Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) charged Tuesday that the Biden administration was not being truthful about several aspects of the evacuation of Afghanistan — including the number of US citizens left behind.
“He knew that we were going to leave Americans behind, and I think he lied to us,” Graham told Fox News’ Sean Hannity of President Biden.
“I think there are hundreds, if not thousands, of Americans left behind,” the senator added, “[and] tens of thousands of Afghans.”
The White House has not yet provided an exact count of either the number of US citizens who were flown out of Afghanistan during the withdrawal operation, nor the exact number who remain in Taliban-controlled territory.
In remarks Tuesday, Biden said twice that “more than 5,500” Americans were evacuated, while US Central Command commander Gen. Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie said Monday that at least 6,000 had been flown out.
Similarly, while Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have said that between 100 and 200 Americans remain in Afghanistan who want to leave the country, McKenzie could only say the number was “in the “very low hundreds.” Meanwhile, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told MSNBC Tuesday that in addition to that remainder of Americans who still want out, “there were also several hundred others that didn’t want to leave.”
Graham also reacted to a report by Reuters that Biden had told then-Afghan President Ashraf Ghani of the need to “project a different picture” of the fight against the Taliban in a July 23 phone call. Ghani fled Afghanistan a little more than three weeks later, as the Taliban capped its final offensive by entering Kabul with little resistance.
Recalling a recent meeting with the now-deposed Afghan leader and his ministers, Graham said Kabul government was “frustrated with the Biden administration because they wouldn’t give them a straight story about how much aid we would provide and when air support would end.
“.I’ve been told that the Afghans were told by the Biden administration, ‘You can not count on any air support after August 31st.’ Now, that’s a big deal, because that spread throughout the Afghan military,” Graham said. “They were trained to fight with American air support behind them, and we took that off the table. So they’re [the Biden administration is] lying through their teeth about what they did and when they did it.”
Though Biden said earlier Tuesday that he did not believe American security was enhanced by “continuing to deploy thousands of American troops and spending billions of dollars a year in Afghanistan,” he did vow to “maintain the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan” and specifically warned the ISIS-K terror group: “We are not done with you yet.”
“If the war is over, why are we still using drones to kill people and talking about more drone killing in the future, if there’s no threat from Afghanistan?” Graham asked. “If drones would stop ISIS from taking over Iraq and Syria, why didn’t it work then?”