The Bergdahl-Taliban prisoner exchange: Is the Administration telling the whole truth?

Susan Rice on Bergdahl, ABC News

WASHINGTON, June 3, 2014 — The Obama Administration has defended its decision to exchange Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban militants housed at Guantanamo by saying the trade had to occur immediately in order to protect the life of Bergdahl.

Is the administration being less than truthful again?

Sgt. Bergdahl was not captured in combat. According to to numerous media sources, he walked away from his platoon’s small outpost in Afghanistan on June 30, 2009 after growing disillusioned with the US military’s war effort. The Rolling Stone magazine quoted emails from Bergdahl indicating he was “ashamed to be an American.” According to reports in The Washington Post, American Special Forces searched for 14 days for Bergdahl, which resulted in the deaths wounding of several servicemen.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he was forced to disregard a law signed by President Obama which required the administration to give Congress 30 days notice before releasing any prisoners from Guantanamo. He said this was an operation to “save the life of Sgt. Berdahl” whose health was reportedly “deteriorating rapidly.” Hagel said, “We found an opportunity. We took that opportunity.” He then said, “I stand by that decision. I signed off on that decision. The President made the ultimate decision.”

READ ALSO: More criticism of Bergdahl release: Afghanistan condemns prisoner swap

As has been the case with many of the administration’s statements about events, this one seems less than forthright. The prisoner swap proposal had been discussed for years, and the current discussions were reportedly going on for several weeks. Why didn’t the administration inform at least the leaders of Congress about these discussions and about a possible prisoner swap?

Hagel further said, “Our first priority is assuring his well-being and his health.” But is that really what their first priority was? Is that was the first priority should be?

Although the administration doesn’t agree, shouldn’t our first priority in war be to defeat the enemy and insure the well-being of the American people? When soldiers go to war they know that they are risking their lives and they know that the American people are supportive and grateful. Since we value human life, the military does everything possible to insure the safety of the soldiers but the reality is that some don’t make it. The soldiers have decided that they will make the ultimate sacrifice if necessary.

In yet another opaque move, the administration possibly saved the life of a soldier who chose to leave his platoon in exchange for releasing five known terrorists. While the Administration said Qatar would “watch” the terrorists for one year, the reality is the United States has little ability to monitor that provision. Even if they do remain in Qatar for a year, eventually these terrorists will likely return to their former positions which could result in the loss of more American lives.

READ ALSO: Political incongruities: From Bergdahl to Benghazi

It has been the policy of the US government not to negotiate with hostage takers. The reason is simple: If we negotiate with one, then others will see hostage taking and negotiation as a means to an end. The policy of “no negotiation” is probably responsible for the very low number of Americans being taken hostage. The president may have changed that with this trade.

As has been the case in the past, this administration seems more concerned with image than substance. The president has seen his approval rating plummet as Americans find out that his actions are often motivated by public perception rather than correct beneficial actions. We watched as Susan Rice again appeared on Sunday morning talk shows saying things that made the administration look good, but things that may not be completely true.

Americans are very compassionate and understanding. We simply want to know the facts. From this administration we are not sure we are getting the facts and often feel that what is said to us is just to have the administration look good. This has got to stop. Breaking laws, supplying misinformation and creating scenarios that are just not truthful are really destroying the trust that Americans should have in a “government of the people, by the people, for the people”

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