Pentagon spokesman John Kirby was deliberately vague when answering a reporter who cornered him during a briefing on Monday about the number of Americans who have been evacuated from Afghanistan.
A reporter named David bluntly asked Kirby about the number, saying, “John, were you being deliberately vague when you said the number of Americans was several thousand or was it because you weren’t sure of the number? If you need to check the number, I mean that’s the most important number, 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 are being deliberately vague, tell me why you’re being deliberately vague?”
“I think I’m just going to leave it at several thousand. right now, David,” Kirby tersely answered.
The reporter didn’t let up, “Well, then tell us why?”
“Because I think the number is very fluid and it literally changes by the hour,” he deflected.
“It’s not more fluid than these 11,000, 37,000…” the reporter interjected.
“I’m going to leave it at several thousand right now,” Kirby snapped and then moved on, dismissing the reporter who had cornered him.
(Video Credit: GOP War Room)
During the entire briefing, Kirby gave vague answers to questions especially when it came to numbers, and continually repeated himself.
“Can I ask you a question on Afghanistan also? A couple of things. You’ve said, I think, General Taylor said a number of times as well that the military’s airlift capacity at the airport was in the neighborhood of 5,000 to 9,000. You’ve now gone beyond that as of yesterday. Can you say what the capacity has grown to and also can you explain a little more about the perimeter issue that the general alluded to very briefly when the president said yesterday something to the effect that the perimeter had been moved back significantly to facilitate the airfield,” the reporter asked Kirby earlier in the briefing.
“So, a couple of things on the capacity thing. You’re right. We had set a goal of 5 to 9,000 a day. Yesterday, we exceeded that. We’re not taking anything for granted, Bob. We’re taking this day by day. We’d love to see those numbers continue to rise. But we’re just going to take it day by day. There’s a lot of factors that go into being able to reach that output capacity to include temporary safe-havens that you can bring these individuals to as they complete their screening,” Kirby vaguely noted.
“The screening is a big part of that. We have intelligence and law enforcement personnel at these sites making sure that robust screening is done of these individuals so that nobody comes into the United States that hasn’t been screened in a robust manner. So, there are lots of factors that affect throughput. We were very glad to see that we were able to get that number out yesterday. But we’re going to take it day by day,” he responded.
“What the president was referring to was efforts to improve that access from a geographical space. Out beyond just the perimeter of the airfield. I won’t speak to the details of how we’re managing that but you can imagine thus far and going forward it does require constant coordination and deconfliction with the Taliban,” he stated.
He spoke of keeping lines of communication open with the Taliban and controlling crowd size.
“It’s absolutely requiring of us to keep these lines of communication with the Taliban open who do have checkpoints out beyond the airport. What we have seen is that this coordination has… this deconfliction has worked well in terms of allowing access inflow to continue as well as reducing the overall size of the crowds just outside the airport and those crowds have been a factor, Bob,” Kirby noted.
Kirby also deflected when it came to the Aug. 31 deadline for withdrawing troops.
“I’m not going to speak to the specificity with the communications that we’re having with the Taliban on any given day. It happens several times a day. We’re well aware of the stated desire by the Taliban to have this mission completed by the 31st of August. I would tell you that we too are still planning on completing it by the 31st of August. That is the mission that we have been assigned by the Commander-in-Chief who assigned it to us and that is what we are trying to execute,” he said.
Multiple phrases were used over and over and in the end, very little information was doled out by Kirby especially regarding how many Americans have been flown out of Afghanistan. It was a political word salad.
Kirby’s waffling disgusted many on social media:
The “It changes by the hour“ excuse only worked until about 1985.
— David Williams (@massgeneric) August 23, 2021
That is so unbelievably frustrating.
— Jonathan (@Jonathan_M116) August 23, 2021
Unbelievable. It’s like bad tv
— Tory Jean 🍍 (@tory_jeans) August 23, 2021
— DB (@DB09215406) August 23, 2021
Waiting to see how many evacuees Harris brings back on her 747. Or will she over fly like she did the Southern Border.
— Houston Flood (@houston_flood) August 23, 2021
By being deliberately vague and not explaining why, Kirby is part of the problem
— Woody Pfister (He/His Magnificence) (@WoodyPfister) August 23, 2021
He can’t answer that cause he is too busy helping the Taliban.
— thinkindependant (@Cultbeer1) August 23, 2021
— Karen Rosen (@Caseyros17) August 23, 2021
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