Sunday on CNN, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough reiterated the Obama administration’s policy that the United States does not negotiate with terrorists, make exchanges with them, or pay them ransoms — a talking point that has become more of a suggestion than a fact.
This is in response to the latest demand from ISIS to exchange a convicted female terrorist from a Jordanian prison for the life of the surviving Japanese national they’re holding hostage, Kenji Goto.
Guesting on CNN’s State of the Union, Sirius XM radio personality Michael Smerconish asked McDonough if an exchange of that nature should be a consideration. McDonough replied:
You know our policy on that, Michael, we don’t either negotiate or make exchanges, or pay ransoms. We think that results in just more cash floating around with these very hateful characters who will just have more ability to apply their trade.
Smerconish then asked about the involvement of family members at the negotiating table especially in light of past criticisms of those families who have felt held back from participation by the Obama administration when they wanted to pursue a settlement.
I just want to be clear here that we’re in very close touch with the families. They understand the strength of the president’s feeling on this. Obviously the president understands the strength of their devastation as some of this has transpired over the course of the last several months. So, we’ll continue to remain in close coordination with and consultation with families.
I’m very familiar with the criticisms. And I also want to be very clear that I’m neither going to divulge our conversations with them or get into negotiation with anybody else through you on this show. We’re going to continue to work very closely with these families, as this is an issue of grave concern for us.
Just over six months ago, President Obama circumvented the law and negotiated the release of five high-level al Qaeda operatives to secure the release of accused Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl from Taliban custody, something Democrats staunchly defended. That must have been what McDonough was referencing when he said, “we don’t negotiate with terrorists.”
Image: White House Flickr