Tennessee Republican Sen. Bill Hagerty clipped the Biden administration on Tuesday after White House officials indicated that American citizens still trapped in Afghanistan would not be prioritized for removal now that the militant Taliban group has retaken country of the country.
Hagerty’s comments in an interview with Fox News host Neil Cavuto come as the administration struggles to come up with a plan to rescue thousands of Americans who remain stranded inside Afghanistan and are unable to reach the international airport in Kabul because it is under siege by Taliban forces.
Cavuto asked Hagerty if he believes U.S. troops, who have taken up a position inside the airport, should break the Taliban “phalanx” in order to reach Americans outside the perimeter.
“We should do what it takes to save and preserve American lives. What we should have is a coherent plan. That’s what I haven’t seen,” Hagerty, a member of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, told Cavuto.
Hagerty went on to draw on his experiences as the U.S. ambassador to Japan during the Trump administration.
“As you know, before I took on the position of senator, I served as U.S. ambassador to Japan, third-largest economy in the world,” he said.
“At any point in time, we had over a quarter of a million Americans in Japan. Every chief of mission under their authority’s responsible for those lives and have a plan to evacuate people,” Hagerty continued, recounting there was regional trouble at the time he assumed his post with North Korea.
“I redid mine as soon as I got to Japan because you remember North Korea was launching rockets over us at that point. But I had a plan in place, a workable plan to move and flow Americans out of the country under any type of contingency,” he told Cavuto. “We’re not seeing that type of planning in place here. That’s responsible leadership that’s lacking here right now.”
Cavuto went on to note that Biden administration officials have reportedly been in contact with Taliban officials, likely negotiating the passage of Americans still remaining in the country, as well as others who were of assistance to U.S. forces there over the decades.
“Let me be clear. The Taliban are terrorists. There is an agreement in place put in place last year where the Taliban were going to accede to a cease-fire,” Hagerty responded.
“They’re going to abide by the Afghan constitution. There would be a negotiated process where the Taliban would actually work with the Afghan government, not attack them. What we’ve seen take place here is a military coup d’etat. We can’t begin to recognize a government like this,” he added.
Cavuto then referenced statements from Taliban officials claiming that Americans won’t be harmed and that civil rights would be extended to women and girls, but Hagerty pushed back on that.
Acknowledging that Taliban forces may be acting one way in front of TV cameras, he suggested that likely isn’t the case in the rural, tribal expanses of the country.
“I’m hearing girls’ schools are being burnt, that revenge lists are being executed, that they are going door-to-door looking for people that cooperated with America,” he added.
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