White House press secretary Jen Psaki, during a press briefing Monday, wouldn’t directly answer when asked if the U.S. met its objective in terms of evacuating people from Afghanistan ahead of the Aug. 31 deadline to withdraw U.S. troops from the country.
“So as we approach that deadline, either tonight or tomorrow, whatever it is, did the U.S. accomplish its objective knowing that there will be likely thousands of [Special Immigrant Visa] applicants and others still there, and certainly some Americans as well? Did we achieve our objective?” NBC News’ White House correspondent Peter Alexander asked.
“I think, first, we have to date evacuated more than 120,000 people — that’s 120,000 lives that we have saved — including 6,000 Americans and their families, many of them dual nationals,” Psaki responded. “And we are continuing — our commitment is enduring to Afghan partners, to American citizens who may not have decided to leave — that is their right to determine when they want to leave — that commitment is enduring.”
“But we have saved 120,000 lives and I will let you evaluate that for yourself,” she reiterated, without directly answering Alexander’s question as to whether the U.S. accomplished its objective in terms of getting people out of the country.
Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, announced the completion of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan at a press briefing earlier Monday even though President Joe Biden had promised earlier that the U.S. would keep troops in Afghanistan past the deadline if deemed necessary to evacuate all Americans from the country. (RELATED: US Military Allegedly Blocked American Citizens From Entering Kabul Airport, Top GOP Senator Demands To Know Why)
A U.S. official with direct knowledge of the situation told the Daily Caller last week it seems “doubtful” whether the U.S. can bring the Americans remaining in Afghanistan before the deadline. The Taliban had also threatened retaliation against Americans and others if U.S. forces remained in the country.
The State Department said Sunday around 250 Americans who are still in Afghanistan are trying to leave while the remaining Americans are “undecided” about leaving or “do not intend to depart.”