A White House spokesman had a difficult time answering whether the Taliban was a terrorist organization. The answer, it turned out, is no.
The topic arose during Wednesday’s press briefing over the Jordanian government’s agreeing to trade a convicted terrorist for the release of an air force pilot held by the Islamic State. ABC News’ Jon Karl asked how this differs from the U.S. decision to swap Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban leaders at Guantanamo Bay — returning them “to the Taliban, which is clearly a terrorist organization.”
“As you know, uh, this was highly discussed at the time and prisoner swaps are a traditional end-of-conflict, uh, interaction that happens. 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,” White House press secretary Eric Schultz said. “I’d also point out that the Taliban is an armed insurgency. ISIL is a terrorist group. So we don’t make concessions to terrorist groups.”
Karl followed, “You don’t think the Taliban is a terrorist group?”
Schultz had some trouble answering.
“I don’t think that the Taliban, um — uh – the Taliban is an armed insurgency,” Schultz said. “This was the winding down of the war in Afghanistan, and that’s why this arrangement was dealt.”