Would You Trade Bergdahl To The Taliban To Get The Gitmo Prisoners Back?

Conservative pundits and politicians are making another fuss over President Obama’s leadership, this time due to his successfully securing the freedom of American soldier Bowe Bergdahl who was a captive of the Taliban. Critics are complaining about everything from the legality of the operation, to the wisdom of releasing a few Taliban detainees, to the value of retrieving a soldier who has been accused of desertion.

All of these complaints can be resolved by requiring the critics to answer a simple question: Knowing what we know now, would you favor trading Bergdahl back to the Taliban in exchange for the former prisoners released from Guantanamo Bay?

If the answer is yes, then you have a perverse notion of patriotism. No citizen should consider the captivity of an American to be acceptable. Even if that captive is suspected of criminal behavior, it is the responsibility of our country to adjudicate his fate, not some foreign nation or military faction.

If the answer is no, then, like it or not, you agree with the actions of the President. It would be foolish and inhumane to even consider trading an American away to our enemies in exchange for some of their operatives.

In almost every commentary on this exchange, the conservative critic prefaced his remarks by saying that he was glad that Bergdahl was free and heading home. Then, just as predictably, he would say that it was unconscionable that such hardened terrorists were allowed to leave the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Of course the former would not have been possible without the latter. But what none of them are saying is that the former prisoners do not have much to look forward to. Their movements are being monitored closely by officials in Qatar and, very likely, various U.S. intelligence agencies as well. With regard to the prospect of them returning to a life of terrorism, Obama said…

“Is there a possibility of some of them trying to return to activities that are detrimental to us? Absolutely. But I wouldn’t be doing it if I thought it was contrary to American national security, and we have confidence that we will be in a position to go after them if in fact they are engaging in activities to threaten our defenses.”

In other words, the detainees swapped a life of leisure in the Caribbean for one of constantly looking over their shoulders for drones. Should they choose to rejoin their former comrades on the battlefield, they are most likely going to join more than two hundred of them in the place where they now call home – the graveyard.

Club Gitmo Limbaugh

It’s more than a little curious that so many right-wingers are now lambasting the release of the Gitmo Five when not so long ago they complained that the detention center was more like a luxury spa than a prison. For example:

  • Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX): Gitmo is lap of luxury for detainees. […] The accommodations had a freshness and newness about them. Some of the rooms afforded waterfront views.
  • Charles Krauthammer (Fox News): How do I get two weeks at Gitmo? Sounds really good. The weather’s good. I get eighteen channels. A lot of exercise and I don’t have to work.
  • Rush Limbaugh (Loudmouth): There’s no better place than Gitmo. Club Gitmo, the Muslim resort. […] It’s a tropical paradise down there where Muslim extremists and terrorist wannabes can get together for rest and relaxation.

You might think that these witty whiners would be happy to see some bad guys evicted from such enviable quarters. Now they are sweating in the desert, dodging bullets, and having to work for a living. Under the circumstances, the implausible hypothetical question posed above might actually offer an appealing alternative to the now “free” Taliban operatives. But all of a sudden, the wingnuts who once thought that Gitmo was coddling their guests, now think they should have remained there to suffer.

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The one common thread that runs through this affair is that conservatives, who like to fancy themselves as Constitutionalists, are all too happy to abandon that document when it suits them. That’s why they have no problem holding enemy combatants for indeterminate periods without ever charging or trying them. And they also don’t object to trying Americans like Bergdahl as a deserter (which carries a penalty of death) without ever conducting an investigation or even getting his testimony.


10 thoughts on “Would You Trade Bergdahl To The Taliban To Get The Gitmo Prisoners Back?

  1. Could we trade Bill O’Reilly or Rush Limbaugh? Their egos should be big enough to cover most of the people still at Gitmo….

    I know, I know, that’s not very nice (but Bozo and El Rushbo are patriots if they demand the equivalent – pathetic, isn’t it?)

  2. This pathetic column is easily the most brain-dead straw man argument attempted by the radical left wing in…well, the last few weeks. (Since the left wing continuously comes up with brain-dead arguments, I can’t go back in time too far.)

    You can’t ignore or play down two overriding facts. 1) The Obama administration traded five of the most dangerous terrorists on the planet for one soldier. That is a horrible swap. 2) Bowe Bergdahl was a deserter – at minimum.

    “Their actions are being monitored closely by Qatar…” For one year. And the latest reports are that they are not under any kind of house arrest. Then they will eventually return to Afghanistan and start planning on killing Americans again.

    • On the planet? Really? The whole planet? Out of all terrorists? In all of existence? They’re the most dangerous, huh? You should work for intelligence knowing so much about threats against us, they could probably use your detailed specific and confident knowledge in expertise. Your clairvoyant abilities would come in handy too, seeing as you know they’ll undoubtedly go back to terrorism, a profession I’m sure they have just oodles of credit in now that they were captured and released under OUR terms. Speaking of our terms, do you really think we would only watch these guys for one year? They’ll have a target on their backs for the rest of their lives, both from intelligence services (not just ours either) and from military, the only thing that could save them from us is a heart attack. Hell, if they do, they’ll probably just lead us to more targets. I’m really not worried at all about terrorists that are on the other side of the world, in a desert, where all of our focus is and drones are.

