White House Refuses to Classify the Taliban as a Terrorist Group, Defends Prisoner Swap

Katie Pavlich

6/2/2014 2:12:00 PM - Katie Pavlich

As Guy has extensively detailed, over the weekend the Obama administration in partnership with the Defense Department, announced a prison swap of the "Taliban 5" in exchange for POW and alleged deserter Sgt. Bower Bergdahl. Speaking at the White House Monday, Press Secretary Jay Carney refused to classify the Taliban as a terrorist organization when asked about the details of the exchange.

"Does the US still regard the Taliban as a terrorist group," CBS News' Mark Knoller asked Carney directly.

"We regard the Taliban as an enemy combatant," Carney said, adding the swap was consistent with U.S. policy and past prisoner of war releases throughout armed conflicts. "This was the right thing to do because we, in the United States, do not leave men behind."

"If you look through our history, ample precedent for this decision," Carney said. "We don't leave men behind based on who's holding them."

When asked about the swap being illegal, Carney said Congress shouldn't have been surprised about the move and that the White House needed to act with urgency, after five years, to get Bergdahl out of Afghanistan. U.S. law states prison swaps must be sent to Congress 30 days ahead of time, but this deal went down without it.

"This [release/swap] should not have been a surprise to Congress," Carney said. "Prisoner exchanges are hardly a new development."

"The executive branch must have the ability to act swiftly," he said.

Carney was also questioned about the communication between Sgt. Bergdahl's father, Robert Bergdahl, and Al Qaeda leaders on Twitter considering he was at the White House Saturday and stood directly beside President Obama for the announcement. Carney argued Robert Bergdahl's views do not reflect those of the White House and quickly dismissed the question.

When asked if President Obama viewed Bergdahl's as having served with honor and distinction as White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice stated over the weekend, Carney diverted comment to the Defense Department.