7:29 AM, Jun 6, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Time magazine is reporting that during an interview about the deal to trade Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban detainees from Guantanamo, when "[a]sked whether the Taliban would be inspired by the exchange to kidnap others, a commander laughed. 'Definitely.'" The response should not come as a surprise to the Obama administration given an exchange that took place at a State Department press briefing in January of this year.
A reporter asked spokesperson Jen Psaki about a UN resolution to discourage private companies from paying ransom to terrorists for the release of kidnap victims. The reporter said that "basically, these companies paying a ransom through their own insurance is really one of the only ways that we’ve seen success of release of these kidnapping victims." Despite the apparent "success," Psaki told the reporter that giving in to the terrorists' demands simply "perpetuates the action":
MS. PSAKI: Well, our concern is, as I mentioned, the – what this perpetuates, which is the fact that terrorists kidnap people and they have raised well over $120 million in ransom payments. So the belief here, clearly, by the UN Security Council, but the United States, is that this is not an approach that can continue because it perpetuates the action. But beyond that, I’d have to check with our team and see if there’s more specifics on it.
The Washington Post has reported that early in the Bergdahl ordeal, the Taliban's demands for his release included "$1 million and 21 Afghan prisoners." Spokesperson Marie Harf could not confirm or deny this week whether or not cash payments were considered as part of the deal as executed by the Obama administration last week when five Taliban commanders released into Qatari custody. But in the January press briefing, Psaki warned against not just ransom, but "concessions" as well [emphasis added]:
So we commend the consensus adoption of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2133 on kidnapping for ransom, which identifies kidnapping for ransom as a source of terrorist financing and expresses the Council’s determination to secure the safe release of hostages without ransom payments or political concessions...
The resolution is also directly in line with the United States longstanding policy to make no concessions.
However, this week, Harf would not concede that releasing the five detainees even amounted to a concession:
QUESTION: Well, it’s just – it’s very general, but it relates to this. When people are saying the U.S. does not negotiate with terrorist groups, is that statute or is that general policy? And --
MS. HARF: Well, our line is that we don’t make concessions --
QUESTION: That’s what I was about to ask you.
MS. HARF: -- which is different. I mean, that’s the – you’re quoting it colloquial. That’s actually not what you’ll hear us say from the podium (inaudible).
QUESTION: Okay. And how do you define the difference?
MS. HARF: How do we define the difference? Well, I --
QUESTION: Between making concessions and negotiating.
MS. HARF: I think it’s clear that we don’t make concessions to terrorists. And that’s a judgment, right, that we don’t – I think – I don’t know. I think those words, using Matt, I think are fairly well defined.
QUESTION: So releasing five of their prisoners or five of their --
MS. HARF: Is not making a concession.
QUESTION: It’s not a concession?
MS. HARF: No. It is consistent absolutely with what’s happened in previous wars, including Korea, including Vietnam. I think one of the large tranches of prisoners in Vietnam, it was something like around 500 Americans for 1,200 North Vietnamese. So again, this has a long history in the United States of prisoner swaps.
1:21 PM, Jun 4, 2014 • By DENNIS P. HALPIN
A U.S. Army soldier goes missing at night from a remote post on the edge of enemy territory. Depressed and anxious, he has expressed doubts about the U.S. mission and disillusionment with the war. He allegedly leaves behind a note recording these doubts. There are some reports that he consumes alcohol before he disappears. He crosses enemy lines and is detained by hostile forces who subsequently publicly announce his conversion to their anti-American cause.
9:18 AM, Feb 5, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The head of an Iranian nuclear organization, Ali Akbar, says the "entire nuclear activity of Iran is going on," despite the nuclear deal reached with the United States and other Western nations. Akbar made the comments in an interview with PressTV, an Iranian propaganda outfit.
Akbar also says they won't dismantle Arak reactor, that the American have achieved nothing, and that they're continuing to build new nuclear sites.
3:35 PM, Feb 3, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Adam Kredo of the Washington Free Beacon reports:
One of Iran’s top former nuclear negotiators promised that Iran “will never” dismantle its nuclear enrichment program, and that Tehran’s current promises to curb these activates are only temporary.
No Limitations to Nuke Technology11:22 AM, Jan 23, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The Iranian president tells Fareed Zakaria of CNN that, under the nuclear deal, there will be no limitations to nuclear technology and no destruction of centrifuges:
5:44 PM, Jan 22, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Foreign Minister Zarif of Iran said on CNN that the White House is getting the nuclear deal wrong -- and that they don't have to give up anything:
Said the Iranian foreign minister, "The White House version both underplays the concessions and overplays Iranian commitment. And I'm not interested in that. I'm simply saying, why don't we all stick to what we agreed? Why do we need to produce different texts?"
9:01 AM, Jan 21, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce, released this statement on the Iran nuclear deal:
7:38 AM, Jan 14, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani is taking to Twitter to gloat about the nuclear deal his country struck with the U.S. and other Western countries.
"Our relationship w/ the world is based on Iranian nation's interests. In #Geneva agreement world powers surrendered to Iranian nation's will," Rouhani tweeted about an hour ago.
7:01 AM, Jan 14, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Iran's chief negotiator, Abbas Araqchi, who helped his country secure the nuclear deal with the U.S. and other Western countries, is claiming victory.
4:23 PM, Jan 13, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Barack Obama talked briefly about the Iran nuclear deal and said "give peace a chance." Via the pool report:
Pres. Obama said the implementation agreement finalized over the weekend gives the parties "the time and space" to reach a comprehensive accord.
"It's going to be difficult, it's going to be challenging, but ultimately this is how diplomacy should work."
"If Iran is willing to walk through the door of opportunity that's presented to them" then the country and its people will benefit.
10:52 AM, Jan 13, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
House majority leader Eric Cantor responds to the Iran deal:
“This expected and overdue implementation only furthers a deeply flawed agreement that legitimizes Iran's flagrant violations of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions calling for the full suspension of its nuclear program. Although Congress still needs to investigate key details of this implementation plan, the underlying agreement does nothing to reverse Iran's nuclear program, allows it to continue industrial-scale enrichment of uranium and fails to address critical aspects of Iran's weaponization research.
"Our hope and expectation is that Iran will comply."10:18 AM, Jan 13, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Yesterday, the Obama administration announced an agreement regarding Iran's nuclear program had been reached. But a statement about the enforcement of the deal made by a senior administration official during a background briefing on Sunday, however, is likely to further worry critics of the deal. The official declined to cite a single example of an "individual instance of noncompliance" that would trigger the reversal of the sanctions relief put into effect by the deal:
7:18 AM, Dec 16, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Bill Kristol, with Julie Pace, Bob Woodward, and Brit Hume, yesterday on Fox: