When President Joe Biden gave his first interview after the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban in mid-August, he promised that American troops would stay until all American citizens were out.
When U.S. Central Command head Gen. Frank McKenzie spoke to reporters after American troops withdrew on Aug. 31, he noted not all American citizens were evacuated in time. However, he said administration officials were on the case, insisting “the military phase of this operation is ended. The diplomatic sequel to that will now begin.”
When White House chief of staff Ron Klain appeared on CNN this weekend, he didn’t seem to know how many American citizens were left in Afghanistan that wanted to leave, how many had been evacuated or what the plan was to get them evacuated.
During his appearance on “State of the Union” Sunday, host Dana Bash noted “more than 100 American citizens were left behind when the last military flight left Kabul earlier this week.” She asked what their status was, whether any had been evacuated and how many remained.
On all three counts, Klain came across as felicitously inexact or blissfully ignorant.
“We believe it’s around 100” Americans who are still left in the country, Klain said. “We’re in touch with all of them who we have identified on a regular basis.
“Obviously, we’re hopeful that, in the coming days, the Qataris will be able to resume air service out of Kabul,” he continued.
“And, if they do, we’re obviously going to look to see if Americans can be part of those flights. We are going to find ways to get them, the ones that want to leave, to get them out of Afghanistan.”
Klain went on to note that “many of them have family members, many of them want to stay.”
WH Chief of Staff Ron Klain: “We believe it’s around 100 [Americans still in Afghanistan]… we are going to find ways to get the ones that want to leave to get them out of Afghanistan.” https://t.co/QwjhCFsCdW pic.twitter.com/LdIRXmQh9i
— The Hill (@thehill) September 5, 2021
“But the ones that want to leave, we’re going to get them out, as the president said,” he continued.
“What happened on Aug. 31 was, we transitioned from a military mission to a diplomatic mission to get the remaining Americans and the Afghan or Afghan allies, the so-called SIVs, out of the country. And we continue to work on that.”
Don’t ask him for details about how. In fact, don’t ask him for details about anything regarding securing the safe passage of either Americans or SIVs, which are Afghan allies who received what’s known as a Special Immigrant Visa that allows them to immigrate to the United States.
Bash went on to ask him about “credible reports about the Taliban systematically hunting” SIV recipients down. Klain noted “there are all kinds of reports coming in” and the administration was “in close communication with our sources and our contacts in Afghanistan to try to get those SIVs out, to get them out safely.”
“I know that some are coming out by land. We are again, continuing to work on efforts to get them out by air as well. We’re going to continue to move those SIVs out of the country.”
The same way we were going to keep troops in the country until every American was out?
BIDEN ON 8/19: “If there are American citizens left, we’re going to stay until we get them all out.”
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) August 30, 2021
On Aug. 19, less than a month ago, the president unequivocally promised the presence of American troops in the country until every American was safely evacuated. That didn’t happen, but we were promised a diplomatic effort to get the remaining U.S. citizens out.
So, going by Klain’s interview Sunday, let’s look at the situation as it stands.
Does the administration know how many American citizens are stranded in Afghanistan? If they do, they’re not saying it publicly. Are they in touch with them? Well, the ones they’ve identified, sure.
Do they have a plan for extracting them? Not that they’re willing to share.
Will Qataris be able to put Americans on their planes when they resume air service to Kabul? Hopefully.
Are our Afghan allies being hunted down? There are all kinds of reports.
But don’t worry. The Biden administration will find a way to get them all out, Klain assures us.
Given the multitude of lies that have come before this one and Klain’s deliberate inexactitude, why should we believe that? The administration is playing a guessing game with American lives — and anyone counting on them to secure their safe passage out of Afghanistan should be absolutely horrified.
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