White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz argued during Wednesday’s briefing that the United States can negotiate prisoner swaps with Taliban members, because the Taliban is not considered a terrorist group.
ABC News reporter John Karl asked the press briefing rookie whether the Jordanian government’s trade with the Islamic State was similar to the United States trading five Taliban members for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
“As you know, this was highly discussed at the time and prisoner swaps are a traditional end-of-conflict interaction that happens,” Mr. Schultz said. “As the war in Afghanistan wound down, we felt like it was the appropriate thing to do. The president’s bedrock commitment as commander in chief is to leave no man or woman behind. That’s the principle he was operating under.”
“Isn’t that what the Jordanians are operating under?” the ABC reporter argued. “The Taliban are still conducting terror attacks, so you can’t really say the war has ended as far as they’re concerned.”
Mr. Schultz explained: “I would also point out that the Taliban is an armed insurgency. [Islamic State] is a terrorist group. So we don’t make concessions to terrorist groups.”
“You don’t think the Taliban’s a terrorist group?” Mr. Karl interjected.
“I don’t think that the Taliban — the Taliban is an armed insurgency,” Mr. Schultz corrected. “This was the winding down of the war in Afghanistan, and that’s why this arrangement was dealt.”