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He said the problem lies ultimately with the president.

“The problem is the White House,” Mr. Johnson said. “Even a cursory look at the history of refugee processing shows that, when the American president declares that this is a priority, all of the nonsense and the idiotic facets of the current program melt away.

“If President Obama said, ‘OK, enough. Get our interpreters out,’ you really think that the 28-year-old consular officer at the Embassy in Kabul is going to say, ‘Well, sorry, sir. This is going to take us two years to do this?’ The bureaucracies are going to react.”

Mr. Obama has not responded to a letter sent recently by a bipartisan group of 19 lawmakers who said the “U.S. has a responsibility to follow through on our promise to protect those Iraqis and Afghans who have risked their lives to aid our troops.”

Lawmakers are working to extend the visa program’s deadline through December 2015, broaden its eligibility requirements to include those hired by NATO and allow extended family members under threat to be eligible. Those proposals are slated to become law this year, when Congress passes the 2014 defense appropriations bill.

But the law will matter little if the process isn’t accelerated, advocates say.

More trouble ahead

The Taliban have been attempting to retake lost ground this fighting season. Since coalition officials stopped reporting violence statistics in March, there is only anecdotal evidence as to whether security is getting better, said Sarah Chayes, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Coalition officials said the casualty rate for Afghan National Security Forces has “spiked over any previous record” and amounts to an estimated 1,200 killed and wounded per month, Ms. Chayes said at a Senate hearing July 11.

In addition, Helmand province is “reinfested with Taliban,” insurgents are attacking larger groups than they have in years, and Pakistanis are being sent into the fight in large numbers this year, she said.

Afghan interpreters are starting to ask directly for help.

“Our assistance to you and your country not only put us at risk but also leaves our entire families prone to the deadliest threats from the insurgents side,” reads a letter by a group of interpreters provided last month to The Washington Times.

Also entangled in bureaucracy is a similar visa program for interpreters in Iraq, where the United Nations said sectarian violence killed more than 1,000 people in May.

From 2008 to 2012, about 30 percent of available visas for Iraqis who worked for the U.S. were issued — 7,800 out of 25,000 visas, according to the State Department. The program is to expire in September unless the 2014 defense bill extends it.

Mr. Johnson said former Iraqi interpreters are being targeted a year and a half after the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

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