The State Dept is Preventing 6 Planes with Refugees from Leaving Afghanistan

The Biden administration is blaming the Taliban for blocking 6 aircraft full of Afghan refugees in Mazar i Sharif from departures, but it is really our own State Department.

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The Taliban is being blamed…is that really the case?

“Multiple planes that are ready to take American citizens and green card holders out of the country are being denied permission to leave by the Taliban,” CBS News reported, according to congressional and NGO sources. An email viewed by the network said that the flights were cleared to land in Qatar “if and when” the Taliban agreed to let them leave.

A senior congressional source told the network that “the Taliban is basically holding them hostage to get more out of the Americans.”

“The group Ascend, an NGO that teaches young women leadership through athletics, told CBS News they have two planes that have been waiting for six days ready to take between 600 and 1200 people — including 19 American citizens and two permanent residents,” the report added. “The planes are not currently loaded. The passengers are being held nearby, because the Taliban won’t let them into the airport, according to a senior congressional source.”

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Fox News during an interview that the Taliban was basically holding people hostage.

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It is in the Taliban’s best interest to allow international air traffic for basic supplies and humanitarian operations. You see there are other flights operating in Afghanistan actually.

A civilian plane has flown daily sorties from the closed facility to the southern city of Kandahar, flight records show.

The “morning shuttle to Kandahar,” as aviation-watchers have dubbed the daily flight, appears to have taken place in the chaotic aftermath of relinquishing airport control to the Taliban, according to records viewed by Just the News.

Data on flight tracking sites have shown empty airspace over Afghanistan at least since the early evening of Aug. 30, after the last U.S. military plane took off from Kabul.

As of Thursday, Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammad bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said that the airport is closed, with “no clear indication” of when it will reopen. “We remain hopeful we will be able to operate it as soon as possible,” Al Thani told reporters in Doha. “We are still in the evaluation process. … We are working very hard and engaging with the Taliban to identify what are the gaps and the risks for having the airport back up and running.”

Officials from two Afghan civil air carriers — Kam Air and the state-owned Ariana Airlines — have said that their operations in Kabul have been paralyzed by damaged aircraft and systems and by losing access to key personnel, such as pilots and engineers. Additionally, systems in the airport itself have been damaged, officials said.

Should we rally be trusting Qatar? For more than ten years, I have said NO. As an update –>

Ariana Afghan Airlines has resumed flying between Kabul and three major provincial cities after a technical team from Qatar reopened the capital’s airport for aid and domestic services.

Flights between Kabul and the city of Herat in the west, Mazar-i-Sharif in the north, and Kandahar in the south have restarted, the airline said in a statement on its Facebook page.

Earlier, Qatar’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Saeed bin Mubarak al-Khayarin said a technical team had been able to reopen Kabul airport to receive aid.

Lauding this as a step taken to return the country to relative normality after a tumultuous period, the ambassador added that the airport runway has been repaired in cooperation with Afghan authorities.

Reopening the airport, a vital lifeline to both the outside world and across Afghanistan’s mountainous territory, has been a high priority for the Taliban as it seeks to restore order after they completed their lightning seizure of the country by taking Kabul on August 15.

Passengers disembark as they arrive from Kandahar, at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. [Wali Sabawoon/AP Photo] source

While all this is going on, no one is discussing the involvement of Pakistan. The Taliban has been supported since inception by the ISI in Pakistan. So, where is the Biden administration on this? How about those stranded planes just take off and fly to Karachi and land under an emergency status? Let the formal confrontation begin where it should be and stop with the alleged Qatar diplomacy? Some strategic thinking is needed here and now.

1000’s of Migrant Children Missing in the U.S.

This actually is not a new phenomenon as it goes back to the Obama administration. But read on and the fear and failure continues when government is paid to get it right once it was determined the condition was wrong.

Axios Exclusive:

The U.S. government has lost contact with thousands of migrant children released from its custody, according to data obtained by Axios through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Why it matters: Roughly one-in-three calls made to released migrant kids or their sponsors between January and May went unanswered, raising questions about the government’s ability to protect minors after they’re released to family members or others in the U.S.

