MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell appeared visibly irritated with State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf on Monday amid her efforts to suggest the Osama bin Laden raid serves as a precedent for a national security matter that is too sensitive to allow members of Congress to be briefed on its details. Harf even suggested that Mitchell and others were attempting to “recreate” the history of the bin Laden raid by insisting that members were briefed on it before it was executed.
Mitchell began by noting that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), “hardly a critic of the administration,” is vocally critical of the White House’s failure to notify congressional intelligence committee chairs on the details of the Bergdahl swap. Harf replied with a rehashing of the well-worn arguments surrounding the “short timeframe” imposed on the administration by Bergdahl’s supposedly worsening health and the Taliban, which reportedly threatened to kill the captive solider if details of the swap became public (an assertion Feinstein has refused to corroborate).
“Let me question you about that,” Mitchell interjected, “because the bin Laden raid was completely briefed for 11 months.”
“It was not, actually,” Harf interrupted.
“Marie,” Mitchell said sternly. “In fact, that was claimed initially by [former National Security Advisor] Tom Donilon, in fact, in a conference with me a week ago. But since that time, [former acting CIA Director] Mike Morell says that it was completely briefed.”
She added that she has spoken with at least two members of Congress who were briefed on the raid ahead of time. “It was briefed,” Mitchell stated matter-of-factly.
Harf just wouldn’t let it go. “What we’re talking about with Bergdahl is somewhat the same with bin Laden,” she insisted.
Adding that Congress was made aware of what the “architecture” of a prisoner swap would look like, Harf maintained that the operational intricacies of the deal, like the bin Laden raid, had to be kept secret.
“I don’t want to argue the point,” an increasingly exasperated Mitchell said. She did, however, by again relating a personal experience in which a Senate committee chair told her that the briefing on the details of the bin Laden raid occurred before the public knew about it.
“It was briefed to Senate leaders,” Mitchell concluded. “I know this from Dianne Feinstein. I know this [Rep.] Mike Rogers.”
Admitting defeat, Harf insisted that she and Mitchell could “recreate history” on the bin Laden raid all they wanted, but that was not relevant to the subject at hand. Harf is hoping you will forget that she had originally equated the Bergdahl swap to the bin Laden raid just two minutes prior.
Say what you want about Mitchell, but that was about as effective a dismantling of a political spin job in real time as I’ve ever seen.