The Afghan interpreters who helped America for the past 20 years should have been evacuated to the United States long before now.
The Biden Administration literally abandoned their base in Bagram in the dark of night and left Afghanistan in the hands of the Taliban who are capturing significant territory and are already targeting Afghan journalists, pilots and human rights advocates.
When they abandoned the base, they left behind a looter’s delight of laptops, small arms and ammunition and hundreds of military vehicles.
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Left behind as well were the interpreters that have helped America over the last two decades – Afghans who have put their lives at risk.
The Biden Harris Obama administration has FINALLY put together a plan to fly about 2,500 Afghans out of their country to to the American base at Fort Lee in Virginia. That includes 700 interpreters and their families.
Thousands more who worked for the American government are still waiting. And they might be sent to other countries, not America, where their status would be uncertain.
All total, there are about 18,000 Afghans seeking visas under the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program to get the heck out of dodge before they are retaliated against by the Taliban. Plus about 53,000 of their family members.
Retired U.S. Army Col. Steve Miska who rescued dozens of interpreters trying to get out of Baghdad has written a book called “Baghdad Underground Railroad: Saving American Allies in Iraq.”
He recently told the Washington Post that if we leave interpreters behind, it would betray both them and the American soldiers.
In May, he told CNN, “We need to evacuate now. The Taliban have been hunting our interpreters in Afghanistan for 20 years. It’s only intensifying with the withdraw. As we near the end, it’s only going to get worse.”
The process to get a SIV takes about 800 days once an application is filed.
And it’s even worse under Biden’s great leadership with problems relating to backlogs in the State Department, the COVID-19 pandemic (always a good excuse) and a lack of translators to process paperwork.
So good luck to any interpreters who are only on day 678 of the application process. You might get out. You might not.
And what I think is a disaster waiting to happen is the probability that these Afghans will be flying out on civilian chartered planes. The Defense Dept. as of July 14th had not been asked to provide military flights to support the relocation effort.
God bless them and keep them safe during Biden’s “Operation Allies Refuge.”
They’re going to need all the help they can get.