September 25, 2021

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White House chief of staff commits to evacuating Afghan interpreter who helped rescue Biden in 2008 – POLITICO

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On Tuesday evening, Klain told MSNBC he did not believe Biden had yet seen the Journal report, but that “we are going to try to get every person out.”

Mohammed joined Arizona National Guard troops in Afghanistan on a 2008 rescue mission to track down two U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopters that made an emergency landing in a remote valley during a snowstorm, the Journal reported.

Those helicopters were carrying then-Sens. Biden (D-Del.), John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.).

According to the former National Guard staff sergeant who brought Mohammed along to help rescue the senators, Mohammed is unable to complete his visa application to leave Afghanistan because the defense contractor that employed him lost the necessary records.

Mohammed also said he tried gaining access to the international airport in Kabul where the American evacuation effort was underway, but U.S. troops said only Mohammed could enter — not his wife and their four children.

“I read in that story that [Mohammed] did not finish the [Special Immigrant Visa] process because of some complexity with his employer,” Klain said Tuesday, referring to the Journal report.

“It doesn’t matter,” he added. “We’re going to cut through the red tape. We’re going to find this gentleman whose assumed name [is] in that story. And we’re going to get him and the other SIVs out.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki delivered the same message to Mohammed at a news briefing Tuesday afternoon: “We will get you out, we will honor your service, and we’re committed to doing exactly that.”

The pledges from the top White House officials come after the U.S. military completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan on Monday, along with its frantic effort to evacuate American citizens and Afghan allies.

U.S. officials have said they were successful in evacuating more than 123,000 people out of Afghanistan, including roughly 6,000 Americans and 73,500 third-country nationals and Afghan civilians since Aug. 14.

But 100-200 Americans and countless Afghan allies remain stranded there, despite Biden’s promise last month to maintain the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan until all who wanted to leave were evacuated.

In an address from the White House on Tuesday afternoon, Biden called the evacuation effort a “success” and said “there is no deadline” to shuttle the Americans still in Afghanistan out of the country.

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