Last week, the State Department said 363 American citizens were still in Afghanistan, and 176 of them wanted to leave.
That any American citizens were left behind in the now Taliban-controlled country is a horrible tragedy. Still, even more troubling is that the number was higher than the number previously cited by the administration, including Joe Biden himself, who also claimed that most Americans still in the country wanted to stay.
“Now we believe that about 100 to 200 Americans remain in Afghanistan with some intention to leave,” Biden said on August 31. “Most of those who remain are dual citizens, long-time residents who had earlier decided to stay because of their family roots in Afghanistan.”
But, now the Pentagon is saying that nearly 450 American citizens are still in the country — much larger than previous figures offered by the administration.
Colin Kahl, the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, provided Congress with the latest figure after being pressed by Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) about the confusing and contradictory numbers the administration has provided.
“One of the many confusing things about this whole thing is that we really don’t know how many Americans are left in Afghanistan,” Inhofe said. “The administration’s number of U.S. citizens left in Afghanistan keeps changing. We all understand that. It’s very confusing.”
Inhofe pointed out that the Biden administration “always said 100 to 200 U.S. citizens left in Afghanistan,” but now says it “has already withdrawn 234 and is in contact with 363 others, 176 of whom want to leave,” in reference to the State Department’s latest figures from last week.
“Now if we can figure this out you’re doing a lot better than I have done,” Inhofe told Kahl.
“In terms of how many American citizens we estimate are currently in Afghanistan, the Department of State is in contact with 196 American citizens who are ready to depart — and arrangements are being made for them to do so, either via air or over ground — and another 243 American citizens have been contacted and are not ready to depart, either because they want to stay in Afghanistan or aren’t ready,” Kahl said in response.
This brings the total to 439 Americans still in Afghanistan, up from the 363 they said were there last week and significantly more than the 100-200 figure they told us back in September.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but shouldn’t the number of Americans in Afghanistan be going down, not up? State Department spokesman Ned Price claims the reason is that more Americans have decided to depart, but the numbers provided by the administration have always included those who they say wished to stay in the country.
Why is it going up? There are only two explanations. Either the Biden administration failed to identify all the Americans they stranded in the country when they bailed, or they have been lying about the numbers from the get-go.
Call it a hunch, but I’m going with the latter. A week before the Aug. 31 deadline, one U.S. official claimed that there were 8,000 Americans left in Afghanistan, and based on evacuation rates, most would not be evacuated by the time our troops left. The way the number of Americans stranded in Afghanistan keeps growing as the weeks go by makes me believe there are a few thousand Americans still in Afghanistan, not just a few hundred, and the Biden administration will continue to increase the numbers they’ll admit to and hope no one notices or does the math.