Based on my previous articles, readers have probably figured out by now that the treatment of our military (presently serving and past) is an issue of utmost importance to me. You can imagine that upon hearing of the Taliban’s release of American POW Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl I felt relief-but it was short-lived. In exchange for Bergdahl’s freedom, five Taliban leaders were cut loose from Guantanamo Bay. Based on a statement from Mullah Mohammad Omar, a former Taliban leader in Afghanistan, the release of the five Gitmo prisoners was a “big victory”, indicating that these prisoners are of high value. Furthermore, American lawmakers have expressed concern over the trade; Senator James Inhofe and Representative Buck McKeon of the Senate and House Armed Service committees voiced their opinions in a joint statement:
“Like all Americans, we celebrate the release of Sergeant [Bergdahl] from terrorist captivity. When one of our own comes home to us, we all rejoice. We are relieved that the ordeal and sacrifice of the Bergdahl family has come to a happy conclusion.
In the days ahead however, we must carefully examine the means by which we secured his freedom. America has maintained a prohibition on negotiating with terrorists for good reason. Trading five senior Taliban leaders from detention in Guantanamo Bay for [Bergdahl’s] release may have consequences for the rest of our forces and all Americans.
Our terrorist adversaries now have a strong incentive to capture Americans. That incentive will put our forces in Afghanistan and around the world at even greater risk.”
The details of the prisoner swap get sketchier. The President of the United States is required by law to notify Congress thirty days before the transfer or release of any Gitmo prisoner, which Obama failed to do. This move illustrates President Obama’s indifference towards American law as well as his lack of understanding of military strategy. As Commander in Chief, the President has no excuse for such ignorance.
To make the situation worse, members of Bergdahl’s platoon are asserting that he is not a hero, but rather a deserter who walked off of his guard post, leaving the rest of his troops defenseless. Accusations of Bergdahl sympathizing with the Taliban are swirling; in the days leading up to his disappearance, he allegedly wrote to his parents stating the following:
“I have seen their ideas and I am ashamed to even be American. The horror of the self-righteous arrogance that they thrive in. It is all revolting…I am sorry for everything. The horror that is America is disgusting.”
The circumstances became even more troubling when Bob Bergdahl, Bowe’s father, joined President Obama to announce the prisoner swap and opened his speech in Arabic. Furthermore, Bob apparently deleted a tweet from his account (@bobbergdahl):
It seems likely at this point that Bergdahl was indeed collaborating with the Taliban. What is most unfortunate in this story is that several members of our military died in the search for Bergdahl. How could someone like this slip through the cracks? I wondered who in the chain of command was responsible for not investigating Bergdahl’s disappearance properly. As of Monday night, information sprung from a source claiming that there was already a deep investigation of Bergdahl compiling a “major classified file”-yet no one asked to see this file before the trade, probably because the President made the trade without conferencing Congress.
Why did members of our military have to die searching for a Taliban sympathizer? Why are we putting ourselves at further risk with this prisoner swap? And finally, how does President Obama believe he can circumvent Congress in military matters when he himself has no military experience, and why has he started a trend of negotiating with terrorists?