As WH Touts Successful Operation In Afghanistan, Reports Surface Of Students And Parents Stranded After Summer Trip Abroad
Editor’s note: This article has been updated with White House press secretary Jen Psaki’s response to being questioned about the student group.
While the White House is desperately projecting an air of success in their withdrawal efforts, reports have surfaced that over 30 students and parents from a California school district have been stranded in Afghanistan following a summer trip abroad.
Worse, it appears that the Biden administration – or at least press secretary Jen Psaki – had no idea of their presence.
The Los Angeles Times Tuesday evening reported that “at least 24 students from the Cajon Valley Union School District in El Cajon and 16 parents are stranded in Afghanistan.”
The families, according to the newspaper, traveled to Afghanistan on special visas for U.S. military service and had been visiting on summer vacation.
The district superintendent has been in touch with Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and indicated government officials “are working to locate the children and their families.”
“At least 24 students from the Cajon Valley Union School District in El Cajon and 16 parents are stranded in Afghanistan after taking a summer trip abroad.” https://t.co/70nRM7Z2fF
— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) August 25, 2021
Psaki Takes Issue With Saying People Are Stranded in Afghanistan
News of the stranded students and their parents comes just days after White House press secretary Jen Psaki took issue with the characterization of Americans being abandoned, snapping at a reporter.
“I think it’s irresponsible to say Americans are stranded. They are not,” Psaki said. “We are committed to bringing Americans who want to come home, home.”
Biden Press Sec Jen Psaki saying Americans are not stranded in Afghanistan is ignorant.
Americans are stranded there as we speak because Biden failed to get them out.pic.twitter.com/ecEPvjrMdS
— GOP (@GOP) August 23, 2021
Of the student group in particular, Yahoo reports that Psaki was “caught flat-footed” by the knowledge.
A reporter asked Psaki about the group: “Do you have any more information on that or is that?–”
“I do not. Who have recently traveled into Afghanistan?” Psaki stated in response, appearing confused about the report.
“I certainly don’t have additional information on that. I know, as our secretary of state just noted, when he went through a a thorough summary of American citizens and our contacts and our focus over the last several days, he gave an update. I am happy to take their information if there is something more detailed to have.”
In a press briefing Tuesday, Psaki continued to deflect on the notion that Americans are stranded in Afghanistan.
“You say no Americans are stranded,” one reporter asked providing an example of one such person, an American in Kabul who claims to have been stranded for days.
“I would welcome you providing their phone number, and we will reach out to them today,” replied Psaki.
She would eventually concede “we expect there could be some” Americans who are left behind “but I’m not going to get into it further.”
Jen Psaki refuses to say what Biden would do if Americans are left behind after all U.S. troops leave Afghanistan.
“We expect there could be some but I’m not going to get into it further” pic.twitter.com/yrxGq4tsQz
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) August 24, 2021
‘Success’ in Afghanistan
During a trip to Singapore, Vice President Kamala Harris touted a successful White House operation in withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.
“There’s no question there will be and should be a robust analysis of what has happened. But right now … our focus has to be on evacuating,” Harris told reporters.
“And to that end, we have seen a successful drawdown of the embassy and, thankfully, without any American casualties.”
Asked about botched Afghanistan withdrawal, Kamala Harris brags about the “successful drawdown of the embassy.” pic.twitter.com/GgqTMmPKGY
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) August 23, 2021
That ‘success’ apparently “depends” on “coordination” with the Taliban.
Joe Biden says the successful evacuations of Americans in Afghanistan “depends on the Taliban cooperating” pic.twitter.com/zTNLHjIgWd
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) August 24, 2021
Politico, however, is reporting that the “Taliban has now started halting people trying to get in through the airport gates.”
“Not just Afghans but American citizens,” reporter Lara Seligman tweeted.
Three sources tell me and @AlexThomp that the Taliban has now started halting people trying to get in through the airport gates. Not just Afghans but American citizens. Informal groups coordinating need to redirect people on the fly.
— Lara Seligman (@laraseligman) August 24, 2021
As for the students and parents from California currently stranded, Cajon Valley School Board President Tamara Otero told the Los Angeles Times that they had plans to fly out of Afghanistan.
They had already purchased tickets.
“The biggest concern is that the Taliban closed the airport,” Otero conveyed. “We are so worried about our students that are stuck there. We’ll do the best we can to get them out.”
Let’s hope the Biden administration does the same.
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