Five years ago, my Afghan interpreter Janis Shinwari saved my life in a firefight against the Taliban. Ever since then, I’ve been trying to save his as the Taliban placed him on a kill list for his service to the US military.
Afghan and Iraqi interpreters are promised that if they give the United States military one year of “faithful and valuable service”, they and their immediate families will receive Special Immigrant Visas to come to the United States. Janis has served our military for the past nine years. He has more than earned his place in America, so you can imagine our joy when after years of pleading with the State Department, the US embassy in Kabul issued him and his family US visas two weeks ago.
But this past Saturday, everything came crashing down. Janis called me at 2am in a panic. After giving him and his family their salvation, the State Department revoked it only two weeks later without any explanation.
Zeller believes that the Taliban heard about Shinwari’s visa and called up the embassy and told a bunch of lies about him. This is apparently a tactic that was used frequently when Zeller was in country.
Zeller ran for Eric Massa’s seat in NY-29 after Massa imploded – that’s the textbook definition of a thankless, and ultimately pointless, task. I hope he’s more successful getting his former interpreter a visa.