Manchin Demands Inclusion of Hyde Amendment in Reconciliation, Has Warning to Dems if It's Not
Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin is pushing back on a Democratic plan to push a “Medicaid-like” measure through the reconciliation bill for one simple reason: it lacks the Hyde amendment, which bars the use of federal funds for abortion.
The moderate, pro-life West Virginia Democrat said the bill is “dead on arrival” in the Senate without the Hyde amendment, telling National Review that “it has to be" included.
On Wednesday, the senator also blasted the bill’s hefty $3.5 trillion price tag.
“Spending trillions more on new and expanded government programs, when we can’t even pay for the essential social programs, like Social Security and Medicare, is the definition of fiscal insanity,” he said in a statement. “Suggesting that spending trillions more will not have an impact on inflation ignores the everyday reality that America’s families continue pay an unavoidable inflation tax. Proposing a historic expansion of social programs while ignoring the fact we are not in a recession and that millions of jobs remain open will only feed a dysfunction that could weaken our economic recovery. This is the shared reality we all now face, and it is this reality that must shape the future decisions that we, as elected leaders, must make.”
Manchin then proposed an alternative plan:
Our tax code should be reformed to fix the flaws of the 2017 tax bill and ensure everyone pays their fair share but it should not weaken our global competitiveness or the ability of millions of small businesses to compete with the Amazons of the world. Overall, the amount we spend now must be balanced with what we need and can afford – not designed to reengineer the social and economic fabric of this nation or vengefully tax for the sake of wishful spending.
In August, I recommended we take a strategic pause to provide time to develop the right policies and to continue to monitor how the pandemic and economic factors are affecting our nation’s fiscal situation before we spend more. Throughout September, I have made it clear to all those who would listen the need to means test any new social programs so that we are helping those who need it the most, not spend for the sake of spending.
He vowed to reject supporting trillions in spending that “ignores the brutal fiscal reality our nation faces.”
“America is a great nation but great nations throughout history have been weakened by careless spending and bad policies,” he added.
The House is scheduled to vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill Thursday, but it may be doomed, as progressives have vowed to kill it if an agreement on a larger spending packing isn't reached prior to the infrastructure vote. As Guy reported Wednesday, Biden's agenda could be about to crash and burn.
The Department of Homeland Security’s proposal would re-create the program, which protects 600,000 young immigrations from deportation, through a formal regulation.
The new rule is an effort to save the Obama-era program, which has been the subject of several legal challenges since it was first implemented in 2012.
The move comes after a federal judge in Texas ruled that DACA was unlawful in July, given that Congress had not granted the government the necessary authority to create the program.
U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen ruled that the program had not been properly implemented as the government also did not create an opportunity to receive public feedback and because it did not adequately consider the effects of the program on states.
Top of Form
Bottom of Form
Hanen said the policy should have been enacted through a federal regulation instead of a Department of Homeland Security memo.
The Justice Department appealed the ruling earlier this month.
The new proposal would keep most of the same parameters of the original DACA program. It would have the same eligibility criteria, which require that individuals must have arrived in the U.S. before their 16th birthday and have continuously lived in the U.S. since June 15, 2007. Applicants are also required to be in school or have graduated, to have not been convicted of a felony and to not be a threat to national security of public safety.
It would still grant two years of deportation protection and a two-year work permit for a $495 fee. However, under the new proposal applicants could decide to pay a lower fee of $85 to be protected from deportation without the work permit.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas called the proposal “an important step” in working to protect “Dreamers”— those who are protected under DACA — but called on Congress to “act swiftly” to include immigration reform in Democrats’ reconciliation bill.
“The Biden-Harris Administration continues to take action to protect Dreamers and recognize their contributions to this country,” Mayorkas said in a statement. “This notice of proposed rulemaking is an important step to achieve that goal. However, only Congress can provide permanent protection. I support the inclusion of immigration reform in the reconciliation bill and urge Congress to act swiftly to provide Dreamers the legal status they need and deserve.”
Fox News’ Chris Wallace confronted Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Sunday about the Biden administration’s handling of the border crisis.
In the past week, thousands of Haitian migrants and asylum-seekers came to the border and were at the crossing in Del Rio, Texas for several days. That border crossing was cleared out recently, and there have been a number of deportations already.
