White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Friday that Republicans seemed “unhappy” that 10 U.S. Navy sailors, captured by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard this week were released, and said following their advice would have led to war.
The spokesman further said that “common sense” would indicate that the apology from one of the sailors on video might have been coerced by the Iranian government, but declined to delve into a matter under investigation by the Pentagon.
“I think the only people unhappy about it are the Republicans for some reason,” Earnest told reporters.
Earnest said he did not believe the treatment of the captives related to the Geneva Conventions, which prohibits the use of prisoners for propaganda.
“When it comes to the Geneva conventions, my understanding is that it primarily applies to prisoners of war,” Earnest said. “Based on what I’ve been told, the Geneva convention does not apply in this particular circumstance.”
Asked whether the sailor who apologized on video violated the Military Code of Conduct, Earnest responded that the White House does not wanted to interfere with a Defense Department review.
He was asked if the video statement under duress, and replied: “That’s unclear. I think common sense tells you that that certainly is a possibility. But this is something the Department of Defense is taking a look at.”
Earnest said the handling of the situation with the sailors in Iran “underscores responsible, mature presidential leadership” on the part of Obama.
“If followed advice of some of the Republican critics of the administration, we’d probably be in a bloody war with Iran right now over our sailors,” Earnest added. “The fact is our sailors right now are out of harms way.”