Stomper: Dissecting Prisoner Exchanges with ‘Terrorists’ & Bowe Bergdahl

Taliban FightersHey kids, I thought I’d take another whack at a somewhat political topic and toss it up for grabs…

This time out, the topic relates to the prisoner exchange and the return of US soldier Bowe Bergdahl.  I can see both sides on this one but lean towards support of President Obama‘s actions.

And frankly, I have a lot more questions than I have answers.

I’ve done a small amount of research on the topic so it could be said that my knowledge on this is a mile wide but only an inch deep.  Naturally I expect to be criticized for my reasoning.

My biggest concern relates to the U.S. negotiating with terrorists when we have publicly stated that we don’t do that. 

It seems like we’ve created a situation where soldiers, journalists and citizens in general have now become targets outside our borders with this very recent example that the administration will release lots of bad guys to get back just one of our own.

NA.0210.Reagan37It sends a troubling message to those that would do us harm.

On the other hand, isn’t that sort of what President Reagan did in the Iran Contra deal?  It’s widely believed that Reagan negotiated with the Iranians on the 66 hostages held and got them released only when former President Carter’s plane was taking him back to Georgia just after Ronnie’s inauguration.

When Reagan couldn’t directly send the weapons the Iranians wanted – in addition to the ransom allegedly paid – he back doored the transfer of weapons through Central American groups.

It’s splitting hairs, I know, but it was actually Qatar that brokered the Berdahl  deal and made it happen, not the US directly.  And I don’t believe for one second that Qatar will monitor these guys and prevent them from reentering the fight against America.  So I really see both sides on this point.

That said, prisoner exchanges between enemies is a pretty standard occurrence and goes way back in history.  The world is a very different place today and where wars in the past have been between countries with actual borders, the enemy we have today is really a gang of thugs that have franchises around the world and are not limited by national borders. We don’t completely know who they are and where they are.

The argument that,  “Yes, we have dealt with real countries to make prisoner exchanges in the past but that doesn’t mean we should deal with terrorists today” doesn’t really hold a lot of credibility but I see the point. Even conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer generally supports President Obama’s action. And the fact that I agree with Krauthammer gives me cause for concern.

iraq_pow_abuse123_apPresident George W Bush released a large number of prisoners from Guantanamo during his presidency so we’ve got a recent precedent of this occurring under a Republican administration.  And I do give credibility to the position that, “ We don’t leave our soldiers behind.”

Bergdahl was a prisoner for five years and the administration floated the idea of dealing with the bad guys to get him back months ago.  The general response from Republicans on the hill back then was that this idea was palatable so the thought of dealing with the Taliban to get him back did not appear to be an outrageous one. Of course, now that the deal has gone down, the GOP is screaming. And now that the details are more public, I understand their reaction, but only to a degree.

bergdahl parents obama reuters

Next on my list of questions is the idea that Bergdahl is no hero and he deserted his post. 

Soldiers may have died trying to get him back. I get that and I have concerns on that as well. However my gut feeling is to let the military sort that out now that he’s back in US hands. If warranted, let the military put him on trial and let’s try to learn all we can and make a decision that is based on facts not knee jerk reactions.

What I do have a problem with is the attacks and threats on Bergdahl’s parents.

Being a parent, nothing is more important to me than the safety of my children.  I can’t think of much that I wouldn’t do for my son or daughter. To attack the parents for what they have done is way over the top.

OK, that’s where I’m at on this one.  Convince me why I should see it your way.

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25 Responses to Stomper: Dissecting Prisoner Exchanges with ‘Terrorists’ & Bowe Bergdahl

  1. the dude says:

    The US and other countries that say they don’t make deals with ‘terrorists’ all the time.
    Nothing new there.
    Obummer did what he needed to get a POW back, the armchair politicos are the ones making a silly fuss about this.

  2. hLot harley says:

    heres what I am hearing from sources.
    We are leaving afgahnistan. We will have maybe 4000 troops remaining.
    Facts are that we are dealing with the “other side” in Iraq. They did not
    go away when we brought most of our troops home. We are having to
    realize that we can’t fight these types of war anymore and take the losses
    we did. So the Iraqi government is now in bed with the enemy americans
    fought for so many years.
    Now…we are doing the same in Afghanistan. Leaving it up to the afghan
    government to deal with Taliban (who are heavily weakened over the years)
    …this deal has more to it than we really know. The Taliban will have to
    come under the afghan government eventually. Theres more to this
    than the public will know. Even though another government has control over
    the 5 terrorists…this is the first step in finally bringing peace to Afghanistan.
    Mark my words…the American public will never know the true story.
    This exchange was moreabout actually dealing with the Taliban than the
    exchange of prisoners.
    We got our oil from Iraq…we’re going to get the natural resources
    we wanted from afghnistan….its time to take our troops out of there.
    Its time we moved on…and came home.

    • the dude says:

      When you say ‘natural resources we wanted from afghanistan’ do you mean all that sweet opium the CIA is moving to fund more black ops?