Wallace asked Mayorkas how many of those migrants have been released into the U.S. so far.
“About 3000 are actually in detention,” Mayorkas said. “Others are in immigration court proceedings.”
“Of the 17,400 that weren’t deported back or didn’t return on their own to Mexico, how many have been released into the U.S.?” Wallace asked again.
Mayorkas said the number is between 10 and 12 thousand.
Wallace went back and forth with the DHS Secretary over the numbers before asking, “There are more than 11 million people in this country illegally. Clearly, despite your best efforts, millions of people end up in this country.”
“11 million people in this country without lawful presence is a compelling reason why there is unanimity about the fact that our immigration system is broken and legislative reform is needed,” Mayorkas responded.
Wallace asked specifically about Haitian migrants and whether the Biden administration has given immigrants “a reason to believe there’s a reasonable chance if they come into this country, they’ll end up being released into the country and have months, perhaps years, to stay here.”
“We’ve seen this type of irregular migration many many times throughout the years,” Mayorkas said.
“It has gotten worse,” Wallace jumped in to say. “The statistics of your own department show the flood of people coming illegally across the border has gotten worse under the Biden administration.”
The DHS Secretary responded by saying, “I wouldn’t call it a flood, Chris.” He said there was a large number of migrants coming to the border in 2019 and 2014, reiterating “this is nothing new.”
Last week, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas arrived at the University of Notre Dame to speak about the Declaration of Independence.
Speaking invitations like this that Thomas accepts are few and far between.
Anyone who cares about our country and listens to this address will wish that he would agree to speak more.
His presentation was a brilliant and profound articulation of what America is about at its core.
It is what every American needs to hear in these troublesome and divisive times.
Thomas tells his own story and how his life’s journey led him to understand what America is about.
He grew up poor near Savannah, Georgia, raised by his grandparents, under the tutelage of his grandfather, a devout Catholic and American patriot.
Thomas’ grandfather understood that the injustices of the country were not about flaws in the country but about flaws in human beings in living up to ideals handed down to them. What needed to be fixed were the people—not the nation.
This insight strikes at the heart of the divisions going on today that are so bitterly dividing us.
But Thomas left his grandfather’s house and went to college in the midst of the civil rights movement. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, and Thomas became filled with bitterness and the sense that America is an irredeemably flawed, racist nation, which is so much in the spirit of the times today.
In his own words, “What had given my life meaning and sense of belonging, that this country was my home, was jettisoned as old-fashioned and antiquated. … It was easy and convenient to fill that void with victimhood. … So much of my time focused intently on our racial differences and grievances, much like today.”
“As I matured,” Thomas continued, “I began to see that the theories of my young adulthood were destructive and self-defeating. … I had rejected my country, my birthright as a citizen, and I had nothing to show for it.”
“The wholesomeness of my childhood had been replaced with an emptiness, cynicism, and despair. I was faced with the simple fact that there was no greater truth than what my nuns and grandparents had taught me. We are all children of God and rightful heirs to our nation’s legacy of equality. We had to live up to the obligations of the equal citizenship to which we were entitled by birth.”
As he continued work in the federal government, Thomas became “deeply interested in the Declaration of Independence.”
“The declaration captured what I had been taught to venerate as a child but had cynically rejected as a young man. All men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.”
“As I had rediscovered the God-given principles of the declaration and our founding, I eventually returned to the [Catholic] Church, which had been teaching the same truths for millennia.”
Despite the strident voices dividing us today, Thomas observes “there are many more of us, I think, who feel America is not so broken, as it is adrift at sea.”
“For whatever it is worth, the Declaration of Independence has weathered every storm for 245 years. It birthed a great nation. It abolished the sin of slavery. … While we have failed the ideals of the declaration time and again, I know of no time when the ideals have failed us.”
The Declaration of Independence “establishes a moral ideal that we as citizens are duty-bound to uphold and sustain. We may fall short, but our imperfection does not relieve us of our obligation.”
Thomas’ message about the declaration may be summarized: There are eternal truths; they are true for all of humanity; and it is the personal responsibility of each individual to live up to them.
