During the wind-down of President Joe Biden’s catastrophic withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan, it became apparent that many Americans and allies were going to be left behind. Details are beginning to emerge about those who are now stranded in the Taliban-controlled country. More than 100 of those abandoned are journalists working for government-sponsored media firms.
The U.S. Agency for Global Media oversees Voice of America and Radio Azadi, and the State Department expressly promised to evacuate employees of those outlets during the withdrawal. As events unfolded, those employees could not access the Kabul airport before the self-imposed August 31 deadline of the Biden administration.
An agency official describes conditions faced by the journalists as a “matter of life and death,” as they are likely targets for Taliban persecution.
Jamie Fly is the president of Radio Liberty, the parent organization of Radio Azadi. She said she expected that the U.S. government would have done more over the summer to help journalists who wanted to exit the country to get out safely. She added that they “consistently failed to do that.”
In his address to the nation on August 31, Biden stood behind his decision to stick to the August 31 deadline. He said, “the decision was right, wise, and the best decision for America.”
The White House is facing increasing criticism over the chaotic withdrawal that has left an unknown number of Americans without direct assistance in the country now controlled by a mixture of the Taliban and elements of Al-Qaeda and ISIS-K.
Biden said as recently as last month that American troops would remain in Afghanistan until every American who wanted to leave had been evacuated. That promise fell by the wayside, and the administration is facing angry lawmakers, both Democrat and Republican.
Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) told Politico that it is “unforgivable” that at the time the last American flight left the Kabul airport, U.S. forces didn’t know the number of Americans “trapped behind enemy lines.”