If the Taliban is keeping planes carrying Americans from taking off, that means the U.S. citizens are "indeed hostages by any definition," and the Biden administration is showing uncertainty rather than definite action to rectify the situation, Rep. Rob Wittman said on Newsmax Monday.
"I am very concerned these Americans are being held against their will," the Virginia Republican said on Newsmax's "Wake Up America." "The president should have this on the front burner. He should be all about getting Americans out of Afghanistan. He should be all about telling the Taliban that under no circumstances will you hold these Americans, and you will let them go, and if you do not allow them to leave Afghanistan, there will be immediate and severe consequences for that."
His comments come after Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, told "Fox News Sunday" that six airplanes have been blocked by the Taliban from leaving Mazar-i-Sharif International Airport in northern Afghanistan.
The State Department said after the interview that it does not have the "reliable means" to back up the claim because there are no personnel or air assets in the country and the government controls no airspace in the region, and Wittman slammed that statement.
"That sounds like a complete disconnect by this administration," said Wittman."The reason we find ourselves in this situation is truly the doing of the president. [With] this chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, where we have no diplomatic presence on the ground and the president said he was going to help get Americans out. Doesn't look like [it] to me. There's a whole lot of help going on today."
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden is in Delaware, not in Washington, but he should be back at the White House making the situation his top priority, the congressman said.
"Here's the Taliban trying to shake down the United States," said Wittman. "He should be unambivalent about this. ... By any measure, you would say they're being held as hostages. That needs to be addressed immediately."
He added that if action is not taken immediately, the situation will only become worse because the Taliban will believe they can get away with even more violent actions because "they will do everything they can to either embarrass America or to extract concessions from America."
Wittman also rejected an argument from former deputy director of national intelligence Sue Gordon, who said on Sunday the United States is far safer now with troops out of Afghanistan.
"We really don't have good situational awareness," said Wittman. "We are operating at great distances to try to gather intelligence surveillance. I would argue our place in south Asia today is weaker than it was prior to 9/11."
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