tv Secretary of State Holds Briefing CSPAN August 2, 2021 2:04pm-2:26pm EDT
cover thereabouts by saying -- the reason we had the uptick is because they got rid of masks in may. the real story is to investigate how that decision was made. who screwed up in the cdc and made that decision to tell people to stop wearing their masks? host: we will let our guest respond. guest: the cdc really has been in a hard spot to say the least. they have to react to all of the data and form policy decisions across the entire nation. one very interesting dynamic to keep in mind over the past few months is we have had pockets of unvaccinated communities. the variant, as far as uptick rates, varies immensely from state to state. some states like mississippi and alabama, there is a huge delta between their vaccination rates and some of the highest optics.
sec. blinken: happy monday -- >> secretary blinken will offer some remarks at the top and we will have time for a question or two. at which point, we will resume with our regular programming. without further ado, secretary blinken. sec. blinken: good afternoon everyone. good to see everyone here. before i turned to today's announcement come i want to take a moment to address a few urgent matters. first, i want to condemn the attack on friday against the commercial ship which was peacefully transiting through the north arabian sea in international waters when it was targeted by a drone, killing two people. we have conducted a thorough review and are confident that iran carried out the attack. it follows a pattern of similar attacks by iran, including past
incidents with explosive drones. there is no justification for this attack on a peaceful vessel on a commercial mission in international waters. iran's action is a direct threat to the freedom of navigation and commerce. it took the lives of innocent sailors. we are coordinating with partners and consulting with governments in the region. we join others around the world in sending our deep condolences to the families of the british and iranian crewmembers killed. on friday, the white house announced two outstanding public servants, who will be joining our team here at the state department. rishaad hussein is the president's nominee for the to ambassador for allegis freedom -- a bessette of her religious freedom.
he is currently director for partnerships and global engagement at the national security council. derelict stat is the nominee for special envoy to monitor and combat anti-semitism. she is a scholar of modern jewish history and holocaust studies who fights relentlessly against holocaust denial is him, including in a landmark london trial when she was sued for libel by a holocaust denier, resulting in overwhelming victory for all of those fighting holocaust and nihilism. she was also a two term member of the united states -- fighting holocaust deniers. we are eager to get confirmed and get to work because this is a critical moment. according to the pew center, 56 countries, home to a majority of the world's people have high or severe restrictions on religious freedom. in the united states, as in many
parts of the world, we have seen a rise in anti-semitism and anti-muslim hatred. this it's painfully close to home. as you know, there was an anti-semitic incident here in this building last week. that was deeply disturbing. not only because it was a deliberate act of hate, but because this is the state department. at our best, the state department leads the fight for the dignity and freedom of people everywhere and we are resolute in the fight against anti-semite has him -- anti-semitism. this was not only a threat to jewish people in the building, it was an insult to our global mission and our national ideals. there is just one response we will make to that kind of hatred , and that is to become even more committed to the fight against anti-semitism. deborah and rishaad will help do that. the investigation into that incident is ongoing and we will
share new information as it becomes available. while i am on the topic of nominees, the state department has 65 nominees awaiting confirmation. we are hoping that one third of those, 25 nominees, will pending a vote on the summit. these are national security positions. they include overseeing security facilities around the world and help improve the backlog caused by covid-19. american people need these services. the nominees also include those who would lead our diplomacy all of the world including latin america and africa. the american people need these nominees in place. we were presented to confirm these individuals expeditiously before august recess. now let me turn to another urgent matter.
even as we withdraw from afghanistan, the united states and our partners remain deeply engaged. we will continue to work toward an afghanistan where all afghans can live in safety and security and we will continue our support for afghan institutions and against the afghan people have made over 20 years. our partnership with the people of afghanistan will indoor long after our servicemembers have departed. we will keep engaging intensely and diplomacy to advance negotiations between the afghan government and the taliban with the goal of a political solution, which we believe is the only path to lasting peace. we will keep working with countries in the region in a stable, peaceful democratic afghanistan. at the same time, afghans who worked with the united states or the security force at some point since 2001 are facing fears of retribution that will likely
grow as coalition forces leave. we have a special responsibility to these individuals. they stood with us, we will stand with them. over the past 13 years, the state department has issued more than 73,000 special immigrant visas to eligible afghans who have helped the united states, and also to their families. last year alone, we issued nearly 8000 of those. we have expanded the program. congress recently increased the cap by another 8000. the first flight of operation allies refuge arrived in the united states friday. the second arrived early this morning, together transporting around 400 people. and those will continue. we are now focused on relocating a group of more than 1000 applicants and their families who have nearly completed processing. around 4000 people in total.
we are pursuing third country agreements so eligible afghans can be quickly relocated safely to another country while we finish elements of this rigorous vetting process. getting to this point was not a civil matter. earlier today, i visited the interagency task force at the state department responsible for executing this operation. i told him how think oer they are giving their all to this important and meaningful mission. as you know, the special immigrant visa program is defined carefully by statutes. we know that there are afghans who don't qualify but helped us and deserve our help. some may not have the qualifying employment for the special immigrant visa. for example, they worked for a project funded by the u.s. government, but not for the government itself. some may not have met the minimum time in service requirement.
