The U.S. State Department press briefing on Dec. 4 turned into an epistemological discussion.
First, Foggy Bottom spokesman Matthew Miller said of Hamas: “The fact that they continue to hold women hostages, the fact that they continue to hold children hostages, the fact that it seems one of the reasons they don’t want to turn women over that they’ve been holding hostage, and the reason this pause fell apart is they don’t want those women to be able to talk about what happened to them during their time in custody.”
Matt Lee, the Associated Press diplomatic reporter, pressed Miller to elaborate, noting that it is a fact that the terror organization holds women, and it is a fact that it holds children. But “the fact that it seems” appeared to be murkier.
The State Department spokesman agreed. “I will accept the edit,” he said, noting that the third point wasn’t a fact.
“A number of people believe they refuse to release them because they don’t want to hear what those women have to say publicly,” Miller said of Hamas. “I won’t say ‘fact,’ because I don’t know it for a fact.”
Miller added that the “humanitarian pause” was negotiated in very clear terms, including that “children and women would be the first priority to be released.”
At the “end of that pause,” Hamas continued to hold women, who “should have been the next to be released. They refused to release them,” Miller said. “They broke the deal, came up with excuses why. Ultimately, I don’t think any of those excuses were credible and I shouldn’t get into any of them here.”