Secretary of State Antony Blinken claimed Sunday that the United States had not given lists of American citizens and allies to the Taliban.
Blinken joined “Meet the Press” with NBC’s Chuck Todd and disputed the accuracy of reports indicating U.S. officials had handed over lists of people the Taliban should allow through checkpoints and into the airport in Kabul. Just moments later, however, Blinken appeared to concede that U.S. officials had handed over passenger manifests for busloads of Afghan allies who were supposed to be allowed through security. (RELATED: ‘Does The President Not Know What’s Going On?’: Blinken Directly Contradicts Biden When Pressed By Chris Wallace)
“I want to ask about this idea that some of these lists of people you’re trying to get out of the country you’ve had to give to the Taliban,” Todd began, adding that he knew President Joe Biden’s administration had pushed back on those reports. “But given the Haqqani Network’s ties to the Taliban, how can you be sure any list you share of Afghans who helped Americans won’t be used for horrendous reasons by the Haqqani Network or others?”
“Chuck, it’s simply not the case. The idea that we’ve done anything to put at further risk those that were trying to help leave the country is simply wrong. And the idea that we shared lists of Americans or others with the Taliban is simply wrong,” Blinken immediately pushed back.
“What was shared?” Todd pressed.
Blinken went on to detail the lists of people U.S. officials had given to the Taliban in order to ensure their safe passage.
“When you’re trying to get a bus or a group of people through and you need to show a manifest to do that — particularly in cases where people don’t have the necessary credentials on them or documents on them — then you’ll share names of the lists of people on the bus so they can be assured those are the people we’re looking to bring in. By definition, that’s exactly what’s happened,” Blinken said.
“We’ve gotten 5,500 American citizens out of Afghanistan,” Blinken continued, saying again that the U.S. had provided passenger manifests or verified the names of individuals — especially those who might not have proper documentation on them.
“But the idea that we put anyone in any further jeopardy is simply wrong,” he concluded.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan also pushed back on reports that U.S. officials had provided the Taliban with lists of names, telling CNN’s Jake Tapper that those claims amounted to “irresponsible and unfounded reporting.”