Harry Reid on Taliban Swap: 'I'm Glad to Get Rid of These Five People'

Posted: Jun 03, 2014 5:35 PM

I know, I know. You've been waiting with baited breath for America's sweetheart to weigh in on the Bergdahl/Taliban Five trade for days, wondering how he'd manage to defend the White House and blame the Koch brothers in one fell swoop. It appears that he decided to leave the Kochs out of it -- for now -- but if you were hoping for a tone deaf jaw-dropper, Gramps didn't disappoint:

He is aware that we didn't liquidate these guys, right? We "got rid of" them by freeing them in a Middle Eastern nation whose support for radicals is well-established and whose reliability as a security partner is dodgy at best. As I wrote earlier, Qatar has already released them RoR, and US intelligence officers are wringing their hands in the press about what happens after the year-long travel ban is lifted. If you haven't already, read their bios. Even MSNBC's terrorism expert is quivering a bit:

But Harry's most pleased because these guys are finally out of our hair. No longer will we be responsible for their incarceration. We're worry free, and they're literally free -- to welcome visitors to their new digs and offer tips on deathcraft to anyone who's interested. A year from now, they may well be fully liberated to again take up old habits such as slaughtering fellow Muslims, training Al Qaeda, and wreaking havoc on the few residual US forces remaining in the country of origin. Good news all around. And about those thorny questions about the legality of this prisoner/hostage exchange (click through for the reasons the administration is re-casting Bergdahl as the former), the White House is "apologizing" to some members of Congress for failing to alert them to the deal in advance, as mandated by law:

The White House has apologized to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) for failing to alert her in advance of a decision to release Taliban commanders from Guantanamo Bay. Feinstein told reporters that she received a call from Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken on Monday evening apologizing for what the administration is calling an “oversight.”

An "oversight"? Are they serious? They've been mulling over this move for years (see below). The ostensibly imminent concerns about Bergdahl's health strikes even some reliable liberals as garbage. Administration officials themselves have acknowledged what the NDAA requires of them on this specific front. Here's Carney in 2013:

As we have long said, however, we would not make any decisions about transfer of any detainees without consulting with Congress and without doing so in accordance with U.S. law.

Or, you know, not. They knew this wouldn't get a quiet or quick green light from Congress -- remember, the "forced consensus" was rushed through to ensure as few eyeballs saw this thing before it happened. This was an intentional oversight, and to pretend otherwise is an insult to anyone's intelligence, with the possible exception of Harry Reid. Over to you, Sen. Feinstein:

She said the chairmen and ranking Republicans of the “connected committees” spent a lot of time in 2011 reviewing the possibility of a prisoner swap and came out firmly opposed to releasing senior militants from the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. There were very strong views and they were virtually unanimous against the trade,” she said. “I certainly want to know more about whether this man was a deserter,” she said of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was released to American special forces in return for the freedom of five senior Taliban commanders.

DiFi doesn't sound happy; a bipartisan consensus had formed against the president's plan. Indeed, Time reports that O overrode internal hurdles to his decision, casting aside longstanding concerns from the people whose lives are devoted to keeping us safe. "Stand up and salute:"

To pull off the prisoner swap of five Taliban leaders for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the White House overrode an existing interagency process charged with debating the transfer of Guantanamo Bay prisoners and dismissed long-standing Pentagon and intelligence community concerns based on Top Secret intelligence about the dangers of releasing the five men, sources familiar with the debate tell TIME...officials in the Pentagon and intelligence communities had successfully fought off release of the five men in the past, officials tell Time. “This was out of the norm,” says one official familiar with the debate over the dangers of releasing the five Taliban officials. “There was never the conversation.” Obama’s move was an ultimate victory for those at the White House and the State Department who had previously argued the military should “suck it up and salute,” says the official familiar with the debate.

I'll leave you with another important nugget from the Time piece:

This wasn't about "urgency." Bypassing Congress wasn't an oversight. Obama's desire to release these guys predates Bergdahl's apparent desertion.