Seven days until Afghanistan evacuation deadline

The Donlon Report

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The United States is up against the clock to get every American out of Afghanistan, but with new warnings coming from Kabul, some question if the military can get everyone out in time.

Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) does not believe the U.S. can get it done “the right way” in just days. He served in Afghanistan as an Army bomb disposal expert, a duty that cost him his legs.

“When you look at the vetting that needs to be done, the way we sort through people, where Americans are spread out, who they’re mixed in with, and the Americans that haven’t had the opportunity to get in contact with somebody in the right way, that maybe had to change locations,” Mast said. “You layer all of these things, on top of the fact that every minute that goes by the Taliban have a better understanding of the capabilities that they now have.”

President Joe Biden said Sunday he would not rule out extending the evacuation beyond Aug. 31, the date he had set for completing the withdrawal of troops.

“It’s absolutely an option,” Mast said. “But that comes from negotiating from a position of strength. The Taliban fundamentally do not want to seem weak.”

Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said at the White House that talks with the Taliban are continuing as the administration looks for additional ways to safely move more Americans and others into the Kabul airport.

“We are in talks with the Taliban on a daily basis through both political and security channels,” he said, adding that ultimately it will be Biden’s decision alone whether to continue military-led evacuation operations beyond Aug. 31.

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen, in an interview with Sky News, said that Aug. 31 is a “red line” the U.S. must not cross and that extending the American presence would “provoke a reaction.”

Mast says Americans need to stop asking “if it (the war) was worth it?” and start questioning “if it is worth it now?”

“All of that blood, sweat and tears,” Mast said.  “The blood of those that I served alongside, the sweat of those that went over there year after year, and the tears of the families that saw their loved one be buried in Arlington or somewhere else? Since that’s been pissed away, is it worth it?”

For him, it was.

“I’d never trade for one minute, two legs and a finger for any one of my brothers to my left and right,” Mast said.

Biden is to face the U.S.’s G-7 allies in a virtual summit on Afghanistan Tuesday. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to press him for a deadline extension to get out the maximum number of foreigners and Afghan allies possible.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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