A State Department program developed by the Trump administration to provide swift and safe evacuations of Americans from crisis zones was eliminated by the Biden administration only months before the Taliban takeover of Kabul.
The National Pulse reported exclusively on Wednesday that Anthony Blinken’s State Department paused the Contingency and Crisis Response Bureau in June, which was designed to handle medical, diplomatic and logistical support for Americans overseas.
An action memo from the desk of Deputy Secretary of State Brian P. McKeon advising Blinken to halt the program was approved, according to an image published by the National Pulse.
While the memo was signed June 11, the National Pulse reported the decision to halt the program may have come as early as February.
Meanwhile, the White House has indicated this week it has little confidence it can evacuate all of the estimated 10,000 to 40,000 U.S. nationals from Afghanistan before the Taliban take full control of the country, noted Washington Examiner columnist Beckett Adams.
“The vague, noncommittal language used this week by White House officials, coupled with detailed reports claiming the administration failed to put together an evacuation plan for American citizens prior to withdrawing, signals that not even the people in charge of the U.S.’s slipshod, frantic retreat from Afghanistan believe all U.S. citizens will make it home,” he wrote.
On Sunday, the State Department issued a statement warning U.S. citizens that the U.S. Embassy in Kabul could not respond to their requests for help.
On Wednesday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin addressed reports that Taliban patrols have blocked some Americans from getting to the evacuation point.
The U.S. government, Austin said, is urging the Taliban to do better, citing “unfortunate incidents.”
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McKeon’s memo advised Blinken to “direct the discontinuation of the establishment, and termination of, the Contingency and Crisis Response Bureau (CCR), and direct a further review of certain associated Department requirements and capabilities.”
Former President Trump told the National Pulse that canceling the program was “beyond disgraceful.”
“My administration prioritized keeping Americans safe, Biden leaves them behind,” he said. “Canceling this successful Trump administration program before the withdrawal that would have helped tens of thousands Americans reach home is beyond disgraceful.
“Our withdrawal was conditions-based and perfect; it would have been flawlessly executed and nobody would have even known we left,” Trump continued. “The Biden execution and withdrawal is perhaps the greatest embarrassment to our country in history, both as a military and humanitarian operation.”
The National Pulse said no congressional notification of the pause was sent to Congress, as is required.
McCain: Blinken ‘dangerous to America’
When Blinken was nominated as deputy secretary of state by President Obama in 2014, the late Republican Sen. John McCain warned his colleagues that Blinken not only was “unqualified” but “one of the worst selections of a very bad lot that this president has chosen.”
McCain said he rarely opposed presidential nominations, arguing “elections have consequences,” but “in this case, this individual has actually been dangerous to America and to the young men and women who are fighting and serving it.”
The Arizona senator noted Blinken declaring that the war in Afghanistan will be concluded by the end of 2014.
Blinken said the Obama administration had “a timetable and that timetable will not change.”
McCain said, “This is why I’m so worried about him being in the position that he’s in.”