As evacuation efforts continue in Afghanistan, the White House is signaling Americans may be left behind in order to comply with the self-imposed Aug. 31 deadline and an agreement with the Taliban.
What are the details?
White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked Tuesday how the Biden administration would respond to Americans stranded in Afghanistan beyond the Aug. 31 deadline.
"Would this trigger a diplomatic, military, all-hands-on-deck-type thing to get that person out, whatever the date?" a reporter asked.
"Our commitment continues to be to U.S. citizens: If they want to leave, we will help get them out," Psaki responded.
When asked if that means the administration will act beyond the Aug. 31 deadline, Psaki admitted the White House believes some Americans will be stranded.
"Again, we expect there could be some, but I don't — I'm not going to get into it further," she said.
PSAKI: "We expect there could be some" Americans left in Afghanistan after August 31 https://t.co/IBQEFk4lA4— Daily Caller (@Daily Caller)1629837146.0
The possibility of Americans being stranded in Afghanistan after President Joe Biden removes all U.S. forces from Kabul next week was bolstered Tuesday after Reps. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) and Peter Meijer (R-Mich.) briefly traveled to Afghanistan to witness the evacuation process.
Although the congressmen are being criticized for the trip — which they said was taken to provide congressional "oversight" — Moulton said afterward the evacuation process will take much longer than Biden has said.
"We came into this visit wanting, like most veterans, to push the president to extend the August 31st deadline. After talking with commanders on the ground and seeing the situation here, it is obvious that because we started the evacuation so late, that no matter what we do, we won't get everyone out on time, even by September 11," Moulton explained. "Sadly and frustratingly, getting our people out depends on maintaining the current, bizarre relationship with the Taliban."
Moulton's observation directly contradicts Biden, who claims the U.S. will be able to complete its evacuation by Aug. 31.
Also, U.S. Embassy Kabul published an alert to Americans in Afghanistan on Tuesday telling them they would be responsible for their own departure if they did not respond to a "final message."
"THIS IS THE FINAL MESSAGE FOR AMERICAN CITIZENS WHO WISH TO DEPART KABUL. American citizens who choose to remain in Afghanistan should be prepared to arrange their own departure without assistance from the U.S. government," the alert read.
US embassy in Afghanistan today sent out a “final message” for Americans wanting to leave Kabul with government hel… https://t.co/Cmq3vGFSGB— Catie Edmondson (@Catie Edmondson)1629834129.0
The State Department withdrew the message about a half hour later after it circulated on social media, NBC correspondent Richard Engel noted.
US embassy issues last alert for US citizens to leave afghanistan or they’re on their own, then recalls it 30 mins later.— Richard Engel (@Richard Engel)1629833041.0
One wonders, however, why that message was sent if the Biden administration intends on evacuating every American from the Taliban-controlled country.
How many Americans are left?
The Pentagon said Wednesday that more than 4,000 Americans have been evacuated since Aug. 14; that number accounts for only about 5% of all people evacuated from Afghanistan since the crisis began, which the Pentagon said was more than 80,000.
An official who spoke with the Daily Caller said the actual number of Americans in Afghanistan was probably around 12,000. That means if only several hundred Americans are being evacuated per day, as indicated by the Pentagon's daily numbers, then thousands of Americans would be left behind in Afghanistan if Biden sticks to his Aug. 31 deadline, which he has promised to do.
The Taliban have rejected the possibility of agreeing to a deadline extension.