White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday during a briefing that President Biden’s administration is “not going to allow” charter flights with unvetted passengers from Afghanistan to land on American military bases, due to safety concerns.
According to Psaki, the Biden administration continues to “press the Taliban” over the issue of evacuation flights, many of which contain Americans, not being allowed to leave Afghanistan.
“We don’t have a role in preventing flights from taking off,” Psaki told reporters. “We are not on the ground, so that is not something that the U.S. government is doing. At the same time, some of these planes and some of the issues [include] where are they going to land.”
Psaki noted that “a number of these planes” seeking to depart Afghanistan may have a “handful of Americans, but they may have several hundred individuals” who do not have proper documentation of identity.
“They may have several hundred individuals where we don’t have manifests for them, we don’t know what the security protocols are for them, we don’t know what their documentation is,” Psaki said, describing the situation as one of the “hard choices you face in government.”
“Are we going to allow a plane with hundreds of people where we don’t know who they are, we don’t know what security protocols have been put in place, to land on a U.S. military base,” Psaki stated, noting that there are “some charter planes taking off.”
WHO ARE THE AFGHAN EVACUEES BROUGHT TO THE US?
Psaki’s comments come less than two weeks after thousands of Americans and Afghan allies, some of which had not been thoroughly vetted before arriving in America, fled Afghanistan due to the Taliban’s takeover.
As previously reported, the State Department refused to grant official approval for private evacuation flights from Afghanistan to land in third countries, even though the department conceded that official authorization would likely be needed for planes to land in those nations, an email reviewed by Fox News shows.
Last week, State Department spokesman Ned Price addressed the security risks of allowing the charter flights onto military bases.
“If these charters are seeking to go to a U.S. military installation, for example, we have to weigh not only the threat to those who may be on board – especially if they’re American citizens, LPRs, other Afghans to whom we have a special commitment – but also to the safety and security of State Department personnel, U.S. military personnel, Department of Homeland Security personnel, other U.S. personnel on U.S. military installations,” Price said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a news conference from Qatar on Tuesday and said the issue of vetting passengers and following security protocols for those fleeing the Taliban’s control in Afghanistan is a “challenge.”
“Without personnel on the ground, we can’t verify the accuracy of manifests, the identities of passengers, flight plans, or aviation security protocols,” Blinken said. “So this is a challenge, but one we are determined to work through. We’re conducting a great deal of diplomacy on this as we speak.”
Last week, U.S. officials told Fox News that Afghan refugees who don’t pass the initial round of vetting will be sent to a U.S. military base in Kosovo, located in Europe.
The Associated Press also reported last week that a small number of refugees without any apparent eligibility for U.S. relocation – as at-risk Afghans who were able to make it on planes during the chaotic U.S. military evacuation at Kabul airport between Aug. 15 and Aug. 31 – will require further investigation.
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“Before anyone who is evacuated from Afghanistan comes to this country, they undergo a rigorous vet,” Price told reporters. “Unless and until they complete that vet, they will not be in a position to come to the U.S.”
Others have noted that thousands of unvetted immigrants are crossing America’s southern border each month.
Last month, Border Patrol Union president Brandon Judd joined “Your World” and discussed the border crisis, providing insight that he believes each American “needs to know” regarding their safety after several of those that entered America illegally begin to fill American communities.
“We’re going to exceed 200,000 apprehensions in the month of July,” Judd said at the time. “Forty percent of those people were released into the United States to spread throughout our communities, a lot of whom very well could have COVID.”
At three U.S. military bases in Europe – Ramstein, Germany; Sigonella, Italy; and Rota, Spain – the FBI, Customs and Border Protection and NCIS have hundreds of agents overseeing the screening of about 17,000 Afghan evacuees.
An estimated 100 Afghan refugees headed from Afghanistan to the United States have been flagged for potential ties to terrorist organizations, including the Taliban, according to a recent report from NBC News.
Fox News’ Peter Hasson, Jennifer Griffin and Jessica Chasmar contributed to this article.