Susan Rice Claim That U.S. Did Not Talk to Taliban Directly Is Contradicted by a Senior Administration Official
Susan Rice is sent out to the Sunday yakkers to push an Administration claim that starts falling apart before the sun has even set.
Does this scenario sound familiar to anyone?
Today, Susan Rice made the rounds to claim that the United States does not negotiate with terrorists, because the U.S. Government did not talk directly to the Taliban, but rather used the Qatar government as an intermediary:
From the transcript:
CROWLEY: Point-blank, did the U.S. negotiate with terrorists for his release?
RICE: Candy, what we did was ensure that, as always, the United States doesn’t leave a man or a woman on the battlefield.
RICE: And in order to do this, it’s very important for folks to understand, if we got into a situation where we said, you know, because of who has captured an American soldier on the battlefield, we will leave that person behind, we would be in a whole new era for the safety of our personnel and for the nature of our commitment to our men and women in uniform.
RICE: So, because it was the Taliban that had him did not mean that we had any less of an obligation to bring him back.
CROWLEY: Right. In fact, it was the Haqqani Network, which really is listed as a terrorist. And this is not a judgment question. It’s just a question. You had to negotiate with terrorists to secure the release of the sergeant.
RICE: We actually negotiated with the government of Qatar, to whom we owe a great debt.
Rice also talked to George Snuffleupagus and described the talks as indirect (6:28 at the video at the link), saying “this engagement indirectly through the Qatarese with the Taliban was for the specific purpose of releasing Bowe Berghdahl.”
Here’s the problem. This story — that any discussions with the Taliban were indirect and conducted through the Qatar government — has already been contradicted by an unnamed “senior Administration official” in this New York Times report:
Senior administration officials cautioned that the discussions over the prisoner swap, which were secretly restarted last fall after collapsing several months earlier, did not necessarily presage the resumption of the broader, on-again-off-again peace talks to end the 13-year war.
“This is the only issue we’ve discussed with the Taliban in recent months,” said one senior Obama administration official involved in the talks. “We do hope that having succeeded in this narrow but important step, it will create the possibility of expanding the dialogue to other issues. But we don’t have any promises to that effect.”
But word of renewed, secret negotiations with the Taliban brought immediate criticism from some lawmakers, including Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
Oh, and also, we weren’t . . . actually . . . talking to the Taliban. That’s the part that the “senior Administation official” forgot to say — probably because the New York Times story was published yesterday, before they made up the lie about everything going through the “Qatarese.”
“DON’T DO STUPID SHIT”: As we examine yet another Rice misrepresentation, it’s an appropriate time to note that Obama and his aides have been actively pushing the talking point that Obama’s foreign policy can be summed as follows: “Don’t Do Stupid Shit.”
It sounds like an Onion story, but apparently Obama himself loves to push the line:
“For those pining for an Obama Doctrine victory for the president, here it is: ‘Don’t Do Stupid Shit,’” Politico’s Mike Allen wrote in his daily tip sheet, the Politico Playbook, Saturday. “Playbook rarely prints a four-letter word — our nephews are loyal readers. But we are, in this case, because that is the precise phrase President Obama and his aides are using in their off-the-record chats with journalists.”
You read that right: Obama himself is telling journalists that his foreign policy doctrine is: “Don’t Do Stupid Shit.”
Which raises several questions. Negotiating with terrorists and returning 5 of the worst terrorists at GTMO — is that “stupid shit”? Violating a law requiring Congress to be informed ahead of time, and justifying that violation by citing the poor health of a guy who by all accounts is perfectly fine — is that “stupid shit”?
And the act of repeatedly sending out Susan Rice to lie to the American people about our feckless dealings with terrorists — is that “stupid shit”?
I wonder if our intrepid media can pose any of these questions to President Obama. (Off the record, of course. We don’t want to rock any boats, now do we?)
UPDATE: Tom Blumer writes to note that the article as it currently reads states:
Hopes for Sergeant Bergdahl’s release were lifted last November when the Taliban signaled it was prepared to engage the United States on the limited issue of a prisoner swap, but not on wider issues including reconciliation with the government of Afghanistan, a senior administration official said Saturday.
The discussions resumed with the Qatari government acting as an intermediary for messages between the two sides, the official said. Previous talks faltered over issues including restrictions on any released detainees; it was unclear whether the one-year travel prohibition was a breakthrough compromise. While it was described by American officials, it was not mentioned in a Taliban statement on the swap.
While this indicates that later talks took place using Qatar as an intermediary, it also suggests that earlier talks did not. Tom wonders whether this language was in the original article. I don’t think it was, but I can’t say for sure.