Antony Blinken Says 'Simply Not the Case' That U.S. Gave 'Kill List' to Taliban

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday denied that the U.S. risked the safety of Americans and allies in Afghanistan by handing over a list of names to the Taliban in an effort to guarantee their safe passage to the Kabul airport.

"The idea that we've done anything to put at further risk those that we're trying to help leave the country is simply wrong. And the idea that we shared lists of Americans or others with the Taliban is simply wrong," Blinken said Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press.

Blinken then clarified that the U.S. only shared the names of individuals who did not have necessary credentials or documents in order to help them pass through security checkpoints.

"In specific instances when you're trying to get a bus or a group of people through, and you need to show a manifest to do that, because particularly in cases where people don't have the necessary credentials on them or documents on them, then you would— you'll share names on a list of people on the bus so they can be assured that those are people that we're looking to bring in. And by definition, that's exactly what's happened," Blinken explained.

"But the idea that we put anyone in any further jeopardy is simply wrong," he added.

Blinken's comments come after Politico reported this week that the U.S. military and diplomatic coordination team at the Kabul airport had provided a full list of American citizens, green card holders and Afghan allies that the U.S. wanted to evacuate from the country.

The move sparked criticism from several officials, including Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.) and Will Hurd, previously a CIA officer and U.S. Representative for Texas, who believe that sharing names could result in the Taliban creating a "kill list."

"The Biden administration approving the sharing of names of anyone associated with the U.S. government is the kind of incompetence that gets people killed," Hurd told Newsweek.

"It's a further sign that the Biden administration fails to recognize who are our friends and who are our enemies and shows they have no real plan to get Americans and our allies out of this quagmire of their own creation. If you want to keep people being targeted by hostile actors safe, then you don't share the list of targeted individuals to the people trying to target them."

On Sunday, GOP Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska said the Biden administration passing around a list of names and trusting Taliban with safety assurances was both "stupid" and "insane."

"They decided to outsource security around the perimeter of the airport to the Taliban. They passed a list of American citizens and America's closest allies, people who fought alongside us. They passed those lists to the Taliban to rely on them, thinking they could trust them. It was stupid then, it's insane now," Sasse said during an interview with ABC News.

"Their plan still seems to be, 'let's rely on the Taliban' because the Taliban cares a lot about what world opinion thinks of them," he added.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price on Friday also disputed the report that the U.S. jeopardized the safety of Americans, stating: "The notion that we are just providing names upon names of individuals who may stay behind in Afghanistan or in a way that would expose anyone to additional risk—that is simply false."

According to the State Department, roughly 300 U.S. citizens who wish to leave Afghanistan are still in the country. Biden's national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said Sunday that the U.S. has the capacity to evacuate those citizens before the August 31 deadline to withdrawal all troops from Afghanistan.

"We have the capacity to have 300 Americans, which is roughly the number we think are remaining, come to the airport and get on planes in the time that is remaining. We moved out more than that number just yesterday. So from our point of view, there is an opportunity right now for American citizens to come, to be admitted to the airport and to be evacuated safely and effectively," Sullivan said.

Antony Blinken on Taliban
Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday denied that the U.S. risked the safety of Americans and allies in Afghanistan by handing over a list of names to the Taliban in an effort to guarantee their safe passage to the Kabul airport. In this photo, Blinken speaks during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the Willard Hotel in Washington, DC, on August 25, 2021. OLIVIER DOULIERY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images