Rep. Upton concerned over likelihood, safety of Aug. 31 Afghanistan evacuation deadline

NOW: Rep. Upton concerned over likelihood, safety of Aug. 31 Afghanistan evacuation deadline

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. -- ABC57 spoke with U.S. Representative Fred Upton, who represents Michigan's sixth district, about the deadly attack in Kabul Thursday and continued evacuation efforts.

He fears it could lead to more attacks from the Taliban.

Rep. Upton was part of a classified briefing Tuesday from the Secretary of State and Secretary of Homeland Security. 

He said that meeting left him and many colleagues feeling like four days is not enough to get all Americans and Afghan allies out of Kabul safely.

“It was sobering because if you connect the dots, they knew this terrorist attack was going to hit imminently,” said Rep. Upton. “I credit our military, I don’t fault them at all, I fault the orders they were given.”

The U.S. is closing in on its Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline – something President Biden said he is sticking to despite Thursday’s attack, which killed at least 13 Americans.

“To have a date set certain to be out, whereas the Taliban haven’t been accountable in terms of their agreements, puts all of our people at real risk and we’re now aware of mass executions taking place across the country,” said Rep. Upton.

The House of Representatives Problem Solvers Caucus, which Rep. Upton is Co-Vice Chair of, released a statement Friday urging the Biden Administration to reconsider its deadline.  

“Not only do we have Americans who will be left there, but tens of thousands of Afghans who helped us over the last 20 years,” said Rep. Upton. “Every office, mine included, has been contacted by our citizens who served there and they’re reminding us.”

While some politicians have called for President Biden’s resignation, Rep. Upton said the focus for now needs to remain on getting people out. 

“The previous administration initiated the talks with the Taliban and one could make the argument that they helped delegitimize the Afghan government, but regardless, if you have an agreement both parties have to stick with it and it’s clear the Taliban did not,” said Rep. Upton.

He also said he didn’t like how this unfolded from the get-go and the mistakes have cost the lives of those who helped the U.S.

“We never should’ve had a firm date we had to be out because it gives enemy our hand, it always should have been conditional,” said Rep. Upton. “The other big mistake that was made, we actually gave the list of names of Americans and Afghans who were helping us to the Taliban, tell me how that helps our cause? We’re really not in charge of the situation, the Taliban are, we gave that to them,” said Rep. Upton.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced this week that Michigan is ready and able to welcome Afghan refugees, something Rep. Upton agrees with and believes most states will be on board with regardless of their politics.

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