Thomas’ detractors are those who reject these premises. This defines the culture war that so deeply and dangerously divides America today.
Distribution changes in monoclonal antibody treatment may cause shortages in TN hospitals
Monday, September 20th 2021
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) — The demand for the monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19 patients has led to the federal government changing the way it allocates its supply.
The Department of Health and Human Services announced they are distributing the antibody treatment doses based on state and territory instead of allowing hospitals to directly order the number of treatments they need.
The White House says these changes are intended to make sure the entire country has access to this treatment.
“Over the last month, given the rise in cases due to the Delta variant and the lower number of vaccination rates in some of these states — like Florida, like Texas — just seven states are making up 70 percent of the [antibody treatment] orders,” White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a recent press briefing. “Our supply is not unlimited, and we believe it should be equitable across states across the country.”
ome local clinics are feeling the impact of supply chain issues based on demand.
A spokesperson with Maury Regional Medical center says they treated fewer patients last week because of supply chain issues. They typically treat 72 patients a day on average, but only had the resources to treat 14 people a day on average for most of last week.
Maury Regional since replenished their supply and have resumed treating a larger number of patients daily.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center says they haven’t reached a shortage yet but evaluate their supply on a weekly basis.
“We’ve certainly heard that the supply is restricted or that there’s limitations in the supply and shortages are anticipated but I’m not sure the time frame that’s anticipated to happen in,” VUMC Covid Infusion Clinic director Dr. Karen Bloch said. “I’m not sure how the state is deciding where to appropriate different doses to.”
The Tennessee Department of Health is responsible for allocating the antibody treatment doses across the state.
A spokesperson with the department said:
HHS recently informed states of disruptions to the federal supply chain for monoclonal antibody products. We are communicating with providers to understand how much product they need, how much they have on hand, and then match that with available supply. We are making sure that all areas of the state have access. Monoclonal antibody allocations are expected to change weekly, although we haven’t yet been informed of the algorithm of the allocations. Providers will order shipments of monoclonal antibodies through the Tennessee Department of Health.
A group of Tennessee congressmen and women sent a letter to the department of health and human services, urging them to increase availability to areas in need.
Doctors say while the treatment is a great resource, they urge people to get the vaccine to avoid needing the treatment at all.
Get reports like this and all the news of the day in Middle Tennessee delivered to your inbox each morning with the FOX 17 News Daily Newsletter.
President Joe Biden’s administration is planning to resettle the first group of Afghans brought to the United States across 46 states with many headed to battleground and swing states like Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and Texas.
Biden has said he hopes to resettle about 95,000 Afghans across the U.S. over the next 12 months. In a 21-day period from August to September, Biden brought more than 48,000 Afghans to the U.S. for resettlement — a population more than four times that of Jackson, Wyoming.
An initial 37,000 Afghans will be resettled by the Biden administration across 46 states, according to numbers published by the Associated Press and Axios this week. California will get the most Afghans, 5,255, while Texas will have nearly 4,500 Afghans resettled in the state.
In major swing states, thousands of Afghans will be resettled, including:
1,610 in Arizona
865 in Colorado
1,030 in Florida
1,069 in Georgia
695 in Iowa
100 in Maine
1,280 in Michigan
275 in Minnesota
150 in Nevada
1,169 in North Carolina
855 in Ohio
995 in Pennsylvania
4,481 in Texas
1,166 in Virginia
399 in Wisconsin
(Screenshot via Axios)
Many red states, such as Oklahoma, Montana, Missouri, North Dakota, and Tennessee, will have hundreds of Afghans resettled in their states as well, along with deep blue states like Washington, Connecticut, New York, and Oregon.
An official told Axios that no Republican governors balked at having the Biden administration resettle Afghans in their states:
In conversations with nearly every state on Wednesday, not one official declined to take in Afghans, one senior administration official told Axios. “I have to say it was a very warm conversation with state and local leaders.” [Emphasis added]
No Afghans, for now, will be resettled in Hawaii, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wyoming, or Washington, D.C.
Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) said Afghans ought to be resettled in countries close to Afghanistan with similar languages and cultures, not the U.S.
