I’d like to say I have good news to share this morning, but that’s not the reality we are living in. Instead, a leaked State Department cable has finally revealed the number of Americans rescued from Afghanistan over the last 10 days. Unfortunately, the number is so bad that it’s producing shock and horror.
While the Pentagon and White House insisted yesterday that they didn’t have this data, in the least shocking development of the week, we now know they were lying. A running tally of Americans who have gotten out has been kept, and the numbers as of last night are that only 4,407 American citizens have made it onto flights.
NEW: Leaked State cable with evacuation numbers (as of Aug 23 at 1500 ET):
Total manifested since midnight Kabul AUG 23: 483 AMCITS, 6,425 Afghans natls, 8 3rd country/unknown. Total = 6,916
Total manifested since op began: 4,407 AMCITS, 21,533 Afghans, 642 TCNs. Total = 26,582
— Alex Ward (@alexbward) August 24, 2021
While the White House and its media defenders touted yesterday that 37,000 people have been evacuated, they conspicuously kept not saying how many of those people were Americans. I pointed that out in an article yesterday debunking the administration’s misleading talking points (see The Talking Points Go Forth on Biden’s Afghanistan Disaster).
Further, notice what’s not in either of those statements and that Harwood inexcusably doesn’t point out in his squee-session — how many of those 37,000 were Americans?
Remember, there were over (perhaps way over) 10,000 Americans stuck behind enemy lines, not just in Kabul, but throughout Afghanistan at the beginning of the collapse. How many have been rescued? We can actually get a decent idea given that last week the Pentagon announced 6,000 people had been airlifted out on one day. Of those 6,000, only a “couple of hundred” were Americans. Given those ratios, it’s safe to say that thousands upon thousands of Americans are still in harm’s way.
With the exact number in hand, educated guesses are no longer required. We know for a fact that this evacuation is going to fail. There are only 4-5 days left to get these people out due to the logistics of the 8/31 deadline, and according to the cable, there are perhaps 20,000+ Americans still stranded throughout Afghanistan. Even if you take the low-end estimate that only 10,000 Americans were originally stuck, that means we are still way behind schedule, and the situation on the ground in regards to getting to the airport is only getting worse. In other words, you will likely see fewer, not more Americans making it to planes over the next few days.
There’s no magic solution in reserve to fix this situation. The only thing we can do is what Biden should have done almost two weeks ago. He should have told the Taliban to vacate Kabul or we start blowing things up. Instead, we’ve bent the knee over and over and now we have no backup plan. This evacuation is doomed to fail no matter how many misleading tweets Ronald Klain makes. Americans will be left behind. When that happens, what’s the next move? Full-scale war again? Just abandoning our citizens in hopes of paying ransoms down the road?
That this was preventable has become an indisputable fact at this point. Biden was warned this would happen going back to the beginning of his presidency. He had months to execute an organized evacuation when it became clear the Taliban were making gains. Instead, he abandoned Bagram AFB and let the Taliban take over the entire country before rushing in to try to save face. The level of incompetence on display is astonishing.
But this goes so far beyond just politics. A lot of people are already dead and are going to die because we have a president who’s more concerned with ordering ice cream than doing his job. Will there be any consequences for that whatsoever? Or does Congress continue to pretend that supposition about a phone call was impeachment worthy but this abject dereliction of duty isn’t?