Rep. Jackie Speier has declared that the Taliban is "part of the fabric of Afghanistan" and should "not necessarily" be labeled a terrorist organization.
The California Democrat made that bold statement during an appearance on the MSNBC program "NewsNation,"
saying, "Let me underscore the term 'terrorist.' The Taliban is part of the fabric of Afghanistan. They were part of the leadership of that country before we engaged there."
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"We are now actively attempting to get the Taliban to negotiate with President [Hamid] Karzai and the Afghanistani government, because there will be some cooperation, some level of coordination, between the two if that country is going to survive and move forward.
"So, to say that they are terrorists, at this point, is not necessarily accurate," she said Tuesday.
The remarks fly in the face of the views of U.S. intelligence experts, who perceive the Taliban as an ongoing threat to the United States.
Rob Williams, U.S. national intelligence officer for South Asia, told a closed, classified Senate Intelligence Committee hearing last week that four of the senior Taliban officials released from Guantanamo Bay in a prisoner exchange for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl are expected to resume their activities with the Taliban
, Reuters reported, citing two senior congressional officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The five exchanged prisoners include the former Taliban interior minister, who was described in a U.S. case file leaked by WikiLeaks as having had close ties to Osama bin Laden; the Taliban's former deputy chief of intelligence; and a former member of a joint Taliban-al-Qaida cell.
Al-Qaida expert Thomas Joscelyn told Breitbart News that "all five were part of [Taliban leader] Mullah Omar's inner circle."
Joscelyn described the released prisoners' extensive ties to al-Qaida, suspected war crimes and attempts to garner Iranian support for the Taliban's "war against the United States."
Speier, who has represented her Northern California district in the House since 2008, has been known for making eye-catching comments in the past.
In March, when Republican Rep. Peter King planned to address fears over the radicalization of U.S. Muslims before a House committee, Speier hurled strident accusations of racism at him.
"This is one member's bias that he is now putting forth as the policy of this country, and there are going to be many of us who will shout out and call him out on abusing his role as chair and abusing the Congress of the United States for whatever his personal bias is," Speier told the San Francisco Chronicle.
"To pinpoint Muslims as if they're the only category — it's wrong, it's discriminatory, it's racist and inappropriate," Speier said.
She also made waves in June 2013 with a pronouncement that men, and Republican men specifically, had no place speaking about abortion.
"I always get frustrated because not one of them has a vagina. And unless you've got one, and unless you've experienced that kind of horrendous experience [being raped], how can you possibly speak to it?" she remarked on another MSNBC program, "The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell."
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