Our botched Afghan evacuation, by the numbers

Scott has provided video of the exchanges between Sec. Antony Blinken and several Republican Senators yesterday during a hearing on the Afghanistan fiasco. He has done a great service to those of us unwilling to watch Blinken in full.

All of the clips Scott presented are worth watching. In this post, I want to focus on Sen. Rob Portman’s comments (the video is below). Portman presented the best data made available to him by the government regarding the evacuation. Blinken did not dispute Portman’s numbers.

The numbers are rough estimates in some cases because our government hasn’t been able to provide better information. Even so, it’s fair at this juncture to base our assessment of the evacuation on the data Portman presented.

According to Portman, the U.S. evacuated only 705 of the 18,000 applicants for special immigrant visas (SIV). It’s estimated that we evacuated only 30,000 of the 60,000 Afghans deemed to be “at risk” as a result of our withdrawal.

Furthermore, an estimated three-quarters of the people we evacuated fit within none of the following categories: U.S. citizen, green card holder, SIV applicant, P1 or P2 visa holder. Thus, we failed miserably at getting out the people who deserved to be evacuated, while evacuating huge numbers of people with no recognizable claim to the privilege of being rescued at the risk of American service members’ lives, or even with a plausible claim to being “at risk.”

I assume the vast majority of these non-deserving evacuees wish to contribute positively to America. Many of them probably will. But those who can’t, and their children, will become disillusioned and some, in their disillusionment, may become threats to our security. In addition, it’s possible that some evacuees already pose a threat.

The Biden administration promises to vet the evacuees. However, that promise is all but meaningless because, as Mark Krikorian has pointed out, there’s no way reliably to vet these people.

The only reliable vetting was through the SIV program, under which Afghans who proved their loyalty to the U.S. by risking their lives to help counter the Taliban became eligible to enter America. But the Biden administration showed little interest in moving that process along until its friends at the Washington Post complained in late June. By then it was too late to move the process anywhere close to where it should have been.

Thanks to Biden’s ass-backwards way of leaving Afghanistan, the evacuation was too chaotic to enable us to avoid the shockingly poor results Portman cited in his comments to Blinken. The consequences will be dire for many we left behind in Afghanistan. We can only hope they won’t be dire here in America.

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