President Joe Biden has responded to claims that the US military has been sharing names of Americans and local allies, who want to evacuate, with the Taliban.
In his Thursday night address the President said that though he did not personally know of such a list - he couldn’t rule it out.
His comments came after a Politico report cited US officials admitting that they had given the names of American citizens, green card holders, and Afghan allies away in order to grant them entry into Kabul airport.
The move has caused outrage among lawmakers and US defense officials, who believe the Taliban will use the intelligence for revenge attacks on US allies.
There have been reports of the Taliban knocking on the doors of Afghan allies, including interpreters, who helped western countries.
“Basically, they just put all those Afghans on a kill list,” one unnamed defense official was quoted by Politico as saying. “It’s just appalling and shocking and makes you feel unclean,” the official added.
The move, as told to the outlet by three US and congressional officials, was meant to “expedite the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from Afghanistan” after the Afghan government fell as a result of the Taliban’s takeover of the country.
Mr Biden, in the Thursday press conference, said “there have been occasions when our military has contacted their military counterparts in the Taliban and said this, for example, this bus is coming through with X number of people on it, made up of the following group of people. We want you to let that bus or that group through.”
He added: “So, yes there have been occasions like that. To the best of my knowledge, in those cases, the bulk of that has occurred and they have been let through.”
Mr Biden continued: “I can’t tell you with any certitude that there’s actually been a list of names. There may have been. But I know of no circumstance. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist, that here’s the names of 12 people, they’re coming, let them through. It could very well have happened.”
White House officials defended the alleged sharing of the list. They said giving the Taliban the list “was the best way to keep Americans and Afghans safe and prevent a shooting war between Taliban fighters and the thousands of US troops stationed at the airport.”
“To go from having the Taliban as an adversary we’re seeking to kill, to relying upon them for security, coordinating to make sure things run smoothly,” Peter Meijer, a Republican representative, told the New York Times.
“It is utterly bizarre and baffling that we’re in this position.”