Inconsistent Messaging Obscures True Number of Americans Stranded in Afghanistan

Passengers walk from the domestic terminal at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. As a Taliban offensive encircles the Afghan capital, there's increasingly only one way out for those fleeing the war, and only one way in for U.S. troops sent to protect American diplomats …
AP Photo/Rahmat Gul

U.S. troops fully withdrew from Afghanistan on Monday in accordance with President Joe Biden’s arbitrary August 31 deadline, ending a 20-year war and reportedly stranding “a small number of Americans — under 200 and likely closer to 100,” according to the U.S. State Department.

Both the Pentagon and the State Department on Monday said between 5,400- 6,000 Americans were rescued from Afghanistan out of more than 122,000 evacuees, touting the number as proof of a successful withdrawal. But it does not take a mathematician to see that the numbers simply do not add up.

On August 17, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a press briefing that 11,000 Americans were estimated to be behind enemy lines. Pentagon press secretary John Kirby on the same day said between 10,000 and 15,000 Americans were still in Afghanistan.

Just two days later on August 19, Kirby  said “I don’t know,” in response to a reporter who asked how many “American citizens” were stranded in Afghanistan. State Department Spokesman Ned Price also could not provide an answer.

On August 22, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on CNN’s State of the Union that the Biden administration still did not know the precise number of Americans waiting to be evacuated from Afghanistan, though he believed it to be “several thousand.”

Washington D.C. insiders estimated even larger numbers. According to the Daily Mail, former President George W. Bush’s Assistant Secretary of State, Robert Charles, said between 15,000 and 40,000 Americans were stranded.

Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX) told Breitbart News exclusively on Tuesday that he does not believe only a few hundred Americans are stuck in Afghanistan. He also said he thinks officials are downplaying the numbers in order to make the situation appear less dire.

“…This was their conservative number, their low number that they were trying to make it look like wasn’t as bad as everybody was picturing it to be,” Jackson said. “They said there was probably 10,000 to 15,000 over there. If there was 10,000 to -15,000 over there and they got 5,000 to 6,000 thousand out, then we have more than 100 to 200 left, right?”

After the evacuation ended on Monday, Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Michael McCaul (R-TX) said during an interview on CNN’s Situation Room, that the number of Americans still in Afghanistan is higher than the number put out by the State Department:

I just got briefed in the — it’s actually higher than that number. And the reason — a lot of them maybe they tried to get out at the last minute. Because of the security concerns, they were not let into the airport. But a lot of them, actually, Wolf, have family members there that they can’t get out with them, and that’s part of the problem there also.

The far-left Washington Post has already dispatched fact checkers to quell oncoming “conspiracy theories” about how many Americans have been left behind. In a feat of hard-hitting journalism, the publication interviewed an unnamed “senior State Department official,” — an official who works for the same department claiming that only a few hundred Americans are stranded in Afghanistan.

The report first cites a statement from Blinken to reporters on August 25, just eight days after State Department officials told Congress as many as 15,000 Americans were trapped in the country. Blinken said there were only 6,000 Americans “who wanted to leave.” [emphasis added]

The fact check continues [emphasis added]:

Hundreds of State Department officials were then enlisted to track down people on the list. Many of those people had left. Some, such as people associated with nongovernmental organizations, had never been in the country but had signed up to receive consular notices. Others were not actually U.S. citizens. So those people were removed from the list.

At the same time, the State Department sent out repeated, urgent notices requesting Americans in Afghanistan who had not registered with the department to contact the U.S. Embassy if they wished to leave the country. Those people were then added to the list once it was determined they were U.S. citizens.

That brings us to the second number — 6,000. That was the figure for Americans in Afghanistan who wished to leave as part of the urgent airlift out of Kabul’s airport.A number of Americans, principally dual citizens, decided to remain in Afghanistan. Others could not make up their minds, first saying they would stay and then deciding to leave. Once a person signaled they wanted to leave, they were added to the list.

The fact check argues that the list of potential evacuees streamlined as officials went through the names and found who was actually a U.S. citizen and who was not etc. — and that some people wanted to stay behind. Ultimately, the list of evacuees was cut in half, from 10,000-15,000 to 5,000-6,000.

The notion that the Biden administration would save “whoever wants to leave” became one of its most powerful messaging tools throughout the evacuation debacle — even though those who stay behind risk being brutally tortured and murdered by the Taliban.

“We are in touch with them via phone, via text, via email, via any way we can possibly reach Americans to get them home if they want to return home,” Psaki said during an August 23 White House briefing. [emphasis added]

The White House / YouTube

Acting U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ross Wilson on August 24 told CBS News that some Americans did not wish to leave the country.

“People chose not to leave. That’s their business. That’s their right. We regret now that many may find themselves in a position that they would rather not be in. And we are determined to try to help them,” he said. [emphasis added]

Blinken, as referenced above, stuck to a similar script during the August 25 briefing.

“Based on our analysis, starting on August 14 when our evacuation operations began, there was then a population of as many as 6,000 American citizens in Afghanistan who wanted to leave,” he said. [emphasis added]

On August 20, President Biden himself said he would bring Americans home who “want to come home,” though he later walked back his promise as the withdrawal date grew closer.

“Let me be clear, any American who wants to come home, we will get you home,” he said during a speech at the White House. [emphasis added]

In his first address to the American people after completely pulling out of Afghanistan, President Joe Biden admitted he was leaving ten percent of Americans, who the United States intended to evacuate, in the country now controlled by a jihadist organization, though he did not specify a number.

“Ninety-percent of Americans in Afghanistan who wanted to leave were able to leave. And for those remaining Americans, there is no deadline. We remain committed to get them out if they want to come out,” he said. [emphasis added].

While the exact number of Americans left to the ravages of the Taliban remains shrouded in rumor and mystery, one thing is clear: there are Americans who wanted to come home, and Biden left them behind.


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