Andrea Mitchell: 'Alleged Delay' in Labeling Boko Haram a Terror Group Being Used to 'Go After' Hillary Clinton

On her Tuesday 12 p.m. MSNBC show, host and NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell was more concerned with protecting Hillary Clinton than holding the potential 2016 Democratic candidate accountable for refusing to label Nigerian kidnappers Boko Haram as terrorists: "...the alleged delay in designating Boko Haram as a terror group. This is being used to try to go after Hillary Clinton's record as secretary of state." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

NBC national security analyst Michael Leiter tried to downplay the failure: "Designating the actual organization is really not the key part to countering the threat and attacking them at the source....do I think the delay had a serious consequence in this event or the path of Boko Haram? I really don't."  

Compare that exchange to White House correspondent Kristen Welker filling in for Mitchell on Friday and grilling Obama press secretary Jay Carney on the same topic:

Jay, we're also learning that back in 2011, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rejected calls to name Boko Haram a terrorist organization despite the FBI and the CIA urging the State Department to do so. Was that a mistake given that it would have put more resources into actually fighting and combating Boko Haram, which is now characterized as a terrorist organization?...it took two years for that to happen, from 2011 to 2013. Why did it take so long?

Perhaps Welker should substitute for Mitchell more often, it's the only way journalism seems to actually occur on Andrea Mitchell Reports.

At least MSNBC is covering the story, the Big Three networks have left the damaging news about Clinton's record out of 93% of stories on the kidnappings since it broke on May 7.  


Here is a transcript of Mitchell's May 13 exchange with Leiter:

12:07 PM ET

(...)

ANDREA MITCHELL: Quick question about the alleged delay in designating Boko Haram as a terror group. This is being used to try to go after Hillary Clinton's record as secretary of state. Where individuals were designated but not the group itself.

The push-back from the Bush-era ambassador there was that this [designating Boko Haram as a terrorist organization] was not done to avoid elevating and giving them more celebrity and giving them what they wanted, more oxygen, more publicity. But your take? You may have been part of that debate, I'm not sure.

MICHAEL LEITER: I wasn't part of the final discussion. The bottom line is that the State Department traditionally has been more dovish, and not just Hillary Clinton's State Department, all state departments have been more dovish about designating groups terrorist organizations.

But, designating the actual organization is really not the key part to countering the threat and attacking them at the source. So in my view, yes the State Department was more dovish. Did that have any significant effect on the fight against Boko Haram? In my view, no. And the State Department had legitimate concerns about elevating them globally to a part of Al Qaeda, to a global terrorist organization.

I frankly think they should have been designated earlier, but do I think the delay had a serious consequence in this event or the path of Boko Haram? I really don't.

MITCHELL: Michael Leiter, thanks so much for your perspective.

Here is a transcript of Welker's May 9 exchange with Carney:

12:09 PM ET

(...)

KRISTEN WELKER: Jay, we're also learning that back in 2011, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rejected calls to name Boko Haram a terrorist organization despite the FBI and the CIA urging the State Department to do so. Was that a mistake given that it would have put more resources into actually fighting and combating Boko Haram, which is now characterized as a terrorist organization?

JAY CARNEY [WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY]: Well, in fact, as you just noted, we have now designated Boko Haram as a terrorist organization. And well prior to that designation, we identified and designated individual leaders of Boko Haram as terrorists-

WELKER: But Jay, it took two years – it took two years for that to happen, from 2011 to 2013. Why did it take so long?

(...)

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC