State Department spokesman Ned Price hailed the “unprecedented effort he said the Biden administration had undertaken to rescue Americans trapped behind Taliban enemy lines in Afghanistan.
He was interrupted by veteran Associated Press reporter Matt Lee, who chided Price for congratulating the administration in the middle of a crisis of its own creation. The exchange was as follows (via State Department transcript):
QUESTION: Ned, can I ask you – this is an extremely logistical question, and I hope it will be a very short answer. So, but does Operation Allies Refuge now include all of the categories of people who can go out? That means SIVs, P-1, P-2, and this other at-risk category, or does it still just apply – does that term “Allies Refuge” just only apply to SIVs?
MR PRICE: So Operation Allies Refuge is the —
QUESTION: People are getting briefed on different things all over town.
MR PRICE: Understood, understood. It is a military operation, Operation Allies Refuge. It was a term coined by the Pentagon, so I need to refer you there to speak precisely to what that operation now entails. But what I will say more broadly, of course, is that Operation Allies Refuge, in the first instance, was an effort, an airlift operation, unprecedented airlift operation, that no other administration, either in the —
QUESTION: Okay, but —
MR PRICE: No, no, but – I will get there. But that no other administration, either in the Afghan context or —
QUESTION: Ned, you can pat yourself on the back all you want. I just want to know: Does it include all of these categories now, or is it just the SIVs?
MR PRICE: Matt, it was, in the first instance, an airlift operation for SIVs.
QUESTION: Now what is it?
MR PRICE: Now, of course, what we’re doing is offering an airlift operation, we’re in the midst of an airlift operation, for American citizens, for locally employed staff members, for SIVs, for vulnerable Afghans.
QUESTION: So the entire evacuation effort is Operation Allies Refuge?
MR PRICE: My point was that you’ll need to talk to DOD to understand exactly what OAR encompasses, but obviously we have a vast airlift operation ongoing now that encompasses all of those categories.
On Friday, White House spokesperson Kate Bedingfield said the administration still did not know how many Americans were in Afghanistan. U.S. troops are not venturing beyond the airport to find Americans and give them safe passage.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.