Surely you’ve seen the media coverage that Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who was the only American in Enemy captivity in Afghanistan, was released in a prisoner exchange four days ago. Some people who, just a few months, or even weeks ago, praised him as being a Hero, appear to have changed their tune–now claiming that he is a Deserter. The considerable hearsay, innuendo and political aspects of this controversy are described in the linked article, from the NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/03/us/us-soldier-srgt-bowe-bergdahl-of-idaho-pow-vanished-angered-his-unit.html?action=click&module=Search®ion=searchResults&mabReward=relbias%3Ar&url=http%3A%2F%2Fquery.nytimes.com%2Fsearch%2Fsitesearch%2F%3Faction%3Dclick%26region%3DMasthead%26pgtype%3DSectionFront%26module%3DSearchSubmit%26contentCollection%3Dus%26t%3Dqry684%23%2Fbergdahl+vanishes.
Before anyone considers the political rhetoric, it is important to remember several aspects of this situation, and perhaps the decision to swap Bergdahl for five senior members of the Taliban: first and foremost, the U. S. Military always brings our Troops back; Sergeant Bergdahl is an American Citizen and is entitled to his Day-in-Court (if necessary), once all the facts are known and evaluated; many of the assertions are either short-sighted, inaccurate or bended toward the political goals of the accuser. Also, they are premature and are, as yet, unproven. Once Sergeant Bergdahl is back home and is de-briefed, if the facts then warrant Courts Martial, so be it!
Here are a number of specific points that, I believe, are worth considering before deciding whether the Administration should or should not have made the swap:
1. The War in Afghanistan is winding-down and both sides in Warfare always tend to exchange the Prisoners at the end. Why keep them once the War is over?
With regard to the freed GITMO Detainees, how do we make them out to be terrorists, just because they rebelled against their country’s Invaders–the U. S. and our NATO Allies? Why hadn’t they had been tried for any crimes in twelve years at GITMO?
2. During the George W. Bush Administration, just over 500 GITMO Detainees were freed. Why only now are there accusations about Negotiating with Terrorists? President Bush declared a “War on Terror”: wouldn’t that mean that the recently-released Detainees were actually Enemy Combatants?
3. The Emirate of Qatar has been a very reliable ally throughout the two Wars in the Middle East. The U. S. had previously started to arrange a Peace Treaty with the Taliban; so, there is a history there, and Qatar could be very helpful.
4. Of the previously released Detainees, only approximately twelve percent have returned to the Battlefield. Qatar has agreed to restrict them to Qatar for one year and, of course, we could have drones monitor their activities, but only to an extent.
5. Besides, developing somewhat of a working relationship with the Taliban might have benefits in winding-down the presence of the U. S. and its NATO Allies in Afghanistan. That might help lead to a more peaceful exit, rather than violence against the Afghan People, once we leave.
6. The Taliban has never been included in the State Department’s “List of Designated Terrorist Organizations”. So, how is the recent Prisoner Swap “Trading with Terrorists?
7. Was Congress given the proper 30-day advance warning? According to the Administration, it was informed that something was in the works; however, historically, some similar activities had been reported again and some have not been. Timing can be most important during a constantly-changing Wartime Environment.
8. And, let’s not forget the Iran-Contra Affair in 1985, during the Administration of Ronald Reagan. Robert C. McFarlane, then head of the National Security Council, negotiated the sale of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to Iran under the mistaken belief that that would, in turn, result in freeing Americans held hostage in Lebanon, by Terrorists who were loyal to Iran. That and subsequent arms sales were in violation of U. S. Laws, and that resulted in John Poindexter and Oliver North going to prison.
The U. S. has been involved in numerous Prisoner Exchanges, going all the way back to the time of President George Washington. The linked Times article above is quite interesting, because it debunks a number of the allegations made about Sergeant Bergdahl, to include some of those by former members of his Army platoon in Afghanistan. According to the article, some of the TV interviews were arranged by Republican Strategists. HMMM! Were these enlisted men distracted by their few moments of fame?
Going back to my very first point: Rear Adm. John F. Kirby, the Pentagon’s spokesman, said that there was a larger matter at play: The American Military does not leave their own behind. “When you’re in the Navy, (for instance) and you go overboard, it doesn’t matter if you were pushed, fell or jumped,” he said. “We’re going to turn the ship around and pick you up.”
NOTE: Jut to provide some of the flavor of the conflicting comments about the whole situation surrounding Sergeant Bergdahl’s release, one of the FOX “News” commentators referred to the “Bearded Father”. What does that have to do with anything?