“Following the Biden Administration’s disastrously mismanaged withdrawal from Afghanistan, I warned that we could not use this Administration’s incompetence to justify flooding our communities with unvetted refugees,” Rosendale said:
The traditional vetting process for these individuals is a 14-step procedure, that takes well over a year. The mass evacuation of over 100,000 Afghan nationals in a matter of weeks has made proper vetting of these individuals near impossible. At this time, it appears extremely unlikely the Biden Administration properly vetted the Afghan nationals being resettled in Montana. I have advocated that we should try and settle these individuals in other countries around Afghanistan that share their values and culture, especially if we can not ensure proper vetting. As elected officials, it is our duty to protect the citizens we represent—and I will not allow this Administration to compromise the safety of Montanans. [Emphasis added]
As Breitbart News reported, Afghans will get roughly $1,250 payments before getting resettled in states. The Biden administration, though, is hoping Congress opens up a slew of welfare programs to all Afghans being resettled, including food stamps, cash assistance, and Medicaid.
The resettlement operation is being bankrolled by not only American taxpayer money funneled through a number of refugee contractors but also multinational corporations and a non-governmental organizations (NGO) backed by former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.
The Clinton-Bush-Obama NGO is expected to work with Biden in privatizing refugee resettlement so that NGOs and corporations can bring refugees to the U.S.
Over the last 20 years, nearly a million refugees have been resettled in the nation — more than double that of residents living in Miami, Florida, and it would be the equivalent of annually adding the population of Pensacola, Florida.
Refugee resettlement costs American taxpayers nearly $9 billion every five years, according to research, and each refugee costs taxpayers about $133,000 over the course of their lifetime. Within five years, an estimated 16 percent of all refugees admitted will need housing assistance paid for by taxpayers.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter here.
NASHVILLE, Tennessee — Hundreds of Tennesseans said their displeasure with COVID-19 mandates has intensified and it’s time for Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) to relent and allow a special legislative session so the state can fight back.
Those residents, along with several state legislators, rallied at Beth Harwell Plaza, near the state capitol, on Thursday.
If enough members of both houses of the Tennessee General Assembly want a special session then they can have one. Tennessee Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) favors a special session. Several people at Thursday’s event said McNally is the obstacle.
McNally said earlier this month that a special legislative session was unnecessary.
State Senator Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma) told the crowd that COVID-19 mandates have prompted letters of job loss, invasions of privacy, workplace coercion, and discrimination at public schools.
“These are violations of their personal liberty and personal medical decisions,” Bowling said.
“A special session is urgent because the majority of Tennesseans are looking to us to protect their liberty.”
State Representative Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka) later alerted the crowd to what he said was a greater danger.
“We have reached the point in escalation where the federal government is targeting the great state of Tennessee,” Cepicky said.
“They are rationing our Monoclonal antibodies that can save Tennesseeans. They are telling you what you have to do to your body. It’s time to say enough.”
Monoclonal antibodies, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website, are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful pathogens such as viruses. Houston Methodistsaid monoclonal antibody infusion treats COVID-19 and can help prevent hospitalizations, “reduce viral loads and lessen symptom severity.”
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) said at Thursday’s rally that everyone must “draw a line in the sand.”
“And for such a time as this, it is our duty, it is our oath, that, we the legislative body, step up to the plate to protect our state’s rights when the federal government usurps its power. That’s why we’re here,” Weaver said.
“We are here to send a message. You sent a message to me in the hundreds of emails that I have gotten. My colleagues can attest as well.”
State Representative Bruce Griffey (R-Paris) called for a special session last month. He also spoke Thursday.
“We pass laws all the time that say you have to do this, and you can’t do that. Has anybody thought there would be a time in America where a governor or president by himself without the Congress, without a General Assembly, says you have to do this, you have to take that vaccine, you can’t do that?” Griffey asked.
“That is not America, folks. We are better than that. We need to insist that doesn’t happen, period.”
Tennessee State Senator Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield) sent a letter to McNally this week and asked him to support a special legislative session. Roberts and other state lawmakers said they want to limit the ability of school systems and venues from issuing broad mandates relating to COVID-19.
Bowling said Thursday that when members of the Tennessee General Assembly call for a special session then there are no parameters.
“If the governor calls [for the special session] then there are parameters and, by law, he puts those there,” Bowling said.