  • “This is very dismaying,” said Mark Greenberg, who oversaw the unaccompanied minors program during the Obama administration and was briefed on Axios’ findings. “If large numbers of children and sponsors aren’t being reached, that’s a very big gap in efforts to help them.”
  • “While we make every effort to voluntarily check on children after we unite them with parents or sponsors and offer certain post-unification services, we no longer have legal oversight once they leave our custody,” an HHS spokesperson told Axios, adding that many sponsors do not return phone calls or don’t want to be reached out to.

By the numbers: During the first five months of the year, care providers made 14,600 required calls to check in with migrant minors released from shelters run by the Department of Health and Human Services. These minors typically were taken in by relatives or other vetted sponsors.

  • In 4,890 of those instances, workers were unable to reach either the migrant or the sponsor.
  • The percentage of unsuccessful calls grew, from 26% in January to 37% in May, the data provided to Axios showed.

 

The big picture: More than 65,000 unaccompanied kids crossed the border illegally during those months, and July set yet another all-time record for young border crossers. That suggests the problem of losing track of released children could be compounded in the months to come.

  • The data also indicates calls aren’t happening with the frequency they should. Between President Biden’s inauguration and the end of May, HHS discharged 32,000 children and teens — but the government placed fewer than 15,000 follow-up calls, according to the FOIA response.
  • In both March and April, the number of kids discharged was twice as high as the number of check-in calls the following month — indicating that half of the released kids might not have gotten a 30-day call, according to public agency data.

Flashback: In 2018, the Trump administration was criticized for being unable to account for the whereabouts of around 1,500 children released from HHS shelters during a three-month period.

  • There were around 4,500 such minors as of the end of May who had been released under the Biden administration.

Between the lines: The government is already investigating whether dozens of migrant children were released to labor traffickers, as Bloomberg Law recently reported.

  • This happened in 2014 as well, when migrant teens were released to traffickers and forced to work on an egg farm.
  • Although these horrific situations have been rare, some members of Congress and former agency officials have called for better oversight to ensure kids are safe after leaving the government’s care.
  • The Trump administration and Republicans have used these instances to advocate for more stringent vetting for sponsors.

HHS’s Administration for Children and Families oversees the care and custody of migrant minors.

  • In guidance on the agency’s website, the 30-day calls are described as opportunities “to determine whether the child is still residing with the sponsor, is enrolled in or attending school, is aware of upcoming court dates and is safe.”
  • Axios made the FOIA request in May after the agency declined to share information about whether it had been conducting the 30-day calls.

***.Modern day slavery: BigAg corporations repeatedly violate ...

Reuters reported in 2014 just one case example:

Suyen has a quick smile and looks like a typical American teenager in her sandals and fashionably-torn blue jeans. But she recounts a harrowing journey, saying she left home to escape a father who was beating her, and that along the way she was raped by a “coyote” or migrant smuggler. She endured 24 hours with no food as she sat atop a slow-moving freight train through Mexico and made an overnight trek by foot.

When she struggled to pull herself over a wall at the Mexico-U.S. border, Suyen said, “I thought I was going to die” after being shoved over by a coyote, plunging down the other side and landing atop a man below.

Unlike most kids, she entered the United States undetected, only to end up in a stranger’s house in Houston. There, she said she was forced to work without pay for a month before being transferred to a vineyard, where she cooked meals, also without pay, for 300 migrant workers. Reuters has not verified the details of her journey but Suyen told a similar story in a sworn deposition to an immigration court.

 

More related reading: Report: Obama Administration Handed Child Migrants Over to Human Traffickers

The United States government placed an unknown number of Central American migrant children into the custody of human traffickers after neglecting to run the most basic checks on these so-called “caregivers,” according to a Senate report released on Thursday. (2016)

In the fall of 2013, tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors traveled to the U.S. southern border, in flight from poverty and gang violence in Central America. At least six of those children were eventually resettled on an egg farm in Marion, Ohio, where their sponsors forced them to work 12 hours a day under threats of death. Local law enforcement uncovered the operation last year, prompting the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations to open an inquiry into the federal government’s handling of migrants.

