Psaki tells Peter Doocy it’s ‘irresponsible’ to say Americans are stranded in Kabul during tense exchange

The Biden White House often appears to have its own version of reality when it comes to events in the news, which is a risky enough adventure given the growing concerns about the cognitive decline of President Joe Biden, but his spokeswoman really pushed the limits Monday on spinning the truth.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki scoffed at Fox News White House reporter Peter Doocy during Monday’s briefing when he referenced American citizens being stranded in Afghanistan.

Not only did Psaki push back hard to insist the reportedly thousands of Americans still in Kabul who are finding it all but impossible to get to the airport to be evacuated are not stranded, she said it was “irresponsible” to suggest that they are.

“Does the president have a sense that most of the criticism is not of leaving Afghanistan, it’s the way that he has ordered it to happen, by pulling the troops before getting these Americans who are now stranded? Does he have a sense of that?” Doocy asked.

But instead of talking about Biden pulling U.S. troops before trying to evacuate U.S. citizens, Psaki opted to do battle over his choice of words.

“First of all, I think it’s irresponsible to say Americans are stranded, they are not,” she said. “We’re committed to bringing Americans who want to come home, home. We’re in touch with them via phone, via text, via email, via any way that we can possibly reach Americans to get them home if they want to return home.”

“There are no Americans stranded is the White House’s official position on what’s happening in Afghanistan right now?” Doocy pressed.

“I’m just calling you out for saying that we are stranding Americans in Afghanistan when I said — when we have been very clear that we are not leaving Americans who want to return home, we are going to bring them home. And I think that’s important for the American public to hear and understand,” Psaki said.

U.S. Embassy staff are reportedly “deeply disheartened” by what’s happening in Kabul, according to NBC News, which cited a State Department diplomatic cable to report that they are feeling “a sense of betrayal and distrust in the U.S. government.”

The staff highlighted the inability to penetrate the chaos outside the airport, which includes a crush of people and the brutality of Taliban fighters at various checkpoints set up.

“It would be better to die under the Taliban’s bullet” than face the crowds again, one staff member was quoted as saying in the cable. Another said, “Happy to die here, but with dignity and pride.”

Doocy asked if this is what Biden has in mind when he says “America is back,” prompting the press secretary to suggest the debacle in Afghanistan is “leading.”

Psaki said what the president “meant is that we are going to continue to lead in the world including being the leaders in evacuating not just our Afghan partners, not just American citizens, but now also our allies. And we have done that by evacuating approximately 42,000 people over the last month. That is Americans leading. That is our men and women in our military leading on the ground. Securing the airport after the Afghans fled and didn’t secure the airport and ensuring that we are taking care of our partners as we promised to.”

The curious insertion of an “IF” in Psaki’s remarks, to say they’ll evacuate Americans who “want to come home,” being potentially troublesome, as if she is setting the stage for the possibility of Americans being left behind as the deadline to be out approaches.

The established deadline for the U.S. military to be completely out of Afghanistan is August 31, seven days away. Biden is being pressured to extend that deadline and has hinted at doing so, telling ABC News, “If there’s American citizens left, we’re going to stay until we get them all out.”

A Taliban spokesman told Sky News this week that the date is a “red line,” and said there will be “consequences” if the U.S. doesn’t meet the deadline.

“It’s a red line. President Biden announced that on 31 August they would withdraw all their military forces,” Suhail Shaheen stated. “So if they extend it that means they are extending occupation while there is no need for that.”

“If the U.S. or U.K. were to seek additional time to continue evacuations, the answer is no. Or there would be consequences,” he added.

Tom Tillison

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