The Taliban are not terrorists according to this administration. Exactly when that change in designation occurred depends on who you ask. And how far back and where you look.
According to White House spokesman Eric Schultz at a press conference on Wednesday, “The Taliban is an armed insurgency, ISIL is a terrorist group. We don’t make concessions to terrorist groups,”. This was said in reference to questions about the Jordan’s intentions to swap a prisoner for a captured Jordanian Air Force pilot.
The statement actually answers a different question about how this administration is and will be justifying the release of five high-level Taliban in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl, the Army soldier who is about to be officially charged with desertion. Multiple leaks have reported that Bergdahl’s attorney has been given a charge sheet. Those leaks have been vehemently denied, first as premature and later as patently false. We’ll see.
But, this explains why the administration is making that distinction clear. It also answers why the months long delay in the release of the results and recommendations in the Bergdahl case. Big Army finished it’s investigation back in early October. It was then sent up the chain of command to be reviewed. Jokes about every person in the Pentagon, including the janitors, having a chance to look it over have been rampant. The truth is a decidedly darker sort of humor.
Now it can and will be assumed that the White House has been stalling the release while it tried to figure out a way to spin the narrative. The Taliban aren’t terrorists, they are insurgents. I wonder when the administration figured out that they traded five high-level terrorists, err, insurgents, for a soldier who would be charged with desertion?
It’s actually kind of sad that no one told the White House how badly it was all going to go if they proceeded along their intended course. Others have interpreted it all as a case in point of just how out of touch with reality the administration is.
I’d have like to been a fly on the wall when the realizations hit that their narrative was not only falling flat, but that everyone outside those hallowed halls knew more about the truth than they did. And were refusing to buy into and toe the party line.
The stunned faces and slack jaws must have been quite a sight when report after report hit the airwaves – former platoon mates getting national air time with their first hand knowledge and accounts of Bergdahl’s statements and actions; milbloggers and veterans coming out of every direction, reporting details they’ve known and kept quiet about for nearly five years; the reaction on all sides to the bizarre bit of theater that was the Press Conference and stroll through the Rose Garden with Bergdahl’s parents.
The only thing that could have made it all worse was for this administration to double-down on the dumb by having Susan Rice extol the virtues and service of the former Private, Bowe Bergdahl. Yes, he was promoted in absentia to the rank of Sergeant. But, since it is unlikely he will keep that unearned rank, or hopefully any rank, I refuse to use it.
Now the White House is again attempting to rewrite the national narrative by proclaiming the Taliban are not terrorists. They are insurgents. Which means they didn’t negotiate with terrorists and didn’t release terrorists in violation of U.S. law. They released insurgents.
I guess they are hoping that no one notices that since 2002, the Taliban has been on the Specially Designated Global Terrorist list. Or that the National Counterterrorism Center lists “Taliban Presence in Afghanistan” on a map of global terrorism presences, points which were noted in a Wall Street Journal article on the White House semantics dance.
If the White House is hoping that the media will fall in, or fall for, this distinction they are seemingly doomed to disappointment. That must be very frustrating for an administration that has in very many ways controlled the verbiage of the national conversation for the better part of six years.
Another example of the special lexicon that is ObamaSpeak is the refusal to use the words Islamic or Muslim as a descriptor of terror acts. We can now add ‘terrorist’ and ‘insurgent’ to the list of alternately defined words. I wonder if it will be okay to conjoin ‘insurgent’ with ‘Muslim’? Perhaps they will follow Christiane Amanpour’s lead. She proved her fluency in this language when she labeled the Muslim terrorists in Paris ‘activists’.
With that ridiculous, insulting and simply bizarre word choice, Ms. Amanpour reduced her credibility as a journalist to the level of, well, this administration.
Our President as well as former and current Press Secretaries and White House spokespeople have long shunned any hint of labeling any attacks as being driven by Islamic ideology, even when the perpetrators have clearly and proudly announced their motivation.
Take for example the Ft. Hood shooting by Nidal Hasan. Scores of witnesses and incontrovertible proof found in the shooters emails have made it perfectly clear he considered himself a Soldier of Allah. He even had his business cards printed with SoA(SWT), an acronym that means Soldier or Servant of Allah and Glory to God (SWT is the English transliteration for subhanahu wa ta’ala). But, the White House declared his killing of 13 people and injuring more than 30 others as work-place violence, not a terrorist attack perpetrated by a Muslim, motivated by his version of Islam.
Deciphering what this White House means when it uses, or refuses to use certain terms is always interesting. Every word choice or lack thereof has significance, a fact that is also true of of every other administration in history. That is politics. The difference is this administration seems to be serving it’s own agenda, policies and ideologies first, above and beyond and too often at the expense of the best interests of the American people.
There is and can be no explanation for this insistence of refusing to label terrorists as terrorists. Unless that lunacy is viewed in light of the Bergdahl case.
Since the Taliban aren’t terrorists, Obama didn’t violate “longstanding policy that predates this administration”. Saying “Our policy is that we don’t pay ransom, that we don’t give concessions to terrorist organizations,” can then be true. Because the Taliban aren’t terrorists.
There was one other tidbit I pulled from this latest instance of linguistic calisthenics. Eric Schultz is certainly following the script, calling ISIL a terrorist group. It has long been a curiosity, why Obama insists on referring to this group exclusively as ISIL and not ISIS. I’m wondering if there will be an ObamaSpeak to English translation forthcoming, perhaps in light of negotiations with ISIS in the near future. Surely they can’t think we are that dumb, to fall for that one. Then again, they thought we’d fall for this insurgent not terrorist nonsense.
Below are some of the images of the Taliban’s handiwork. Remember, according to our President, this is not the work of terrorists.
WARNING – GRAPHIC
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