Rep. Michael Waltz, who served as a Green Beret in Afghanistan, on Tuesday accused the Biden White House of giving away all "leverage" it has by pulling troops from Afghanistan while Navy veteran Mark Frerichs continues to be held as a hostage by the Taliban.
"The thing the Taliban wanted the most, and they've been asking for it for 20 years, is for American troops to leave," the Florida Republican said on Fox News' "Fox and Friends."
Waltz further said he's growing more worried that Frerichs, a contractor from Lombard, Ill., will be left behind while the Biden administration continues its move to have U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by Sept. 11.
Frerichs, a former Navy diver, is believed to have been held hostage for over a year by the Haqqani network, which is affiliated with the Taliban. He had been living in Kabul for 10 years while working as an engineer on construction projects, according to The Washington Post.
Waltz said the troop withdrawal hasn't been made on the condition of releasing Frerich, and he is concerned that the United States will lose the bargaining power it needs to free the contractor once troops are no longer in Afghanistan.
"You would have thought before President Biden just yanked everyone out, and we're seeing the collapse that's happening now in Afghanistan as we speak, they at least could have gotten one American in exchange," Waltz said.
The Taliban's forces have been pushing Afghan forces out of several districts and taking control of weapons and vehicles as the U.S. troops leave. According to U.S. Central Command, the drawdown is ahead of schedule, being 90% complete. Further, seven facilities have been turned over to the Afghan military.
Frerich's family members are saying they are frustrated with his continued imprisonment, including when the Trump administration signed a peace deal in February 2020 just after he disappeared while working on engineering projects.
In April, his sister, Charlene Cakora, said in a statement that the withdrawal plans are putting a "timestamp" on him.
"My heart breaks for the family," Waltz said Tuesday. "You can imagine as they saw that announcement how they felt and their frustration and mine too."
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