But beyond that, there are many questions.
Bergdahl disappeared from his base in 2009. Statements from those with whom he served strongly suggest he was a deserter. And at least six U.S. troops are said to have lost their lives there while searching for him.
Was he in fact, a deserter? Or worse yet, a collaborator with the enemy? If either of those possibilities is shown to be the case, they would be all the more reason for us to want him “home” so he can face the customary penalties such actions deserve.
After all, this is a soldier who shortly prior to his disappearance wrote to his parents that “the horror that is America is disgusting.” One also wonders why the Army would have kept such a potential defection risk on the front lines if, in fact, his fellow soldiers or his commander were aware of his feelings.
Obama spokeswoman Susan Rice argues Bergdahl’s “dangerously declining health” made it imperative that he swap five high-ranking terrorist leaders from Guantanamo Bay for the sergeant. Yet eyewitness accounts say Bergdahl is in good condition, and French media, quoting a Pakistani militant commandeer, said Bergdahl had “developed a love for Afghan green tea and taught his captors badminton.” Not exactly Hanoi Hilton-type conditions, in other words.
The administration’s story is the ostensible health concerns of this one soldier who disappeared under murky — at best — circumstances trump the morality of negotiating with terrorists. And going forward they also, apparently, trump the health and safety of all other U.S. servicemen, diplomats and tourists anywhere else in the world, all of whom now will be at higher risk of being captured or kidnapped and held for ransom.
Obama has not set any precedents when it comes to dealing with terrorists, but we still suspect many Americans in the future will have reason to rue the day this deal was cut.
The president swapped one low-level soldier for five terrorists — and not just any terrorists. Rather, they were hand-picked by the Taliban for exchange. They’ll soon be under “house arrest” in Qatar for a year, then be free to resume making war on us.
That’s no big deal, administration spokesmen have essentially said, because most U.S. troops will be gone from Afghanistan in a year or so. Yet now that Obama has freed those terrorists and emboldened their compatriots around the world, what is to stop them from attacking us elsewhere?
It is as if Franklin Roosevelt had unilaterally decided in 1943 to swap five high-ranking Nazi generals for one lowly sergeant, with them free to take up arms against us again after promising to sit on the sidelines for a year in Switzerland. How do you think that deal would have played with public opinion?
The timing of the deal also is highly suspect, coming as it did as Obama was taking heavy fire from all sides of the political spectrum for the scandalous operation of the Veterans Administration. It looks like the administration seized on the prisoner exchange as a way of deflecting attention.
If that was indeed the case, it was a monumental miscalculation on Obama’s part.