Fox News host Bret Baier called attention to how the number of Americans left stranded in Afghanistan has remained unchanged for weeks as he spoke with colleague Neil Cavuto following Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s recent appearance before the House Committee on Afghanistan.
“Towards the end when [there were] questions about how many Americans are on the ground, the number keeps coming back to roughly a hundred. Well, it’s been roughly a hundred for a couple of weeks…That number seems to be unsatisfying for Republicans especially on that committee,” Baier said on the network’s “Your World with Neil Cavuto” Monday.
“Too, was several thousand green card holders. How many is ‘several thousand’? Is it two, is it three, is it five? Did we try to get them out or not?” the “Special Report” anchor continued.
When it comes to Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders, Baier added that Fox News was told the number is in the tens of thousands.
(Video: Fox News)
“So now you’re looking at a situation where the people who helped us for two decades on the ground, who are threatened by the Taliban, are really running for their lives still. And we can’t get a firm number on what that is or what we’re doing to get them out,” said Baier.
Cavuto then asked, “Do you think the secretary is still safe in his job? That he won’t be fired?”
“Well, I think on this point, [former Defense Secretary] Leon Panetta is right. That it’s President Biden who if he determines that Blinken, who is his long, long-time aide, is safe, he’s safe,” Baier replied.
“I’m surprised that there haven’t been other resignations in other parts of this chain., because this really was a horrible thing, from the intelligence that prevented them from knowing the Taliban was gaming this, to the actual implementation. You saw Secretary Blinken say ‘we inherited a deadline but we didn’t inherit a plan’ as far as withdrawal. That doesn’t cut it, Neil,” Baier added.
“They inherited a deadline, negotiated with conditions-based negotiations as pointed out by some of the Republicans on May 1st. But then they renegotiated that deal to make it September 11th. They renegotiated it. But they didn’t, in the interim, come up with a plan about how to get Americans and other people out by that date. Which is what led to the situation that we saw,” he explained.
Cavuto wondered why the Biden administration, an administration that swiftly ripped to shreds all policies put in place by former President Trump, did not also do the same when it came to America’s troop presence in Afghanistan and their subsequent withdrawal.
“This notion that the Taliban will continue cooperating with us, working with us to get these 100 or so Americans out, these thousands of Afghan nationals out. The latter seems a little bit of a steep climb here. But in the interim, the vacuum is filled by the Chinese, the Russians, others. How do you see this playing out for the administration?” Cavuto asked.
Baier responded, “Listen, hope is a plan, I suppose. But hope is not the best thing for the people that are stuck on the ground. Trusting the Taliban that has a pretty bad record, Neil, is thin as far as wanting to get real results. I think there’s an effort, obviously, that continues every day and there’s also a private effort that continues with former special ops officers.”
“It seems incredulous to think that the secretary of state wouldn’t know an exact number…Wouldn’t that be something a secretary of state would know down to the exact person and last person?” asked Cavuto.
Baier said the Biden administration is arguing that the number fluctuates from day to day.
“The real number is in the thousands of people that we should be getting out. If you talk to anybody in this business including Leon Panetta who said that we have an obligation to these people on the ground,” said Baier, referring to the former Defense Secretary.
Baier disagreed with an assessment by Panettta that the situation would have been no different under a Trump administration.
“I don’t think that is possible. Because as bad as this went, there were conditions baked into the Taliban withdrawal. I’m pretty sure just judging by the people talking about it that they wouldn’t have left all those people on the ground,” Baier contended.
“In the deal itself, there were loopholes that said if you do this, the thing’s over and we get to decide when we’re leaving. The deadline was not firm. If they didn’t meet up with their obligations … they were not already meeting up with those obligations. Now to say the Taliban suddenly is going to be trusted, even though the document that they signed they never lived up to. But now they’re trusted to get these people out? Again, it’s a lot of hope. We’ll see,” Baier concluded.
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