There is a member of the press who needs to get his mind right before he attends another Background Briefing by Senior State Department Officials On Libya Contact Group Meeting.
This troublemaker just didn't know when to stop asking a question of Senior State Department Official One. He kept on pressing SSDO1 about what has changed recently to cause us to recognize the Transitional National Council as the legitimate governing authority of Libya when we had not done so for the past five months, until SSDO1 snapped at him.
One possible answer to the question is that diplomatic recognition allows us to pass megabucks in seized Libyan assets to the TNC. That's also the WaPo's explanation of our motive - "The decision ... paves the way for the rebels to access some of Libya’s frozen U.S. assets, which total more than $30 billion."
QUESTION: So you think today [meaning, our announcement that we now recognize the TNC] is a big deal?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: We think it’s --
QUESTION: I mean, in terms of sending this message to Qadhafi --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: We think it’s important. We think it’s important. We think it’s --
QUESTION: -- and in terms of support for the TNC.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Yeah. We think it’s important diplomatically and practically.
QUESTION: So, then can I ask why, for months, whenever we would ask why aren’t you recognizing them, one of the – everyone from Gene and you and, God, even, I think P.J. Crowley when he was still there, well, diplomatic -- yeah, it doesn’t matter, it’s just a kind of a sideshow; you guys aren’t affecting us.
QUESTION: And you said it wouldn’t come until the election, until all Libyans are able to --
QUESTION: So – but that’s not my question. My question is why, if this is such a big deal, I mean, you think it would be the turning point, why didn’t you do it earlier?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Well, that --
QUESTION: I mean, why were you saying it wasn’t a big deal before when it so clearly is?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I guess I’d have to understand --
QUESTION: You were among people saying, oh, why do you guys keep asking about recognition all the time?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Well, it may be that I said why do you keep asking about recognition all the time. But I think what I’ve described as being the tangible and symbolic benefits of recognition are things that have been apparent to all from the get-go. And all I can say is those are – I can lay out for you what we see the benefits as being and explain why we think that, which is what I’ve done here today. And really, I think that’s the only way I can answer that question.
QUESTION: But you just can’t explain why it was that you would refuse – that you weren’t willing to say that this was a big deal beforehand when you hadn’t done it and then all of the sudden you do it --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I’ll be totally honest with you; I’m not sure what you’re referring to exactly. I’m really not.
Whichever member of the press it was who so annoyed SSDO1 is just lucky that he doesn't have to spend a night in the box. There are so many rules to follow with these background briefings.
If SSDO1 isn't willing to answer an uncomfortable question on background, then he should simply say so. Or not hold a background briefing at all.