Our mantra has always been “we don’t negotiate with terrorists. That only encourages further terrorists’ acts, which endangers American lives both at home and abroad.” That philosophy makes a lot of sense to me, and I suspect most Americans would agree. Why, then, has the Administration negotiated a prisoner exchange with the Taliban – one soldier for five of the most dangerous prisoners in Gitmo? Arrogance? Stupidity? Politics? A diversion from the VA scandal? Take your pick. Yes, it’s nice that we are bringing home a captured soldier. That said, there have been reports that Bowe Bergdahl is a Taliban sympathizer and, possibly, a collaborator and/or deserter.
Bowe Robert Bergdahl was born on March 28, 1986 in Sun Valley, Idaho. He completed his infantry training in 2008 and was deployed to Afghanistan. According to emails he had sent to his parents he was disaffected with the war and the American way of life. In addition, two members of his platoon have stated that some of his actions before he left his unit indicated that he was planning to desert. For example:
1. Before his unit even deployed to Afghanistan, he confided to one of his fellow soldiers, Specialist Jason Fry, that “if this deployment is lame, I’m just going to walk off into the mountains of Pakistan.”
2. He demonstrated an uncommonly keen interest in the geography and terrain in the area.
3. He learned Pashto and was reputed to be more comfortable spending time with the Afghans rather than his fellow soldiers.
4. Shortly before he went missing he mailed all of his belongings home.
These actions indicate some premeditation. This does not exactly make him a person for whom the US should have deviated from its “non-negotiation” policy.
Moreover, lets look at the terrorists we released – Mohammed Nabi, Mullah Norullah Noori, Abdul Hag Wasig, Khalrullah Khairkawa and Mohammed Fazi. These men have been identified by James Clapper, former Deputy National Security Advisor, and others, as very high-ranking members of the Taliban. Senator Inhofe, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has characterized them as the five most dangerous prisoners at Gitmo. In addition, the Administration has arguably broken the law by releasing these prisoners without giving Congress the required 30 days’ notice.
Does anybody doubt that they will resume planning and executing terrorist activities asap. Remember those names. You will likely hear from them again.
These men have been returned to Qatar. In response to questions from the media, Tony Blinken, current Deputy National Security Advisor, stated that Qatar has provided assurances that it will monitor these men for one year. How? What person or agency will be responsible? What does that even mean? Is that supposed to make us sleep better at night? Furthermore, what happens after one year? Neither Jay Carney nor the NSA spokesperson who disclosed this information to the public was able to provide additional details. This is beyond preposterous. In the words of Desi Arnaz, the Administration has some “‘splaining” to do.
CONCLUSION AND PREDICTION
I am trying to be fair and open-minded toward the Administration about this situation. I am trying to refrain from Obama-bashing, which I have been accused of in the past. But, I cannot see any possible way in which negotiating with terrorists and releasing five of the most dangerous of them benefits the American people. I welcome your thoughts and opinions as to how it does.
By the way, does anybody else see a parallel between the Bergdahl situation and the television series, Homeland, in which the Damian Lewis character is rescued and returns home as a hero? He turns out to be a traitor rather than a hero. I’m not suggesting Bergdahl will do what the Damian Lewis character did in the television show, but the parallel is interesting. A case of life imitating art?
Bowe Bergdahl should be investigated and tried in accordance with the Code of Military Justice. Let’s not make him into a hero just yet. Let us not forget that six fellow soldiers died in missions to find and rescue him. In addition, after he went missing Taliban attacks in the area increased, possibly due to information that Bergdahl had supplied. If he is found to be a traitor and/or a deserter he should face appropriate punishment.
I predict that the Senate Armed Services Committee will hold hearings to try to get to the bottom of this. Whether the Committee will get the answers the public wants and needs remains to be seen. Based on past experience with Congressional hearings I have my doubts. In the meantime, let’s not forget the VA scandal nor the other ones, which remain unresolved.