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Anatomy of a Steve King Tweet

Rep. Steve King took to the Twittersphere Tuesday to denounce the prisoner exchange of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban officials detained at Guantánamo Bay, asserting that the Obama administration and Bergdahl were working for al-Qaida.  

To understand and appreciate the Iowa Republican’s tweet, you have to break down all the subtle complexities, all the puzzle pieces that King rammed together.


He begins with a hashtag. And not a common one. #Susan A cursory Twitter search of “#Susan” shows that Twitter is averaging about two tweets an hour employing this hashtag, mostly as a shoutout to friends who presumably know “#Susan.”  

The hashtag #SusanRice is doing much better — about 10 tweets an hour — but best of all is the trending topic of “Susan Rice.” Roughly 200 people an hour are tweeting her name. In short, King probably could have refrained from hitting the pound sign and saved himself a precious character in a tweet that used all 140 of them. (He could have used that extra character to write out the word “to” instead of using the numeral, because, as a general rule, it’s better to spell out the word when you’re levying charges of treason.)  

Rice lied 2 American people Given the parenthetical later in the tweet — (#Bergdahl “taken in battle”) — this must refer to White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice’s contention that Bergdahl was “taken in battle,” as she said on Sunday during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.” That account contradicts a number of news reports, including from the New York Times , that Bergdahl abandoned his post.  

Again The “again” seems to be a shot at Rice for her Sunday comments back in 2012 after the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on a U.S. facility in Benghazi. Rice contended at the time that the attack was in response to an anti-Muslim video.  

Looks like both sides swapees & negotiators are working for Al Qaeda.
Here’s the real meat of King’s attack. He is charging that all the “swapees” — a word King seems to have invented — are working for al-Qaida, including Bergdahl. That’s a serious accusation against a man who just spent five years in Taliban captivity — and one without any real evidence. Bergdahl may have abandoned his post, but no one has accused Bergdahl of working for al-Qaida. Except Steve King. The other issue here is that the Iowa Republican seems to be using al-Qaida as a proxy for Taliban. To be sure, there is a connection between the groups, but they are distinct entities. The prisoners released were Taliban officials, not al-Qaida.  

No matter.  

King is also charging that Obama administration negotiators were working for al-Qaida. Another serious accusation. His point may be that by releasing Taliban prisoners, you’re emboldening the enemy, but there might be a more nuanced way to do that, even if it is 140 characters.