- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 20, 2013

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was apparently joking when he asked an Indian questioner at the University of Nebraska Wednesday whether he was a member of the Taliban.

“You’re not a member of the Taliban, are you?” he asked, receiving nothing but awkward silence from the crowd.

The man turned out to be Robin A. Gandhi, an assistant professor of information assurance in the School of Interdisciplinary Informatics, College of Information Science and Technology at Nebraska.

The Pentagon issued a statement today stating, “Absolutely no slight toward any individual in the audience was intended. That’s the last thing the Secretary would do under any circumstance, in this or any other setting. He didn’t know who would be called next to pose a question.”

BuzzFeed notes that Mr. Hagel had previously answered a question on negotiating with the Taliban.

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