“This involves the presiding officers — the two speakers of both houses — at the written request of two-thirds of the members of each chamber. We only need 66 in the [Tennessee] House but we have to have 22 in the Tennessee Senate. As of this morning we have 13, but that snowball is rolling.”
Weaver urged the hundreds of people who attended Thursday’s rally to email their state senators.
– – –
Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to email@example.com.
Roughly 300 Afghan refugees are headed for Nashville, but one of the organizations taking them in refused to say Monday whether someone or some entity is vetting those refugees for health or security risks.
Staff at the Islamic Center of Nashville did not return The Tennessee Star’s repeated requests for comment Monday.
Executive Director of the American Muslim Advisory Council for Middle Tennessee told the Nashville-based WSMV on Monday that the number of Afghan refugees headed to Nashville is 300.
The Nashville-based News Channel 5reported Monday that the Islamic Center of Nashville helped collect items for Afghanistan refugees last weekend.
Some 44 Afghan refugees who were brought to the U.S. were flagged as potential national security threats in the last two weeks.
A measles outbreak occurred last week among Afghan refugees who recently arrived at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin. Fort McCoy is one of the military bases housing thousands of Afghan refugees after recent evacuation attempts because of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.
The Tennessee-based Bridge Refugee Services announced last week that they were preparing to accept more Afghan refugees and send them to East Tennessee.
Governor Bill Lee has declined to say what action, if any, he deems necessary to respond to new Afghan refugees.
Lee did not publicly state late last month whether he wants Tennessee to take in Afghan refugees. Two of the state’s other top Republicans, however, made their opinions known.
Tennessee Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) said he doubted whether taking in Afghan refugees is wise.
“I do not have confidence in the Biden administration’s vetting process concerning the refugee issue, much less his ability to work with law enforcement and immigration officials,” Sexton said.
“His administration has been a failure on both immigration and foreign policy. Therefore, I do not think it is a good idea for Tennessee to accept Afghan refugees.”
Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge), meanwhile, said it’s important that the government “halt illegal immigration, protect our borders and limit those entering our nation.”
“Afghanistan is a unique situation. For nearly 20 years, we have had a significant military presence there and solicited help from many inside the country to fight against the Taliban,” McNally said.
“Those that helped us are now at risk. Our nation should do everything it can to assist legitimate and authentic political refugees from Afghanistan in finding new places to call home.”
The National Archives Records Administration placed a “harmful content” warning on the Constitution, labeling the governing document of the United States as “harmful or difficult to view.” The warning applies to all documents across the Archives’ cataloged website, including the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence.
“NARA’s records span the history of the United States, and it is our charge to preserve and make available these historical records,” the administration said in a statement. “As a result, some of the materials presented here may reflect outdated, biased, offensive, and possibly violent views and opinions. In addition, some of the materials may relate to violent or graphic events and are preserved for their historical significance.”
The NARA, which is responsible for preserving and protecting documentation of American heritage, noted that so-called harmful historical documents could “reflect racist, sexist, ableist, misogynistic/misogynoir, and xenophobic opinions and attitudes; be discriminatory towards or exclude diverse views on sexuality, gender, religion, and more,” and “include graphic content of historical events such as violent death, medical procedures, crime, wars/terrorist acts, natural disasters and more.”
Along with committing to diversity and equity, the NARA said it would “[work] in conjunction with diverse communities, [and] seek to balance the preservation of this history with sensitivity to how these materials are presented to and perceived by users.”
This isn’t the first time the National Archives has catered to a leftist view of history. In June, the National Archives’ racism task force claimed that the Archives’ rotunda, which houses founding documents, is an example of “structural racism.” The task force also pushed to include trigger warnings around displays of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, which are all in the rotunda.
measles outbreak has occurred among Afghan refugees who recently arrived at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin. Fort McCoy is one of the military bases housing thousands of Afghan refugees after recent evacuation attempts because of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.
Due to the infectious nature of the disease, an internal document obtained by Fox Newsstated that Fort McCoy is no longer receiving refugees “at this time.” However, a spokesperson for Task Force McCoy allegedly told Fox News that they are still accepting refugees despite the measles infection. Fort McCoy has the capacity to house 13,000 Afghan refugees.
