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Hawley raises alarm on lack of vetting with Biden 'orders' to fill up Afghanistan evacuation flights

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An email showing "orders" from the Biden administration to fill up planes to "excess" during the frantic evacuations from Afghanistan this summer raises concerns about a lack of vetting, according to a Republican senator.

Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri shared an image of the email to Twitter on Tuesday, claiming it came from a U.S. official who was in Afghanistan when the Taliban took over as the United States wrapped up its withdrawal of military forces.

The email, dated Aug. 18, said President Joe Biden phoned Ross Wilson, the acting U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, with a directive about who to clear to board evacuation flights.

ESTIMATED 450 AMERICANS AND THOUSANDS OF SIV APPLICANTS REMAIN IN AFGHANISTAN: DEFENSE OFFICIAL

"Anyone with a valid form of ID should be given permission to go on a plane if that person plausibly falls into the categories we will evacuate: U.S. citizens and LPRs plus their immediate families, LES plus their immediate families, those entitled to an SIV, and Afghans at risk," the first point of the directive said.

"Families including women and children should be allowed through and held to fill out planes," the second said.

"Total inflow to the U.S. must exceed the number of seats available. Err on the side of excess," said the third and final point in the email.

The guidance "provides clear discretion and direction to fill seats and to provide special consideration for women and children when we have seats. I expect that C17 flight volume will increase," the email also said.

"This email was shared w/ me by an American official present in Afghanistan during the evacuation who was shocked by Administration’s failure to vet Afghans before they were evacuated. Email details orders from Joe Biden to fill up the planes - even without vetting," Hawley said in his tweet.

A source familiar with the planning of the withdrawal could not speak to the veracity of Hawley’s screenshot but confirmed that the “vetting was primarily done at the” nearby military bases known as "lily pads."

The source noted that the security concerns on the ground necessitated a quick turnaround at Kabul's airport and said members of Congress were “very vocal” in calling for speed to be a “priority.”

The U.S. military relied on biographical and biometric data to vet the refugees. Biometric checks were mostly conducted at the lily pads.

The Washington Examiner reached out to the Defense Department and White House's National Security Council for comment. The Washington Examiner also contacted the State Department after DoD punted the question to that agency.

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Hawley asked Colin Kahl, the undersecretary of defense for policy, about the email during a hearing on Monday.

Kahl said he could not speak to the specific directive, but he did go over a list of priorities in the evacuations and said, "What the president was signaling was: If there were other clearly Afghans at risk that we could safely bring into the airport and get off the airfield, we should do that."

Evacuees who required additional screening were shepherded to Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo. There have been roughly 30 Afghan evacuees, along with 170 family members, diverted to the base, according to the Associated Press.

Although some of the evacuees are in the process of that additional vetting, not one has been denied entry to the United States and they have not deported anyone back to Afghanistan, according to a familiar source.

The U.S., in its deal with the Kosovo government, promised that every evacuee would be gone within a year.

If an evacuee does get barred entry to the U.S., this person could wind up in a non-U.S. friend or family member's home country.

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Tags: News, Congress, Josh Hawley, Afghanistan, National Security

Original Author: Daniel Chaitin, Mike Brest

Original Location: Hawley raises alarm on lack of vetting with Biden 'orders' to fill up Afghanistan evacuation flights

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