Speaker John Boehner ignored the fact that George W. Bush released or transferred more than 500 GITMO detainees while spewing a web of falsehoods to claim that President Obama put American lives at risk by freeing Sgt. Bergdahl.
During his press conference with House Republican leaders, Boehner said, “The biggest issue here is the violation of a policy that the United States has had for many, many years that we don’t negotiate with terrorists. The fact is that we have violated that policy and, as a result, we have made Americans less safe here and all around the world. We’re going to pay for this. There is not any doubt in my mind. There are going to be costs, lives — lost lives — associated with what came out of this.”
Speaker Boehner was flat out lying. The United States, and other countries around the world have been engaging in these types of prisoner swaps for hundreds of years.
The Bush administration “put American lives at risk” under Boehner’s definition with the regular practice of releasing GITMO detainees to the Afghanistan government, who then released the detainees to the Taliban.
President Bush released several extremely dangerous detainees during his presidency:
– “A decade ago, the U.S. released three hardened Moroccan militants from Guantanamo and turned them over to the Moroccan government on the assumption they wouldn’t return to the battlefield.They wound up leading one of the most violent Islamist groups fighting in Syria’s civil war.” (Wall Street Journal)
– “Said Ali al-Shiri, who co-founded al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in 2009, was transferred to Saudi Arabia in 2007. Shiri completed the kingdom’s rehabilitation program and promptly headed to Yemen, where he became AQAP’s deputy commander. He was killed in a U.S. drone strike last year.” (CNN)
– “Government documents indicate more than 500 detainees were released or transferred from Guantanamo while George W. Bush was president.” (PolitiFact)
There are several other falsehoods contained in Boehner’s statement. The Taliban are the enemy, not terrorists. The terrorists who carried out 9/11 were al-Qaeda. Sgt. Bergdahl was not a hostage. He was a prisoner. The transfer of the five detainees in exchange for Sgt. Bergdahl was a prisoner swap. President Bush executed the same sort of transfer more than 500 times as president, and no additional American lives were lost.
Speaker Boehner knew about the potential Berghdahl swap because he had been briefed about it in 2011 and 2012. On top of the briefings, the details of the potential swap had been reported on and been public knowledge for months. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said today that the deal to free Bergdahl came together the day before and that the U.S. didn’t know where they would be picking up Bergdahl until an hour prior to his release.
Rep. Boehner’s comments today were nothing more than the latest attempt to gin up another Obama scandal. Boehner appears to be laying the foundation for a House investigation into the deal to free to Sgt. Bergdahl. Speaker Boehner’s remarks were inflammatory partisan politics at their worst.
If anyone is putting more American lives at risk, it’s John Boehner.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor, who is White House Press Pool, and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association