The Pentagon is taking heat for saying that a “couple hundred American citizens” were boarded onto planes out of Afghanistan, while the flights overall carried nearly 6,000 passengers.
“Why in the world is this administration not making sure every single American gets out first?” Newsweek opinion editor Josh Hammer tweeted, following a press briefing from Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor, vice director for logistics of the Joint Staff.
As of 3:00 a.m. EST on Friday, “16 C-17s and one C-130 departed Kabul. These flights contain nearly 6,000 passengers, including a couple hundred American citizens,” Taylor said Friday.
“The airport remains secure. The evacuation flights are steadily increasing and we are doing everything we can to maximize safe evacuations.”
He added that since Aug. 14, 13,000 total evacuees have been airlifted out of Afghanistan, and 18,000 people had left since July amid the Taliban’s takeover of the country. Taylor said there are 5,800 U.S. troops on the ground.
Critics, however, lambasted the Biden administration for the comments, questioning why only a couple hundred Americans were on the flights and why the White House wasn’t “putting Americans first.”
“There’s no one more important than bringing American citizens out, I acknowledge that. But they’re equally important, almost,” Biden told reporters on Friday , referring to the thousands of interpreters and other Afghan personnel who have aided the U.S.
A State Department spokesperson estimated there are between 5,000 and 10,000 American citizens in Afghanistan. While Defense Department Defense Department spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. is able to airlift between 5,000 and 9,000 people each day.