Lawmakers drop classified Afghanistan briefing
(CNN) – Several lawmakers angrily abandoned a classified briefing with members of the Biden administration on Wednesday morning. Afghanistan According to three sources familiar with the briefing.
Republican and Democratic lawmakers were frustrated after officials from the State Department, the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of Homeland Security did not answer their key questions during the briefing for committee members. The House foreign affairs official sources told CNN.
State Department officials continue — privately and publicly — to say that there are still about 100 Americans in Afghanistan who want to get out.
Some lawmakers told CNN they don’t understand those calculations, given that the department said it has evacuated more than 75 Americans from Afghanistan through the evacuation efforts in recent weeks. State Department officials said the dynamic situation on the ground was why they could not give a more accurate figure.
“In general, we do not comment on communications with Congress, especially those that take place in a classified environment,” a State Department spokesperson told CNN Wednesday.
“Everyone has left” the meeting, Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, a senior Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told CNN reporter Jake Tapper Wednesday — on “The Lead” — and asked if administration officials knew how many Americans They are still at the conference. country.
“The truth is that there are still hundreds of Americans behind enemy lines. Most of the translators you and I talked about haven’t come out,” he said, referring to Afghan translators who worked with the US armed forces. He added that he had received “horrific stories” from those in the country.
“I don’t think they honestly know all the answers,” he said of the administration.
Another version of the meeting for Afghanistan
A Democratic adviser told CNN that some lawmakers pulled out of the classified briefing on Wednesday due to Republican members not wearing masks, as dictated by COVID-19 prevention protocols. The advisor added that many members are satisfied with the State Department’s commitment.
Evacuation flights continue to leave Afghanistan at a slow pace, including one over the weekend with more than 21 US citizens on board.
Officials say a great deal of work is needed, especially because of the necessary coordination between the United States, Qatar and the Taliban to check the background of people who do not have all the necessary documents.
The Biden administration’s goal is to make flights out of the country routine. But State Department officials say that can only be achieved when commercial flights are in and out of Kabul airport, and it could be weeks before that happens.
Planned coordination efforts between the State Department and individuals or groups — which formed after initial bipartisan tensions — are already underway. The State Department has two weekly calls with the Afghan Alliance IFAC, and those involved describe the current situation as less chaotic than it was initially.
“I don’t think we can get any better coordination than what we’re building now,” said Sean Vandever, founder of the Truman Project for National Security, San Diego chapter, which leads the Afghan IFAC effort.
“We feel part of the team and we have a common goal,” he added.
CNN’s Natasha Bertrand, Katie Bo Lillis, and Shauna Meisel contributed reporting.