During a press briefing following last week’s failed military coup, White House press secretary Josh Earnest refused to criticize Turkey’s post-coup purge, insisting it was an “extraordinary situation,” and that while they wanted to see restraint from Turkey’s government, they weren’t comfortable criticizing anything they’d done.

Earnest also walked back Secretary of State John Kerry’s warning yesterday that the crackdown could imperil Turkey’s NATO membership, insisting that the US strongly values Turkey as a NATO member irrespective of their post-coup behavior.

Since Friday’s failed coup, Turkey has openly talked up a broad “cleansing” of society, arresting thousands of people and firing tens of thousands of others on suspicion they were in some way linked with “terrorism.” This included every single university dean in the country.

President Erdogan has also talked about bringing back the death penalty explicitly for use against coup plotters, and while naturally that possibility isn’t as big a deal for the US, with its own death penalty, the European Union has warned that such a move could effectively end any possibility of Turkey getting membership.

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz