There’s lots of news circulating this week about Bowe Bergdahl, the American solider we traded five high-ranking Taliban officials for, who may (or may not, depending on who you ask) face a court martial over his alleged desertion. It seems that, while senior Army officials are keen to tell news organizations, off the record, that Bergdahl will be brought up on charges, the White House is avoiding the question like it was Lindsay Lohan at court ordered community service.
But that’s not to say that the White House’s dance around the Bergdahl question hasn’t, itself, produced a few gems. Like this one, from today’s press conference with rookie comms guy Eric Schultz, who has never heard of the Taliban, why do you ask?
In Wednesday’s White House Press Briefing, John Karl asked press briefing rookie Eric Schultz whether the Jordanians’ trading a prisoner for one of the hostages held by the Islamic State was similar to the United States’ trading five high-ranking Taliban members for Bowe Bergdahl.
“I would also point out that the Taliban is an armed insurgency and [the Islamic State] is a terrorist group. So we don’t make concessions to terrorist groups,” Schultz said.
When Karl asked whether the Taliban is a terrorist group, Schultz said that the prisoner swap for Bergdahl was because of the winding down of the Iraq war.
This happened once before, if you recall, right when Bergdahl was released. Jay Carney, White House Press Secretary at the time, insisted that the Taliban was an “enemy combatant” in an armed conflict. By the next evening, the National Security Council spokesperson was forced to correct the record, as the Taliban is actually on the list of “Specially Designated Terrorist Organizations” that was rolled into the record in 2002. The only entity not to officially declare the Taliban a terrorist organization is the State Department, because it considers the Taliban proper to be a derivative and partner of other organizations that provide the actual terror networks.
The White House seems to have decided to keep trying to press the issue, as well as the idea that the exchange for Bergdahl is merely “tying up loose ends” as part of wrapping up a war, both of which make the notion of sending five high-ranking terrorist operatives back to the field of battle somehow better, I guess. It doesn’t, obviously, but it’s kind of like raising taxes on the middle class, which they are also chomping at the bit to do: you can’t honestly say what you want here. In one case, the Obama Administration would like to tap into all that money they can’t get their hands, because you’ve socked it away for safe keeping, on to support their hopelessly inflated budget proposals, at the risk of alienating the only people who still think they’re doing a good job. In the other case, the Administration would rather pretend the war in Afghanistan isn’t happening than deal with it in the present tense. Either way, we’ll pay the price eventually.
And then everyone wonders why I’m so cynical.
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