 

 

“It is intolerable that human trafficking — modern-day slavery — could occur in our own backyard,” Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio and the chairman of the subcommittee, told the New York Times. “But what makes the Marion cases even more alarming is that a U.S. government agency was responsible for delivering some of the victims into the hands of their abusers.”

 

As detention centers became incapable of housing the massive influx of migrants, the Department of Health and Human Services started placing children into the care of sponsors who would oversee the minors until their bids for refugee status could be reviewed. But in many cases, officials failed to confirm whether the adults volunteering for this task were actually relatives or good Samaritans — and not unscrupulous egg farmers or child molesters. The department performed check-in visits at caretakers’ homes in only 5 percent of cases between 2013 and 2015, according to the report.

 

The Senate’s investigation built on an Associated Press report that found more than two dozen unaccompanied children were placed in homes where they were sexually abused, starved, or forced into slave labor. HHS claimed that it lacked the funds and authorities that a more rigorous screening process would have required. However, the investigation also found that HHS did not spend all of the money allocated to it for handling the crisis.

 

The agency placed 90,000 migrant children into sponsor care between 2013 and 2015. Exactly how many of those fell prey to traffickers is unknown, because the agency does not keep track.

 

 

SecDef Austin and Gen. Milley Know they are in Big Trouble

An relatively small but experienced organization has written an open letter with mounting signatures calling for the resignation of both Lloyd Austin, Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley. The organization is Flag Officers for America and the letter is found on the site.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of Defense has been busy in the last few days fielding phone calls with international leaders demanding some attention and answers.

All in the same day, those calls included:

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke with Bahrain Crown Prince, His Royal Highness Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa to reaffirm the strong U.S.-Bahrain partnership and to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke with Kuwaiti Minister of Defense, His Excellency Sheikh Hamad Jaber Al-Ali Al-Sabah to reaffirm the strength of the U.S.-Kuwait partnership and to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke with Amir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar to reaffirm the strength of the U.S.-Qatar bilateral relationship, and to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke with Norwegian Minister of Defense Frank Bakke-Jensen to convey appreciation for Norway’s contributions to evacuation and retrograde operations from Afghanistan.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke by phone with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to reaffirm the importance of the U.S.-UAE partnership and to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III held a phone call with Canadian Minister of National Defence Harjit S. Sajjan to express appreciation for Canada’s close cooperation during the operation to evacuate at risk Afghans and the drawdown of coalition forces from Afghanistan.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke with German Federal Minister of Defense Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to discuss the end of U.S operations in Afghanistan.

Whew….imagine those conversations.

Then there is another mounting crisis as noted below that both men attempted to address.

In a press conference on September 1, 2021….here is what was addressed in part:

Leaders of the Defense Department shared their thoughts and feelings regarding America’s longest war, which ended yesterday with the last military aircraft evacuation flying out of Kabul, Afghanistan.

Austin said his heart is with the families and loved ones killed in the Aug. 26 suicide attack at the Hamid Karzai International Airport. Thirteen U.S. service members were killed, 22 wounded and over 100 Afghan evacuees were killed or wounded.

The secretary also said he remembers the 2,461 service members who were killed and the more than 20,000 wounded since the U.S. entered Afghanistan in October 2001, days after the 9/11 attacks.

Two men brief members of the media.

Now the war is over and we’re entering a new chapter, one in where our diplomats and our interagency partners take the lead. We’re part of an urgent team effort to move Afghan evacuees out of temporary housing in intermediate staging bases in the Gulf and in Europe and on to begin new lives. And I’ll be traveling to the Gulf next week to thank our partners there who have done so much to help save and shelter Afghan civilians.

Now, some of those brave Afghans will be coming to make new lives with their families in America, after careful screening and security vetting run by our interagency partners. We’re temporarily sheltering some of these evacuees at military facilities here at home and I’m proud of the way that our military communities have welcomed them.

Some of these courageous Afghans fought alongside us, and they and their families have more than earned their places in the land of the free and the home of the brave. And welcoming these Afghans isn’t just about what they’ve done, it’s about who we are.