for example, employees who began working more recently. and some were employed by american media organizations doing vital work to support democratic progress in afghanistan. today, the state department is announcing a new resettlement program for afghans who assisted the united states but who do not qualify for special immigrant visas. we created a p2 designation granting access to the u.s. refugee admissions program for many of these afghans and their family members. a great deal of hard work has gone into this already, but even more lies ahead. there is a significant diplomatic logistics and bureaucratic challenge. we take our responsibility to afghan partners deeply seriously. we know the american people do as well. we have a long history in the united states of welcoming refugees into our country. and helping them resettle into new communities is the work of a huge network of state and local
governments and advocacy groups tens of thousands of volunteers. it is a powerful demonstration of american friendship and generosity. many americans are asking how they can help refugees in their communities get resettled. the answer is, reach out to your local refugee resettlement agency. there are national websites with state-by-state phone numbers. these agencies are always looking for extra hands and will be grateful for the help. again, i want to emphasize that although u.s. troops are leaving , the united states remains deeply engaged. we will continue to support afghanistan through security, humanitarian development, and diplomatic support. the afghan people deserve the just and lasting peace, security and understanding peace makes possible. we will do all we can to advance
that goal and will continue to welcome afghan immigrants and refugees as our neighbors in gratitude for helping us survive danger. thank you. >> i am a co. afghan woman, i suffer, i know a lot. thank you very much for your service. afghan people have suffered a lot, like afghan journalists, especially women. they are under a lot of risk in afghanistan. any good news for this group? and the taliban are increasing their attacks and today the u.s. embassy in british and the kabul said the taliban killed innocent people in kandahar. [indiscernible] sec. blinken: so, with regard to
afghans who may fear persecution , may fear violence and who may not qualify either for the special immigrant visa program, or the p2 program, they can avail themselves of right to seek refugee status in the united states. and apply for that. to be clear, you have to do that from outside of afghanistan, from a third country. but, they can go to the u.n. hcr and seek refugee status. we have seen reports of atrocities being committed by the taliban in various areas where they are on the offensive. these reports are deeply disturbing and acceptable. -- unacceptable.
it speaks to a larger issue which is this, the taliban has repeatedly said they seek, in the future, a number of things. international recognition. international support. they want their leaders to be able to travel freely around the world. they would like sanctions lifted. and none of those things are going to be possible if the taliban seeks to take the country by force and commits the kind of atrocities that have been reported. afghanistan -- an afghanistan that does not have a representative and inclusive government, that does not abide by the main gains of the last 20 years is an afghanistan that will be a pariah. certainly for the united states, and i believe internationally.
>> how do these people under the p1 program even get to third countries? you are asking turkey and other countries open their borders, how can they get from here to there past alabama checkpoints with targets on their backs? if i may follow-up also on the mrsa fleet -- how do you interpret this action you are a to iran? is this correct, you viewed this as -- of the new government's policy? what action can be taken either by us, israel, or a combination? sec. blinken: with regard first to afghans who seek to leave the country and avail themselves of refugee programs, you are right.
this is incredibly hard. it is hard on so many levels. it is hard to pick up and leave everything you know. family, friends, community, culture, language. it is hard to get yourself to a place where you can take advantage of what opportunities exist to seek to apply for refugee status. we recognize that. this is, alas, the case for millions around the world who find themselves in very difficult situations, and particularly in afghanistan now. especially a group of people who may have worked for us, worked for media organizations, women and others who feel an acute sense of threat and fear with --
their future. as we see again and again, people have to do very difficult things to make sure they can find safety and security and we will do everything we can to help them, including making these different avenues of arrival to the united states for this group of people possible. we are also dedicating significant assistance, humanitarian assistance not only in afghanistan itself, but other countries to enable them to support those who come to their countries sinking -- seeking potential refugee or immigrant status somewhere. that is important. that makes it easier, but i don't want to deny the challenge and the difficulty. it is indeed a hard thing.
our obligation, i believe, is in the first instance to make sure we are making good on our commitments to those who, in particular, put themselves in the line -- on the line to help us, whether working directly with the u.s. government, for our embassy, our military, or whether it was working for ngo's and media organizations. and as we discussed, some afghans who were -- we do not fit into those categories but may feel particularly at risk, we also have the principal refugee program available for them. with regard to iran, we have seen a series of actions taken by iran over many months, including against shipping, so i am not sure this particular action is anything new, or augers anything one way or
another for their new government. what it does say is roar -- iran continues to act with tremendous irresponsibility when it comes to in this instance, threats to navigation, to commerce, to innocent sailors who are simply engaged in commercial transit and in -- in international waters. we are in very close contact and coordination with united kingdom, israel, romania and other countries and there will be a collective response. thank you. announcer: coming up, today's
white house covid-19 task force briefing. we are expecting questions on the delta variant and masking. that is set to get underway at 4:00 p.m. eastern. you will have live coverage on c-span. tonight on the communicators, technology reporters discuss the future of the tech industry and congress' tech agenda. >> you look at the priorities dominating congress, you have seen the pandemic, infrastructure, there are a lot of big tech topics that have historically in the last year attracted interest, just not front and center. that includes section to:30. data privacy -- section 230. maybe those things are kind of off to the side little bit. i think they are important and people are interested, but that her is not -- but there is not any consensus in the chamber
that it is going to move in an imminent way. announcer: the future of the tech industry, tonight at 8:00 eastern on the communicators on c-span2. ♪ > david stewart used to practice law in washington, d.c. he gave that up over 15 years ago to write history. his first book was all about the constitutional convention in philadelphia, called "the summer of 1787." that was in 2008. a year later, he wrote about the trial of andrew johnson. then he focused on aaron burr and james madison. and now, he takes a look at george washington. and, in david stewart's words, his mastery of politics. announcer: historian david stewart, on this episode of book notes plus.
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