President Biden, August 31: “We believe that about 100 to 200 Americans remain in Afghanistan with some intention to leave… For those remaining Americans there is no deadline. We remain committed to get them out if they want to come out.”
White House chief of staff Ron Klain, September 5: “We believe it’s around about 100. We’re in touch with all of them, who we’ve identified, on a regular basis.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, September 13: “As of the end of last week, we had about 100 American citizens in Afghanistan who told us that they wish to leave the country.”
Briefing with an unidentified senior State Department official, September 27: “With respect to the number of [American citizens] and [legal permanent residents] that are ready to go, it’s – I would say, in the vicinity of 100.”
CNN, Friday: “The State Department informed congressional staff Thursday that it is in touch with 363 US citizens in Afghanistan, 176 of whom want to leave, two sources familiar with the call told CNN… More than 200 US citizens have been evacuated with the help of the US government since August 31, according to the State Department, meaning that upwards of 400 Americans have sought US help leaving the country in the nearly two months since the military withdrawal.”
So all along, the administration’s public estimates were roughly one quarter of the actual number of Americans who were actually still in the country and trying to get out.
The administration claims that the number is fluid because of the number of Americans who thought they wanted to remain in Afghanistan, and enjoy all the benefits and joys of living under the Taliban, but who later changed their mind and now want to leave.