For the first time since being freed by the Taliban in a covert and hasty exchange, US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is being exposed Tuesday to limited media and made aware of the swirling controversy surrounding his release.
Bergdahl, his freedom brokered by the Obama administration in exchange for five top Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay military prison (Gitmo), now faces a formal military investigation into his disappearance in Afghanistan.
“He is gradually being provided media coverage about him,” US Army Colonel Hans Bush, reintegration mission spokesman, said in a brief statement.
Republican leaders are referring to the exchange as both “unprecedented” and “deeply troubling,” while other critics, including members of Congress argue that trading one soldier for five Taliban is a complete violation of America’s policy on dealing with terrorists.
The question on the mind of so many is why.
Why would President Obama, at great peril to American citizens, soldiers, and allies world-wide, trade one mid-level soldier, possibly a traitor, for five Taliban terrorists committed to further attacks on the United States?
Was there more behind the Obama administration’s horse trading than meets the eye?
Simply put, Obama made the trade to help his party get votes. Politicians have to court popularity, and Obama is the ultimate politician. His actions seem to make clear that he does not particularly care for his own country. Instead, he only cares about gaining power for himself and his allies.
Critics, who include members of Congress, complained that the five former prisoners could return to terrorism and are upset that the trade endangers other soldiers by implying that the U.S. would be willing to make trade deals in the future. In addition, some soldiers who served with Bergdahl have accused him of deserting his post. Those former colleagues assert that he was captured only after he walked away, and that other Americans were killed or hurt as they searched for him.
Republican Congressman Michael R. Turner had some harsh comments as to how and why the trade came to be.
“How is it the United States could have been in negotiations with the Haqqani network, a listed terrorist organization, and it not conflict with our policy that we do not negotiate with terrorists?” Turner said before the House Armed Services Committee.
Further draw back the curtain and it becomes clear that one possible motive for the exchange is Obama’s desire to close “Gitmo”. For a long time, his “progressive” supporters wanted him to close the prison, and Obama has been promising to do so since 2008. So the exchange was a sneaky way towards fulfilling that goal. According to the Daily Mail, citing unnamed Pentagon sources, Obama had ignored chances to rescue Bergdahl because he preferred a trade to close down Gitmo.
This cannot be ruled out. But a more likely reason is that at time of the exchange, Obama was getting a shellacking in the news media for the Veteran’s Administration (VA) hospital scandal. After news broke that American veterans were subjected to long waiting times, and had even died while seeking out medical care, the VA promptly covered it all up.
As the VA story showed signs of growing media momentum, more and more horror stories of substandard VA care came pouring in. Obama desperately needed to change the media’s focus because it could become an election issue in the Congressional elections in November.
Detractors are saying that if government health care cannot look after its veterans, how can it look after 300 million Americans with Obamacare?
But following this prisoner exchange, the VA story quickly died. Obama posed for a photo with Bergdahl’s grateful parents, basking in what he hoped to be a moment of glory and popularity. Meanwhile, his loyal National Security Advisor, Susan Rice said, “Bergdahl had served the United States with honor and distinction.” That is the narrative they want to public to buy.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, testifying last week before the House about the hidden nature of the trade deflected responsibility when questioned as to why Congress was not informed in advance, as required by law, of the imminent exchange.
“We did not know until the moment Sgt. Bergdahl was handed over safely to U.S. special operations forces that the Taliban would hold up their end of the deal,” Hagel said. “The president’s decision to move forward with the transfer of these detainees was a tough call. I supported it. I stand by it.”
“If any of these detainees ever try to rejoin the fight, they would be doing so at their own peril. There’s always — always — some risk,” Hagel then admitted.
The five released terrorists will resume their jihad to create another Taliban state in Afghanistan endangering the lives of America’s remaining mid-east allies- the very people who supported America at the risk of their own lives.
The release of the five Taliban terrorists encourages the taking of more hostage in the future, a Taliban commander said in an interview with Time magazine.
When asked whether the exchange would inspire the Taliban to kidnap more Americans in the future, the Taliban commander said, “Definitely. It’s better to kidnap one person like Bergdahl than to kidnapping hundreds of useless people.”
The problem with this whole debacle is that it will encourage people in the world to conclude that it might be more dangerous to be America’s friends than America’s enemies.
News of the secret prisoner exchange has infuriated Afghans, including President Hamid Karzai, who remembered the atrocities committed by the Taliban.
Interviewed on Fox News Tuesday, former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton was grilled about the Bergdahl swap and asked if it was the right thing to do. Clinton responded by saying that it was “imperative to get Bergdahl out,” and added that the now freed Taliban terrorists are no threat to the United States as long as “as long as they’re in Qatar they’re not a threat to the United states. They are supposed to be constrained from what they can do.”
Even if she says they are no threat in the US, she acknowledges the threat to our allies in the Middle East.
“They are a threat to the safety and security of Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Clinton said.
Obama has under-estimated the reaction of the American public to Bergdahl’s likely desertion. In his haste to distract attention away from the VA hospital scandal and to score points with his “progressive” base, he miscalculated.
How did Obama miscalculate so badly?
Obama is the ultimate politician. The long term good of America is not on his mind. Instead politics is. So pleasing his “progressive” voters and changing to topic away from the VA scandal are more important to him than America’s welfare.
For some leftists, America is the evil empire and all the troubles in the world are caused by America or American capitalism. If there is any evil in the world, somehow they always see it as America’s fault.
This could be why Obama was blind that the Bergdahl swap will provoke severe criticism. He has surrounded himself with anti-American leftists who think that America is the source of most of the world’s problems. So reports of Bergdahl’s disillusionment with America prior to his disappearance did not raise alarm bells in his administration. Instead, Bergdahl’s criticism of America might even warm the cockles of their progressive hearts. He and his leftist advisers did not anticipate the adverse reaction from the broad public who saw him as a deserter and not someone whose negative views of America mirrors their own anti-American views.
In his eagerness to get the VA scandal off the pages of newspapers and please his “progressive” voters, Obama approved the Bergdahl swap for five top terrorists forgetting that there is another America out there who does not share his anti-American values.
What then are the consequences of this reckless trade? Only time will tell.