Military lawyer and retired Marine Eric Montalvo shared emails with Fox News of his communications with the State Department, showing he was denied approval for private evacuation flights from Afghanistan.
Montalvo “organized a series of private flights evacuating those stranded in Afghanistan” but “his evacuation efforts were repeatedly hampered by the federal bureaucracy.” The email, reviewed by Fox News, shows “the State Department refused to grant official approval for private evacuation flights from Afghanistan to land in third countries, even though the department conceded that official authorization would likely be needed for planes to land in those nations.”
Additionally, “the State Department explicitly stated that charter flights, even those containing American citizens, would not be allowed to land at Defense Department (DOD) airbases. U.S. officials have pointed to possible security threats from landing charter planes at military bases, saying that they lack the resources on the ground to fully verify flight manifests” reports Fox News.
Montalvo’s shared email is from the State Department, dated September 1, in which an official writes:
“No independent charters are allowed to land at [Al Udeid Air Base], the military airbase you mentioned in your communication with Samantha Power. In fact, no charters are allowed to land at an [sic] DoD base and most if not all countries in the Middle Eastern region, with the exception of perhaps Saudi Arabia will allow charters to land…You need to find another destination country, and it can’t be the U.S. either.”
The letter also noted that though some third countries “may require” official approval from the State Department before private charter flights are accepted. However, the department said it “will not provide” that approval.
“Once you have had discussions with the host/destination country and reached an agreement, they may require some indication from the USG that we ‘approve’ of this charter flight. DOS will not provide an approval, but we will provide a ‘no objection’ to the destination country government via the U.S. Embassy in that country.”
Montalvo is not the first to discuss the State Department’s thwarting of evacuations. “Americans involved in efforts to rescue those left behind in Afghanistan previously described their horror at what they say are inexplicable delays from the State Department that are preventing evacuation flights from leaving the country” writes Fox News.
Rick Clay runs a private rescue group called PlanB, and previously told Fox News the State Department is the only thing preventing his organized flights from leaving Afghanistan.