Messaging fiasco: Pentagon spox Kirby contradicts Psaki, admits Americans ‘stranded’ in Afghanistan

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby may be wise to steer clear of White House press secretary Jen Psaki, lest he get a stern lecture on how “irresponsible” he was being when admitting that Americans were “stranded” in Afghanistan.

Kirby appeared on friendly MSNBC to talk up the great job the Biden administration in evacuating Afghanistan, and disseminate their talking points to counter the roar over American citizens being left behind in Kabul, their fate now in the hands of the brutal Taliban.

The State Department is trying to downplay the number, saying it may be close to 100 — Fox News host Sean Hannity said Monday night it could be as high as one thousand. Kirby admitted Tuesday they don’t know the exact number of Americans still there, as he pushed a “diplomatic” campaign said to now be underway to get people out.

“Right now I think the tools we have available to us and that we’re going to use as a U.S. government is going to be more in the diplomatic, economic lanes, and we don’t really see a military role right now,” Kirby said.

“It’s not completely unlike the way we do it elsewhere around the world. We have Americans that get stranded in countries all the time and we do everything we can to try to facilitate safe passage,” the Pentagon spokesman added.

 

Kirby talked about a “pragmatic relationship” they’ve had with the Taliban and tried to claim that Biden still has “leverage” with those he surrendered to.

“We have made it very clear what our expectations are to the Taliban, and if the Taliban want to govern, and they say they do … obviously we’re going to hold them to their deeds, not just those words,” he stated. “And so there are leverage tools we have available to us to hold them to account. But that’s the effort. It’s going to be a whole of government effort, but I don’t see a military role at this time.”

Kirby’s use of the term “stranded” proved to be inconvenient for Psaki, who sparred with Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy at a briefing last week over the word.

“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.

Psaki pushed back, “First of all, I think it’s irresponsible to say Americans are stranded, they are not.”

“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 replied.

Fast forward a week and the claim that Biden was “not leaving Americans” proved to be untrue.

Here’s a quick sampling of some of the responses to the story from Twitter:

Tom Tillison

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