President Obama recently agreed to release five radical Taliban fighters from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for America’s only prisoner of the Afghan War.
In doing so, this president has made the world more dangerous.
Those five prisoners are among the Taliban’s top battle-hardened commanders, and it is virtually a dead-lock certainty that they will re-enter the war in Afghanistan as soon as they can.
One of the five is Mullah Mohammad Fazil, a leader infamous for his exceptional cruelty. According to Taliban commander Mullah Salem Khan, Fazil’s return “is like pouring 10,000 Taliban fighters into the battle on the side of jihad. Now the Taliban have the right lion to lead them in the final moment before victory in Afghanistan.”
So let’s itemize what Obama has done so far recently to enable a strategic leap forward for the Taliban:
• He announced to our enemy in Afghanistan precisely when we would leave the battlefield.
• He returned to the enemy a volatile handful of their most powerful and influential field generals.
• And this is after the White House revealed to the world the identity of the top CIA official in Afghanistan, during Obama’s recent surprise visit to the country.
The Taliban is overjoyed at this favorable power shift.
And what did America get in return? We got Bergdahl, a soldier who – just past midnight June 30, 2009 – left a note in his tent saying he no longer supported the war, and that he was leaving his unit to start a new life.
OBAMA’S NATIONAL security adviser, Susan Rice, had the nerve to say on ABC’s This Week that Bowe Bergdahl “served the United States with honor and distinction.”
Really? Prove it. What honor? What distinction? Members of his own unit have come forward to paint a picture of Bergdahl as someone who became increasingly disengaged with his mission as a U.S. soldier.
Bergdahl is innocent until proved guilty. But he has a ton of explaining to do, and important questions to answer. He should face a court-martial on charges of desertion at least, and possibly charges linked to the deaths of at least six soldiers who died while trying to find him.
And what of a tweet apparently sent last week by Bergdahl’s father to a Taliban spokesman, four days before his son’s announced release? It read: “I am still working to free all Guantanamo prisoners. God will repay for the death of every Afghan child, ameen.” Exactly whose side is this man on?
So why move to get Bergdahl now? The story being trotted around by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is that our government had to act quickly to secure Bergdahl’s release because his “health was deteriorating.” Absent of meaningful evidence, we don’t buy that.
Here’s whose health is actually deteriorating: untold numbers of honorable veterans in this country, right now, who are victims of a
shambles of a military health-care system – a system linked to veterans’ deaths. Why didn’t the government make that a priority – to act quickly to save them?
THAT TOUCHES ON a much more likely theory that’s out there, on why the Bergdahl swap occurred when it did.
The Veterans Affairs disaster has been gaining lasting traction, and this administration knew it. The White House was desperate to change the national discussion of its utter failure. It needed to hatch a cynical political ploy (1) to push the VA story off the front pages, and out of the minds of the public; and (2) to curry favor to disgruntled vets, by hailing Bergdahl’s release as a crowning achievement symbolic of our government’s unswerving commitment to our fighting men and women.
Instead, it has blown up in the administration’s face like a Taliban bomb.
Another aspect of this exchange can’t be ignored: The president didn’t notify Congress the required 30 days in advance before striking this agreement.
Obama’s prisoner deal clearly was illegal.
Experts on the right and left agree on this point. From the left, here’s CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin: “I think he clearly broke the law. The law says 30 days’ notice. Give 30 days’ notice. Now, it is true that he issued a signing statement, but signing statements are not law. Signing statements are the president’s opinion about what the law should mean.”
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said her committee should have gotten a heads-up before securing the deal. “We had participated in a number of briefings some time ago, and there (were) considerable concerns,” she said.
What appears to have been concocted as a grandstand play to make Americans forget a huge scandal collapsed into yet another scandal.
It’s a lopsided prisoner exchange in which the bloodthirsty Taliban got the better of the United States – and the free world is bracing to get the worst from a newly energized, presidentially enabled terrorist threat.