Otherwise, I really, really want to hear the reasons why the State Department left the Taliban off the list of terrorist groups:
A new State Department report designating terrorist organizations notably excludes one group: the Taliban. The U.S. has been fighting a war in Afghanistan for almost a decade aimed at “defeating the Taliban,” Taliban members repeatedly have threatened and killed American citizens and lawmakers have increased pressure on State to add the Taliban to the list.
Earlier this summer, a group of congressional Democrats sent a letter to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton urging her to begin the process of categorizing the Taliban as a terrorist group. In June, Sens. Charles Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand of New York and Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez of New Jersey proposed legislation that would immediately add the Taliban to the terrorist list.
Yet the State Department’s report (due on April 30 but released last week), did not include the Taliban with groups such as al-Qaida, Hamas and the Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA). To qualify, an organization must meet only three criteria: It must be foreign, it must engage in terrorist activity and its activity must threaten the security of the U.S. or its citizens.
Well, let’s see:
- The Taliban is largely a Pashtun group that straddles the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and, last time I checked, that’s not in the United States, so it’s “foreign.” Check.
- Does it engage in terrorist activity? Oh, gee, just search the last 7-8 years of news records for suicide bombings, beheadings, and mutilations – you’ll get more than you can shake a stick at. Or, if you want just one, how about the Times Square bombing attempt? Check.
- Does it threaten our security? Well, we invaded Afghanistan because the Taliban were sheltering al Qaeda, who slaughtered thousands of us on September 11th. And they’ve tried to get in on the act themselves. (See the aforementioned Times Square plot.) Ergo… Check.
So, I have to ask: Just what is it that makes the Taliban not a terrorist organization, O Wise Ones of Foggy Bottom? I’d almost prefer to believe you just missed this while dashing off to the evening’s cocktail party, rather than that you were so cynical as to leave it off as part of a negotiating strategy with our sworn enemies, so your bosses in the Administration could find a way out of a war they’ve never really supported. Nah, it couldn’t be that.
And how weird is it that I find myself on the same side as Chuck Schumer?
ADDENDUM: And yes, I know Bush didn’t put them there, either. It was questionable then, and it’s just plain dumb now, after years of experience with them.
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)