Psaki doubles down on Bergdahl release
Jen Psaki, in her final week as State Department spokeswoman as she prepares to become the White House director of communications on April 1, claimed that the deal for the release of Bowe Bergdahl was “worth it,” despite the charges pending against him, and that there is nothing to worry about with the five senior Taliban commanders released in exchange for a man charged with desertion.
Via Real Clear Politics (with video):
JEN PSAKI, STATE DEPARTMENT: Was it worth it? Absolutely. We have a commitment to our men and women serving overseas, or in our military, defending our national security every day, that we will do everything we can to bring them home, and that’s what we did in this case...
But as it relates to the detainees, you know, this is a commitment we have made, we have long made, for decades. We have the ability to track and work with the Qataris, we know that individuals were reportedly online and engaging with individuals they shouldn’t be. Because we track it! It means the system of tracking works.
In a matter of weeks, the five all-stars will be fully released and free to return to the battlefield as heroes.
Psaki also defended President Obama’s White House ceremony with Bergdahl’s parents and refused to comment on National Security Advisor Susan Rice’s description of Bergdahl’s service. Via Mediaite:
Later, Kelly asked, “Did the president know, when he struck this deal, did he know Bowe Bergdahl was a potential deserter? Why did he have the big ceremony in the Rose Garden? Why was there so much pomp and circumstance trying to celebrate this man when at the minimum he was a very controversial figure?”
Psaki said that the administration did not want to “pre-judge” Bergdahl at that time and are reserving judgement today pending his military trial. As for Rice’s comments about serving with “honor and distinction,” Psaki would not denounce those statements and said she would have to wait and see what the military justice system concludes in the end.
There is some wiggle room here, because by citing the need to wait for the hearing and trial, there will be a future opportunity to change positions. But for now, Psaki, and presumably her future colleagues at the White House, are hanging tough, as President Obama continues his policy of never admitting mistakes.