President Obama has finally done it. The White House had been dropping hints for years, and this weekend our commander in chief made one of our nation’s most shocking wartime decisions. He agreed to allow the release of five top Taliban top leaders from Guantanamo in exchange for our lone prisoner-of-war, Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.
After Saturday’s shocking prisoner swap Mr. Obama is now trying to convince Americans that this is all good news for our country.
In a White House Rose Garden announcement on Saturday, Mr. Obama and Bergdahl’s parents, Bob and Jani, acted as if they were all describing America’s top war hero.
While the president tapped into the natural American instinct to leave no soldier behind, when we scratch the surface of Saturday’s surprising news, his decision is even more flawed and dangerous than it is cynical.
Why do I say that?
First, Mr. Obama knowingly broke the law to release five of our highest-ranking enemies in return for then-Private First Class Bergdahl.
Remember that Bergdahl mysteriously vanished from his post along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in 2009. Just days before his disappearance he allegedly emailed his parents writing that he was “ashamed even to be American,” and “the horror is that America is disgusting,” then sending his books and uniforms back home.
Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member James Inhofe and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon released a joint statement Saturday noting that Mr. Obama was required by law to provide a 30-day notice to Congress before transferring any detainees, including specifics on threat mitigation measures.
So what was the White House response?
They admitted they broke the law. But they chalked it up to “unique and exigent circumstances.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel later claimed Bergdahl was in danger. Somehow he was more in danger than he had been since 2009. Seriously?
Second, releasing the Taliban’s former Deputy Defense Minister, Deputy Intelligence Minister, two governors and another top terrorist puts American soldiers and civilians squarely in the cross-hairs of further mass casualty attacks.
According to U.S. intelligence authorities, nearly one-third of released detainees are confirmed or suspected of having returned to terrorism.
Yet Mr. Obama believes that these Taliban top brass are less likely to return to the fight?
How many more Americans will die because of this illegal and ill-advised prisoner exchange?
Third, the White House and military have a lot of explaining to do on Bergdahl’s disappearance and lopsided trade.
In 1943, could anyone imagine FDR releasing five of Nazi Germany’s top leaders for a disgruntled soldier? Though it’s good news that Bergdahl has been freed, I believe this grossly uneven prisoner exchange will encourage Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists to seek out other U.S. military hostages. After Saturday’s swap, they are literally worth more than their weight in gold while in enemy hands.
Fourth, while Mr. Obama has lectured Americans about human rights in the context of Guantanamo, how does he explain his latest actions to the tens of millions who have suffered under the Taliban’s barbaric repression?
What’s his message for Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl shot in the head by the Taliban for daring to attend school? Or for countless women and girls who have had acid thrown in their faces in Afghanistan and Pakistan for get an education?
From his haste to close Guantanamo in 2008 and his rush for the exits in Afghanistan in 2016, Mr. Obama is not only abandoning millions of women and girls like Malala, but he’s putting all Americans at grave risk for another 9/11-style attack on our nation.
Americans should not be fooled by Obama’s sudden patriotic burst of support for the troops, referencing Bergdahl's release. Congress and the American people must hold Mr. Obama and his team accountable for their actions.