Small wonder, then, that the State Department and Pentagon resolutely refuse to add legal permanent residents to their total of stranded Americans in Afghanistan. For the past couple of weeks, the Biden administration has carefully focused those questions on “citizens,” as though the US has no responsibility for other categories of people. This afternoon, the New York Times profiles one green-card holder stranded by the abrupt American pullout, and offers estimates of how many others are in the same situation, emphasis mine:
For more than a week, Samiullah “Sammy” Naderi, a U.S. legal permanent resident, waited days and nights with his wife and son outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, hoping to be let in so that they could leave on one of the dozens of daily flights headed to America.
“It’s 50 feet away,” Mr. Naderi, 23, said Sunday night in a short telephone interview, speaking in halting English, as gunfire crackled in the background. “Maybe the Taliban will let me inside — maybe.”
But on Monday, after being told that no more people would be allowed inside the airport gate, Mr. Naderi and his family returned to their apartment in Kabul with no clear path back to Philadelphia, where he has been living since last year. …
Mr. Naderi is among at least hundreds of U.S. citizens and potentially thousands of green card holders who are stranded in Afghanistan at the end of a 20-year war that culminated not in a reliable peace, but with a two-week military airlift that evacuated more than 123,000 people.
The “perhaps” in this sentence speaks volumes about the Biden administration’s preparations for the withdrawal. Biden had wanted to disengage in Afghanistan since 2009, campaigned actively on the idea, and insisted on moving forward with the plan on assuming office in January. The fact that the State Department can’t say with certainty just how many of its citizens and legal permanent residents were and are in Afghanistan demonstrates what a low priority this question has been all along. They had months to prepare for this withdrawal, and yet this basic step appears to have been overlooked or entirely ignored in the rush to declare the war over.
The other possibility is that the State Department knows full well how many Americans — citizens and permanent residents — remain in Afghanistan. If that’s the case, the deliberate choice to exclude the latter while giving only ballpark figures for the former would suggest that the actual numbers will make Joe Biden and his team look even worse than they do now.
The more these stories get told, the worse that will look, too. CNN’s Clarissa Ward reported last night on a family from Houston that tried repeatedly over two weeks to get into the airport, a clip Allahpundit highlighted earlier. It’s not clear whether the family are citizens or permanent residents, but what is clear is that they didn’t want to stay — and got abandoned anyway. Good luck moving on from the drip-drip-drip of these stories.
CNN’s Clarissa Ward reports on a Texas family abandoned in Afghanistan.
“They had been going to the airport for two weeks trying desperately to get out. They all have American passports…They couldn’t get past the Taliban.” pic.twitter.com/NnbCdlNHO2
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) August 30, 2021
Addendum: The Washington Post editorial board decided to be more direct about this disgrace. The abandonment of Americans and allies in Kabul is “a moral disaster,” they scold, and assign the blame entirely to Joe Biden and his team:
Thankfully, many thousands of American citizens, third-country nationals and Afghans who worked directly for U.S. and allied military forces or embassies made it out. But many thousands of people did not, including former U.S. interpreters and their families, and Afghans classified by President Biden and his administration as “vulnerable” — such as staff for U.S.-based nongovernmental organizations and women’s rights activists. As security worsened in the wake of a horrific terrorist attack at the airport last Thursday, and as U.S. troops prepared for their own departure on Monday, time and space ran out for these people. This is a moral disaster, one attributable not to the actions of military and diplomatic personnel in Kabul — who have been courageous and professional, in the face of deadly dangers — but to mistakes, strategic and tactical, by Mr. Biden and his administration.
It’s a moral stain on our national reputation, one that should never be allowed to wash off anyone involved in this disgrace, especially Biden. Speaking of which, where are the resignations? We have now pulled all of the military out of Afghanistan, so there’s no longer any question of interrupting operations. Anyone with a shred of honor involved in these decisions should be offering resignations, starting today.
Update: And again, we have a lot of vulnerable citizens in Afghanistan who don’t want to stay — including this three-year-old Californian and his family:
This three-year-old boy was born near Sacramento; his passport shows he is a US citizen, and he’s going through a harrowing ordeal right now, unable to escape Afghanistan. We’re hiding his identity and that of his father, a social worker, and other family members who are all US permanent residents, for fear of them being captured by the Taliban. …
Speier wrote a letter To Whom It May Concern, “I believe it is of particular and urgent concern that these individuals be allowed to pass through the gate and be given safe refuge at Hamid Karzai International Airport … so that they might be available for departure.”
Armed with that letter, the boy, his father and several other family members approached the airport, but the Taliban attacked.
Brown said, “And they were stopped by a Taliban checkpoint, and they received physical beatings at the gate and they were pushed back where they had to flee and return to a safe house.”
Every single American stranded by Biden should get this kind of media coverage, every day, until they make their way home.