Sen. Schumer, Rep. Morelle react to situation unfolding in Afghanistan
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The images and stories emerging from Afghanistan are heartbreaking.
Afghans rushed onto the tarmac of the capital’s airport trying to escape the country after the Taliban seized power. Some desperate to escape after the US withdrawal could be seen in a video, widely shared on social media, clinging to the side of a U.S. military plane before takeoff. Another video showed Afghans falling as the plane gained altitude over Kabul. U.S. troops resorted to firing warning shots and using helicopters to clear a path for transport aircraft.
President Joe Biden said Monday that while he stands "squarely behind" his decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan, the government’s collapse was quicker than anticipated.
Sen. Maj. Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was in Rochester on Monday along with Rep. Joe Morelle (D-NY 25).
News10NBC had an opportunity to ask them both about the crisis and what they think their role is now.
“Job number one is to get all Americans out safely and right behind that there are a lot of brave Afghans who served as translators and guides to our soldiers and others who worked for us, we must get them out because if they stay there the Taliban could, God knows… could do very bad things to them, and second I’ve offered whatever help Congress needs to pay for it either now or later it’ll all be there,” Sen. Schumer said.
Rep. Morelle, a member of the Armed Services Committee agrees.
“If we’re going to ever have a moral standing in the world to local communities and local governments and national governments, that we’re going to come in and be a part of whatever peacekeeping mission there may be in the future but we’re not willing to defend them and help them on the back end of that commitment then our word will be nothing,” Rep. Morelle said.
When it comes to the sacrifices over the last 20 years compared to the outcome,
“Right now is not the time for pointing fingers, my focus is on getting our Americans out safely and then those others who helped us,” Sen. Schumer said.
“It’s been terribly disappointing to see security forces in Afghanistan not even engage in defending their country but literally just raising their hands and turning over technology, equipment and just walking away so if the Afghans aren’t prepared to defend their own soil and their own homeland, I don’t want a single additional man or women of the United States service doing that for them they’ve got either care about their own country or… so, I’m really disappointed,” Rep. Morelle added.
This is not the first time the Taliban has taken control in Afghanistan.
In 1996 the group also seized the capital of Kabul. That reign lasted until 2001. In that time, the Taliban made Afghanistan a haven for Islamic militants who had been exiled from their countries, including Osama bin Laden.
The U.S. and other allied powers drove the group from power soon after the September 11 attacks.
Rep. Tom Reed (R-23) released the following statement:
"The situation in Afghanistan is nothing short of horrifying and is a complete failure of leadership. This Administration made the final decision and executed on its plan. It failed. I can attest to the fact that real people have died as a result. As we speak, our team is continuing to work to help get families of U.S. citizens safely out of the country.
"I honestly do not think such efforts will succeed but we must continue to try. This is real-life DC insiders – get to work on solving this problem. We all must stop worrying about the spin or how to politically capitalize on this situation. The number one priority is to save lives."
State Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt released the following statement:
"The federal government must take immediate action to rapidly approve visas for our Afghan allies, secure the airport in Kabul, and safely evacuate our citizens and allies.
"This is deeply personal to me. In 2008, I served as a combat mentor and advisor to the Afghan National Police in Kandahar City. When Taliban forces took the city just a few days ago, my first thought was of the men and women I served with and those Afghans we so proudly worked with to help protect and build a safer, more stable, and more peaceful Afghanistan. I worried for their lives and the well-being of their families and contemplated the risk they took to help support our mission. Those concerns are amplified today.
"I am asking our Federal representatives to take immediate action to help those who trusted our government and worked to make their home a better place. This is a crisis and all solutions must be considered. I will specifically be working with my partners in the New York State legislature and throughout New York State government to support an increase in the number of Afghan Special Immigrant Visa recipients.
"A failure to live up to our promises to our allies will cost lives and deeply harm America’s capacity to lead and be a force for good throughout the world."