Amid its chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Biden administration abandoned more than 100 government-sponsored journalists in the war-torn country.
The State Department promised to evacuate employees of Voice of America and Radio Azadi, which are overseen by the U.S. Agency for Global Media, according to the Washington Post. The government employees, however, were unable to board evacuation flights by the administration's Aug. 31 deadline, when the last U.S. troops departed from Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport. The situation for the journalists, who face reprisals from the Taliban, is now a matter of "life and death," according to an agency official.
"You would have expected that the United States government, which helped create the space for journalism and civil society in Afghanistan over the last 20 years, would have tried to do more over the last several weeks to assist journalists who made a decision that it was best for them to leave the country," Jamie Fly, the president of Radio Liberty, which oversees Radio Azadi, told the Post. "But they consistently failed to do that."
The Biden administration has faced mounting criticism for its withdrawal efforts, which have left between 100 and 200 Americans in the Taliban-controlled country. President Joe Biden said last month that U.S. troops would stay in Afghanistan until every American is evacuated—a broken promise that has angered both Republican and Democratic lawmakers, according to Politico.
"America's last flight left Afghanistan, even though we still don't know the total number of Americans trapped behind enemy lines—it's unforgivable," Sen. Steve Daines (R., Mont.) told the outlet.
Biden defended his decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan in a speech on Tuesday, saying it was "the right decision, a wise decision, and the best decision for America."