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AS I SEE IT

Posted 6/17/14 (Tue)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

The credo of the United States Military is that “no man should be left behind.” And President Obama took that credo to heart when he and others in his administration crafted a prisoner exchange that freed Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had been held prisoner by the Taliban for five years in exchange for five Taliban leaders who were being held in Guantanamo Bay.
While Americans should rejoice whenever an American POW is  returned safely to the United States and their family, this particular prisoner swap has already raised some very serious red flags about the process that President Obama used, as well as the possible repercussions that his decision could have on Americans in the future.
First, in negotiating the release of Bergdahl, the President apparently decided to sidestep law that requires him to notify Congress before any such prisoner swaps are made. Not only did the President choose not to keep Congress apprised of what was happening, he also didn’t notify the Afghan government of the deal either. While the President should be credited with bringing an American soldier that was being held prisoner home, he is to be faulted for the manner in which he carried out the swap.
Second, the real story behind how Bergdahl became a captive of the Taliban is wide open to speculation. There is one story, from members of his military unit, as well as an earlier Pentagon investigation, that would indicate that Bergdahl walked away from his unit in 2009 and could therefore be called a deserter. So the question that begs to be answered is, “Did the President and the members of his administration have other information that clearly indicated otherwise? And did that information make the return of Sgt. Bergdahl such a matter of national interest that it couldn’t be shared with members of Congress or the leaders of Afghanistan?”
While there are those who are questioning Bergdahl’s capture, there are many others who are very concerned that this prisoner swap could seriously jeopardize the safety of Americans, both military and civilian, in the future. The United States has long held that it will not negotiate with terrorists. But, with this swap that freed five Taliban terrorists for one American, the rules of the game have definitely shifted. And one would have to be very concerned that in the future, more Americans will be captured and then be used as bargaining chips for the release of other Taliban terrorists.
As we have seen before, when Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay have been freed, they have returned to fight against Americans.
Hopefully, in the coming months, a Congressional investigation will provide the American public with information as to why the President of the United States unilaterally decided to step beyond his authority and make this prisoner exchange.
If those answers aren’t forthcoming, then America may very well have paid a very dear price to bring Sgt. Bergdahl home.