House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) sent a letter (pdf) on Wednesday evening to President Joe Biden requesting a “Gang of Eight” classified briefing on the status of American’s inside Afghanistan.
“It is of the utmost importance that the U.S. Government account for all U.S. citizens in Afghanistan and provide the necessary information and means of departure to all those Americans who desire to leave the country,” the GOP leaders wrote.
In this situation, the “Gang of Eight” would include the four congressional leaders from the House and Senate and the Chair and Ranking Members, of the House and Senate Select Committees on Intelligence.
The briefing would be given to McCarthy, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), McConnell, House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Ranking Member Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
Biden told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that U.S. officials estimate there are between 10,000 to 15,000 Americans in Afghanistan and added that the “estimate we’re giving” is 50,000 to 65,000 Afghan allies, including family members.
A state department spokesperson recently told reporters that the number of U.S. citizens inside Afghanistan cannot be confirmed.
McCarthy and McConnell want the Biden administration to provide information about how many Americans remain in Afghanistan and their location; the administration’s plan to communicate with those citizens and evacuate those outside of Kabul; the Taliban’s security posture inside Kabul as it relates to the ability of Americans to travel to the airport; and the status of talks with the Taliban regarding the safety of U.S. citizens.
Earlier this week, a spokesman for the Taliban warned in a Sky News interview that U.S. forces need to withdraw from the country by Sept. 11, which is the date of the terrorist attacks that toppled the Twin Towers 20 years ago.
Outside the Kabul airport on Thursday, there were scenes of chaos, according to video footage posted online. The video shows what appear to be Afghan security forces or possibly foreign security forces opening fire while people scream. Details about the incident are not clear, and The Epoch Times cannot verify its authenticity.
Photos and video footage over the past week showed large caches of weapons, including M-16 rifles and Humvees, being commandeered by the Taliban, considered by some governments to be a terrorist organization. Taliban members were seen holding American-made M-4 carbines and M-16 rifles that were discarded by Afghan military units.
When asked about the captured military equipment and weapons and whether American forces are attempting to prevent them from falling into the hands of the group, Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor responded, “I don’t have the answer to that question.”
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.