Tom Malinowski Says Biden Should Assure U.S. Will Stay at Kabul Airport Until Everyone's Out

Congressman Tom Malinowski is calling on the Biden administration to reassure the public that the U.S. will remain at the international airport in Kabul until everyone, including the military's Afghan allies, has been evacuated from Afghanistan.

"President Biden has said, rightly so, that we are going to take these people out. American citizens first, but also our Afghan allies and a wide range of Afghans who are at risk of being targeted by the Taliban," Malinowski told CNN's New Day on Wednesday.

"We need to operationalize that," the Democrat continued. "That means, number one, getting full control of the airport, control of the perimeter—which is difficult but necessary, so that we can decide who comes in—and to make absolutely clear that we are going to stay at that airport, hold that ground, until that mission is complete—but we have not yet heard that from the administration."

Before Kabul fell to the Taliban over the weekend, Biden had set an August 31 deadline for the U.S.' complete withdrawal from Afghanistan, but the quick takeover has led to a chaotic evacuation of remaining American personnel and their Afghan allies.

Footage from the Hamid Karzai International Airport has shown thousands of Afghans attempting to flee with Americans waiting to be evacuated.

On Tuesday, Malinowski and Representative Jason Crow led 38 other members of Congress in a bipartisan letter addressed to the president imploring him to keep U.S. forces past the deadline, until everyone has been evacuated.

"The United States must do everything possible to securely hold the airport in Kabul until the rescue mission is complete and our citizens, allies, and vulnerable Afghans have had an opportunity to leave," the lawmakers wrote. "We trust that the previous August 31st deadline you imposed on our military mission will not apply to this effort, and that we will stay as long as is necessary to complete it."

Tom Malinowski Afghanistan Kabul Airport Biden Evacuation
Representative Tom Malinowski called on President Biden to ensure that U.S. forces would remain in Afghanistan past the proposed August 31 deadline in order to complete its evacuation efforts. Malinowski speaks during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on September 16, 2020 in Washington, DC. Stefani Reynolds/Pool

Malinowski said the Biden administration must address the proposed deadline in order for the Pentagon to continue evacuations into September, if necessary.

"The Pentagon follows orders. They take things literally. That is the only order they've gotten. Until that's countermanded, until the White House says that the August 31 deadline doesn't apply to the evacuation, then I do worry that that's the schedule the Pentagon is operating on," he said on Wednesday.

"There is no way humanly possible that you can keep our promise, the one that the president has promised, by August 31," the congressman added.

Considering the international criticism the U.S. has faced for its hasty clear-out, Malinowski said the only way for the U.S. to leave Afghanistan with honor is to ensure that people are not left behind.

He urged the administration to send a clear message to the Taliban to not interfere with the ongoing evacuation.

"The Taliban will want us to leave as soon as possible. If we tell them, 'We ain't doing that. If you want us to leave, cooperate with this evacuation effort. Do not impede it.' That's one way to get leverage," Malinowski said.

The congressman added that he wished the U.S. had held the airfield until everyone had left.

"There is no such thing as a non-chaotic evacuation," he said. "Once you start an evacuation, you're in a sense precipitating, you're signaling your expectation that the place is going to fall."

In the bipartisan letter, Malinowski and other lawmakers told Biden, "All that should matter now is our moral obligation and strategic interest to help those who helped us, and to stand by the Afghans who bet their lives on the future we promised."

Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment but did not hear back before publication.