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Pentagon spokesman gives troublingly vague answer when asked how many Americans have been evacuated from Afghanistan — and critics are sounding the alarm

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby offered a worryingly vague answer Monday morning when asked how many American citizens have been evacuated from Afghanistan amid the Taliban's takeover of the country.

What are the details?

Speaking with reporters alongside Army Major Gen. Hank Taylor, the Pentagon spokesman seemed to indicate that the Biden administration still has no clue how many American citizens remain trapped inside the Taliban-controlled country.

When asked about the specific number of American evacuees, Kirby gave only the non-descriptive figure "several thousand."

"We think that um, that uh ... overall, we've been able to evacuate several thousand Americans and I'd be reticent to get more specific than that," Kirby said, appearing to have difficulty finding words.

"Since [August] 14th, we believe we have been able to evacuate several thousand Americans," he reiterated.

Later in the conference, CBS News reporter David Martin pressed the spokesman on the issue, asking whether he needed to check on the numbers or whether he was being "deliberately vague."

"I think I'm just going to leave it at 'several thousand' right now," Kirby replied.

"Well, then tell us why," Martin shot back.

Kirby answered by saying the number is "fluid" and so he was unable to give any specifics.

What else?

Kirby's illusory remarks matched a similar response given by Biden's national security adviser Jake Sullivan over the weekend.

On Sunday, Sullivan told CNN, "We cannot give you a precise number" when asked how many Americans and legal permanent residents still needed to be evacuated from Afghanistan.

"We believe it is several thousand Americans who we are working with now to try to get safely out of the country," he added.

Anything else?

Critics on Twitter hammered Kirby for his non-answer. Here's a sampling:

  • "All Kirby says, I am not going to discuss or speak to that. code for he has no freaking clue, sad!" one commenter wrote.
  • "Spin spin spin….I really have no idea," another added.
  • "They know," another charged. "The number is so low Americans would be outraged. Like everything else government acts clueless."
  • One critic stated: "Get your s**t together, Washington."
  • Still another said, "This is the 'oh s**t contingency' that they clearly planned for."
  • "Just imagine the grief President Trump would have gotten if he had handled Afghanistan the way Biden's debacle has come down," someone else noted.

Newsbusters managing editor Curtis Houck pummeled Kirby's answer and the Biden administration's handling of the fiasco "a disaster."

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