Americans stranded in Afghanistan say they cannot reach the Kabul airport and that the Biden administration has been ineffective in quickly addressing emergency requests, according to Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), whose office has been scrambling in recent days to aid several California residents trapped in the country.
The families "are scared, stranded, and trapped in the Kabul area," Issa spokesman Jonathan Wilcox told the Washington Free Beacon on Thursday. "So far, they’ve been unable to reach the airport. I know [White House press secretary] Jen Psaki has previously said this isn’t happening, but she’s dead wrong."
Psaki on Tuesday said that any American who wants to leave Kabul can and that the effort cannot be called "anything but a success." The White House says all Americans will be flown out of the country by the Aug. 31 deadline to depart, but experts and others on the ground maintain this may not be possible. As the Taliban tightens its grip on Kabul, it has become increasingly dangerous, and in some cases impossible, for those stranded to travel to the city’s airport.
Issa’s team is attempting to work with the State Department, Department of Defense, and the White House to aid these Americans, who traveled to the country months before the Taliban took control. The State Department, which is supposed to be coordinating emergency evacuations, has been "way too slow and way too ineffective," according to Wilcox.
Information collected by Issa’s staff from these Americans indicates that the Biden administration’s claim that any U.S. citizen stuck in the country can come home is not true. Issa’s office secured the evacuation of two families on Thursday afternoon, though others remain trapped.
The Taliban is preventing Americans and others from reaching the airport, which is the only location to board an emergency flight. The already chaotic situation became deadly on Thursday, when two explosions went off near the airport, reportedly killing 12 U.S. troops and wounding 15 others. The ISIS terror group, which has ramped up its presence in the country since the Taliban came to power, claimed responsibility for the airport attack.
"This is what happens when our president lets terrorists prevent our planes from flying our people home," Issa told the Free Beacon. "And now our Marines are paying with their lives."
The lawmaker’s office was first alerted to the plight of the Californians in Afghanistan by a local San Diego school district, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Sen. James Risch (R., Idaho), ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, slammed the Biden administration on Thursday following the deadly bombing. He blamed the administration for creating the conditions that led to the terrorist attack and said the Taliban cannot be trusted to allow Americans to escape Kabul.
"As these bombings indicate, we cannot trust the Taliban to keep Americans safe. The administration should have laid more competent plans and gotten people out much sooner than this," Risch said in a statement. "The time deficit we are facing is a dilemma of the administration’s own making, and this emergency situation was avoidable."