Even NBC’s Matt Lauer nails Carney on swap: Hasn’t Obama ‘endangered the lives of all Americans?’

NBC’s Today co-host Matt Lauer skipped the usual softball questions and asked outgoing White House Press Secretary Jay Carney to defend the indefensible on Monday.  

Carney faced forceful questioning as he tried to rationalize the exchange of one American soldier for five “high risk” Al Qaeda terrorists. Lauer said that he had read classified resumes on the five rabid America-haters.

“These are guys who are considered at very high risk to launch attacks against the U.S. if they were freed,” Lauer told Carney. “So has the administration now, though, endangered the lives of all Americans for the safety of one American?”

“…we believe that this is not a security threat to the United States,” Carney replied, “and that there’s sufficient mitigation to be comfortable with the transfer of these detainees to Qatar.”

“Is this semantics here, Jay?” Lauer retorted. “Are we calling it a prisoner swap when, in fact, it is negotiating with terrorists?

“We’ve made it clear for years, Matt, that we would aggressively engage in an effort to recover Sergeant Bergdahl,” said Carney. “That’s what we do when our men and women are held as prisoners of war.” (A few hundred thousand Vietnam veterans might take issue with that remark.)

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Lauer pointed out that terrorists were celebrating the event and that this negotiation set a dangerous precedent. Carney, a former Time magazine reporter, cautioned viewers not to buy into enemy propaganda, and that prisoner exchanges had a long history in the United States.

The Washington Times on Monday pointed out in an exclusive report, Pentagon officials consistently nixed Bergdahl rescue missions for fear of losing more soldiers on behalf of someone they considered a “deserter.”

Of course, Lauer wasn’t able to quash the spin and never got to the bottom of one question many Americans want answered about the “urgency” of the swap and the poor health of the POW.

“What was the acute urgency of Bowe Bergdahl’s condition?” asked Lauer.

“Well, Matt, as you know, he was held for five years. And in those circumstances, not easy circumstances, his health had been deteriorating,” Carney said. “I can’t get into all the information we had, but we know that his situation was worsening, and that made it all the more urgent to secure his release.”

Blah, blah, blah and “I can’t get into that information.” Sounds familiar.

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Richard Berkow

Former political news reporter Richard Berkow lost his idealism in the Kennedy years, and his innocence in Vietnam, Lebanon, and the Soviet Union. He hasn’t mellowed since, and can be harassed at [email protected]

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