White House officials are calling President Joe Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan a failure after U.S. forces almost certainly left hundreds of American citizens stranded in the Taliban-controlled country.
The last U.S. troops withdrew from Afghanistan on Biden’s orders on Monday, ending the U.S. military’s two-decade presence in the country. The last troop plane departed after a weeks-long chaotic evacuation in which 13 U.S. service members were killed in a terror attack.
The United States withdrew from the country on Monday in order to meet Biden’s self-imposed deadline to end the war in Afghanistan by August 31. The U.S. met Biden’s deadline, but left hundreds of American citizens and thousands of Afghans who aided the U.S. military throughout the war.
Biden has stood by his decision to withdraw the U.S. from Afghanistan, and has defended his administration’s handling of the withdrawal as an “extraordinary success.” Officials in the White House say that the U.S. withdrawal was an utter failure, however, despite Biden’s claims. As Politico reports:
Not everyone in the administration shared the commander in chief’s confidence. “I am absolutely appalled and literally horrified we left Americans there,” one administration official told POLITICO. “It was a hostage rescue of thousands of Americans in the guise of a NEO [noncombatant evacuation operations], and we have failed that no-fail mission.” Another White House official said that the mission isn’t accomplished if they left Americans behind.
The United States’ final weeks in Afghanistan were some of the most chaotic and deadly U.S. forces had experienced in the region in years. On Thursday, an Islamic State-affiliated terror group attacked Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, the staging ground for the United States’ evacuation effort, killing 13 U.S. service members.
A suicide bomber with the terror group ISIS-K, a Taliban splinter group, detonated outside of one of the airport’s main gates, killing members of the U.S. military along with dozens of Afghan civilians seeking a plane ride out of the country. The U.S. responded to the attack with two drone strikes, one on a purported planner from the terror group and another that reportedly hit a vehicle of Afghan civilians, killing 10 civilians including children.
Since the U.S. left Afghanistan, the Biden administration has attempted to brand the withdrawal as a success despite leaving hundreds of American citizens behind, a possibility that Biden claimed would never become reality earlier in the evacuation effort. On Thursday, State Department spokesman Ned Price avoided answering reporters’ questions on the Americans stranded in Afghanistan. As The Daily Wire reported:
AP reporter Matt Lee confronted Price over the number of people the administration says are still in Afghanistan, asking Prince whether the “100-200” number used by Biden officials represents just American passport holders and whether there are efforts being made to extract legal permanent residents (LPRs) and those with Special Immigration Visas (SIVs). Price refused to answer directly.
“You must have some estimate of LPRs who are still there who want to get out, and if you don’t, why not?” Lee asked.
“Over the past couple days — and, in fact, overnight — we have been in touch with everyone in that remaining 100 to 200, and we do have a little bit more fidelity on that group that we’ve been able to garner over the past couple days,” Price answered, avoiding the issue of LPRs and SIVs. “We have said that the number is likely closer to 100. Everything we have seen over the course of the past 48 to 72 hours indicates that is, in fact, the case. The number is likely closer to 100, perhaps considerably closer to 100.”
“I’m asking about green card holders,” Lee fired back.”Was there a decision made at some point to forget about those people?”
“Because a lot of them feel like they frankly got screwed here and that they were lied to because they had been told by people on the task force … that we know where you are, we’re not going to let you — we’re not going to strand you, don’t worry, stay tight — hold tight. And now what do they do? I mean, are you in touch also with the green card holders?” he pressed.
Price again refused to answer, relying instead on the Biden administration line that Americans, permanent residents, and SIVs must “choose” to leave.
“We have been consistent in that messaging that we will do during the course of the evacuation everything in our power, and space permitting, to bring them to safety on a U.S. military airplane,” Price said, without addressing how many non-Americans are still awaiting evacuation. “Now, of course, our commitment has not expired; that commitment endures. And now we remain committed to bringing them out of Afghanistan if they should choose to do so.”