How Information Organizations Received Colleagues Out of Kabul, Afghanistan
As the situation in Afghanistan worsened in recent days, the editors of The Times, The Journal and The Post joined forces on their evacuation efforts. Security guards and editors exchanged information about morning calls. The editors urged the Biden administration to facilitate the transit of their Afghan counterparts, and discussions followed with officials from the White House, the Pentagon and the State Department.
The offices were closed until Sunday and the streets of Kabul had become chaotic. As American troops, contractors and security teams left the country, the newsroom officials had less and less insight into the situation on the ground. Some Afghan workers feared that Taliban forces would go door-to-door intimidating or even kidnapping journalists known to have worked with American media.
The American military had secured part of Hamid Karzai International Airport, just a few kilometers from central Kabul, but it became almost impossible to get there and then gain access to the terminal. On Sunday, the group of more than 200 people linked to the three newspapers, including staff and their loved ones, traveled to the airport tarmac in hopes of making contact with the American military, three people reported, some of whom were about the events were informed anonymity in order to describe sensitive discussions.
Instead, they found a place of mass confusion where hundreds of other panicked Afghans sought refuge. When the Taliban forces arrived, the situation became more dangerous; Members of the group went back dehydrated, hungry and discouraged with no clear idea of what would happen next, people said.
Back in New York and Washington, the leaders of the newspapers turned to diplomatic contacts in countries with embassies in Afghanistan for clues that might lead to a safe haven and transportation for their staff. “There were many plans and many efforts that either failed or failed,” said Michael Slackman, assistant editor-in-chief, international at The Times. “You would have a plan at night and two hours later the circumstances on site would have changed.”