      • hLot harley says:

        dude…obviously opium is still huge for afghans…
        but not for long…
        they have some the largest deposits of lithium…for batteries
        for cars/cell phones etc….estimated to be one of the largest
        and American companies are moving in.
        natural gas…cobalt/Afghanistan will become one of the
        most important mining ccenters in the world.
        why do you really think the u.s. was there in the first

  3. chuck says:

    I kind of agree with you Stomper, but here is the rub. Diane Feinstein is “Out of the loop.”

    Feinstein has done yoeman’s work in her job as Senate Intelligence Chairwoman. Her agenda has been in the best national interest of the US as far as I can tell. Her exclusion from the conversation with regard to this ignominous prisoner swap, leads me to believe that at least on the surface, there is something to hide. Feinstein’s history in her job, dictates a “by the book” approach to protocols and procedure. This swap never happens with her permission and that, to me, says a lot.

    What I would like to believe, is that there are tracking devices, planted on the persons of those released Taliban prisoners, which evade detection and will lead us to larger prey who will be sanctioned with extreme prejudice. Perhaps those prisoners are now vectors of some malady which even now, eats its way towards stopping those dark hearts before their would be vengence is realized.

    I would like to believe that the President had a plan, a plan that of course, some blue collar wire hauler in the hinterlands could never even begin to guess. What we don’t want to find out, is that the President had no idea that Bergdahl probably walked away from his post and conspired with the enemy. That incompetance, seen with Obama Care, the IRS Scandal, Banghazi etc etc, reveals a disconcerting disconnect that would leave us all gobsmacked.

    There must be a plan, just gotta be…

  4. Shawnster says:

    Pretty much agree with what you wrote. I am all for letting the military decide if he is a deserter or not. They are best equipped to make that determination… no one else is. That includes the outraged politicians on both sides, and the clueless idiots on FOX. I am sickened by the threats against his family. Sadly, ain’t that “merica” today. Using a POW to score political points is about as low as you go. The Swift-boating of Bergdahl lowers the bar. It’s disgusting how far this country has fallen. It seems to me the people howling the loudest are the ones who have never served a day of their life in the military, and have no idea what can happen in the fog of war.

  5. Jim says:

    Nice read, Stomper. Always enjoy reading opinion pieces fully recognize that there are always shades of grey in every decision made, whether personal or political. I’m with Chuck when he HOPES there was a plan and that the final decision was made with the FULL knowledge of the circumstances surrounding his captivity, how that all came to be, etc, etc. I have to believe there was since the “desertion” angle has been part of the conversation for a long time. It would have been far more palatable to the American public had that been laid out from the get-go and not made to be such a victory for the U.S. Had the narrative simply been, “we don’t leave our own on the battlefield” and we made a difficult decision to live by that motto, I think there would not have been nearly as much hand wringing.

  6. Paracelsus says:

    The reason the GOP is so willing to bemoan the return of a POW is that they have no issues. None. They’re fresh out of functional dog-whistles and utterly bankrupt of ideas. Even the best efforts of FOX propaganda can’t make this about the father’s beard, or third-guessing how the kid got caught. With the complete failure of the Benghazi fundraiser, the quiet surrender on Obamacare, and no stable position at all on immigration reform, the only way they look to be able to win on the national level is if Hillary runs.

    • expat says:

      There are plenty of issues the problem is that most Americans are too dumb/disillusioned/self-centered to care. So the GOP is left flailing, looking for *any* issue that will resonate amongst the eloi and not coming up with much. They need charismatic tweeter spokespeople like George Takei and Kanye West to push their agenda otherwise it’s like shouting at a rock concert. There must have been a sigh of relief at GOP headquarters when this Bergdahl thing came up; finally they have a new dead horse to beat. Meanwhile the financial system hasn’t been reformed, the surveillance state continues to expand, the economy still sucks for everyone but the 1%, etc.

    • hLot harley says:

      andthat will never happen. repubs are up against a sure 240
      electoral votes plus before Hillary runs…and with immigration reform
      in 2020 it doesn’t even have to be an election.
      no more repub presidents for a long long time.
      and with cantor getting beat…the repubs took another storng right
      turn..which will create an even worse situation for them in the next
      election and for many years.

    • Eric Cantor says:

      Send me whatever you are smoking, I need a lift.

    • Paracelsus says:

      Every tea party winner creates problems for the GOP at large. What’s left of reasonable conservatism is being marginalized by the Ted Nugent lobby. I think if Hillary runs, the GOP can continue to use the existing oppositional/person-focused strategy. I agree, real issues have been left to rot.

    • Tom Wolfe says:

      Talk is cheap.

      On the ground, it is ALWAYS the same, except for whitey.


  7. chuck says:

    Chuck Hagel just finished his statement to the House Armed Services Committee.

    This man is VERY impressive and VERY believable. You can’t overstate how cogent and logical his lapidary explanation of the recent events with regard to Bergdahl and the exchange that took place. The man certainly changed my mind and I do believe that Obama actually did something right.

