The State Dept's foolish question

The State Dept. is in a hole and can't stop digging. Last week's ‘Question of the Week' on the State Department blog asked: Should the U.S. engage Hamas as part of its efforts to bring about peace between the Israelis and Palestinians?  We commented on the idiocy rampant in Foggy Bottom last week. 

Having this question on a government website caused consternation among many, including Illinois Congressman Mark Kirk, who posted his response on March 9, 2008. "Worrying that you guys are asking questions like this using funds approved by the appropriations committee that I am a member of."

Not only is Hamas listed as a terrorist organization by the same state department which issued the question, but it was sending rockets into Israel as the question sat there for public comment. Would the State Department post a question: Should Britain speak with Al Qaida while Al Quaida is attacking New York in order to improve the sentiments of Islamic extremists towards the U.S? Sounds ridiculous! In a press conference, Sean McCormack, State Department Spokesman, attempted to answer reporters questions on the topic.  

If you thought the question was foolish, look at the answer.

QUESTION: Can you explain why this is up for discussion within the State Department since you very firmly have said that Hamas is considered a terrorist organization...

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it's not -- again, it's not a question of policy. This is our official blog. It's not -- it's meant to generate conversation among people.

QUESTION: Are you taking notes of what people within the Department are saying?

MR. MCCORMACK: We always take a look. I'm the one who started it. So, you know, we always take a look at what the comments are. But it doesn't -- that doesn't mean that it's going to change the policy. The policy is what it is.

QUESTION: What's the purpose then, Sean, to have that? What's the -- there must be a reason for this question to be up there versus another question. So what are you taking out of the whole thing?

MR. MCCORMACK: I didn't write this particular question, but .....This is just another form of a public forum.

QUESTION: So is it meant to just sort of solidify and confirm your policy that you should not talk to Hamas? Are you expecting the parties to --

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it's a --(Why well? He's not certain.  My comments)

No, the whole idea behind the blog is to try to build a community of people who are interested in reading about and discussing and providing their inputs to -- on matters of foreign policy...It's not a statement of policy; it's just something that the questions tend to be very topical and to generate discussion. There are a lot of people with a lot of different views, a lot of people that don't share our views with regard to terrorist organizations.

QUESTION: What if you get this overwhelming response that the American public thinks that Hamas should be engaged in the peace process? Are you taking the temperature, or what?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, no...There are some instances where you want to understand what's going on out in the public. It doesn't mean you're doing a poll or taking a survey and you're changing the policy. Certainly, in this case, there's -- you know, our policy is policy. It's not going to change. There are legal as well as policy and moral requirements for doing what we do.

QUESTION: I mean, why -- why even raise the question? Why generate a question about a matter on which there are legal, moral and policy reasons that you are not going to change the policy?

MR. MCCORMACK: Why do you ask me questions about Hamas and the U.S. involvement in Hamas? You know, I -- there's certainly -- certainly, there is nothing about -- nothing wrong with and -- you know, asking a question and having people give their views.

QUESTION: I ask you questions to find out if the policy is changing, but you've just told me that the policy is not changing but you still ask the question on your website, which doesn't -- which still doesn't quite make sense to me.

The question and convoluted rationalizations for posting it don't make sense to me either.

The State Dept. is in a hole and can't stop digging. Last week's ‘Question of the Week' on the State Department blog asked: Should the U.S. engage Hamas as part of its efforts to bring about peace between the Israelis and Palestinians?  We commented on the idiocy rampant in Foggy Bottom last week. 

Having this question on a government website caused consternation among many, including Illinois Congressman Mark Kirk, who posted his response on March 9, 2008. "Worrying that you guys are asking questions like this using funds approved by the appropriations committee that I am a member of."

Not only is Hamas listed as a terrorist organization by the same state department which issued the question, but it was sending rockets into Israel as the question sat there for public comment. Would the State Department post a question: Should Britain speak with Al Qaida while Al Quaida is attacking New York in order to improve the sentiments of Islamic extremists towards the U.S? Sounds ridiculous! In a press conference, Sean McCormack, State Department Spokesman, attempted to answer reporters questions on the topic.  

If you thought the question was foolish, look at the answer.

QUESTION: Can you explain why this is up for discussion within the State Department since you very firmly have said that Hamas is considered a terrorist organization...

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it's not -- again, it's not a question of policy. This is our official blog. It's not -- it's meant to generate conversation among people.

QUESTION: Are you taking notes of what people within the Department are saying?

MR. MCCORMACK: We always take a look. I'm the one who started it. So, you know, we always take a look at what the comments are. But it doesn't -- that doesn't mean that it's going to change the policy. The policy is what it is.

QUESTION: What's the purpose then, Sean, to have that? What's the -- there must be a reason for this question to be up there versus another question. So what are you taking out of the whole thing?

MR. MCCORMACK: I didn't write this particular question, but .....This is just another form of a public forum.

QUESTION: So is it meant to just sort of solidify and confirm your policy that you should not talk to Hamas? Are you expecting the parties to --

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it's a --(Why well? He's not certain.  My comments)

No, the whole idea behind the blog is to try to build a community of people who are interested in reading about and discussing and providing their inputs to -- on matters of foreign policy...It's not a statement of policy; it's just something that the questions tend to be very topical and to generate discussion. There are a lot of people with a lot of different views, a lot of people that don't share our views with regard to terrorist organizations.

QUESTION: What if you get this overwhelming response that the American public thinks that Hamas should be engaged in the peace process? Are you taking the temperature, or what?

MR. MCCORMACK: No, no...There are some instances where you want to understand what's going on out in the public. It doesn't mean you're doing a poll or taking a survey and you're changing the policy. Certainly, in this case, there's -- you know, our policy is policy. It's not going to change. There are legal as well as policy and moral requirements for doing what we do.

QUESTION: I mean, why -- why even raise the question? Why generate a question about a matter on which there are legal, moral and policy reasons that you are not going to change the policy?

MR. MCCORMACK: Why do you ask me questions about Hamas and the U.S. involvement in Hamas? You know, I -- there's certainly -- certainly, there is nothing about -- nothing wrong with and -- you know, asking a question and having people give their views.

QUESTION: I ask you questions to find out if the policy is changing, but you've just told me that the policy is not changing but you still ask the question on your website, which doesn't -- which still doesn't quite make sense to me.

The question and convoluted rationalizations for posting it don't make sense to me either.