US Embassy in Afghanistan Tells Staff to Destroy ‘Sensitive Material’

By Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Senior Reporter
Jack Phillips is a reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.
August 13, 2021 Updated: August 13, 2021

U.S. Embassy staff in Kabul have been ordered to destroy sensitive documents and other materials in the midst of significant advances made by the Taliban in recent days, according to an excerpt of the memo sent out to employees.

The memo said that garrison facilities “will provide destruction support” on a daily basis “until further notice,” adding that staff members should “reduce the amount of sensitive material on the property,” referring to the Embassy, according to the memo, which was obtained by The Epoch Times.

It continued, “Please also include items with embassy or agency logos,” which includes American flags or other items that can be “misused in propaganda efforts,” ostensibly by the Taliban if the terrorist group takes over Kabul.

There will be burn bins, a disintegrator, an incinerator, and heavy-duty equipment to destroy the materials, according to the memo.

A State Department spokesperson confirmed the memo to The Epoch Times, saying that the destruction order to Kabul Embassy staff is a standard policy.

“Drawdowns at our diplomatic posts around the world follow a standard operating procedure designed to minimize our footprint across various categories, including staffing, equipment, and supplies,” the spokesperson said on Friday. “Embassy Kabul is conducting their drawdown in accordance with this standard operating procedure.”

Epoch Times Photo
A Taliban terrorist holds a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) along the roadside in Herat, Afghanistan, on Aug. 13, 2021. (AFP via Getty Images)

It comes about a day after the Department of State announced it would draw down its embassy staff to a small group. Around the same time, the Pentagon said it would deploy about 3,000 military troops to assist the departure, which some likened to the 1975 fall of Saigon, Vietnam, toward the end of the Vietnam War.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby on Friday, however, pushed back against the comparison that the U.S. Embassy’s recent moves are akin to Saigon being captured by Vietnamese communists.

“We’re not focused on the history of the Vietnam War,” Kirby said, adding that he didn’t have a “crystal ball” to determine Afghanistan’s situation in the coming weeks or months.

But the spokesman did note that the terrorist group has moved quickly and Afghan army forces have mounted an “insufficient” defense, adding that Afghan forces have U.S. training and military hardware.

“They have the material, the physical, the tangible advantages,” he said. “It’s time now to use those advantages.”

It came as Taliban insurgents took over Kandahar and Herat, the second- and third-largest cities, respectively, on Thursday and were seen attempting to cut off Kabul from the rest of the country.

“Kabul is not right now in an imminent threat environment, but clearly … if you just look at what the Taliban has been doing, you can see that they are trying to isolate Kabul,” Kirby said.

On Thursday, the U.S. Embassy, for a second time in a week, urged Americans in Afghanistan to immediately leave the country using all available options.

“The U.S. Embassy urges U.S. citizens to leave Afghanistan immediately using available commercial flight options,” reads a security alert, offering loans to Americans who can’t afford plane tickets out of the country.

Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Senior Reporter
Jack Phillips is a reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.