Three US officials, who spoke with the Politico news website on Thursday on the condition of anonymity, said that the Taliban was given a list of names of American citizens, green card holders and Afghan allies slated for evacuation.
The move was said to have been intended to help evacuees safely pass through militant-controlled checkpoints outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport ahead of the looming August 31 deadline for the complete withdrawal of American troops.
A defense source, however, told Politico the US had effectively put Afghan helpers on “a kill list.”
Biden faced questions from reporters later on Thursday, hours after 13 US soldiers and more than 90 Afghans were killed in a twin suicide bombing near the Kabul airport.
Biden acknowledged that the US sometimes shared certain details on the evacuation process with the Taliban.
“Our military has contacted their military counterparts in the Taliban and said this, for example, this bus is coming through with X number of people on it, made up of the following group of people. We want you to let that bus or that group through.”
Biden could not say “with any certitude that there’s actually been a list of names,” but then added that “it could very well have happened.”
A spokesperson for the president’s National Security Council, Emily Horne, later told Politico that “in limited cases” the US has shared information with the Taliban that has helped evacuations from Kabul.
Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K), an offshoot of Islamic State (IS/formerly ISIS) that is active in Afghanistan, claimed responsibility for the Kabul bombings. The Taliban, which has clashed with ISIS-K in the past, condemned the terrorist attack.
Nevertheless, the idea of providing the Taliban with data on American citizens and allied Afghans sparked uproar among US Republican Party politicians and conservative commentators, who argued that such actions endanger the evacuees.
Congressman Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) and State Senator Wendy Rogers (R-Arizona) argued that such a move would be tantamount to “treason.”
“We need to find out who is responsible for giving the Taliban a hit list and they need to go to prison,” Crenshaw, a former US Navy SEAL, who lost an eye when serving in Afghanistan, wrote on Twitter.
If true, this qualifies as borderline treason. We need to find out who is responsible for giving the Taliban a hit list and they need to go to prison. https://t.co/WTkeRytHmN
— Dan Crenshaw (@DanCrenshawTX) August 26, 2021
“F*** this administration,” co-founder of the Daily Wire news website and podcast host Ben Shapiro tweeted.
Fox News contributor and spokesperson under former president Donald Trump, Kayleigh McEnany, asked why would the White House entrust the Taliban with sensitive information. “[Biden’s spokesperson] Jen Psaki says the Taliban is ‘not a group we trust, not our friends.’ So why did we rely on them to provide safe exit for Americans?”
Jen Psaki says the Taliban is “not a group we trust, not our friends.”
So why did we rely on them to provide safe exit for Americans?
Why did we GIVE them lists of Americans in the country ⁉️https://t.co/whTkrXLIz6
— Kayleigh McEnany (@kayleighmcenany) August 26, 2021