Oh, great. Taliban using abandoned biometric data to target Afghan helpers

AP Photo/Rahmat Gul

It’s long been known that America’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan last summer left behind a massive trove of more than seven billion dollars worth of weapons and other military equipment. This has made the Taliban one of the most well-armed military forces in the region. But there were other goodies left behind for the terrorists to rummage through. There were countless computers and other data storage devices. Some of these contained all of the personnel records of our Afghan helpers ranging from translators to teachers and general maintenance workers. Those records included all manner of biometric and personal data such as home addresses and the identity of relatives living in the area. Now the Taliban is using that data to track down the helpers that we left behind and imprison or execute them, and members of the Senate want answers as to how this happened. (Free Beacon)

Congress is demanding answers from the Biden administration following a disclosure that reams of biometric data abandoned by the United States during its bungled withdrawal from Afghanistan are being used by the Taliban to target American allies still stuck in the war-torn nation.

Eight Republican senators led by Sen. Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.) are asking the State and Defense Departments to turn over information related to the evacuation of U.S. troops in Afghanistan that allowed the Taliban to retake control of the country. In addition to leaving behind $7 billion worth of military hardware, the United States abandoned “sensitive data, including biometric data,” on Afghan allies that are now reportedly being used by the Taliban to target those who supported the United States’ 20-year war in the country…

The probe comes just weeks after Human Rights Watch, an advocacy organization, released a bombshell report detailing how the Taliban is using abandoned biometric data to eradicate those who worked alongside the United States.

Human Rights Watch recently released a report detailing the Taliban’s atrocities, including their recovery of the biometric and personnel data. It is not known how many of our helpers were lost in this fashion.

The electronic records included iris scans, fingerprints, and photographs, along with the personnel records I mentioned above. That makes it awfully easy for the Taliban to ID people conclusively even if they are attempting to live under an assumed identity. This has led to “targeted killings, torture, and forced disappearances” of the helpers who worked in cooperation with America and our allies during the war. And with the world’s international media focused on Ukraine right now, the Taliban is using this opportunity to continue eradicating our helpers while fewer media outlets are watching.

You might wonder how this was overlooked while we were preparing to depart. After all, had our embassy workers never watched any organized crime movies? The last thing you do when the feds are approaching is to smash all of the hard drives and burn all of your files.

But we really can’t cast the blame on them because time wasn’t a luxury that they had. Keep in mind that right up until the final week when the Taliban were approaching Kabul unimpeded, the Biden administration was insisting that the existing government would remain in place and that our embassy would remain open to work with the Taliban during the transition period. By the time our embassy workers realized that they were going to have to bug out, there were already Taliban fighters on the outskirts of the city. They were probably lucky to be able to get any of their personal belongings together before heading for the airport.

Will the Biden administration agree to such an investigation and cooperate with the Senate panel? I won’t hold my breath because “the most transparent administration ever” is notoriously secretive about its actions, particularly when there’s any sort of information that might cast the White House in a poor light. The Senate will definitely be interested in finding out who precisely was to blame for this debacle and who should have been responsible for removing or destroying that data.

We know that Garry Reid was the person inside the DoD tasked with orchestrating the withdrawal, but it’s hard to cast too many aspersions at him. He barely had any more time than the people in the embassy to plan it. In the end, the final responsibility has to lie with the Commander in Chief who made the wrong call, basing his flawed assumptions about what would happen on obviously incorrect data. If he had begun quietly rounding up all of the helpers and moving them out a couple of months ahead of the withdrawal and letting the embassy staff know that they needed to begin packing and sanitizing the facilities, we probably could have made a clean getaway. But that didn’t happen and the tragic results are still playing out to this day.