Let me start by saying that I am very happy for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl who has been released by the Taliban after being their prisoner since 2009. His family must be overjoyed to finally have him back. That’s the only positive out of this news story.
Our government traded Bergdahl’s release for the release of five Taliban leaders, also known as dangerous terrorists. When did our government start negotiating with terrorists? According to reports, Bergdahl was turned over to US special forces. Why didn’t the US special forces take out Bergdahl’s captors and leave the five terrorists where they belong? According to the Washington Post, the five Taliban leaders were let go after Bergdahl’s release.
His release was secured after the Obama administration, working through Qatari government intermediaries, agreed to free five high-profile Afghan inmates held by the U.S. military in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The influential commanders, including the former head of the Taliban’s army, were loaded onto a U.S. military aircraft bound for Qatar after U.S. officials got confirmation that Bergdahl had been freed. (Read More)
Of course, President Obama basked in the photo op with Bergdahl’s parents, boasting that “The United States of America does not ever leave our men and women in uniform behind.” (Tell that to the families of Ambassador Stevens and the other three Americans killed in Benghazi.)
Oh, and Obama went ahead and negotiated with the terrorists and released the prisoners held by the US without consulting with Congress, as required by law.
While leaders across the political spectrum expressed relief at the news, prominent Republican lawmakers chided the White House for skirting a legal requirement to notify them about the planned release of Guantanamo inmates. Some criticized the president for breaking with longtime U.S. policy against negotiating with militant groups.
“This fundamental shift in U.S. policy signals to terrorists around the world a greater incentive to take US hostages,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement.
So, who are the five prisoners released in the swap for Bergdahl? Only five of the Taliban’s top commanders. Obama seems to think that letting them go will help to open up talks with the Taliban.
THE WEEKLY STANDARD has profiled these jihadists previously on multiple occasions, and what follows below is culled from these accounts.
There are good reasons why the Taliban has long wanted the five freed from Gitmo. All five are among the Taliban’s top commanders in U.S. custody and are still revered in jihadist circles.
Two of the five have been wanted by the UN for war crimes. And because of their prowess, Joint Task Force-Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) deemed all five of them “high” risks to the U.S. and its allies.
The Obama administration wants to convince the Taliban to abandon its longstanding alliance with al Qaeda. But these men contributed to the formation of that relationship in the first place. All five had close ties to al Qaeda well before the 9/11 attacks. Therefore, it is difficult to see how their freedom would help the Obama administration achieve one of its principal goals for the hoped-for talks.
Read the whole thing. There was a time when our special forces took these bad guys down. Those days are over.
Update: Bergdahl’s father is a big advocate for releasing Gitmo detainees. Also, Bergdahl went missing after he walked off base without any weapons. Maggie’s Notebook has details.