Outgoing White House press secretary Jay Carney was grilled on CNN Tuesday night over the controversial deal President Barack Obama made to secure the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl — and one particular question appeared to have him momentarily lost for words.
“Were you aware that, that Bergdahl’s father would speak Arabic and Pashto in his remarks?” Anderson Cooper asked.
“But, I — I, uh— I’m not sure that — of the relevance of that question,” a seemingly caught off-guard Carney responded. “Is that a reason not to be happy for a father, that his son who has been held in captivity by a brutal enemy is being returned to him and the United States? I mean, I think that’s entirely beside the point.”
Watch the clip (starts at roughly 5:30 point):
Earlier in the interview, Cooper had grilled Carney over whether it can “still be said that the United States does not negotiate with terrorists.”
“It can be, Anderson, because when you put on the uniform of the United States and you go and fight on behalf of your country in a foreign land at war, and you’re taken captive by the enemy, the principle that we don’t leave our men and women behind doesn’t have an asterisk attached to it depending on who’s holding you,” Carney answered. “The principle is inviolate, and that’s what we pursued here.”
That response didn’t appear to quell Cooper who continued pressing.
“Even if it was a group like Al Qaeda, there would be negotiations with them?” he asked.
“Again — but that’s not the case here,” Carney said. “What I’m saying is he was a prisoner in an armed conflict, and we were engaged in an effort for five years to try to recover him. As an admiral said on TV today, he said when one of your shipmates goes overboard, you go get them. You don’t ask whether he jumped or he was pushed or he fell. You go get him first and then you find out.”
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