(CNSNews.com) – White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday that if anyone is hearing from American citizens still in Afghanistan who can’t get into contact with State Department officials, they should give her their contact information.
Fox News White House Correspondent Peter Doocy told Psaki, “And I know that you said yesterday it’s irresponsible to say that Americans are stranded in Afghanistan right now. What do you say to the American citizens in Kabul that Fox spoke to this morning.
“She’s going by Fatima, and she says we are stranded at home. For 4 days, 3 days, we didn’t hear anything from anywhere, and they’re saying to go to the airport, but we’re not being given clear guidance, and our emails are getting ignored,” she said.
PSAKI: Well, why don’t I convey to you exactly what we are doing, and I think what’s important to note that I also said yesterday in the full context of my answer, which I put out today, was that we are committed to bringing Americans home who want to leave, and that is the resident’s commitment.
We are — so let me explain to you how our process works, and there have been some very good questions, including from you and from others about this.
One, as we’ve said, this is a dynamic number. We’re working hour by hour to refine and make it precise. Understand your desire and interest in having exact number of American citizens on the ground, and the State Department, I expect, will have an exact update on that tomorrow. Just to remind you, the U.S. government does not track our citizens when they travel around the world.
We rely on self- reporting not just in Afghanistan — anywhere in the world. People have to decide to register or not; it’s up to them — individuals — whether they decide to register or not, wherever they may be, and if you register when you’re in a country like Afghanistan, you aren’t required to de-register.
The State Department also issues alerts. They have publicized phone number and e-mail to contact if you’re in Afghanistan and want assistance to leave, and for months, the Department has been telling Americans to leave Afghanistan for their own safety. It is our responsibility and our role to work with and help American citizens who want to leave.
Let me finish — I’m almost done — and then you can ask a follow-up question. In recent days, they have reached out to every American citizen registered in Afghanistan directly, multiple times. This is a 24/7 operation. Embassies all over the world are supporting phone banking, text banking, and e-mail efforts.
If we are not in touch with this individual, give me their contact information, and we will get in touch with them. If any of you are hearing from American citizens who can’t reach us, give me their contact information, and we will get in contact with them.
Our estimate of the overall number of American citizens who are there can increase because folks are just now responding to our outreach who may not have registered. It can also decrease because people leave, they don’t tell us they leave; or individuals who may reach out and convey they have the documentation needed, don’t.
So there are a range of factors here, and it’s our responsibility to give you accurate information. That’s what our focus is on.
DOOCY: But you say no Americans are stranded. This is someone in Kabul who says, “I am stranded.” So is there a better word for somebody who can’t leave the house to get to the airport because Jake Sullivan says ISIS is outside the airport? What — if it’s not “stranded” —
PSAKI: I would welcome you providing their phone number, and we will reach out to them today.
DOOCY: That can be arranged.
PSAKI: And I can assure you of that.
DOOCY: And the final question: If the Taliban said that staying past the 31st was going to provoke a reaction, and then President Biden decides, “Okay, we won’t stay,” do they have the same kind of influence over military planning as the Commander-in-Chief?
PSAKI: Well, first of all, Peter, the Taliban’s deadline was May 1st — struck in a deal with the prior administration. The president’s timeline was August 31st. That’s the timeline he set and a ti- — and a period of time he needed in order to operationalize our departure from Afghanistan.
I’d also note that, as I said — as we conveyed in the statement — that our objective and our focus, and the focus of the Commander-in-Chief, is always going to be on the safety and security of the men and women who are serving our country in the military, and that has to be a factor here, and that certainly is a factor for him as he thinks about the timeline.