During a hearing in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee, a top Pentagon official admitted that there were still nearly 450 Americans stranded in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
Colin H. Kahl, the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, said that the State Department is “in contact with 196 American citizens who are ready to depart, and arrangements are being made for them to do so either via air or over ground. And another 243 American citizens have been contacted and are not ready to depart — either because they want to stay in Afghanistan or aren’t ready.”
Kahl’s numbers total up to 439 Americans are still stranded in Afghanistan, 76 more than the 363 the State Department had told congressional staff last week – and far more than the claims of less than 100 the Biden administration had said in September.
In response, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) slammed the administration for the “confusing” and “changing” numbers.
“One of the many confusing things about this whole thing is that we really don’t know how many Americans were left in Afghanistan,” Inhofe began. “The administration’s number of U.S. citizens left in Afghanistan keeps changing. We all understand that, and it’s very confusing.”
“The administration always said 100 to 200 U.S. citizens left in Afghanistan, but it has already withdrawn 234 and is in contact with 363 others, 176 of whom want to leave… The administration by its own count left 600 Americans behind, over 100 of whom want to leave, not the 100 to 200 that has been referred to several times,” Inhofe said.
Inhofe pointed out that there “are still thousands of Americans unaccounted for” based on the numbers given by Secretary Blinken in August of 10 to 15,000 Americans in Afghanistan compared with the Biden administration’s claim of having evacuated 6,000 Americans by August 31.
“This would mean somewhere between 4,000 and 9,000 Americans were left behind, but the administration says 100 to 200 are remaining,” Inhofe explained. “In October, the administration state that 234 Americans have been evacuated since the 31st of August.”
“The State Department says it’s in contact with 363 more Americans in Afghanistan, 176 of whom want to leave,” Inhofe said, referencing the tally from last week that has since been increased.
“Now if we can figure this out you’re doing a lot better than I have done,” Inhofe added.