By trading very senior and very dangerous Taliban leaders for a single U.S. soldier, President Obama has created grave peril for every American, and he has branded a “K” of the forehead of every U.S. serviceman and woman serving overseas. The “K” stands for “Kidnap me.”
Because kidnapping gets results.
Obama was correct to take vigorous steps to save the life of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was seized in June 2009 by the Taliban, even though the circumstance of how Bergdahl got separated from his unit – and whether he deserted – are unclear. But Obama was not correct to take any step.
Let me introduce you, via the Washington Post, to the people Obama has set free from Guantanamo:
Wali Khairkhwa, 47, was once the Taliban’s interior minister. He helped create the Taliban movement in 1994. He was a “hard-liner in his support of the Taliban philosophy” and “was known to have close ties to Osama bin Laden,” according to his Guantanamo case file, released by WikiLeaks.
Mullah Mohammad Fazl was a senior commander in the Taliban army in the 1990s, rising to become its chief of staff. He is thought by many to have supervised the killing of thousands of Shiite Muslims near Kabul between 1998 and 2001. According to WikiLeaks documents, he was also present at the 2001 prison riot that killed CIA operative Johnny Micheal Spann, the first U.S. citizen killed in the Afghan war.
Mullah Norullah Noori, another of the detainees, was also present during Spann’s killing. He was a provincial governor in several key areas during the Taliban regime. He is also suspected of involvement in the Shiite massacre.
Abdul Haq Wasiq, 43, was deputy chief of intelligence for the Taliban. According to his Guantanamo case file, he “utilized his office to support al Qaeda” and was “central to the Taliban’s effort to form alliances with other Islamic fundamentalist groups.” His case file, like Khairkhwa’s, calls him a “high risk,” saying that he is likely to “pose a threat to the US, its interests and allies.”
Mohammad Nabi Omari, 46, was a member of a joint al-Qaeda-Taliban cell in eastern Khost province, according to his case file, and “one of the most significant former Taliban leaders detained” at Guantanamo. He has ties to the Haqqani network, the group that was believed to be holding Bergdahl.
Over and over, each detainee received a “recommendation for continued detention” by a military board at Guantanamo.
Whatever the conditions of their release, whatever guarantees we have received from the Qataris, who took them, these people who are now out from under our purview will eventually be back at work trying to kill Americans, who imprisoned them, perhaps tortured them, and overturned their rule.
Let me introduce you to Sgt. Bergdahl. From an email he sent his parents three days before his capture, as reported by Rolling Stone:
The future is too good to waste on lies. And life is way too short to care for the damnation of others, as well as to spend it helping fools with their ideas that are wrong. I have seen their ideas and I am ashamed to even be american. The horror of the self-righteous arrogance that they thrive in. It is all revolting . . .
In the US army you are cut down for being honest . . . but if you are a conceited brown nosing shit bag you will be allowed to do what ever you want, and you will be handed your higher rank . . . The system is wrong. I am ashamed to be an american. And the title of US soldier is just the lie of fools . . . I am sorry for everything here. These people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid, that they have no idea how to live. We don’t even care when we hear each other talk about running their children down in the dirt streets with our armored trucks.
I want to emphasize that no American serviceman or woman should ever be left behind, and we should do what we can to retrieve them, alive or dead. I relate this email to you only to demonstrate that Sgt. Bergdahl may have had more personal responsibility for his unfortunate circumstance than the average American taken while on assignment overseas.
President Obama said the other day at West Point that he was “haunted” by the deaths of servicemembers he had sent to Afghanistan.
Four of the servicemembers who stood in the audience when I announced the surge of our forces in Afghanistan gave their lives in that effort. A lot more were wounded. I believe America’s security demanded those deployments. But I am haunted by those deaths. I am haunted by those wounds.
I am haunted by Obamas remarks.
A commander in chief should be saddened by deaths that occur under his watched. He can even grieve. But he cannot be haunted by these deaths and effectively do his job, which involves making terrible decisions that could result in the deaths of many more brave American boys and girls.
I understand something about history. History is a long struggle in which leaders must make horrifying decisions in order to safeguard their nations. War is to be avoided at all costs. But it is also a fact of life.
That’s why leaders must be made of steel. But the alloy, for me, includes both compassion and ruthlessness. That is true strength.
Obama, by trading away his nation’s security, has made a stupendous mistake. He may also, given that he didn’t notify Congress of his intent, have done something illegal. And he has once again signaled to our enemies that he may lack the strength to oppose them.