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‘Utterly deplorable’: GOP lawmaker slams State Dept. effort to help rescue Americans stuck in Afghanistan

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U.S. Rep. Greg Murphy, (R-N.C.) and his staff are doing everything they can to assist Americans and U.S. allies to escape Afghanistan but he explained that the efforts have been an uphill battle, due in large part to the reprehensible response from the State Department.

“Our State Department has been deplorable. Their response —  if they do call back — has been utterly deplorable,” said Murphy.

“We don’t have an embassy there,” the congressman explained in an interview with Fox News. “We did, prior to our full departure, [have] things like Operation Pineapple that use former vets, special ops — those types of individuals to evacuate people.”

A staff member to the congressman, Kevin Ryan who served in Afghanistan until mid-last year and currently attends Georgetown University, is playing a role to help get Americans out of the country, largely through his participation in an online network known as “digital Dunkirk.” The online network is comprised of “hundreds of thousands” of people coordinating efforts and scanning satellite imagery to help people get around Taliban checkpoints.

“We were responsible for securing the airfield. We had a lot of interpreters that worked for us,” Ryan recalled about his time in Afghanistan. “Once the collapse happened, interpreters started to reach out to us asking for help, saying they were stuck.”

He explained that initially two interpreters reached out to him because they “were unable” to get out of the country “because their paperwork hadn’t been processed in time.”

That has since blossomed into Murphy’s office helping around 740 people escape Afghanistan.

“What started with a family of four and one single interpreters burgeoned from that into…10 people that are stuck there, including three young children. Larger than that, there’s another group of 70. And then the total pools is between 700 and 800 people…who are trying to get out of Afghanistan through this office,” Ryan explained.

“I just started taking information from people and tracking it so that if I could make something happen, I could make something happen,” he said.

Communication with people in Afghanistan is mostly through Signal and WhatsApp which are both encrypted messaging services.

“These operations require so many different skillsets from knowing how to navigate through Taliban checkpoints to…sourcing millions of dollars to get charter flights and pay for safe passage. … It’s not just veterans. It’s not just Americans, either. There are a lot of multilateral organizations that are working together to try and help people in dire situations,” Ryan added.

The congressman explained that veterans have a different type of outrage about Americans left behind depending on when they served.

“Depending upon the type of veteran — you know, Afghanistan veteran versus Korea veteran versus previous veterans — there are different types of outrage,” Murphy said. “From the older veterans, there’s indignant outrage…that this is not standard operating procedure in what was done. You don’t remove the military before you remove civilians.”

Murphy, whose district is home to the sixth-largest veteran population in the country, explained that older veterans also feel a sense of “being ashamed with the way the Secretary of Defense acted and the Joint Cheifs of Staff acted.”

Younger veterans, like his staffer Ryan, “have a much more visceral, guttural response because they know people intimately.”

“It’s much more of an intimate response. It’s just like leaving your brother behind,” Murphy said.

The estimated number of Americans looking to flee the now Taliban-controlled country varies is largely unknown. White House chief of staff Ron Klain announcing earlier this month that there are “around” 100 Americans but that “many of them want to stay,” in an interview with CNN reported by Fox News where he called into question the reports of Americans being hunted down and killed.

However, soon after, Glen Beck reported having his rescue planes – that alone were poised to rescue over 100 Americans – grounded by the Taliban.

Jean Marie Thrower, veteran and volunteer with the Plan B Afghan rescue crew shared with the host of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom that she believes there are closer to 1,000 Americans trapped in the country.

Ashley Hill

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