The internal government email regarding the situation stated, “All those who had been in contact with the infected person at base have been isolated, and post-exposure prophylaxis and inoculations are in process.”
The spokesperson also told Fox News the fort was not authorized to give any specific medical cases or information, but the spokesperson told Fox News that “the health of the Afghans at Fort McCoy is a top priority.” Fort McCoy’s spokesperson also shared that Afghan citizens were being screened and were given immunizations as necessary.
According to Fox News, “a senior U.S. government official confirmed to Fox News that officials identified a single measles case as part of what they called a robust health screening process.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website, measles is a highly transmissible disease. The CDC’s website reads, “Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected.” The CDC also says that “Measles virus can live for up to two hours in an airspace after an infected person leaves an area.”
Afghanistan is one of the top measles epicenters worldwide, according to CDC data. The CDC also said that “The 2019 U.S. measles outbreaks were all linked to travel-related cases that reached at-risk populations (un or under vaccinated against measles) in the United States.”
Measles is not the only disease present in the Wisconsin refugee camp. According to a local CBS reporter, some Wisconsin Democrat lawmakers who toured Fort McCoy “said they are a ‘couple’ of refugees who are infected with COVID-19.”
Other hosts for refugees, in addition to Fort McCoy, include the Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia, Fort Pickett in Virginia, Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, Fort Lee in Virginia, Fort Bliss in Texas, and Joint Base McGuire-Dix in New Jersey.
This is a picture the military has never let anyone see until now.
This is a picture behind the scenes at Dover Air Force Base where the bodies of fallen soldiers are prepared for burial.
And that includes being properly dressed, all the way down to the smallest detail.
In this picture Staff Sgt. Miguel Deynes is making sure the uniform is just right for an army pilot recently killed in Afghanistan.
There is a very specific process once a fallen soldier is returned home.
The Fallen Heroes are flown back to the U.S. on a cargo jet.
A team of service members wearing white gloves carries the coffins, covered with flags, to a white van that takes them to the Armed Forces Medical Examiner.
The Heroes are washed, the hands are scrubbed clean, and the hair is shampooed. If necessary bones are wired together and damaged tissue is reconstructed with flesh-toned wax.
Sometimes they will use photos, sometimes just intuition to recreate the wrinkles in faces, and the lines around the mouth or the corner of the eyes. “It has to look normal, like someone who is sleeping.” Once the Hero is ready then the uniform is prepared.
That includes putting medals in the proper order on the ribbon rack above the jacket’s breast pocket.
During the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan 10 to 20 Fallen a Heroes were arriving every day.
The embalmers often worked all night to get the Heroes home on time. That can take an emotional toll so the mortuary has a large gym so workers can blow off steam.
Many say they are haunted by how young the fallen soldiers are, and by how many of them leave behind small children.
That’s why Sgt. Deynes says they are advised not to do research into the backgrounds of the soldiers. “If I knew the story of every individual who went through here, I would probably be in a padded cell.” The dress uniform being prepared in this particular case will be in a closed casket.
Even so, it will be perfectly tailored, starched and pressed. Everything will be checked down to the last detail.
Sgt. Deynes says, “They’re (the family) not going to see it. I do it for myself. It’s more than an honor it’s a blessing to dress that soldier for the last time.”
With the Taliban growing more violent and adding checkpoints near Kabul's airport, an all-volunteer group of American veterans of the Afghan war launched a final daring mission on Wednesday night dubbed the "Pineapple Express" to shepherd hundreds of at-risk Afghan elite forces and their families to safety, members of the group told ABC News.
Moving after nightfall in near-pitch black darkness and extremely dangerous conditions, the group said it worked unofficially in tandem with the United States military and U.S. embassy to move people, sometimes one person at a time, or in pairs, but rarely more than a small bunch, inside the wire of the U.S. military-controlled side of Hamid Karzai International Airport.
The Pineapple Express' mission was underway Thursday when the attack occurred in Kabul. A suicide bomber believed to have been an ISIS fighter killed at least 13 U.S. service members -- 10 U.S. Marines, a Navy corpsman, an Army soldier and another service member -- and wounded 15 other service members, according to U.S. officials.
