Politics

EXCLUSIVE: Internal Numbers Show White House Poised To Leave Several Thousand Americans Behind Enemy Lines In Afghanistan

Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images

Shelby Talcott Senior White House Correspondent
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Roughly 3,800 Americans have been evacuated from Afghanistan since July 29, with an estimated 8,000 remaining in the country, an official with direct knowledge of the situation told the Daily Caller on Tuesday. The official told the Caller that it seems “doubtful we are going to bring in 8,000 more Americans” between now and the Aug. 31 deadline.

The number has been masked by the White House and Pentagon in recent days, with Pentagon press secretary John Kirby saying Monday that “several thousand” Americans have been evacuated from Afghanistan. Both Kirby and National Security advisor Jake Sullivan declined to give a more specific number and the reasoning varied from non-answers to the “fluid” evacuation process going on in Kabul.

“I’d be reticent to get too much more specific than that, but since the 14th, we believe we have been able to evacuate several thousand Americans,” Kirby told reporters. (RELATED: ‘Your Death Is Eminent’: Taliban Reportedly Hands Down Death Sentence For Brother Of Afghan Translator)

The number provided by the official jives with estimates recently given out by Republican Texas Rep. Kevin Brady. After attending the classified briefing Tuesday, he told reporters around 4,000 Americans have been evacuated from Afghanistan.

Kirby, after originally evading the number, also said Tuesday that around 4,000 American passport holders and their families have been evacuated so far. He noted that the Pentagon expects “that number to continue to grow in the coming days.”

The official said while there’s been no clear direction on not reporting the numbers, it’s become a quiet rule among officials to avoid giving out a more precise number, in part because it’s “embarrassingly low.”

HAMID KARZAI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, AFGHANISTAN - AUGUST 22: This handout image shows A Marine with the 24th Marine Expeditionary unit (MEU) passes out water to evacuees during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 22. U.S. service members are assisting the Department of State with a Non-combatant Evacuation Operation (NEO) in Afghanistan. (Photo by Sgt. Isaiah Campbell / U.S. Marine Corps via Getty Images)

HAMID KARZAI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, AFGHANISTAN – AUGUST 22: This handout image shows A Marine with the 24th Marine Expeditionary unit (MEU) passes out water to evacuees during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 22. U.S. service members are assisting the Department of State with a Non-combatant Evacuation Operation (NEO) in Afghanistan. (Photo by Sgt. Isaiah Campbell / U.S. Marine Corps via Getty Images)

In early February, the assessment was that 16,000 Americans may be in Afghanistan, according to the official. This number has since been tailored down to around 12,000, likely because officials have been contacting Americans in an effort to sort out who remains in the country.

Over the past 24 hours, over 350 Americans departed Afghanistan, according to the official. The White House said early Tuesday that approximately 21,600 people were evacuated from Kabul from August 23 at 3:00 am to August 24 at 3:00 am.

If roughly 350 Americans continue to depart daily over the next week, the U.S. still will not successfully evacuate all American citizens. With eight calendar days remaining from Tuesday through Biden’s Aug. 31 deadline, and assuming the U.S. is able to continue roughly 350 American evacuations per day, some 5,200 U.S. citizens could be left stranded in the country.

However, the evacuation process is likely poised to slow down soon. Fox News reported Tuesday, citing U.S. officials, that the military has already begun reducing its troop presence in the country.

The U.S. has evacuated and helped evacuate around 58,700 people since August 14 and around 63,900 individuals since the end of July. The number of Americans leaving the country indicates that the vast majority of those leaving the country are not U.S. citizens – and that thousands more remain with under one week to go until the Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline.

President Joe Biden is sticking to the Aug. 31 date, although multiple lawmakers from both sides of the aisle expressed concern that the U.S. can get all Americans out by the date. White House press secretary Jen Psaki claimed in a statement Tuesday that the administration is “on pace to finish by August 31st,” despite doubt from lawmakers.

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller.