Traverse City Record-Eagle


June 17, 2014

Another View: Bergdahl release leaves more questions

Any time an American soldier held by the enemy is freed, it ought to be cause for celebration.

But in the case of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, released by his Taliban captors in Afghanistan after a prisoner swap, the reaction is decidedly muted.

The reasons involve events that led to Bergdahl’s capture by the Taliban in the first place. To put it simply, there is evidence he deserted his post. It’s unclear why.

There is also the matter of five Taliban members released from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Bergdahl. Objections have been raised over the swap, with the implication being that too much was given up by the Obama administration in exchange for a soldier who may have been less than loyal to his country.

In today’s venomous atmosphere in Washington, just about any move the administration makes is going to receive loud condemnation from congressional Republicans. So it can be difficult to distinguish between legitimate concern over policy decisions and pointless political noise.

But the Bergdahl deal prompts broader questions of its own accord. So far, the administration has fallen short of providing good answers.

Some of the criticisms regarding the Bergdahl matter fail to impress. For instance, the fact the administration didn’t inform Congress 30 days ahead of transferring prisoners from Guantanamo — as the law apparently demands — is not a real issue. Any administration dealing with delicate matters needs discretion and flexibility.

Giving Congress a 30-day notice in such a case is akin to taking out a full-page ad in the New York Times.

As for the outrage over the notion America is negotiating with terrorists, spare us. This isn’t the first time such negotiations have taken place and it won’t be the last time. We’re talking about the real world here.

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