Americans are stranded in Afghanistan. That’s a fact. You don’t have to have special military clearance to know it, or access to classified information, or be in contact with Americans in Kabul or elsewhere in Afghanistan. All you have to do is follow the news.
For days now, reports coming out of Afghanistan have chronicled the dire situation of Americans unable to get to the airport in Kabul, unable to get past Taliban checkpoints outside the airport, and unable to get through the airport gates because of the desperate and sometimes deadly mobs gathered there.
Members of Congress are even sharing information on social media about Americans trapped in Kabul, some of them terrified of being discovered by the Taliban, begging to be rescued before it’s too late.
So when White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki “called out” Fox News’s Peter Doocy on Monday for asking about these stranded Americans, and said there are no Americans stranded in Afghanistan, she was lying. And everyone knows it.
This kind of blatant dissimulation has become a disturbing pattern. By any measure, President Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal has devolved into an unprecedented and embarrassing disaster that seems to get worse by the day. But instead of acknowledging what news reports and social media clearly show — Americans stranded, deadly chaos at the airport, Afghans rushing the gates — the Biden administration is displaying an inability or unwillingness to answer questions or even talk about the evacuation in a way that’s tethered to reality.
Psaki and other White House officials are of course trying to claim that because planes are still taking off from Kabul, no one is in fact “stranded” — at least not yet. They will likely keep repeating this incredible line until the very last plane leaves, at which point they will claim there are no Americans still trapped in Afghanistan even if every news outlet is showing the opposite.
There’s something otherworldly about all of this, an echo of the Iraqi information minister, “Baghad Bob,” who during the 2003 invasion of Iraq infamously boasted there were no U.S. tanks in Baghdad even as U.S. tanks rolled through the city just blocks away from the news conference where he was speaking.
Beyond the administration’s bald-faced lies there is the strange and inappropriate braggadocio about the evacuation. According to the warped logic of the White House, the evacuation itself has become a source of pride, even success.
In a bizarre and disjointed press conference on Sunday, President Biden boasted about the evacuation effort: “We are proving we can move thousands of people a day out of Kabul,” he said, noting that some 11,000 people had been airlifted out of the Afghanistan capital in the past 36 hours, and 37,000 since Aug. 14.
He went on to brag about how the U.S. government has hastily established processing centers in a number of countries around the world to receive the thousands of people fleeing Afghanistan — as if the need to cobble together a network of processing centers was a great accomplishment, instead of an admission that the administration had failed to plan for this inevitability months ago.
All these talking points were repeated Monday by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. The chaotic scenes at the Kabul airport — the mobs at the gates, the warning shots and flashbang grenades to hold back the crowds, the babies being lifted over razor wire to U.S. soldiers — are all evidence not of the U.S. government’s gross incompetence, but of its strength.
But the American people can smell a rat. We all know the administration is lying, and as American lives are placed in ever greater danger with each passing day, at some point the lies will become unconscionable, even obscene.
So far, there have been no reports of American deaths, thank God. But that could change quickly. According to Biden’s timeline, U.S. forces have one week to complete their evacuation, a task that seems well-nigh impossible, given the number of people who are trying to leave and the reported conditions on the ground. On Monday, a Taliban spokesman warned on “consequences” if U.S. forces stay beyond the Aug. 31 deadline.
It remains unclear, too, whether the Taliban can retain adequate control over Kabul over the next seven days to prevent attacks on U.S. troops or civilians from other armed groups, including ISIS, which is reportedly in the area.
If they can’t, and Americans are attacked and killed in Kabul or elsewhere, will Psaki stand before the cameras and claim otherwise? Maybe, but it’s more likely she and every other White House official will emphasize how well the evacuation went off, how many people they flew out in however many hours, and what a smashing success, really, this whole thing has been.