Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Real Life "Homeland": Did the US Negotiate with Terrorists?

If you've ever watched any movies featuring terrorists and the U.S. government, then you know like I do that Hollywood likes to showcase the U.S. government's policy on this issue: We Do Not Negotiate with Terrorists. 

And rightfully so.  If we did then it would open the floodgates for terrorist groups to hold the proverbial gun to our head in order to gain leverage for whatever they want. As far as policies go, it's difficult to argue with this one.

Enter Army Seargent Bowe Bergdahl.

In a move that sounds more like the basis of the plot for Showtime's Homeland than an actual news headline, the U.S. Government apparently set aside its "We Do Not Negotiate" policy in order to secure the release of one of our own prisoners of war, Sgt. Bergdahl from the Taliban.  The price?  The release of five (5) current Taliban prisoners from our ever controversial Gitmo prison.

So what does that do to America's anti-negotiation policy?  And what does the Commander-in-Chief has to say about all of this?

Per WaPo:

President Obama on Tuesday strongly defended his administration’s decision to return five detainees held at Guantanamo Bay to the Taliban in exchange for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl after five years of captivity, though he acknowledged that some of the released detainees could once again try to harm the United States.
“We have consulted with Congress for quite some time about the possibility that we might need to execute a prisoner exchange in order to recover Bergdahl,” Obama said on a trip to Poland to discuss Eastern European security. “We saw an opportunity, and we were concerned about Bergdahl’s health. We had the cooperation of the Qataris to execute an exchange, and we seized that opportunity.” He added that “the process was truncated because we wanted to make sure we would not miss that window.”
Amid mounting congressional criticism about the operation, senior military leaders also responded to criticism within the ranks toward Bergdahl, who walked off his base and away from his unit five years ago after becoming disillusioned with the war effort. In statements, both the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Army Secretary John McHugh appeared to leave open the possibility that the young soldier could face a reprimand of some kind.
“Our first priority is ensuring Sgt. Bergdahl’s health and beginning his reintegration process,” McHugh said. “There is no timeline for this, and we will take as long as medically necessary to aid his recovery.”
The Army, he added, will “then review this in a comprehensive, coordinated effort that will include speaking with Sgt. Bergdhal to better learn from him the circumstances of his disappearance and captivity. All other decisions will be made thereafter, and in accordance with appropriate regulations, policies and practices.”

Was this a good move?
Should the U.S. negotiate for the release of its troops caught behind enemy lines if it means the release of terrorists?
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