US President Joe Biden is under fire again after claiming American citizens are not having trouble reaching the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Mr Biden held a media conference at the White House today to update Americans on the evacuation effort, insisting “significant progress” had been made.
He said the US military had evacuated 13,000 people since August 14, and almost 6000 people in the past 24 hours.
But thousands more US citizens, and even more Afghans, are still stuck in Afghanistan. Western forces control Kabul International Airport, but no one can get inside without passing through Taliban checkpoints, and the streets surrounding the airport are packed with people desperate to enter.
Adding to that problem, today the US had to pause its evacuation flights for about 10 hours because there was nowhere for them to go – the processing facility they’d been using in Qatar was at full capacity. That caused a backlog.
The operation has since resumed, with an additional destination reportedly found in Germany.
During his press conference, Mr Biden was asked whether he would sign off on sending US forces outside the airport to escort Americans who haven’t been able to make it inside.
“We have no indication that they haven’t been able to get into Kabul airport,” Mr Biden said.
“We’ve made an agreement with the Taliban, they’ve allowed them to go through, it’s in their interest to let them go through. So we know of no circumstance where American citizens, carrying an American passport, are trying to get through to the airport.
“But we will do whatever needs to be done to see to it that they get to the airport.”
That answer directly contradicted accounts we’ve heard from reporters on the ground in Kabul. Another reporter followed up.
“I just want to follow up on something you said a moment ago. You said there’s no circumstances where American citizens cannot get to the airport. That doesn’t really square with the images we’re seeing around the airport,” said NPR’s Scott Detrow.
“Are you saying, unequivocally, that any American who wants to get to the airport is getting there, and getting past the security barrier to the planes?”