President Joe Biden’s catastrophic withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan has been exacerbated by the apparent inability to evacuate American citizens before the situation deteriorated.
Now, the Biden administration is facing criticism for canceling a Trump-era program intended to extract individuals from exactly such volatile situations.
“Medical, diplomatic, and logistical support”
According to a new National Pulse report, the program was known as the Contingency and Crisis Response Bureau and was explicitly designed to “handle medical, diplomatic, and logistical support concerning Americans overseas” during times of crisis.
Internal State Department documents reportedly reveal that the program was officially canceled in June, though the outlet noted that it might have been paused as early as February.
In the document, Deputy Secretary of State Brian McKeon recommended the “discontinuation” and “termination” of the bureau. A screenshot of the document appears to show a checkmark approving the recommendations.
Former President Donald Trump appears to have instituted the program as an expansion of a little-known program already in existence within the Department of State.
The Bureau of Medical Services’ Directorate of Operation, or OpMed, was touted earlier this year in a Vanity Fair article for its achievements with little fanfare or attention.
“Never established in the first place”
A small team of just a few dozen individuals with unique capabilities was created in the wake of the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. They were tasked with conducting missions to deliver vital medical supplies and extract sick or wounded Americans from high-risk areas.
Despite the program’s achievements, however, a State Department budget document for Fiscal Year 2022 noted that the agency “has paused implementation” ahead of a “policy review.”
According to the Washington Free Beacon, the CCR program was listed in the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual as operational in January. The subsequent internal memo, however, announced its cancelation just months before such a program would have been useful in Afghanistan.
An unnamed agency official told dismissed the idea that the program was abolished, telling the outlet that it “was never established in the first place.”
That excuse has been disputed by multiple sources, though, and Trump himself weighed in on the latest development, asserting: “Canceling this successful Trump Administration program before the withdrawal that would have helped tens of thousands [of] Americans reach home is beyond disgraceful.”