'This Is a Lie': Marco Rubio Blasts State Department for Claiming Some Americans Want to Stay in Afghanistan
On Wednesday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) called out Secretary of State Antony Blinken for the “lie” that some stranded Americans actually want to stay in Afghanistan.
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Blinken said as many as 1,500 Americans are awaiting evacuation in Afghanistan following the 4,500 Americans who have been airlifted out of the country so far.
President-elect Joe Biden listens as his Secretary of State nominee Tony Blinken speaks at The Queen theater, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
“What we’re doing is very carefully tabulating everything we have, cross-checking it, referencing it, using different databases,” Blinken told reporters. “We will have numbers for all those different categories in the days ahead and after this initial phase of efforts to bring people out of Afghanistan ends.”
Earlier in the day, the State Department said 4,100 Americans remain in Afghanistan, but that number was later dismissed as an error.
State Department now tells me the BRIEFER MISSPOKE on this call, and the 4100 number is not accurate.
State did not provide an accurate number, said Blinken will speak to this later. https://t.co/fYV9aDVScU
— Jacqui Heinrich (@JacquiHeinrich) August 25, 2021
Blinken explained that the State Department “has contacted 500 Americans and is still trying to reach another 1,000, he said, adding that it’s unclear how many in this group want to leave the country,” according to Politico.
“Since the original military withdrawal began on Aug. 14, the State Department has sent more than 20,000 emails and made over 40,000 phone calls to Americans advising them how to leave the country if they wished and providing other resources, Blinken said,” reported the outlet.
Afghans gather on a roadside near the military part of the airport in Kabul on August 20, 2021, hoping to flee from the country after the Taliban’s military takeover of Afghanistan. (Photo by Wakil KOHSAR / AFP) (Photo by WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images)
Blinken said since the U.S. government does not keep a full account of Americans who travel, there could be “other Americans in Afghanistan who never enrolled with the embassy, who ignored public evacuation notices and have not yet identified themselves.”
“We’ve also found that many people who contact us and identify themselves as American citizens, including by filling out and submitting repatriation assistance forms, are not, in fact, U.S. citizens, something that can take some time to verify. And some Americans may choose to stay in Afghanistan,” he explained.
Marco Rubio simply called it a “lie” to suggest that some Americans may “choose” to stay in Afghanistan.
The @StateDept admits 4,100 Americans remaining in Kabul alone but claim that some of them are deciding not to leave
This is a lie
Taliban isn’t allowing American women through their checkpoints without a male guardian & are blocking non-citizen family members of U.S. citizens
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) August 25, 2021
The United States plans to be fully withdrawn from Afghanistan by the August 31 deadline, which will likely result in Americans and Afghan allies being left behind. Blinken said he will use “every diplomatic, economic, political and assistance tool” at his disposal to “uphold their basic rights.”
“That’s going to be a relentless focus of our actions going forward,” he said. “Locally employed staff, along with American citizens — nothing is more important to me as Secretary of State than to do right by the people who have been working side-by-side with American diplomats in our embassy.”