During America's chaotic exit from Afghanistan earlier this year, the Biden administration issued a directive that evacuation flights be filled to "excess" with refugees who had not been properly vetted before arriving in America, according to an internal administration communication disclosed on Tuesday by Sen. Josh Hawley (R., Mo.).
"Total inflow to the U.S. must exceed the number of seats available. Err on the side of excess," reads an Aug. 16 email to U.S. officials involved in the exit from Afghanistan. "This guidance provides clear discretion and direction to fill seats and to provide special consideration for women and children when we have seats."
Hawley, who says he obtained the email through a U.S. official who was outraged by the Biden administration's failure to vet Afghan refugees flown into America, published the email Tuesday afternoon on Twitter. Hawley maintains that Afghan evacuees were not throughly screened with intensive interviews before they arrived in the United States.
"This email was shared [with] me by an American official present in Afghanistan during the evacuation who was shocked by administration's failure to vet Afghans before they were evacuated," Hawley wrote. "Email details orders from Joe Biden to fill up the planes—even without vetting."
The email, which has the subject line "presidential directive," provides some of the firmest proof to date that the Biden administration decided to forgo proper vetting procedures in its rush to evacuate scores of Afghans following the Taliban's takeover just weeks after the U.S. military retreated from the country.
Hawley pressed the issues on Tuesday during a Senate hearing with Colin Kahl, the Pentagon's undersecretary for defense policy and the administration official largely responsible for overseeing the Biden administration's botched evacuation.
"We now know that we've got major problems of vetting of the people who were brought to this country, who were evacuated and brought to this country," Hawley said. "So, you testified in September that those evacuated, about 6,000 American citizens, you testified in September that the [Special Immigrant Visas] were about 1,200 to 1,300, that leaves about 116,700 people, based on the 124,000 neo-number that you've been offering, 116,700 people who were not citizens, who were not SIVs, and we just don't know much about who were those people?"
Kahl, in response to Hawley's questions, said that about 84 percent of the Afghans evacuated by the Biden administration were deemed to be at risk under Taliban rule. "It's a mishmash of a lot of different categories," Kahl said.