Psaki’s stammering answer on California students trapped in Afghanistan angers Congressional advocates

The Biden administration has botched the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, unaware of how many Americans remain trapped on the ground as the situation in Kabul grows tenser by the hour, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki further proved the administration’s incompetence when asked about a group of California students and their families trapped on the ground.

Psaki was asked by a reporter at her Wednesday afternoon press conference if the Biden administration was aware of a group of students and their parents from California’s El Cajon Valley School District currently stranded in Afghanistan.

“The LA Times has a story saying that a group of students and their parents are in Afghanistan. Do you have any more information on that or is that…?” a reporter asked.

“I do not. Who have recently traveled into Afghanistan?” Psaki responded, in apparent confusion about whether or not the Americans traveled to Afghanistan during the crisis.

(Source: Fox News)

The reporter replied that while she didn’t know the full details, they are “apparently stranded in Afghanistan, having traveled there? I don’t, I don’t know for certain.”

“I certainly don’t have additional information on that. I know, as our secretary of state just noted, when he went through 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,” the press secretary answered.

Psaki’s response caught congressional advocates off guard. Rep. Darrell Issa, (R-CA) reportedly notified the White House, Pentagon, and State Department in recent days that dozens of students and parents from the Cajon Valley Union School District in El Cajon, California were stranded after traveling to the country for summer vacation, according to Fox News.

“Jen Psaki said in a previous briefing to contact the White House with names of stranded American citizens…so we did,” Issa’s communications director, Jonathan Wilcox, said.

Issa’s office has been in contact with Americans on the ground who are having difficulty getting through Taliban checkpoints to get to the airport. His staff says that the State Department’s response has been slow and their information has been slow and unreliable– they’ve utterly failed to manage this crisis.

“Congressman Issa and staff are aware of the location of several American citizens in Afghanistan, and we have been in direct and consistent contact with them. They are scared, stranded and trapped in the Kabul area. So far, they’ve been unable to reach the airport. I know Jen Psaki has previously said this isn’t happening, but she’s dead wrong,” said Wilcox, referencing Psaki’s comment from earlier in the week that Americans are not stranded in Afghanistan.

Congressman Issa appears to be doing more for Americans trapped in Afghanistan than the White House.

“[Issa] also continues to lead our work to confirm visas, passports and other documentation for the people we know are trapped, and we are in consistent contact with official channels including the State Department and the Pentagon, as well as those on the ground in Afghanistan. He is doing everything he can to push those in charge to take emergency action and they should by now be very aware that he’s on this case. We believe that we have made a significant difference, but there is still work to be done to make sure everyone gets home safely,” Wilcox stated.

Psaki has repeatedly told reporters to contact the White House with the names, contact information and any other new information about American citizens or Afghan partners who want to leave Afghanistan. Of course, it would be helpful if the White House themselves had acquired this information before deciding to withdraw from the country.

Despite the gravity of the situation for stranded Americans, President Biden couldn’t hold back a smirk on Wednesday when asked what he would do if there were still Americans in Afghanistan after the August 31st evacuation deadline.

All of this as news develops this morning as the British report a  “very, very credible reporting of an imminent attack” by terrorists, perhaps within hours, on the Kabul airport, and Americans at the gates are being urged by the U.S. Embassy to “leave immediately.”

Kay Apfel

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