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As American forces were pulling out of Afghanistan this summer, Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced a new and highly innovative intelligence partnership. The Pentagon, Milley said, would begin sharing classified information with the Taliban — the bearded religious extremists in man pajamas that for 20 years we’ve been told pose a major threat to the United States. But no longer, they’re our partners now. The Biden administration, Milley explained, was open to coordinating with the Taliban on counterterrorism strikes against our new enemies — a shadowy group that may or may not actually exist, called “ISIS-K”:
Mark Milley, September 1: We don’t know what the future of the Taliban is, but I can tell you from personal experience that this is a ruthless group from the past and whether or not they change remains to be seen. And as far as our dealings with them at that airfield or in the past year or so in war, you do what you must in order to reduce risk emission and force, not what you necessarily want to do. Reporter: Any possibility of coordination against ISIS-K with them (the Taliban) do you think? Milley: It’s possible.
Because when you are fighting ISIS-K, no holds are barred. The first of Milley’s “coordinated” attacks against “ISIS-K” arrived three weeks ago, on August 29. That was just days after thirteen U.S. service members were killed in a bombing at the Kabul airport, a date you remember well. At the time, even Democrats were pointing out the obvious—Joe Biden is senile and totally incompetent. The administration desperately needed something to prove they are not senile and incompetent, that they are instead decisive and strong. What better way to do that than to kill people? So that day, the U.S. military bombed a white Toyota in a residential complex not far from the Kabul airport. The White House touted the strike as a demonstration of our “over-the-horizon” military capabilities in Afghanistan—particularly against ISIS-K. Mark Milley, who is pretty young to be senile but often seems like it, strongly agreed this was a good thing.
Mark Milley, September 1: But at this point, we think that the procedures were correctly followed and it was a righteous strike.
Did we say a good thing? We meant righteous—that was a righteous strike. Everyone in Washington agreed. An unnamed U.S. defense official described the attack to Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin this way. Quote: “Multiple suicide bombers inside the vehicle, struck by U.S. drone today in Kabul. Significant explosives in the vehicle led to secondary explosions. Bombers belonged to ISIS-K and were en route to Kabul airport.”
So it was perfect. All the bad people were dead. All those ISIS-K operatives. Virtually every news organization in the country parroted this account. They were grateful to give poor old Joe Biden credit for something. The Washington Post assigned five reporters to the story. They dug deep and concluded Biden’s drone attack had hit quote, an “Islamic State target.” On television, where there’s mostly no reporting at all, they just read the paper and repeat it, not a single person seemed skeptical very skeptical of this:
MSNBC guest: Our ability to demonstrate effectively that we can strike such targets once the intelligence cues them up, we can strike them from outside afghan borders which is a critical element of the Biden plan once we withdraw. This over the horizon capability was demonstrated, I thought it was effective
CNN Anchor: You called this strike remarkable. // Guest: This is a realization of what President Biden calls the over the horizon strategy.
MSNBC, Frank Figliuzzi The military event today is so much more than just a single drone strike. It is a projection of power. It is a message from the united states government that even though we are leaving, we are not done with counterterrorism operations. Even though we’re going to have to do this as we say over the horizon from remote locations and it’s far more challenging, we can still do it.
Keep in mind, every single one of the people you just saw speaking knew nothing, literally nothing about this drone strike other than what they read on Twitter. They were totally ignorant, and that not prevent them as it never does, from trying to sound totally authoritative. That’s our news coverage.
Soon, however, a few people starting to ask questions. Who had the U.S. military killed, exactly? When asked the Defense Department wouldn’t say—that should have been a tip. They also wouldn’t show any proof of those “secondary explosions” – the explosions that proved the vehicle was being driven by ISIS-K suicide bombers. Instead, Mark Milley just assured us that those secondary explosions were real and that we should take his word for it. That was the exact line from the Pentagon’s top flack, a known liar name John Kirby:
August 30, Barbara Starr: Two quick questions, if I may. On the strike against the vehicle, do you — the Central Command talked about secondary explosions, I think, and that. But do you actually have visual evidence that there were secondary explosions? Are you convinced that there were? Because that seems to be one of the potential contributing factors to civilian casualties. So do you — are you — are you certain there were secondary explosions? KIRBY: Yes. STARR: Can I just have a follow-up on a different part of this. Can you say how you’re sure? KIRBY: No.
Liar—not the first time, not the fiftieth time. Are you sure there were secondary explosions? Yes. How do you know for sure? I’m not going to tell you, and he never did. Neither John Kirby nor anyone else at the Pentagon ever corrected that story. But the New York Times did to their rare credit. More than a week ago the New York Times ran a piece revealing, with video evidence, that the Biden administration’s drone did not actually kill anyone from ISIS-K, whoever they are assuming they exist. The drone killed a civilian aid worker and a car full of kids. There were no bombs in their Toyota; they had bottles of water which are very different from bombs in that they don’t explode, even secondarily. Finally, this afternoon, the Biden administration was forced to stop lying. Here’s General Kenneth McKenzie, the head of U.S. Central Command:
Gen. McKenzie, September 17: Having thoroughly reviewed the findings of the investigation and the supporting analysis by interagency partners, I am now convinced that as many as ten civilians including up to seven children were tragically killed in that strike. Moreover, we now assess that it is unlikely that the vehicle and those who died were associated with ISIS-K or were a direct threat to US forces.
Okay. After consulting with our inter-agency partners, all of whom get the New York Times delivered at home we are admitting we lied to you for weeks about what we actually did. It was not ISIS-K, not a suicide bomber, there were no secondary explosions it was kids and water bottles. In his remarks today, most tellingly, General McKenzie declined to announce any consequences for this—either for the killing of children or the lying about it for weeks. Why is that? We think we know.
Back on September 1st, Mark Milley explained that the drone strike on August 29th wasn’t out of the ordinary. It followed the same procedures as every other operation in the last 20 years in Afghanistan:
Mark Milley, September 1: We had very good intelligence that ISIS-K was preparing a specific type of vehicle at a specific type of location. We monitored that through various means and all of the engagement criteria were being met. We went through the same level of rigor that we’ve done for years and we took a strike.
We had good intelligence. Likely the same kind of intelligence that led us to believe German–educated Saudi’s would never fly planes into the World Trade Center or the Pentagon or a field in Pennsylvania. Or the intelligence that told us the Berlin Wall wasn’t about to fall. The intelligence that told us it was fine to give up Bagram Airbase because Kabul was safe. The government would stand, that intelligence. The drone strike that killed a car full of children underwent the “same level of rigor that we’ve done for years.” That’s not very reassuring, is it?
You won’t find a more revealing statement about our Pentagon leaders. It explains why no one has been punished for this disaster. If you fire Mark Milley for killing a bunch of kids unintentionally and then lying about it, maybe the accountability chain will start. Maybe they’ll want to fire whoever left hundreds of American citizens behind in Afghanistan and lied about that. So you can’t just start firing people just because they’re terrible at their jobs, obviously. So you can’t fire anyone—that’s the rule.
This article is adapted from Tucker Carlson’s opening commentary on the September 17, 2021 edition of “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”