Secretary of State Antony Blinken admitted Tuesday that a majority of the Afghan evacuees who boarded American military planes in Kabul were not vetted before being brought out of the country by the United States.
Republican Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso pressed Blinken on the vetting process for potential Afghan refugees who fled their country in the final days of the U.S. military withdrawal. Blinken stressed that vetting was done before any Afghans reached the U.S., but not until they were taken to safe third countries first.
“You testified this morning about the SIV washout rate, I think you said about 40%?” Barrasso asked. “So what percentage of the Afghan population that left Afghanistan as part of our U.S. evacuation efforts, what percentage of those were vetted before they actually got on the airplanes?”
“Before they got on the airplanes, to leave Kabul? Certainly not, most of them were not,” Blinken answered. “That’s exactly why we established transit points in countries through negotiations with those countries to make sure that before anyone came to the United States, they would be vetted by the different law enforcement and security agencies.”
A small number of Afghan refugees have already been flagged as possible security threats when trying to enter the United States in recent weeks. Meanwhile, the Biden administration left behind a majority of Afghans who applied for a visa through the proper channels to reach the United States.
“So who were you letting on the planes? Anybody that showed up?” Barrasso pressed. (RELATED: Will Anyone Be Held Accountable For The Disastrous Afghanistan Withdrawal?)
“Initially, as you know, there were people who managed to flood the airport. We had to do an immediate assessment of those,” Blinken said. “We had to make sure we could clear people out of the airport so that the flights could come in, go out, but no one came to the United States without being checked somewhere else first to make sure that they don’t pose a security threat.”