by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Joe Biden and his team continue to struggle with their public messaging on Afghanistan more than a week after the fall of Kabul thrust the situation into the national spotlight.
Top Biden administration officials have put forward inaccurate, conflicting, or misleading information about the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan for weeks.
Their inability to defend a floundering evacuation effort has compounded the political fallout for Biden at home, where lawmakers outraged by the apparent lack of planning behind the drawdown have been angered even further by scrambled signals from the White House.
Here are some of the inaccurate or misleading messages from Biden officials.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan attempted to blame a massive backlog of Special Immigrant Visas on former Trump officials during a briefing Monday.
“When we took office in January, the Trump administration had not processed a single Special Immigrant Visa since March of 2020, in nearly a year,” Sullivan said.
His statement is untrue: The Trump State Department issued hundreds of Special Immigrant Visas to Afghans throughout 2020, according to quarterly reports on the program. …
… ‘STRANDED’ AMERICANS
White House press secretary Jen Psaki pushed back on the suggestion American citizens are trapped in the Taliban-controlled country as the end of the evacuation nears.
“I think it’s irresponsible to say Americans are stranded,” Psaki pointedly told Fox News reporter Peter Doocy at the White House on Monday. “They are not. We are committed to bringing Americans who want to come home, home.”
Multiple reports have suggested that Americans in Kabul cannot get through the chaos, violence, and bureaucratic confusion surrounding the airport. …
… AL QAEDA PRESENCE
Biden defended the withdrawal by falsely claiming al Qaeda had been eradicated from Afghanistan — something his own Pentagon contradicted later that same afternoon.