There were wounded among the Pineapple Express travelers from the blast, and members of the group said they were assessing whether unaccounted-for Afghans they were helping had been killed.
As of Thursday morning, the group said it had brought as many as 500 Afghan special operators, assets and enablers and their families into the airport in Kabul overnight, handing them each over to the protective custody of the U.S. military.
That number added to more than 130 others over the past 10 days who had been smuggled into the airport encircled by Taliban fighters since the capital fell to the extremists on Aug. 16 by Task Force Pineapple, an ad hoc groups of current and former U.S. special operators, aid workers, intelligence officers and others with experience in Afghanistan who banded together to save as many Afghan allies as they could.
"Dozens of high-risk individuals, families with small children, orphans, and pregnant women, were secretly moved through the streets of Kabul throughout the night and up to just seconds before ISIS detonated a bomb into the huddled mass of Afghans seeking safety and freedom," Army Lt. Col. Scott Mann, a retired Green Beret commander who led the private rescue effort, told ABC News.
After succeeding with helping dozens of Afghan commandos and interpreters get into the protective ring of the airport created by the 6,000 American troops President Joe Biden dispatched to the airfield after Kabul fell to the Taliban, the group initiated an ambitious ground operation this week aided by U.S. troops inside. The objective was to move individuals and families through the cover of darkness on the "Pineapple Express." The week-long effort and Wednesday's operation were observed by ABC News under the agreement of secrecy while the heart-pounding movements unfolded.
The operation carried out Wednesday night was an element of "Task Force Pineapple," an informal group whose mission began as a frantic effort on Aug. 15 to get one former Afghan commando who had served with Mann into the Kabul airport as he was being hunted by the Taliban who were texting him death threats.
They knew he had worked with U.S. Special Forces and the elite SEAL Team Six for a dozen years, targeting Taliban leadership, and was, therefore, a high-value target for them, sources told ABC News.
Two months ago, this commando told ABC News he had narrowly escaped a tiny outpost in northern Afghanistan that was later overrun while awaiting his U.S. special immigrant visa to be approved.
The effort since he was saved in a harrowing effort, along with his family of six, reached a crescendo this week with dozens of covert movements coordinated virtually on Wednesday by more than 50 people in an encrypted chat room, which Mann described as a night full of dramatic scenes rivaling a "Jason Bourne" thriller unfolding every 10 minutes.
The small groups of Afghans repeatedly encountered Taliban foot soldiers who they said beat them but never checked identity papers that might have revealed them as operators who spent two decades killing Taliban leadership. All carried U.S. visas, pending visa applications or new applications prepared by members of Task Force Pineapple, they told ABC News.
"This Herculean effort couldn't have been done without the unofficial heroes inside the airfield who defied their orders to not help beyond the airport perimeter, by wading into sewage canals and pulling in these targeted people who were flashing pineapples on their phones," Mann said.
With the uniformed U.S. military unable to venture outside the airport's perimeter to collect Americans and Afghans who've sought U.S. protection for their past joint service, they instead provided overwatch and awaited coordinated movements by an informal Pineapple Express ground team that included “conductors” led by former Green Beret Capt. Zac Lois, known as the underground railroad's “engineer.”
The Afghan operators, assets, interpreters and their families were known as “passengers” and they were being guided remotely by “shepherds," who are, in most cases their loyal former U.S. special operations forces and CIA comrades and commanders, according to chat room communications viewed by ABC News.
There was one engineer, a few conductors, as well as people who were performing intelligence-gathering duties. The intelligence was pooled in the encrypted chat group in real-time and included guiding people on maps to GPS pin drops at rally points for them to stage in the shadows and in hiding until summoned by a conductor wearing a green chem light, ABC News observed in the encrypted chat.
Once summoned, passengers would hold up their smartphones with a graphic of yellow pineapples on a pink field.
Before the deadly ISIS-K bombing on Thursday near the Abbey Gate of the airport known as HKIA, intelligence warnings were issued about possible improvised explosive device attacks by ISIS-K. Around 8 p.m. EST Wednesday, the shepherds reported in the chatroom, which was viewed by ABC News, one by one that their passenger groups maneuvering discreetly in the darkness toward rally points had suddenly gone dark and were unreachable on their cell phones.
