The State Department recently conceded that there are significantly more Americans still in Afghanistan than previously stated. This concession led Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., to accuse the Biden administration of “betrayal” of Americans abroad.
State Department officials briefed congressional staff and told them that it is in touch with nearly 176 legal permanent residents and 363 Americans in Afghanistan.
The 363 number is much higher than any previously estimates by the Biden administration, which had put the number around 100 in September.
The admission comes amid continuing fallout of the administration’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan before the Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline. With the deadline approaching, Afghans and Americans scrambled to get out of Afghanistan before the Taliban regained power over the country.
State Department spokesman Ned Price would not confirm the number the department was in touch with but stated that the number of Americans who wanted to leave was below 100 at one point but now ranged between 100 and 200 due to the fluidity of the situation on the ground.
“That figure has risen in recent days as more Americans in Afghanistan have decided to depart in light of our successful facilitation of dozens of departures in recent weeks,” said Price.
The State Department says that it has facilitated the evacuation of 234 Americans and 144 lawful permanent residents.
Price continued saying that the department’s goal is to make flights leaving Kabul more regular to assist Americans and others trying to flee the country, “and we are committed to doing so.”
“We’ve also consistently said there’s a slightly larger universe of Americans with whom we’re in touch and who are not yet ready, for whatever reason, to leave. That number is also far from immutable as Americans reach out to us, and given the dynamic — the very dynamic nature of human decision-making,” said Price.
Administration lied: Issa
Rep. Issa has been consistently working to evacuate several Americans who are trapped in Afghanistan. Issa claims that the administration lied about the numbers and therefore lied about the withdrawal.
“What we long suspected is now confirmed; what the White House calls a historically successful airlift was, in reality, the worst ever betrayal of American citizens in a foreign land. So they lied about it from the beginning,” said Issa.
Senator Ben Sasse, R-Neb. echoed Issa’s reaction accusing the Biden administration of repeatedly lying about the number of Americans trapped in Afghanistan behind Taliban lines.
“For weeks, their official number was ‘about a hundred,’ and it magically never changed — as Americans slowly got out, the total number never went down,” Sasse said.
According to State Department staff, the administration is working with third parties to evacuate people from Afghanistan by setting up intermediaries to help streamline the process. However, they confirmed that it has been confusing to determine what chartered flights needed to take off and land, helping with the evacuation process.
Issa recently announced that Prince Wafa, an American citizen who had worked as a translator and traveled to Afghanistan to bring his wife home, had been evacuated successfully. Issa said that the man had previously written to President Biden to plead for help.
“Prince Wafa provided outstanding support for our troops and bravely served our country when we were in need. This time, he risked all by returning to Afghanistan to bring his wife home. The Biden Administration left them behind, and we didn’t rest until they were on their way home,” said Issa.