GOP Rep. Michael McCaul pressed Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday whether he could ensure a congressional committee that the Biden administration would rescue a group of girls who were left at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music and were turned away from the Kabul airport by State Department officials.
“I was on the phone with very high ranking officials at State, DoD, the White House, trying to save lives. We had Americans that couldn’t get out. We had interpreters, they couldn’t get through the perimeter of the Taliban. They are left behind, they will be executed. They do have a bull’s eye on their back,” McCaul said.
McCaul said the girls are now “at the mercy of the Taliban.”
He also sought assurances that the State Department would make sure Americans, and Afghan interpreters who couldn’t get to the airport and were left behind and now face execution would be rescued.
Blinken answered that people in the State Department came from posts around the world to Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul to help Afghans escape.
“They were serving at the gates right alongside our brothers and sisters in uniform, including the 13 who gave their lives literally trying to pull people out as necessary, or to walk them in, to talk them to do everything they possibly could to bring American citizens to bring Afghans at risk to bring the nationals of our partners and others into the airport,” Blinken said of the allies.
McCaul also pressed on whether Russian President Vladimir Putin had warned the White House against establishing intelligence gathering systems in countries neighboring Afghanistan and questioned him on how the US can handle the national security threat from terrorists now that America has no presence in the country.
“This is an important question and one that in its detail and substance, I think we need to take up in another setting,” Blinken said during a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“Let me just say this very broadly and you know this very well, given your focus and expertise on these issues, the terrorist threat has metastasized dramatically over the last 20 years, and it’s most acute in places like Yemen, like Libya, like Iraq, like Syria, like Somalia,” the secretary of state said.
But he also admitted that the US lost “some of that capacity by not having boots on the ground in Afghanistan.”
“We have ways – and we are very actively working on that – to make up for that, to mitigate for that, to make sure we have eyes on the problem,” Blinken said.
McCaul also asked Blinken to ensure the committee that the Biden administration would rescue a group of Afghan girls who were left at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music and were turned away from the Kabul airport by State Department officials.