State Department F-77 reports and U.S. citizens in Afghanistan

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In a television interview around 18 August 2021, after the Taliban had rolled into Kabul, Robert B. Charles revealed what he had been told about the F-77 report on the number of U.S. citizens in Afghanistan, starting at 1 minute, 3 seconds into the video. Charles was the Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs for a year and a half in the George W. Bush administration [2]–

“I get real time intelligence now rolling at me from people who are talking to those on the ground. And just in the near term, right now, you do have according to the F-77 form more than 15,000 Americans presently around the country trying to get out”.

The GAO paper described the relationship between the State Department and the Department of Defense (DoD)—

“The F-77 plays a central role in evacuation and other crisis management planning and provides the figures that State and DOD rely on when planning for and conducting evacuations of American citizens. If the F-77 reports are not updated on a timely basis, State and DOD risk planning and preparing for evacuations with out-of-date information.

“When State requires assistance with a large-scale evacuation (e.g., during the 2006 evacuation from Lebanon), it may request help from DOD. Guidance for coordination between State and DOD is included in an MOA [memorandum of agreement] meant to define the roles and responsibilities of each agency in implementing such large-scale evacuations. According to the MOA, State is responsible for the protection and evacuation of all U.S. citizens abroad and is generally responsible for evacuating U.S. citizens. However, State may request assistance from DOD to support an evacuation. Once DOD assistance has been requested, DOD is responsible for conducting military operations to support the evacuation in consultation with the U.S. ambassador. During an evacuation, the MOA calls for coordination between State and DOD through a liaison group responsible for evacuation planning and implementation” (pages 18-19, pdf pp. 22-23).

The Secretary of State also has a duty to notify next-of-kin about incidents that affect the health and safety of U.S. citizens [3]–

“(a) Authority. In the case of a major disaster or incident abroad which affects the health and safety of citizens of the United States residing or traveling abroad, the Secretary of State shall provide prompt and thorough notification of all appropriate information concerning such disaster or incident and its effect on United States citizens to the next-of-kin of such individuals. Notification shall be provided through the most expeditious means available, including telephone communications, and shall include timely written notice”.

Although there appears to have been no accountability at the upper levels of the federal government for at least 20 years, Title 22, chapter 58, subchapter 3, does set up “accountability review boards” in sections 4831 to 4835, but do not get your hopes up. Section 4831 requires the Secretary of State to convene an Accountability Review Board—

“Except as provided in paragraphs (2) and (3), in any case of serious injury, loss of life, or significant destruction of property at, or related to, a United States Government mission abroad, and in any case of a serious breach of security involving intelligence activities of a foreign government directed at a United States Government mission abroad, which is covered by the provisions of this chapter (other than a facility or installation subject to the control of a United States area military commander)….”

Paragraph “2” gives the DoD some protection, if the situation “involves any facility, installation, or personnel of the Department of Defense with respect to which the Secretary has delegated operational control of overseas security functions to the Secretary of Defense pursuant to section 4805 of this title. In any such case, the Secretary of Defense shall conduct an appropriate inquiry”.

Paragraph “3” prevents the forming of an accountability review board about Afghanistan and Iraq, and the Secretary of State alone will “conduct an inquiry of the incident” and give a report to the foreign affairs committees of the House and Senate. But this exemption applies only for the four federal fiscal years of the second term of George W. Bush (Bush jr.), beginning on October 1, 2005, and ending on September 30, 2009!

A review board consists of five members. Blinken appoints four members and the chairperson, and the CIA Director William Burns appoints the fifth member [4]. Draw your own conclusions.

Blinken appeared before the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee in the afternoon of Monday, 13 September 2021. A problem with committee hearings of this sort is that the members often like to grandstand, for or against the witness, and do not prepare their questioning, including using statutory and bureaucratic rules that can have an effect even on slippery witnesses.

On Tuesday, 14 September 2021, Blinken is to appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, beginning at 10:00 a.m. eastern time. Maybe one of the senators will be familiar with the F-77 reports—

https://www.foreign.senate.gov/hearings/examining-the-us-withdrawal-from-afghanistan-091421

The State Department is even more of a caricature of itself in its Afghanistan embassy Internet website, which is still operating [5]—

“The U.S. Embassy in Kabul suspended operations on August 31, 2021. While the U.S. government has withdrawn its personnel from Kabul, we will continue to assist U.S. citizens and their families in Afghanistan from Doha, Qatar. We will also continue our efforts to help Lawful Permanent Residents, as well as the many Afghans who have stood with us over the years, who are seeking to leave Afghanistan.

“Our commitment to the people of Afghanistan is enduring. We will continue to press for an orderly transition of power to an inclusive government with broad support and that respects the rights of all of its citizens, including women and minorities. We will use every diplomatic, economic, political, and assistance tool at our disposal to uphold the basic rights of all Afghans; support continued humanitarian access to the country; and ensure the Taliban honors its commitments”.

The 2007 GAO report on the need for improvement by the State Department in evacuation planning and preparations is at this citation, and can be viewed or downloaded for reading. The report itself is 35 pages, with the remaining pages being five appendices—

https://www.gao.gov/assets/gao-08-23.pdf

https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-08-23


[1] Title 22, U.S. Code, section 4802. Responsibility of Secretary of State.

http://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?req=granuleid:USC-prelim-title22-section4802&num=0&edition=prelim

[2] https://2001-2009.state.gov/outofdate/bios/c/25156.htm

[3] Title 22, U.S. Code, section 2715. Procedures regarding major disasters and incidents abroad affecting United States citizens.

http://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?req=granuleid:USC-prelim-title22-section2715&num=0&edition=prelim

[4] Title 22, U.S. Code, chapter 58, subchapter 3. Performance and accountability.

http://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?path=/prelim@title22/chapter58/subchapter3&edition=prelim

[5] https://af.usembassy.gov

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1 Response to State Department F-77 reports and U.S. citizens in Afghanistan

  1. Teddy says:

    Wow, more than 15,000 American still trapped in Afghanistan. What a disaster.

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