Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) this week joined his colleagues in calling on the State Department to provide updated information on the number of Americans and allies stuck in Afghanistan and what the Biden administration is doing to help get them out. He was one of 25 senators who worked with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to highlight the State Department’s lack of action following the Biden administration’s catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Grassley’s office has heard from constituents who are seeking assistance evacuating roughly 100 Afghan allies and relayed the information to the State Department as directed. Yet, it remains unclear what, if anything, the State Department has done with the information.
Grassley entered the following remarks in the Senate Record.
Statement for the Senate Record by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
State Department AWOL on Helping Americans, Allies Stranded in Afghanistan
Thursday, October 28, 2021
Yesterday, in a hearing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Ranking Member Risch, called out the State Department for its apparent lack of action in helping those Americans and Afghan allies who are still stuck in Afghanistan.
It has been two months since the withdrawal of all American military and diplomatic presence in the country in the wake of the Talban’s total takeover of that country.
In the past week or so, the number of Americans reportedly still in the country has grown, not shrunk. We’ve gone from around 100 to over 400.
Now, I know Americans are not flocking to Taliban controlled Afghanistan, so why does this number keep going up?
I understand that Americans are not required to register with the State Department so it is understandable that they would not have a reliable, fixed list of Americans at the start of this crisis. But, I find it hard to believe that Americans waited two months after being abandoned in Afghanistan by their government to reach out, and then in the space of a week, suddenly found a way to get in touch.
The State Department set up special e-mail addresses and issued guidance on how to report Americans and Afghan allies who need to be evacuated.
My office heard from many Iowans concerned about those they knew in Afghanistan, and my staff followed the directions from the State Department, forwarding the contact information. For the most part, all I ever heard back was a confirmation that the message was received. I am starting to wonder if these went into a black hole.
I did not expect that the State Department would devote time and effort to keeping me informed given that presumably it was all hands on deck to contact those in the country and make arrangements for them. However, two months later, I don’t see much progress.
Then there are reports that efforts by brave former Special Forces and other Americans who picked up where their government left off to evacuate Americans and Afghan allies have not received the support they needed from the State Department. Is the State Department just washing their hands of this mess?
I shared with Senator Risch information I passed on to the State Department about 98 Afghan allies known to Iowans to need help as their lives were in danger after the Taliban takeover. I am only aware of one that has been evacuated. I know that many have not even been contacted by the State Department.
I am glad that Ranking Member Risch entered this information into the Record along with information from 24 other senators, totaling 16,688 cases. That’s just one quarter of the Senate, so I know there are many more cases out there.
It’s time to hear what the State Department is doing to get the remaining Americans home, and to process the cases of Afghan allies so those who helped us and whose lives are at risk can get to safety.