Too bad to check: Did State try to steal credit for private Afghan exfils?

Did the State Department finally get a few Americans out of Afghanistan days after Joe Biden abandoned them to the Taliban? Or did they, as one veteran claims, simply show up to spike the ball? Republican congressional candidate and veteran Cory Mills says he led a private effort by a number of veterans to exfiltrate an American woman and her three children from the Mazar-e-Sharif area after the State Department botched attempts to get them out.

CNN initially reported it as a Biden administration success:

The United States facilitated the departure of four American citizens from Afghanistan via an overland route to a third country, a senior State Department official said Monday.

“Our Embassy greeted the Americans as they crossed the border into the third country,” the official told CNN.

The official confirmed that these are the first four Americans that “we’ve facilitated in this manner” since the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. They are a woman and her three children from Amarillo, Texas, according to Rep. Markwayne Mullin, an Oklahoma Republican, who has been assisting an American non profit-funded group of former special forces, military, contractors and others who are working to get Americans and Special Immigrant Visa holders out of Afghanistan.

Mullin told CNN he had spoken with the woman multiple times Monday, including before and after she had exited Afghanistan. Mullin described the harrowing journey she and her children made on the roads from Kabul to a border crossing, which requires them to pass through more than 20 Taliban checkpoints.

Actually, their score remains at zero, Mills insists:

But those actually involved in the dangerous rescue operation say the State Department deserves little to no credit for Mariam’s escape from Afghanistan.

Cory Mills and a private team of military veterans, drawing on funding by private donors including the Sentinel Foundation, led the effort to rescue Mariam and her three children from Afghanistan, where they had been left behind by the Biden administration, multiple sources with knowledge of Mariam’s evacuation confirmed to Fox News. …

It took multiple attempts and sleight-of-hand tactics that Mills compared to a shell game, but Mariam’s family finally crossed the border on Monday – just before the Taliban closed the checkpoint to prevent Americans from escaping, Mills said.

The State Department’s public posture about Mariam’s rescue is “absolute nonsense,” Mills told Fox News in an exclusive interview Monday. “The fact that they’re spinning this, trying to take 100% credit when they didn’t track this family, when they placated this family, when the mother, who was under extreme stress and extreme pressure, reached out to the State Department multiple times and got no help.”

The State Department tried to claim credit for “facilitating” the exfiltration and the overland route out of Afghanistan. Mills told Fox News that this was nothing more than an “attempt to save face” by stealing credit from the private citizens who set the whole rescue up. All State did, Mills says, was show up at the finish line:

“This is an attempt to save face by the administration for the Americans they left behind. This is a woman with three children from age 15 all the way down to two-years-old. And they did nothing to try to expedite this… But at the very last minute you have these ‘senior officials’ at the State Department trying to claim credit for this like ‘oh yeah look what we’ve done,'” Mills said.

“It’s like we carried the ball to the 99-and-a-half yard line and them taking it that last half yard and being like ‘look what we did.’”

Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX), also part of the exfil effort, corroborated Mills’ account on Twitter. Jackson blasted the State Department after CNN reported State’s version of the story:

CNN’s first cited source, Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), also says that State is lying about their role in the escape:

I’m no J-school graduate, but … isn’t it bad when your primary source for a story calls it a flat-out lie?

So what should we believe? All three men have political reasons for claiming credit, but then again, so does the State Department — and they have a lot more at stake, too. Mullin had gone AWOL for a while and had reportedly tried to get into Afghanistan to help get Americans out. That led to some ridicule in the final days of Biden’s rout out of Afghanistan, but it now appears that Mullin did some good, wherever he ended up. At least the veterans showed up to get the family out, which is one hell of a lot more than Joe Biden and his team has done so far.

The choice on whom to believe, absent some disinterested third party testimony or word from Miriam, largely rests on credibility. This administration has none at all on Afghanistan, having lied about their plans, lied about their commitment to Americans still in the field, and lied about their lying. The only people who could possibly trust their word at this point are Democratic Party operatives who are stuck with them … and national media outlets. But I repeat myself.