FACT CHECK: Did Cameras Cut Off When Joe Biden Was Asked About A ‘Hit List’ Provided To The Taliban?

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

An image shared on Facebook claims the cameras shut off when President Joe Biden was asked in a press conference about an alleged “hit list” provided to the Taliban.

Verdict: False

The words “hit list” and “predetermined” do not appear in the White House transcript of the Aug. 26 press conference. Footage from C-SPAN and major news networks shows the cameras did not abruptly shut off after any of the questions asked of Biden by reporters.

Fact Check:

The Aug. 26 suicide bombing, for which the Islamic State Khorasan claimed responsibility, killed 13 U.S. service members and over 160 Afghans near Kabul’s airport, according to the Associated Press. The same day, Biden delivered remarks about the terrorist attack and took questions from some members of the media, a White House transcript shows.

An image baselessly alleges in a Facebook post that the cameras in the room shut off immediately after Biden was asked by reporters if the attack was “predetermined” and if he “gave” the Taliban a “hit list.” (RELATED: Image Claims To Show The Taliban Hanging A Man From A Helicopter)

A search of the White House transcript of the president’s Aug. 26 remarks and subsequent interaction with the media turned up no instances of the words “hit list” or “predetermined.” A journalist did ask Biden about “reports that U.S. officials provided the Taliban with names of Americans and Afghan officials to evacuate,” according to the transcript. Politico had reported earlier Aug. 26 that U.S. officials gave a “list of names of American citizens, green card holders and Afghan allies” to the Taliban for entry to Kabul’s airport for evacuations.

Biden said “there have been occasions when our military has contacted their military counterparts in the Taliban and said, ‘This…’ — for example – ‘This bus is coming through with X number of people on it, made up of the following group of people. We want you to let that bus or that group through,'” according to the White House transcript.

“So, yes, there have been occasions like that. And to the best of my knowledge, in those cases, the bulk of that has occurred — they’ve been let through,” he then said, the transcript shows. “But I can’t tell you with any certitude that there’s actually been a list of names. I don’t — there may have been, but I know of no circumstance. It doesn’t mean it’s not — it didn’t exist, that, ‘Here’s the names of 12 people; they’re coming. Let them through.’ It could very well have happened.”

Check Your Fact reviewed footage from outlets such as CNN, Fox News, C-SPAN, CNBC and ABC News and did not find any instances of the cameras abruptly shutting off after the reporter asked about Politico’s report. Major media outlets also do not appear to have reported on such a thing happening.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in late August that the Biden administration has “given no list of all of the American SIV holders to the Taliban or any other kind of big list,” going on to add that it worked with the Taliban “group by group, bus by bus” to get evacuees “through the Taliban checkpoints and onto the airport compound,” according to CNN. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken also said on NBC’s “Meet The Press” that the “idea that we shared lists of Americans or others with the Taliban is simply wrong.”

“So in specific instances, when you’re trying to get a bus or a group of people through and you need to show a manifest to do that because, particularly in cases where people don’t have the necessary credentials on them or documents on them, then you would – you’ll share names of the list of people, of the bus so they can be assured that those are people that we’re looking to bring in,” Blinken went on to say during the interview, according to a State Department transcript. “And by definition, that’s exactly what’s happened.”

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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