Now, as one mission ends, others must go on. And even during our Afghan retrograde, this — this department was racing to help victims of natural disasters at home and abroad, and we still are. We’ve been driving to — to end the pandemic and we’ve continued to tackle security challenges from China and Russia, Iran and North Korea.

It’s our duty to defend this nation and we’re not going to take our eye off the ball. And that means relentless counter-terrorism efforts against any threat to the American people from any place, it means working with our partners to shore up stability in the region around Afghanistan, and it means a new focus to our leadership in this young century, to meet the security challenges from China, to seize new opportunities in the Indo-Pacific and elsewhere, and to deepen our ties with old allies and new partners, and to defend our democracy against all enemies.

But for today, I want to end with the word to the force and their families. I know that these have been difficult days for many of us, and as we look back as a nation on the War in Afghanistan, I hope that we will all do so with thoughtfulness and respect. I will always be proud of the part that we played in this war.

But we shouldn’t expect Afghan war veterans to agree anymore than any other group of Americans. I’ve heard strong views from many sides in recent days, and that’s vital, that’s democracy, that’s America. As we always do, this department will look back clearly and professionally and learn every lesson that we can. That’s our way.

But most shocking was General Milley’s response to a question regarding collaborating with the Taliban.

The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff on Wednesday said it was ‘possible’ that the Pentagon would work with the Taliban to hunt down and destroy the ISIS-K terrorist group.

During a Department of Defense briefing, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, was asked whether that meant officials would coordinate with their mutual enemy, the Taliban.

‘It’s possible,’ he said, explaining that in war you ‘do what is necessary.’

Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin jumped in quickly to add: ‘I would not want to make any predictions.

‘I would tell you that we’re gonna do everything that we can to make sure we remain focused on ISIS-K, understand that network and, at the time of our choosing in the future, hold them accountable for what they’ve done.’ More here.

How did we get here? A full surrender of America to the Taliban on the soon to be eve of the 20 year anniversary of 9/11.

Those Flag Officers and their letter are right….go Austin, Milley go and take General McKenzie with you. Be sure Biden, Harris, Pelosi and so many others go with you. The world needs protection and these people can’t and won’t provide it.

Oh yeah…there is Russia, North Korea, China and Iran to fret about too.

 

Is The Next Terror Insurgency Based in Nangarhar Province?

In 2017, then President Trump authorized the use of the GBU-43, otherwise known as a MOAB in the Nangarhar Province where at the time ISIS -K had emerged. This was as a result of 2 U.S. troops that were killed fighting ISIS and a third was wounded.

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The Nangarhar province borders Pakistan and Afghanistan’s defense ministry reported the death of 94 militants including 4 major commanders and that no civilians had been killed in the strike. Two civilian deaths were also reported.

But why Nangarhar province? 5 days ago, CENTCOM reported an ISIS-K planner, an associate was struck and killed by a drone strike. It is also being reported that there were civilian casualties but as of the writing of this post, the Pentagon is not providing more information on the strike including the name or names of the ISIS-K operatives. It is suggested that the now dead operatives were part of the prison break by the Taliban from either the Bagram detention facility or the center in Kabul known as Pul-e-Charkhi. If this is the case, then were are a pile of new questions and a possible additional scandal brewing in the Biden-Afghanistan exit debacle.

But wait there is more.

Meet Amin al-Haq. He served as the security coordinator of Osama bin Laden’s Black Guard, was recently released by Pakistani authorities, according to a report in the Afghan Islamic Press, a jihadist news organization based in Peshawar. Al Haq was released from Pakistani custody in 2011.

 

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Could this where the next al Qaeda plotting against the West is based? Remember that President Biden declared in recent days that al Qaeda has been decimated? Oh, former President Obama said the same thing. So, Amin al Haq is in Nangarhar.

