Khanna: Why Aren’t We Using Leverage on Taliban if They’re Keeping Americans ‘Hostage’ by Stopping Them from Leaving?

On Wednesday’s broadcast of CNN’s “The Lead,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) argued that if the issue with getting flights to depart Afghanistan is with State Department paperwork, we should take people to a third location and then worry about paperwork, and if the Taliban is keeping people from leaving, “how are we not saying you must do that or you risk the wrath of the United States? You can’t keep American citizens hostage.” He also stated that the idea that people don’t want to leave Afghanistan is untrue and “We have cases of people who want to leave and aren’t able to leave, who were beaten getting to the airport.”

Khanna said, “We have cases with American citizens still there. We have 600 requests that we’re still working on.”

He added that “about a dozen” of the requests are from U.S. citizens, “And so, there are still many of them who can’t get out. And the idea that they don’t want to leave is not true. We have cases of people who want to leave and aren’t able to leave, who were beaten getting to the airport. Now, here’s what I don’t understand on the documentation: When we evacuated people after Vietnam, we took them to Guam and then we worried about the paperwork. Why are we not doing the same thing now? Why are we worried [so much about] the paperwork? Get them the documentation, take them to a different site, and then we can worry about resettlement. But no one should be stuck there because they don’t have the proper documentation.”

Khanna further stated there needs to be more clarity on whether the Taliban or State Department are preventing people from leaving. He continued, “Does everyone have the documents? Is that the burden? Because if that’s the burden, why aren’t we doing what we did after Vietnam, taking them to a separate place and then worrying about the resettlement? Let’s not get caught up in bureaucracy. And then if the Taliban isn’t allowing this, what is our leverage? People have said we have this leverage on the Taliban. Well, why aren’t we using that leverage to say, let the charter flights out? I mean, that’s the most basic thing, rescuing the Americans.”

He added, “Boris Johnson says we have diplomatic, economic, and military pressure. Jake Sullivan says that. So, let’s use that pressure. I mean, the Taliban needs — they want to be recognized. They want aid, then this is the time to use it. The most basic thing, the fundamental thing is we’ve got to rescue Americans and American families, and if they’re not letting Americans sitting on an airplane fly out, I mean, how are we not saying you must do that or you risk the wrath of the United States? You can’t keep American citizens hostage.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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