In the White House press room this week, officials have struggled to explain why the administration won’t brand the Taliban as a terrorist group.
Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz stumbled over the talking points, specifying earlier this week that the Taliban was an “armed insurgency,” which was different from a “terrorist group” such as ISIL.
The definition is key to the negotiations that secured the release of Taliban hostage Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. That swap was described as a prisoner transfer as part of the “winding down” of the war in Afghanistan.
“We don’t make concessions to terrorist groups,” Schultz insisted on Wednesday.
On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest tried to play cleanup, explaining why al Qaeda was classified as a terrorist group, but the Taliban merely an “armed insurgency.”
“They do carry out tactics that are akin to terrorism. They do pursue terror attacks in an effort to try to advance their agenda,” he admitted, but pointed out that they have a “different classification.”
The awkward clarification at the White House podium comes as news breaks this morning that the Taliban has claimed responsibility for a terrorist attack in Kabul that killed three American contractors.
Expect reporters to continue grilling the White House about the issue today.