On Saturday, President Obama announced that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl had been released by the Taliban and secured by American troops in Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border. Bergdahl had been held captive by the Taliban for nearly five years and was the last American prisoner of war in the Afghan war. The President made his announcement alongside Bergdahl’s parents on Saturday in the Rose Garden. In order to secure Sgt. Bergdahl’s release, the White House agreed to release five Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay. The prisoners were handed over to officials in Qatar. The five people released from Gitmo will be subjected to travel bans and security restrictions.
Naturally, Republican lawmakers went out of their way to criticize the President over this deal and made it seem like Obama was negotiating with terrorists in securing the release of an American soldier. Instead of expressing pride and gratitude in the way that the nation’s Commander-In-Chief brought home the last remaining prisoner in a decade-plus war, Republicans took to the airwaves on Saturday and Sunday and complained that the President was placing the nation’s security at risk. Our own Jason Easley pointed out how Republicans might have hit an all-time low by using the Sunday shows as a forum to claim that Obama made a deal with terrorists and placed the country’s soldiers at risk by doing so.
On Sunday afternoon, Democratic Congressional candidate James Kimber, who is running against Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) in California’s 50th District, contacted me to express his disgust with the tactics that Republicans are using to undermine the President. Below are Kimber’s own words regarding this disgraceful situation:
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
Like many, I was elated when I heard President Obama announce the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Knowing he was finally freed and to see the smiles on the faces of his parents really made my day. Sadly, that feeling for me was short lived, and like the old saying “no good deed goes unpunished.” I’ve almost come to accept how the GOP objects to virtually anything this President does, but I’m truly appalled at the latest objections from the GOP over the President’s actions to free a captured U.S. soldier.
It’s absolutely disingenuous when members of the GOP such as Rep. Mike Rogers make statements such as “This fundamental shift in U.S. policy signals to terrorists around the world a greater incentive to take U.S. hostages” or Rep. Howard McKeon “Our terrorists adversaries now have a strong incentive to capture Americans. ”
It’s completely disingenuous or plain ignorance to make statements such as these. There has always been a risk of capture or kidnapping of Americans around the world. I wonder if either remembers the kidnapping of American missionaries Gracia and Martin Burnham back in May 2001 (pre 9/11) by rebel group Abu Sayyaf that was linked to al Qaida. Or what about other soldier captured that weren’t treated as Sgt. Bergdahl. In 2004 Army Spc. Maupin was captured and a video was broadcast showing his execution by the insurgents. In 2006 insurgents captured Pfc. Menchaca and Pfc. Tucker. When the bodies were ultimately found they showed signs of torture and mutilation. In 2007 a group calling themselves the Islamic State of Iraq announces they have captured three U.S. soldiers and releases a video. One year later their remains are discovered and positively identified.
The five detainees from GITMO that were released in exchange for Sgt. Bergdahl had been set for release more than two years ago. But I have no illusions that we will lose contact of these individuals once released. Undoubtedly they will likely be under surveillance for quite some time if not indefinite. But to say this is going to put our Americans at great risk is simply disingenuous.
I will end with this last thought. Rep. Duncan Hunter who served three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan while reported as terming the release of Sgt. Bergdahl as “fantastic” also expressed concerns about negotiating with the Taliban. My question is if Mr. Hunter had been captured during one of his combat tours, how long would his father, Congressman Hunter, have waited to get his son back? Would his father have questioned negotiating with the Taliban for the release of five detainees to get his son back?
I don’t think any of us could have said it better. It is absolutely heinous that we have Republicans complaining about this transfer to secure Sgt. Bergdahl’s freedom. Even worse, they are publicly stating that the President has placed this country and its soldiers’ lives at risk by making this deal. Just when you think Republicans in Washington can’t get any lower, they turn around and surprise you, showing a new level of cravenness.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).