State shocker: Did Biden abandon *14,000* Americans in Afghanistan?

Drew Angerer/Pool via AP

Good Lord. Now we know why the State Department keeps playing coy with the number of legal permanent American residents (LPRs) Joe Biden left to the Taliban. While the White House and Foggy Bottom talked about a couple of hundred American citizens, they knew that the total number of Americans ranged as high as fourteen thousand, according to Foreign Policy and testimony in Congress:

The State Department believes as many as 14,000 U.S. legal permanent residents remain in Afghanistan, Foreign Policy has learned, as the agency faces increasing scrutiny from Congress about the status of U.S. citizens and green card holders that are still stranded in the Taliban-controlled country.

The finding, disclosed by a congressional aide familiar with the matter, has been transmitted by the State Department to aides on Capitol Hill in private, but officials demurred on revealing the figure when questioned by Republican lawmakers on Wednesday, insisting the agency doesn’t track the figure.

“Isn’t the operating assumption about 14,000?” Republican Rep. Chris Smith asked Brian McKeon, deputy secretary of state for management and resources, at a hearing on Wednesday, referring to the figure briefed in private.

“We don’t track [legal permanent residents],” McKeon responded. “It’s a good question why we don’t,” he added, suggesting the lack of clarity might be because the State Department does not require Americans and legal permanent residents traveling abroad to report their whereabouts.

It’s not just a “good question,” it’s a question that has been raised almost every day at the State Department briefings. Almost three months after Biden’s disgraceful bug-out of Afghanistan, the State Department should at least be able to answer the questions of “why we don’t” track LPRs.

This figure makes a lot more sense than the few hundred that State finally conceded last week by narrowing it to American citizens only. LPRs are Americans as well, able to travel on US passports as they wish and having the protection of the US when they do — theoretically these days, I guess. Before the collapse in Kabul, news reports estimated that the number of Americans left to get out after Biden initially pulled the military out of Afghanistan ran into five figures, only to have State come up with its bizarre count of “citizens” in the maelstrom of the Kabul extraction.

Jim Geraghty is stunned:

A good question?

If it isn’t the job of the U.S. State Department to keep track of legal permanent residents who are in a country under the control of a hostile force . . . whose job is it? …

Because it cannot be emphasized enough, President Biden told ABC News unequivocally on August 19 that the U.S. would not leave any Americans stranded in Afghanistan: “If there are American citizens left, we’re going to stay until we get them all out.”

Seventy-seven days later, there are still American citizens and U.S. green-card holders trapped in Afghanistan — including two dozen American schoolchildren: “San Juan Unified, which had at least 41 students trapped in Afghanistan in recent weeks, told The Sacramento Bee that some have since returned; others are on their way. Sixteen students have returned to Sacramento and 24 are still in Afghanistan, according to district officials.”

Here’s another good question: where are US national media outlets on this issue? Local news outlets have provided some reporting on abandoned Americans in Afghanistan, such as the story Jim links above. Foreign Policy reported on the congressional testimony and the State Department’s estimation of 14,000 abandoned LPRs. Even though Joe Biden pledged on national television not to leave until “American citizens” all got out and clearly lied, US media outlets have not bothered to report on this at all.

Biden’s disgrace has become their disgrace as well.

Our friend John Ondrasik expressed that sentiment perfectly in his song “Blood On My Hands,” which got a commendation from the House floor yesterday from Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA). Let’s keep passing this along, and keep pressure on this administration and the media to fully account for their disgrace.