The details of the grand bargain struck by the Obama administration to secure the freedom of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl are becoming ever clearer. According to The Daily Beast’s Eli Lake and Kimberly Dozier, the White House had a difficult choice to make: either leave Sgt. Bergdahl behind in the hands of ruthless terrorists, or negotiate his release knowing full well that 80 percent of the “Taliban Five” would almost certainly take up arms against the United States.
The choice he made was not easy; decisions made by the commander-in-chief seldom are:
It all added up to a painful dilemma for the White House: free Taliban leaders who might return to the fight—or risk losing America’s last service member held abroad. Obama ultimately chose to make the deal, despite his intelligence services’ estimate that four of the five Taliban detainees would ultimately resume their struggle against American allies.
The Associated Press also reported last week that Rob Williams, the national intelligence officer for South Asia, told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that he assessed four out of the five would return to combat.
The Daily Beast has learned that these Taliban figures are Mullah Mohammad Fazl, Mullah Norullah Noori, Khairullah Khairkhwa and Mohammed Nabi Omari.
In other words, the president knew full well the gravity of the situation going in, and made the decision anyway. That seems to be a new development. Still, whether that proves to be the correct decision, only time will tell. For what it’s worth, Republican lawmakers have spoken out harshly against the deal, and the vast majority of our military personnel opposed it. But leaving an American GI in the hands of bloodthirsty terrorists indefinitely -- even if all the allegations about his service record prove to be true -- was not something the White House was willing to countenance.
And yet, what’s interesting about this report is that it directly contradicts what Secretary of State John Kerry said last weekend on CNN -- namely, that we shouldn’t be all that worried these five Taliban commanders are free men. I wonder: Does he still feel the same way given that recidivism rates are expected to be astronomical? Yes, there’s a chance at least some of these jihadists will fall victim to drone strikes if they rejoin the fight, but their ability to wage war against the United States is real.
Trivializing just how dangerous these men are doesn't do anyone any favors.