Biden doesn't deny report of U.S. handing over names of Americans to Taliban: 'There may have been'
President Biden did not deny a report circulating Thursday that officials in his administration had provided names of Americans in Afghanistan to the Taliban in order to help usher them safely to the airport.
"There have been occasions where our military has contacted their military counterparts in the Taliban and said this bus is coming through...made up of the following group...let it through," the president said. "Yes, there have been occasions like that."
Biden added that to his knowledge, the "bulk of that group" has been let through but can't say with "certitude" that there was a list of names passed to the Taliban.
"There may have been," the president said.
Biden was responding to a Politico report, confirmed by Fox News, that U.S. officials in Kabul gave the Taliban a list of American citizens, green card holders, and Afghan allies in an effort to grant them entry to the airport which resulted in outrage from military officials behind the scenes.
Biden was widely criticized over the report with many disgruntled social media users referring to the list as a "kill list."
"Absolutely reckless and horrific," Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn tweeted. "The Biden Administration gave the Taliban a kill list while lying to us, saying they didn’t have details on every name and whereabouts. Every single person involved must resign or be impeached."
Biden’s comment comes hours after 12 U.S. soldiers were killed in a suicide bombing carried out by ISIS-K outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
Officials told Fox News that those killed included 11 Marines and a Navy corpsman. Meanwhile, the Pentagon said that 15 more had been injured in the attack.
The suicide bomb attack was followed up by a firefight involving Islamic State gunmen at the gate, where the night before there had been 5,000 Afghans and potentially some Americans seeking access to the airport to flee. Crowds had gathered for days seeking to escape the country, and there had been multiple warnings of a terror threat to the area – particularly from the Islamic State.
The Pentagon confirmed the initial explosion as well as a second attack at the Baron Hotel, where Americans have gathered in the past for rescue and evacuation. Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr. said two suicide bombers were assessed to be ISIS fighters.
"The threat from ISIS is extremely real," he said. "We believe it is their desire to continue those attacks, and we expect those attacks to continue, and we're doing everything we can to prepare for those attacks."
Adam Shawcontributed to this report