"We have lost comms with several of our teams," texted Jason Redman, a combat-wounded former Navy SEAL and author, who was shepherding Afghans he knew.
There was concern the Taliban had dropped the cell towers -- but another Task Force Pineapple member, a Green Beret, reported that he learned the U.S. military had employed cell phone jammers to counter the IED threat at Abbey gate. Within an hour, most had reestablished communications with the "passengers" and the slow, deliberate movements of each group resumed under the ticking clock of sunrise in Kabul, ABC News observed in the encrypted chat.
"The whole night was a roller-coaster ride. People were so terrified in that chaotic environment. These people were so exhausted, I kept trying to put myself in their shoes," Redman said.
Looking back at an effort that saved at least, by their count, 630 Afghan lives, Redman expressed deep frustration "that our own government didn't do this. We did what we should do, as Americans."
Many of the Afghans arrived near Abbey Gate and waded through a sewage-choked canal toward a U.S. soldier wearing red sunglasses to identify himself. They waved their phones with the pineapples and were scooped up and brought inside the wire to safety. Others were brought in by an Army Ranger wearing a modified American flag patch with the Ranger Regiment emblem, sources told ABC News.
Lois said the Task Force Pineapple was able to accomplish a truly historic event, by evacuating hundreds of personnel over the last week.
"That is an astounding number for an organization that was only assembled days before the start of operations and most of its members had never met each other in person," Lois told ABC News.
Lois said he modeled his slow and steady system of maneuvering the Afghan families in the darkness after Harriet Tubman’s Underground Railroad for American slave escapees.
The Afghan passengers represented the span of the two-decade war there, and participants included Army Maj. Jim Gant, a retired Green Beret known as "Lawrence of Afghanistan," who was the subject of a 2014 "Nightline" investigation.
"I have been involved in some of the most incredible missions and operations that a special forces guy could be a part of, and I have never been a part of anything more incredible than this," Gant told ABC News. "The bravery and courage and commitment of my brothers and sisters in the Pineapple community was greater than the U.S. commitment on the battlefield."
"I just want to get my people out," he added.
Dan O'Shea, a retired SEAL commander, said he successfully helped his own group, which included a U.S. citizen who served as an operative and his Afghan father and brother in a nail-biting crucible as they walked on foot to one entry point after another for hours. They dodged Taliban checkpoints and patrols in order to get inside the U.S. side of the airport and on a plane out of Kabul.
"He was not willing to let his father and his brother behind; even it meant he would die. He refused to leave his family," O'Shea, a former counterinsurgency adviser in Afghanistan, told ABC News. "Leaving a man behind is not in our SEAL ethos. Many Afghans have a stronger vision of our democratic values than many Americans do."
It all began with trying to save one Afghan Commando, whose special immigrant visa was never finalized.
During an intense night last week involving coordination between Mann and another Green Beret, an intelligence officer, former aid workers and a staffer for Florida Republican and Green Beret officer Rep. Mike Waltz, the ad hoc team enlisted the aid of a sleepless U.S. Embassy officer inside the airport. He helped Marines at a gate to identify the former Afghan commando, who was caught in the throngs of civilians outside the airport and who said he saw two civilians knocked to the ground and killed.
"Two people died next to me -- 1 foot away," he told ABC News from outside the airport that night, as he tried for hours to reach an entry control point manned by U.S. Marines a short distance away.
With Taliban fighters mixing into the crowd of thousands and firing their AK-47s above the masses, the former elite commando was finally pulled into the U.S. security perimeter, where he shouted the password "Pineapple!" to American troops at the checkpoint. The password has since changed, the sources said.
Two days later, the group of his American friends and comrades also helped get his family inside the airport to join him with the aid of the same U.S. embassy officer.
Mann said the group of friends decided to keep going by saving his family and hundreds more of his elite forces comrades on the run from the Taliban.
Former deputy assistant secretary of defense and ABC News analyst Mick Mulroy is part of both Task Force Pineapple and Task Force Dunkirk, who are assisting former Afghan comrades.
"They never wavered. I and many of my friends are here today because of their bravery in battle. We owe them all effort to get them out and honor our word," Mulroy said.