More than 800 Americans have evacuated from Afghanistan in the year since the U.S. military withdrew, significantly more than the Biden administration’s early estimates, a State Department spokesperson confirmed to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Aug. 30 2021, just as the last U.S. aircraft departed the Kabul airport, that the State Department had identified roughly 100 Americans living in Afghanistan who wished to leave. However, a GOP House Foreign Affairs Committee report to be released Monday shows that out of an unknown number of civilians left stranded in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover, the U.S. helped hundreds leave, Politico reported, suggesting the Biden administration either underestimated those who would attempt to evacuate or deliberately obscured the actual numbers.
A State Department spokesperson confirmed to the Daily Caller News Foundation on Monday that the U.S. government had “directly supported” the evacuation of 803 U.S. citizens since August of 2021, adding that “individuals in Afghanistan periodically identified themselves as U.S. citizens wanting to depart the country.”
State Department spokesman Ned Price said in October that figures were “far from static,” adding that the number of Americans who wished to leave “and who are ready to do so” could change over time.
In February, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee GOP published a report claiming the U.S. had evacuated 479 Americans out of a total of between 10,000 and 15,000 Americans who were living in Afghanistan as of Aug. 17, 2021.
At least 363 U.S. citizens were communicating with the State Department in October, 176 of whom were attempting to secure a flight out of Afghanistan, CNN reported. Between Aug. 1 and when CNN reported, more than 200 Americans had already been evacuated.
“We did extensive contingency planning throughout the spring and summer of 2021 and pre-positioned troops in the region, which enabled us to facilitate the evacuation of more than 120,000 people,” including those Americans who wished to leave, National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a memo Monday.
TUNE IN 📺LR @RepMcCaul is about to joint @margbrennan on @FaceTheNation on CBS to unveil his interim report on the Biden administration’s decision to withdraw from #Afghanistan and the fallout that caused. pic.twitter.com/teWEvzm7qT
— House Foreign Affairs GOP (@HouseForeignGOP) August 14, 2022
Republican Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas said in a Sunday interview with CBS News that the State Department had not complied with the House committee’s investigation. While the White House communicated with the committee about ongoing evacuation efforts, the State Department and the Pentagon have resisted information requests, Politico reported.
“The problem was the White House and State Department put their head in the sand, not wanting to believe what they [the Intelligence Community and the Pentagon] were saying, and therefore not adequately planning,” said McCaul.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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