Rep. Kinzinger Demands Count of Americans Left Behind in Afghanistan
By Charles Kim | Wednesday, 01 September 2021 05:50 PM
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., sent a letter Wednesday to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to provide a full accounting of those left behind after the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and information on the evacuation process.
''While I commend the administration for saving thousands of lives, I believe more could have been done to prevent the tragic loss of life on Aug. 26, 2021, and to better prepare for the chaos that ensued this last week. And I'm looking to our secretaries of state and defense to get to those answers,'' Kinzinger said in a statement.
''Our military community stepped up in a way many can hardly grasp right now, but I am incredibly proud of the men and women who have served this mission and all those that risked life and limb to defend this nation and save the lives of our allies. This effort is not over and nor should it be. We can never give up until our fellow Americans and our allies are safe,'' he continued.
Thirteen U.S. military personnel were killed when ISIS-K suicide bombers attacked a gate at the Kabul airport, and a nearby location on Aug. 26 as Americans, third country nationals, and Afghan refugees flocked to the airport to get out of the war-torn nation before the final pullout of U.S. troops Aug. 31.
The withdrawal marks the end of America's longest war.
Administration officials said that more than 120,000 people were evacuated from Kabul since the Taliban took over the country on Aug. 14, capturing that capital city in 10 days.
Despite the mass airlift and evacuation, that the administration calls the biggest in United States history, officials are still not putting a number on how many Americans, green card holders, and special visa holders remain.
Kinzinger's letter asks for written responses to several questions including how many of each group were evacuated, and how many were left back.
''No One Left Behind is tracking almost 200 families who were issued SIVs who were told to shelter in place by the State Department and never made it into the airport,'' James Miervaldis, Chairman of No One Left Behind said in Kinzinger's release. ''We are tracking over 1,000 SIV applicant families who are in the same situation. All are now hiding in Kabul. We are working to identify the true footprint of how many of our SIV allies the United States left behind.''
State Department Undersecretary Victoria Nuland said Wednesday that the 200 or so Americans left, and others still trying to get out remains a priority.
''It is this department, and its secretary's top priority to continue to evacuate any American citizen who wishes to leave Afghanistan,'' Nuland said during a press briefing Wednesday. ''We believe there are between 100-200 Americans who remain in Afghanistan who may have some interest in leaving.''