CBS News’ David Martin, the national security reporter, seemed to be perplexed that Kirby was unable to come up with a more precise number than “several thousand.” He told Kirby it seemed reasonable that the administration could produce some kind of figure given that it is the “most important number.”
“If it’s just a matter of checking the number, can you do that and give it to us?” he asked. “Or, if you are being deliberately vague, tell me why you are being deliberately vague?”
Kirby dug in and said he will leave the estimate at several thousand because the situation is fluid in the country and he said it changes “literally by the hour.”
“It’s not more fluid than these 11,000…37,000,” Martin said.
Kirby interjected, “I’m going to leave it at several thousand right now.”
The Pentagon did not immediately respond to an after-hours email from Fox News.
The Biden administration has been criticized over the fall of Kabul and subsequent crisis in the country now under Taliban rule. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, grew visibly annoyed during the press briefing Monday when she was asked whether President Biden was aware that most of the criticism against the Afghanistan withdrawal was about Americans being “stranded” in Kabul.
Psaki said it was “irresponsible” to say that Americans are stranded in Afghanistan. “I think it’s irresponsible to say Americans are stranded. They are not. We are committed to bringing Americans who want to come home, home.”