June 1, 2014

CNN's Candy Crowley sat down with national security adviser Susan Rice on "State of the Union" where they discussed the U.S.'s role in getting the Taliban to release Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a prisoner of war in Afghanistan. TPM highlights that Crowley is persistent in getting Rice to admit that the U.S. did negotiate with terrorists to release Bergdahl:

"Point blank, did the U.S. negotiate with terrorists for his release?" Crowley asked.

"Candy, what we did was ensure that, as always, the United States doesn’t leave a man or a woman on the battlefield," Rice responded. "And in order to do this — it’s very important for folks to understand — if we got into a situation where we said, ‘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."

Crowley continued to press Rice.

"I think the question now is, and you point to the kinds of warfare we’re having now, but no longer can it be said that the U.S. doesn’t negotiate with terrorists," Crowley said.

Rice would not say that the U.S. negotiated with terrorists. She instead claimed the the U.S. was presented with a "new kind of situation with a prisoner of war":

“When we are in battles with terrorists, and the terrorists take an American prisoner, that prisoner is still a U.S. serviceman or woman. We still have a sacred obligation to bring that person back."

Details about Bergdahl's release are still unknown but Crowley really wanted Rice to admit the U.S. did negotiate with Taliban on this. USA Today has a little more info:

The handover was the result of indirect talks between the United States and the Taliban's political leadership, with Qatar acting as a mediator, according to a senior administration official who provided information to reporters on condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the issue.

U.S. efforts to obtain Bergdahl's release began in November 2010, but a break in the effort occurred several weeks ago, when an opportunity rose to resume talks, the official said. Bergdahl's release and the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to Qatar is part of a broader reconciliation effort in Afghanistan, the official said.

U.S. officials hope the transfer will build greater trust between the Taliban and the Afghan government so the two sides can negotiate a solution, the official said.

Obama defended the exchange, saying the government of Qatar pledged to "put in place measures to protect our national security."


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