That answer appears to be … zero, at least as far as Antony Blinken wishes to share. Yesterday, the Secretary of State held a press conference in which he insisted that the Biden administration remains in “constant contact” with the Americans they abandoned to the Taliban. Blinken also suggested that many of them haven’t yet decided to leave:
Second, we’re in constant contact with Americans who remain in Afghanistan and may still wish to leave. We’ve assigned case management teams to each remaining American citizen who has expressed an interest in leaving. As you know, starting in March, we sent 19 separate notices to American citizens in Afghanistan encouraging and then urging them to leave. Most of the remaining American citizens are dual nationals whose home is Afghanistan and whose extended families live there. So it’s no surprise that deciding whether or not to leave the place they call home is a wrenching decision.
As we also know, starting in April, the White House kept insisting that Biden’s planned troop withdrawal would not result in a rapid collapse of the Afghan government. As late as mid-July, Biden publicly called such a prospect “highly unlikely” and repeatedly asserted that the Afghan army was more than a match for the Taliban. And indeed they had been, right up to the time that Biden withdrew logistical and intelligence support as well as most of the effective air cover on which they relied.
Blinken then assured reporters that the administration remains singularly focused on the task, or something:
We’re also in touch with others working to help at-risk people leave Afghanistan. That includes our foreign partners, news organizations, and private foundations. There are a lot of extremely complex logistical issues to address and coordinate. We’re working through them as quickly and as methodically as we possibly can.
That sounds good, but of course Americans — both citizens and the legal permanent residents (LPRs) that State keeps ignoring in its counts — should be the highest priority. So how many Americans has State successfully managed to exfiltrate? Blinken never actually addressed that question in his prepared remarks, and walked away when a reporter finally called out the question:
As Secretary of State Antony Blinken walks away from the podium, a reporter asks:
“Just to clarify, no American has made it out?”
Blinken does not respond. pic.twitter.com/2e8tSEwZ1D
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) September 3, 2021
Before taking his leave, Blinken once again wants to suggest that the people who didn’t slog their way through Taliban lines to get to the airport didn’t want to leave in the first place:
But part of the reason that some small number remain is that for this particular group, as I said, these are almost exclusively people who’ve been living in Afghanistan for years, for decades, in some cases for all their lives, and Afghanistan is home. And so it’s especially wrenching for them to make the decision about whether to leave or not. And in a number of cases, we were in contact with people who told us at first that they didn’t want to leave, then decided that they did, or some who said yes they did, and have now decided that they don’t.
My only point here is that we are in very direct, active contact with this group, and there’s absolutely no deadline on this work. We’re going to be in very close touch, and as they desire to leave, we’re going to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to help them do exactly that.
Consider that clarified. Had the Biden administration successfully exfiltrated even a single American, you can bet that they would be crowing about it from Foggy Bottom’s rooftops. They wouldn’t give details, of course, but we’d be hearing the numbers if there were numbers to give.
At least the reporters at the State Department haven’t forgotten about the Americans that Joe Biden abandoned to the Taliban, and worse. Too bad the media outlets for which they work seem much more inclined to follow Biden’s lead and stop talking about them rather than hold Biden accountable for this craven catastrophe.
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