taliban with names of Americans, Afghan allies to evacuate

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U.S. officials provided Taliban with names of Americans, Afghan allies to evacuate

“Basically, they just put all these Afghans on a kill list,” said a defense official who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive issue. “It’s just horrific and shocking and you feel unclean.”

When asked about POLITICO’s coverage during a press conference on Thursday, President Joe Biden said he was not sure that such lists existed, but neither did he deny that the US sometimes gives names to the Taliban.

“There have been occasions when our military has contacted its military counterparts in the Taliban and said that for example this bus is traveling with a number of X people made up of the following group of people. We want you to let this bus or group through, “he said.” So, yes, there have been cases like this. To the best of my knowledge, those cases where the bulk of it happened and they got through.

“I can’t tell you for sure that there actually is a list of names,” he added. “Maybe there was. But I don’t know of any circumstance. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist, that here are the names of 12 people, they come, let them through. It could very well have happened.”

NSC spokeswoman Emily Horne added: “It is unfortunate that the White House has not been asked to comment or explain on such a serious matter. If Politico had asked us, we would have given the same answer the president gave the nation today: that in limited cases we shared information with the Taliban that successfully facilitated evacuations from Kabul. “

A spokesman for the US Central Command declined to comment.

The listing problem came up this week during a secret briefing on Capitol Hill that became controversial after senior Biden government officials defended their close coordination with the Taliban. Biden officials claimed it was the best way to keep Americans and Afghans safe and prevent a gun war between Taliban fighters and the thousands of US troops stationed at the airport.

After the fall of Kabul, in the first days of the evacuation, the joint US military and diplomatic coordination team at the airport provided the Taliban with a list of people who wanted to evacuate the US. These names included Afghans who served on the side of the United States during the Twenty Years’ War and applied for special immigrant visas to America. U.S. citizens, dual nationals, and legal permanent residents were also listed.

“They had to do this because of the security situation that the White House created by allowing the Taliban to control everything outside the airport,” said a US official.

But after thousands of visa applicants arrived at the airport and overwhelmed the U.S.’s ability to process them, the State Department changed course – telling applicants not to come to the airport and instead wait to be cleared for entry . From then on, the list submitted to the Taliban no longer contained these Afghan names.

On August 25, only U.S. passport and green card holders were accepted as eligible for evacuation, the defense official said.

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However, the fact that US officials presented a list of Afghan allies and American citizens and residents shows the extent to which they have outsourced the security of the airport grounds to the Taliban. The Taliban have gone door to door in search of Afghan interpreters and others who have helped the US and Western forces.

In written and oral communications, General Frank McKenzie, commander of the US Central Command, and Rear Admiral Peter Vasely, chief of the US forces on the ground in Afghanistan, officials have referred to the Taliban as “our Afghan partners”, according to two departments of defense.

The Biden government is coordinating evacuation efforts and airport security with the Taliban, who operate the checkpoints outside the outer perimeter of the airport. Officials were “in daily communication” with Taliban commanders about who to let in, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters this week.

The news comes just hours after two Islamic State terrorist attacks rocked the area outside the airport, killing at least four U.S. Marines and injuring dozens more. Several Afghans were also killed in the bombings.

After the attacks, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Bob Menendez (DN.J.), appeared to criticize the Biden government’s strategy of coordinating with the Taliban and wrote in a statement: “While we wait for more details , one thing is clear: we cannot entrust the security of the Americans to the Taliban. “

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