    A few caveats. There is no way the government of Qatar keeps these 5 thugs in check for a year. There is no way, that the powers involved, were not aware of Bergdahl’s desertion of his post.

    That said, Hagel’s elequence, in conjuction with his no Bu**sh*t attitude cuts the ice with this cynic.

  8. Stomper says:

    Really good comments from everyone. I’m very impressed although my feelings are a bit damaged by the absence of comments from either Dwight or John Altvogt who are both strong voices from the right.
    Despite Cantor’s loss and the likelihood that the Tea Party winner there will alienate enough moderate republicans to give that district to the Dems, the House will stay in Republican hands for a long long time. The numerous republican state legislatures across the nation have done a masterful job in gerrymandering the districts to assure republicans will have a smooth path. And the chances that the republicans will win enough seats to control the Senate are pretty darn good. If that happens, Obama will need lots of pens to sign all the vetoes he need to along with no chance to plant a liberal voice on the Supreme Court if an opening occurs. The next two years will be much worse than anything we have seen so far in Washington. That would set up a pretty interesting 2016 election. About the only thing I disagree with Paracelsus on is his thoughts on Hillary. I know white males have serious problems with her but white males don’t elect presidents anymore. About every poll I have seen have Hillary easily beating any republican. Closest appear to be Rubio or Paul and they have her beating both by 7 points. Obviously way too early and lots of attacks ahead.

    If and when a military trial for Bergdahl occurs, it will be a media circus.

    • Stomper says:

      Sorry for misspelling your name John. My editor was asleep.

    • Paracelsus says:

      Respectful disagreement. I think Jeb Bush could take it from Hillary in a walk. Yes, the national candidate picture on the right has been a joke and a race to the bottom. But one good, seemingly moderate candidate who could unite the GOP factions would beat the pants off Hillary.

      It’s not just haters. I think there are many people on both sides of the aisle who don’t relish a return of the Clintons. I resent that the Dems seem to think that the nomination is somehow owed to her, when a truly great candidate in Elizabeth Warren really should be the first female president.

      The list of reasons Hillary’s not fit for the office would be a fairly long one. Even putting aside her equal share in the scandals of that era, she’s been happy to deploy a’ southern strategy’ when it suited her. She’s lied casually about everything from being under fire in the Balkans to how she got her first name. This is the tip of the iceberg, and I am disappointed that we are so uncritical just because we think the alternative in a Republican president is to terrible to contemplate.

      Add to this that she has the warmth and charisma of a stump, and I think that many, many dems develop a cough come Election Day….

      • Thanks so much Paracelsus, but you forgot to mention, that I would also be the nations first Native American President. The Native American blood, running through my veins can be traced back to the Sioux Nation and it is a little known fact, that when Cyrus E. Dallin created the statue “Scout” which today stands in Penn Valley Park is my dad. Yep, thats my dad.

        I really appreciate the support and I want you to know, that a steering committee, chaired by, uh…, uh, Morgan Fairchild, yes, thats right, Morgan Fairchild is looking into the possibility of my entrance into the fray.

      • hLot harley says:

        sorry…bushwont get the nomination.
        after last will go to some one more right leaning
        than bush.
        a moderate is no longer safe in the republican party.
        There will be a serious battle for the repub nomination
        but the math is now so lopsided and with Hillary having
        no competition and alfeady projected toraise 1.5 billion
        dollars along with every single woman in the nation
        every black and proably 80-85% of the Hispanics
        the math makes it almost impossible at this time
        to see anyone but Hilary winning in 2016.
        She’ll add the castro guy from san Antonio hud director
        and it will not be close.
        bush is not going to do anything. The repubs have been
        hijacked by the rightest of the right wings.
        But lets be honest…Hilary will run as a centrist and
        crush everyone.
        It comes down to maybe 10 counties that decide the
        sorry par…but its just the numbers and numbers don’t

      • Stomper says:

        Thanks. I do agree that Elizabeth Warren would be fantastic. I just think she would have the same criticism that Obama had. Not enough experience on the national stage. Hillary, having been in the spotlight for over 20 years, is a known candidate. And Bill is a hellava campaigner. I think the years tend to mellow the anger that many had against both of them. Not only do I think most dems support whichever dem wins the primary, I think a lot of women who would normally vote republican, once that curtain is pulled in the voting booth, would be too tempted to vote for the first of their gender to win the White House.

        Interesting that you think voters would not relish the return of a Clinton but would consider the return of a Bush. Oh well, that’s why political junkies like myself really love to consider all angles. Thanks Paracelsus, you have been a consistent voice of reason here at KCC and I appreciate your input responding to my ramblings.

        • Paracelsus says:

          After reading more about the Cantor loss today, I have to say it looks like the word ‘moderate’ may have officially left the GOP building. I think we can look forward to major civil war in the GOP.

          In general, I agree. The math is not nice to Republicans for the foreseeable future.

          It’s a pleasure, Stomper.

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