Since Bowe Bergdahl came home last week, the President’s critics have had much to say about the circumstances surrounding his capture and retrieval. Much of their “information” is based on conjecture and outright falsehoods. This week, Rolling Stone published an article which debunks four of the most talked about myths surrounding the case.
Republican Lie #4. We never negotiate with terrorists.
The first myth, one that nearly every Republican critic has brought up, is that the prisoner exchange sets a dangerous precedent and violates a long-standing policy of not negotiating with terrorists.
Of course the U.S. as well as many other nations who proclaim such a policy do negotiate with terrorists and many other unsavory types all the time but in this case there were no negotiations with a terrorist organization, the Taliban is not on the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations although there is an Executive Order listing the Taliban as a group of Specially Designated Global Terrorists. It may seem like a nit-picking distinction but is far more accurate than conflating the Taliban and al Quaeda as many on the right have done, the Taliban is a political organization with a military arm and has never been involved in plotting or attempting to carry out attacks on the U.S. at home, they simply want us out of Afghanistan.
Republican Lie #3. The five released prisoners were the most dangerous terrorists.
The second myth is that the five released prisoners were the worst of the worst among terrorists. Of the five, two at most had ties to Osama bin Laden and al Quaeda, Mohammed Fazl is the one whose history is the darkest as he was the commander of the Taliban Army which was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of civilians in the final years of Taliban rule before the invasion in 2001.
Three of the others held positions in the Taliban government in the five years prior to the U.S. invasion and were considered to be relatively moderate though it is obvious that being moderate in such an extreme government was not much of a feat. The fourth was a mid level police official.
All are in their mid to late 40s and would be of little tactical value on the battlefield after nearly a decade and a half in prison.
Republican Lie #2. Six-eight soldiers died searching for Bergdahl.
Myth number three is that six to eight soldiers died in the search for Bergdahl after he abandoned his post and walked away. There is no real evidence to support the claim and while they continue to investigate these allegations Defense Department officials have said that it would be difficult to link Bergdahl’s actions to any particular death in Patika at the time. It was one of the most deadly periods of the war and in an area that was known to be a hotbed of Taliban activity and some officials have said that no patrols were sent out for the sole purpose of locating Bergdahl.
Republican Lie #1. Obama overreached on the Bergdahl deal.
The final myth goes back to the accusations that have been made repeatedly that Obama sees himself as an “imperial” President not bound by law and ruling by decree. This is the claim that he ignored the law by not including Congress in the decision to make the exchange that freed Bergdahl.
Nearly all Republicans say that the President violated the law by acting without the prior approval of Congress while other government officials argue that the President has the authority to act when it must be done quickly to prevent the loss of life.
“There was a question about his safety, we found an opportunity and we took that opportunity,” said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
The controversy will go on for some time and it appears that Bowe Bergdahl will be facing some serious charges after he has recuperated but the discussion should be based on facts and not on emotional or politically driven responses.
h/t: Rolling Stone.