Pentagon accused of being ‘deliberately vague’ on how many Americans stuck in Afghanistan
During Monday’s press conference, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby was pressed by reporters on how many Americans remain behind enemy lines in Afghanistan amid the Taliban takeover of the country.
“Were you being deliberately vague when you said the number of Americans [trapped in Afghanistan] was several thousand, or was it because you’re not sure of the number? If you need to check the number, I mean that’s the most important number here – the number of Americans. So if it’s just a matter of checking the number, can you do that and give it to us? Or if you’re being deliberately vague, tell me why you’re being deliberately vague.” reporter David Martin asked Kirby.
“I think I’m just gonna leave it at several thousand right now, Dave,” Kirby responds.
Well, then tell us why?” Martin asks.
“Because I think the number is very fluid, and it literally changes nearly by the hour,” Kirby says.
“It’s not more fluid than these eleven thousand, thirty-seven thousand…” Martin says before being interrupted by Kirby.
“I’m gonna leave it at several thousand right now,” Kirby says again.
“Hate to see this from the Pentagon…too worried about the politics of their language…just shoot the truth and answer the hard questions,” said one Twitter user in response to Kirby’s answer.
“So you in the Pentagon don’t know anything more than I do? Fire yourself,” replied another.
“The fact that they can’t give a more precise number is pathetic,” said someone else.
The press conference came after the Taliban issued a warning to President Biden that there would be “consequences” if Biden does not stick to the August 31 deadline of withdrawing from Afghanistan.
“It’s a red line. President Biden announced that on 31 August, they would withdraw all their military forces. So if they extend it, that means they are extending occupation while there is no need for that,” Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said.
“If the US or UK were to seek additional time to continue evacuations – the answer is no. Or there would be consequences,” he added. “It will create mistrust between us. If they are intent on continuing the occupation, it will provoke a reaction,” Shaheen continued.
Shaheen’s warning came hours after Biden said the U.S. could extend the August 31 deadline during a press conference Sunday.