Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is no war hero but it is not U.S. policy to leave American soldiers to rot in Taliban prisons. That used to be Republican policy as well -- at least until President Obama demonstrated it was his policy.
Republican Senator John McCain, a charter member of the "If Obama supports it I’m against it" club since he lost to him in 2008, asserts that the five Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo and exchanged for Sergeant Bergdahl’s freedom could launch terrorists strikes against the United States. There is no predicting what the five will do next, although not everyone thrown into Guantanamo under the Bush administration’s post-9/11 "round up the usual suspects" policy was necessarily a terrorist. It can be said, however, that if the sergeant had died in a prison in Afghanistan, Senator McCain, a former Vietnam POW, would have blasted President Obama for leaving a man behind.
Republicans are angry that the president didn’t give them the required 30-day notice that he was planning to release prisoners from Guantanamo. According to an Associated Press report Thursday, the administration told unidentified senators that there was no notification because the Taliban threatened to kill Sergeant Bergdahl if the deal went public before the exchange. Congress leaks like a sieve, and if the White House had notified members of a deal, that information would have been on Fox News within minutes, killing the exchange and possibly the sergeant.
The circumstances behind Sergeant Bergdahl’s departure from his military base and capture are mysterious and there have been accusations that he is a deserter. If that is what the Pentagon thinks then he should be tried as a deserter. Again, that is how U.S. policy works.
At a press conference Thursday in Brussels, President Obama declared. "We saw an opportunity and we seized it. And I make no apologies for that." Nor should he. The Bergdahl firestorm is only one more example of the "damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t" approach of dead-enders who still can’t accept that Mr. Obama was twice elected president by American voters.