OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki stunned several observers on Friday when she told reporters it isn’t likely the Biden administration is going to be able to get all Americans of out Afghanistan before the withdrawal deadline on Tuesday.
One reporter, asking for “clarity,” pressed Psaki: “After August 31 for people who will still be on the ground in Afghanistan and want to get out — does the U.S. right now have a vision of a process that they will use to get people out after” the withdrawal deadline.
“Is the U.S. guaranteeing that you can get out?” she asked.
While the reporter seemed to focus more on Afghan nationals who assisted U.S. forces during the nearly 20-year war, Psaki’s reply included “American citizens” still in the country.
“I don’t think we can guarantee, but what we can do is work toward — and this is what the president directed the secretary of state to continue diplomatic efforts with international partners to secure means for third-country nationals, Afghans with visas who may be eligible for our programs, of course, any American citizen who remains in-country, to leave the country even after the U.S. military presence ends,” said Psaki.
“There’s a means and mechanisms for that, those conversations are ongoing. That’s our objective. Our commitment does not change on Aug. 31,” she added.
President Joe Biden has said that all Americans who wanted to leave the country ahead of the fast-approaching deadline would be able to do so, though Psaki’s response appears to undermine his statement.
During the same press conference, the White House spokeswoman also said that over the previous 24 hours, some 10,000 people were evacuated from Afghanistan, but only about 300 of those were Americans.
The administration continues to come under fire from Republicans and others over its refusal thus far to focus exclusively on getting Americans out of the country before evacuating Afghan nationals, regardless of their immigrant status or whether they assisted U.S. forces.
Rep. Jeff Van Drew, in an interview with Breitbart News published on Friday, laid out what he said was a simple evacuation plan the administration and the Pentagon should have approved and begun to implement months ago.
“There is no cogent argument for evacuating and exiting the country the way that we are and the way that we did,” he said.
“Evacuate your men and women, Americans first, Afghanis next — the Afghanis that were loyal to us and work with us. And then, you would make sure you destroy all of our equipment that was there — some of it very advanced, such as our Blackhawks,” Van Drew continued, adding that the Taliban now is in possession of more of those helicopters than many U.S. allies.
“And then finally, drawdown the troops,” he went on. “That’s not really complicated. That basically is military 101 and they couldn’t even do that right.”
In his Friday monologue, Fox News host Tucker Carlson also noted the chaotic manner of the withdrawal a day after 11 Marines, two Army soldiers, and a Navy corpsman were killed processing evacuees at the international airport in Kabul by a suicide bomber.
He quoted Bill Rogio, editor of the Long War Journal, who wrote that Pentagon leaders should have pushed back on Biden’s decision to abandon the massive Bagram Air Base in favor of collapsing to the airport at Kabul, even to the point of resigning, because they had to know the airport was indefensible and would leave troops exposed.
Abandoning the airbase, Rogio wrote, “is the perfect example of the generals just saluting, saying ‘yes, sir’ and ‘can do’ and not standing up and saying, ‘This is madness, and I can’t execute this because I’m putting the lives of Americans at risk, and you need to find someone else to do this.’”