What can the United States possibly cultivate now with regard to intelligence since the CIA and the total United States footprint in Afghanistan is now gone? Feeling protected yet? Well, we may still have some tiny covert thing going on just outside of Kabul called the Salt Pit. A big maybe because –>

The C.I.A. had used part of the compound called Eagle Base to train Afghan counterterrorism units. Another section — the C.I.A.’s first detention center in Afghanistan, known as the Salt Pit — was where a U.S. government report found that the agency had carried out torture on detainees. Structures in both Eagle Base and the Salt Pit were demolished to prevent the Taliban from seizing sensitive materials. The C.I.A. had used part of the compound called Eagle Base to train Afghan counterterrorism units. Another section — the C.I.A.’s first detention center in Afghanistan, known as the Salt Pit — was where a U.S. government report found that the agency had carried out torture on detainees. Structures in both Eagle Base and the Salt Pit were demolished to prevent the Taliban from seizing sensitive materials.

Satellite imagery from earlier this year shows that several buildings at the Salt Pit were completely razed to the ground.

More destruction appears to have occurred on Aug. 27, the day the Pentagon said U.S. forces carried out controlled demolitions of their own equipment. Publicly available data from NASA sensors shows heat signatures at the site possibly caused by active fires and explosions. Satellite imagery taken the next day also shows two warehouses with apparent fire damage. The buildings very likely contained documents, hard drives and other sensitive information, according to a former agency contractor. Officials have confirmed Eagle Base was destroyed. Evacuees were flown by helicopter to Hamid Karzai International Airport to avoid Taliban checkpoints. Flight data reveals that three Mi-17 helicopters made at least 35 flights to or from the compound since the Taliban took control of Kabul on Aug. 15. Hundreds were evacuated from the site since that day, according to people briefed on the operations.

For the video, go here.

The types of aircraft used — and their opaque ownership structures — provide clues that these flights were most likely designed to be covert and be involved in sensitive missions.

The helicopters are Russian-made Mi-17s, which are commonly flown by the Afghan military, and normally wouldn’t attract unwanted attention in the skies over Kabul. And the specific aircraft flying into the compound are registered to a private U.S. company whose manager has ties to U.S. defense agencies. For security reasons, The Times is not identifying the firm or tail numbers.

We found that one of the flights was inadvertently captured in a livestream by MarcaTV, a Spanish news outlet, as it flew toward the compound on Aug. 20.

go here for the full video

The evacuations and building demolitions at the C.I.A. compound appeared complete by Aug. 28. Videos that were shared online on Aug. 30 show that Taliban fighters had already made their way onto the site. Video and full article by the New York Times is here.

We can only hope the CIA did in fact remove all intelligence regarding al Qaeda, ISIS-K and profiles, locations and evidence regarding Nangarhar and beyond.

 

 

 

500 Journalists Working for US Agency left Behind

  Voice of America is taxpayer funded. And Radio Free Europe is United States government-funded organization that broadcasts and reports news, information, and analysis to countries in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Caucasus, and the Middle East.

In part from Washington Monthly 5 days ago:

One group that, surprisingly, has hundreds of staffers and their families stranded in the country is the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which runs the pro-democracy Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

On Wednesday, 67 members of Congress sent President Biden a bipartisan letter saying that these staffers are being forgotten. “We stress to you that the 550 USAGM employees and their families are no different from journalists you have already doggedly worked to evacuate,” the letter reads.

I’ve been hearing from fellow journalists who are trying to get their own colleagues out of Afghanistan that there is a much higher number than 550, but, like everything in this shambolic pullout, the truth is obfuscated. A spokesperson for VOA told me that, for security reasons, the broadcasting organization is “unwilling to provide specific details in response to your query, but know that VOA is working with USAGM and other authorities to ensure the safety of all of our personnel in Afghanistan.”

Also on Wednesday, a source told me that a group trying to get VOA staffers and other vulnerable people out of Afghanistan ran into a wall because the evacuees were unable to get into the airport. The group, which consists of humanitarian aid workers and former embassy and U.S. Agency for International Development officials, has two charter flights that can carry 340 people each. The organization is holding them in Kabul, for now, they said, until Friday.

Were they counted in any of the Biden administration numbers of those still stranded? No one knows.

An update..now it is 100 journalists left behind?

FB: 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.”