California Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier hastened to explain away the controversy surrounding the Obama administration’s release of five dangerous Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, claiming that the Taliban aren’t “terrorists,” but rather “part of the fabric of Afghanistan.”
Speier made the remarks on MSNBC Tuesday morning, attempting to rebut Speaker of the House John Boehner’s claim that the release violated the U.S. policy of not negotiating with terrorists and that “we’re gonna pay for this.”
“Let me underscore the term ‘terrorist,’” Speier tried to explain. “The Taliban is part of the fabric of Afghanistan — they were part of the leadership of that country before we engaged there.”
“We are now actively attempting to get the Taliban to negotiate with Karzai and the Afghanistani [sic] government,” she continued, “because there will be some cooperation, some level of coordination between the two if that country is going to survive and move forward.”
“So,” she concluded, “to say that they are ‘terrorists,’ at this point, is not necessarily accurate.”
Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was traded for the five Taliban, was in fact captured and held by the Haqqani network — a vital ally of the Taliban designated a terrorist group by the U.S. State Department.
And the Taliban were indeed “part of the leadership” of Afghanistan before the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. They got there through a campaign of terror against rival warlords and the Afghan people.
In fact, one released prisoner killed hundreds and drove 300,000 people from their homes as part of a 1999 scorched-earth campaign — one way the Taliban secured “leadership” and their place in the nation’s “fabric.”
Speier’s comments echo those made by sitting lawmakers and anonymous White House staffers that the transfer is part of a “confidence-building measure” in part designed to legitimize the Taliban as reasonable diplomatic partners.