Just how many American citizens did Joe Biden abandon in Afghanistan in his hasty retreat? The State Department estimates the number at around one hundred, but Plan B Afghan rescue volunteer Jean Marie Thrower says it’s closer to one thousand. In an interview with Fox News Channel yesterday, Thrower declared herself “appalled” by the Biden administration’s lack of action to exfiltrate American citizens. “We do not have a lot of time,” Thrower said, to get them out before the Taliban finds them.
Thrower’s estimates apparently don’t count the legal permanent residents, either, but her biggest priority are the Afghan allies that are at the highest risk for torture and execution:
That’s also a high priority for Rep. Greg Murphy (R-NC), whose office started off tracking two interpreters that needed exfiltration. That rapidly escalated into the hundreds, and now Murphy’s office is helping over 700 people find their way out of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan:
One of Murphy’s staffers, who served in Afghanistan until July of 2020 and is now a student at Georgetown University, is part of that network.
“We were responsible for securing the airfield. We had a lot of interpreters that worked for us,” Kevin Ryan told Fox News Digital of his time in Afghanistan. “Once the collapse happened, interpreters started to reach out to us asking for help, saying they were stuck.”
Two of the interpreters who sought help from Ryan “were unable to get out” of the country “because their paperwork hadn’t been processed in time.” Helping those two individuals brought Ryan down a path of helping a handful of others.
Murphy’s office is working to help some 740 individuals escape Afghanistan.
“What started with a family of four and one single interpreters burgeoned from that into…10 people that are stuck there, including three young children. Larger than that, there’s another group of 70. And then the total pools is between 700 and 800 people…who are trying to get out of Afghanistan through this office,” Ryan explained.
Murphy and his team aren’t impressed with the Biden administration’s response either:
“Our State Department has been deplorable. Their response — if they do call back — has been utterly deplorable,” Murphy said of his office’s efforts to help those left in Afghanistan.
Give credit to CBS News for also reporting on the debacle of abandoned American allies, if not the Americans themselves. Yesterday, CBS featured a story about one Afghan translator who had tried to get out of the country starting in the Obama administration. Now, he’s hoping to get out before the Taliban can find him and his family. “God, what did we do to these people?” former Marine Mike Donoghue. “We left them, we abandoned them”:
“He’s an incredibly honorable man who served our country at great peril to his own life,” Donoghue told CBS News senior investigative correspondent Catherine Herridge.
“Could be hours, could be days. I’m just hoping he makes it back,” said Donoghue.
Documents reviewed by CBS News suggest Shirzad applied for a special immigrant visa as early as 2016. Donoghue said the process was botched and he re-submitted Shirzad’s papers, along with multiple recommendations from the U.S. military.
“Every moment I’m in danger,” Shirzad told CBS News. He’s hiding in a safe house in Afghanistan that’s littered with garbage and filth.
Shirzad said he was taking the risk of speaking to the media because he has only two options: Get his message out and get to the U.S., or face the very real prospect that he and his family will be killed by the Taliban.
“Every moment, I feel the Taliban will find out, and they will kill us,” said Shirzad.
So what are we doing to get the tens of thousands of Americans and allies out safely? The question did come back up at yesterday’s State Department briefing, and the numbers suggest the answer is … not much:
QUESTION: Hi, thanks. I wanted to ask on Afghanistan if there have been any additional flights for American citizens and green card holders, and if so, how many LPRs and AMCITs have left the country? Have there been any more overland crossings, and what is your estimate of how many folks still remain there who would like to leave? Thank you.
MR PRICE: Thanks, Jenny. So I’m happy to offer a recap as it stands when it comes to American citizens and LPRs. Since August 31st, a total of 85 U.S. citizens and 79 lawful permanent residents have departed Afghanistan with our assistance. That includes four Qatar Airways charter flights that have departed Kabul with a total of 78 U.S. citizens and 66 lawful permanent residents. Additionally, since August 31st, seven U.S. citizens and thirteen LPRs have departed Afghanistan with our assistance via overland crossing. I think all of this underscores that we continue to make good on our pledge to U.S. citizens, to LPRs, and to Afghans to whom we have a special commitment that we will be relentless in helping them depart Afghanistan if and when they choose to do so.
We’ve spoken about the charters facilitated by our partner Qatar that are leaving from Kabul International Airport. We’ve spoken about the overland crossings. We can also confirm that a few privately organized flights have departed from Mazar-e-Sharif, and we’re continuing to facilitate the safe and orderly travel of U.S. citizens, LPRs, and Afghans to whom we have a special commitment who wish to leave Afghanistan through all of those means.
One can tell that this isn’t terribly impressive, because if it were, Ned Price would have made that claim as part of his opening statement. Most of those for whom Price takes credit flew out in the first week after our retreat. The State Department keeps trying to take credit for the overland exfils, but the groups involved in that have angrily pushed back on those claims, insisting that the Biden administration didn’t do much except wait on the safe side of the border. On top of all that, Price didn’t even mention efforts to exfiltrate out the abandoned Americans and allies until pressed about it by a reporter.
To date, State has yet to provide accurate numbers of those left behind to reporters or to Congress. And for good reason: the Biden administration’s priorities are on burying this story, not exfiltrating the people they abandoned in their haste to declare the war over. Accurate numbers would provide a scoreboard for their disgrace and failure. Hopefully, media outlets will follow these examples and keep pushing for a full accounting of those abandoned by Joe Biden in Afghanistan, and an all-hands effort to get them out safely.
Addendum: Fox’s Trey Yingst has been one of the most tenacious reporters on this story. Guy Benson interviewed him yesterday, so follow the link to learn more.
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) September 25, 2021