As J.E. wrote yesterday, things are looking grim for former Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who has been charged with crimes that could result in his spending the rest of him in a cell at Leavenworth. At the same things are looking relatively rosy for the five high-ranking Taliban detainees who were swapped in exchange for Bergdahl, three of whom have already begun planning their return to the battlefield once their quasi-house arrest is lifted in May.
So looking back on the deal he made to secure Bergdahl’s freedom, would Barack Obama do it again if he had it to do over? According to Jen Psaki, soon to take over as White House communications director, he would in a heartbeat.
Appearing on Fox News Channel’s “The Kelly File” last night, Psaki said:
Was it worth it? Absolutely. We have a commitment to our men and women serving in the military, defending our national security every day, that we’re going to do everything to bring them home if we can, and that’s what we did in this case.
That comment bears parsing. Bergdahl, according to testimony by members of his unit in Afghanistan, wasn’t exacting “defending our national security” at the time he wandered off in search of the Taliban to whom he was eager to surrender. The administration’s “commitment to our men and women serving in the military,” moreover, is not boundless or without condition. It has long been an unspoken rule of American leadership that we don’t negotiate with terrorists. One might also ask whether the White House feels any commitment to the soldiers who were killed searching for Bergdahl or their survivors.
As to Psaki’s response, it is understandable, if not defensible, that Obama in his naïveté authorized the trade for Bergdahl obviously without fully understanding the circumstances of his “capture” by the Taliban. And one can even grasp, if not condone, Obama’s self-serving desire to sell Bergdahl as a hero in his infamous Rose Garden announcement of the prisoner swap.
What is hard to swallow, however, is that the administration now, with all that is known about Bowe Bergdahl’s years among the Taliban, can’t bring itself to admit that the trade for his release was a mistake.
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