WashPost Editor: We Should Negotiate With The Taliban More

MSNBC’s prime time lineup is known for its over-the-top liberal ideology, but the Monday, June 2 All In with Chris Hayes may have entered new levels of ridiculousness. 

Host Chris Hayes brought on Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Senior Correspondent and Associate Editor of the Washington Post, to discuss the release of an American soldier in exchange for five Taliban leaders held in Guantanamo Bay. Speaking to Hayes, the Post editor proclaimed “If there's one disappointment in all this, Chris, it's that we didn't negotiate more directly with the Taliban.” [See video below.] 

Chandrasekaran’s comments came following his and Hayes’ attempts to diminish the dangerous nature of the Taliban leaders. The MSNBC host argued:

I mean one of these guys I think was the governor of Haraq [sic] province right, under the Taliban. The Taliban ran a monstrous regime and tried to kill Americans and succeeded in killing lots of Americans but they were not Al Qaeda and were not plotting explosions in Manhattan or flying planes into buildings. 

I mean there is a distinction organizationally and I think even in terms of the laws of war between Taliban commanders and Taliban fighters and Taliban political officials like some of those released today and Al Qaeda operatives. 

After Chandrasekaran attempted to explain how dangerous the Taliban prisoners were, the Washington Post editor lamented that America doesn’t do more to reach out to terrorists who wish violence on our country:

Look, these guys were bad guys. Let's make no mistake about it. Some of them were responsible for the slaughter of thousands of their fellow Afghans and some of them did acquiesce to the presence of Al Qaeda in their country in the late '90s and in the early 2000s. And were probably sympathetic to Osama Bin Laden.

But to then say, you know, you can't have discussions with any of them, you can’t move in that direction is quite frankly, you know, ludicrous. This war has to end in some way and, you know, if there's one disappointment in all this, Chris, it's that we didn't negotiate more directly with the Taliban. That's the only way that some elements of this war are going to draw to a close. 

Rather than push back against his guest’s ridiculous claim that America doesn’t negotiate with terrorists enough, Hayes attempted to excuse the prisoner swap altogether: 

The Qataris were actually the ones who took care of it, obviously they were the intermediary and the go-between, but this was whether the Qataris were running it or not, this was a negotiation with the Taliban over a prisoner swap, quite obviously. 

See relevant transcript below. 


MSNBC

All In With Chris Hayes

June 2, 2014

8:08 p.m. Eastern

CHRIS HAYES: Joining me now Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Senior Correspondent and Associate Editor of the Washington Post, author of “Little America: The war within the war for Afghanistan.” Rajiv, have you been surprised by the level of controversy that has surrounded this announcement? 

RAJIV CHANDRASEKARAN: Well, certainly when you release Guantanamo detainees, you're bound to get some hooting and hollering from the right in this country. It's only natural. I would have thought there would have been more just genuine support for the fact that an American soldier is home. You know the circumstances of his disappearance from that base are still very much in question as Rear Admiral Kirby noted. We don't know all the facts. And to quickly brand him as a full-fledged deserter I think doesn't do justice to the due process that he's accorded. That we need to find out what really happened here. And quite frankly Chris, the president has wanted to shut down Guantanamo. We are winding down the operation in Afghanistan. We're going to keep that prison open indefinitely? Some of those folks have to be going back to their own countries. These guys were Taliban leaders, they weren’t Al Qaeda leaders. 

HAYES: Yeah I think that’s an important distinction I think here.  I mean one of these guys I think was the governor of Haraq [sic] province right, under the Taliban. The Taliban ran a monstrous regime and tried to kill Americans and succeeded in killing lots of Americans but they were not Al Qaeda and were not plotting explosions in Manhattan or flying planes into buildings. I mean there is a distinction organizationally and I think even in terms of the laws of war between Taliban commanders and Taliban fighters and Taliban political officials like some of those released today and Al Qaeda operatives.

CHANDRASEKARAN:  Indeed, Chris. Look, these guys were bad guys. Let's make no mistake about it. Some of them were responsible for the slaughter of thousands of their fellow Afghans and some of them did acquiesce to the presence of Al Qaeda in their country in the late '90s and in the early 2000s. And were probably sympathetic to Osama Bin Laden. But to then say, you know, you can't have discussions with any of them, you can’t move in that direction is quite frankly, you know, ludicrous. This war has to end in some way and, you know, if there's one disappointment in all this, Chris, it's that we didn't negotiate more directly with the Taliban. That's the only way that some elements of this war are going to draw to a close. 

HAYES: This is a key point, and I actually thought rear admiral John Kirby was a bit dissembling on this point or at least obscuring the real point which was the Qataris were actually the ones who took care of it, obviously they were the intermediary and the go-between, but this was whether the Qataris were running it or not, this was a negotiation with the Taliban over a prisoner swap, quite obviously.

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.