White House officials continue to struggle with their “no negotiations with terrorists” policy, today arguing that the Taliban may carry out terrorist attacks, but that they aren’t officially terrorists.
They probably should’ve told the Treasury Department this awhile ago, as they continue to list the Taliban on the “Specially Designated Global Terrorists” list for the sake of sanctions.
“They have a different classification,” insisted press secretary Josh Earnest, which is the closest we’re likely to get to an official explanation on the matter.
Why this matters at all is because hawks continue to try to create controversy around a prisoner swap with the Taliban to recover Bowe Bergdahl. It’s also been claimed that one of the exchanged detainees attempted to make contact with a suspected Taliban associate in Afghanistan, which they are spinning as an effort to “return to terror.”
The reality, of course, is that terrorist labeling by officials has always been a cynical affair, with groups getting put on the label mostly for convenience’s sake, and removed when it becomes politically advantageous. The policy of not negotiating with terrorists is really no policy at all, it’s just an excuse to avoid scrutiny of those times when they don’t feel like negotiating.