      Secondly, what’t the significance of this guy being a deserter? Explain that to me. What does that matter? What’s the point that that argues towards? Is saying that an argument that he wasn’t worth rescuing? Does saying that mean he deserved to be held hostage? I really would like to understand just what the context of that point is, as if it’s significant and relevant. What is it? Personally, I don’t give a shit if he was an AIDS riddled homeless thief drug addict. Make that trade.

      Just like you though, I’m not clairvoyant, they totally could, all 5, go back to commanding and planning terrorist activities, the odds are so stacked against that that it’s barely worth conceding the possibility, but I will. All 5. They could totally travel from Qatar, to Afghanistan, I have no idea how the hell they would do that but they could, and they could fold right back into the crippled, impotent, ineffective Taliban. They aren’t Al qeada, the global clandestine terrorist organization (also crippled, impotent, ineffective), they’re Taliban. We know where the Taliban are, we know what they’re capable of given where they are. We know that we have UCAV’s, among so many many more assets, and can use them like we have been for a very long time to kill whoever we need to. Again, they were released ON OUR TERMS. They aren’t in the wind, they didn’t break out, we know right where they are. I for one have a whole shitload of confidence in this country’s military, especially since I know we’re the biggest swingin dick on the whole fuckin world stage. Why does your nationalism and patriotism and exceptionalist outlook suddenly all fall to a fine dust in the face of 5 people? Really? Are they that big and bad that they’ll outsmart the US fuckin military?? Outgun us? Outman us? Outguile us? You know, it’s so sad, and quite telling, how quickly you guys turn into defeatists when you’re told to by pundits and agenda driven media, as if it’s a strong position and effective starting point in argument. The arguments they come up with are so lazy, too. You should come up with your own.

      • Good post. Desdinova. I’d also like to point out that we’d have to release these 5 guys in a year anyway, after we’ve pulled out of Afghanistan…. and that’s how long they’ll be held in Qatar. We lost on this how?? :<)

  3. If Hillary and Ted Cruz where among this swap” The Hate would be Divided 50/50? Whats this tell you’ The U.S Has Real Problems That are Getting Worse by the Day! Corporations and The Koch’s own us’ And Working Slaves of this Country can care Less? The Christ Users are In Control!

  4. Yeah, I’m gonna take the word on the folks who told us Saddam Hussein was the next Hitler on how dangerous these five guys are.

    When Rand Paul, Rand Freakin’ Paul, has one of the most level-headed assessment from Capitol Hill, you know this country has become incapable of adult discussion.

  5. Sounds like classic spin AND more of the Ends justifying the means – which is classic liberal rationale. Not sure how this will all play out – but blind devotion to Barack Hussein Obama may actually be wearing on the adults in congress since even Democrats are questioning this approach – you’re becoming a joke Mark, the blind support is falling off, you’ll be on your own soon. Maybe criticism from Rush Limbaugh is too much to take for you, but your worship of this guy really is laughable now. You’ll be feeling like those of us who had faith in GW Bush at one time until his BS was finally too much to take or excuse away. You’ll get there, I’m sure. It will be painful, but we’ll understand.

    • What’s the spin here?

      If you only see things in ends and means, and nothing else, as if there IS nothing else, as if it’s all only just that complicated and no more, then that actually explains a lot. Things are more complicated, especially as they’re happening, than just the end goal and how you get there. Things are never so simple as just ‘Tell me the ends and the means and then we’ll decide what to do’. That’s a sound bite outlook, that would mean everything is simple and easy. The Presidency isn’t a multiple choice job, it’s not just SAT analogy questions and perfectly laid out choices. There’s no such thing as everything being black and white or even perfectly visible ratios therein, it’s not all just good versus evil, not everything is as it would be in a children’s book. Neither is it all so easy as a math problem, global politics and important big boy pants decisions aren’t made as one looks at an equation and can see what is objectively supposed to come after the equals sign. For someone that expresses themselves as you do here, it’s just odd that you see things you disagree with, and seemingly only the things you disagree with, in such simple terms. Like a fool, someone measurably dumber than yourself, would know immediately that the wrong decision has been made. Almost like you can definitively know, at first glance at a headline (a sound bite of any given situation), that someone is making or has made the wrong decision, like that’s all you need to take in to glean that. That’s the prefect definition of truthiness. That’s truly blind devotion to something. In your case it’s to your cynicism of the President and his decisions, and government in general. Your cynicism dictates a simplified outlook and acts as a filter that inhibits any kind of desire for truly critical thinking and understanding. It’s a form of prejudice, predeterminate conclusion, preprogramming. If you think we’re all blindly devote to the President, then you haven’t been paying very close attention, and/or my point in your cynicism is proven. You can laugh all you want at what you think is Mark’s ‘blind devotion and support’, that’s probably easier than working toward self awareness and the use of introspective as a tool for personal refinement and growth, blissful even.

      Don’t even get me started on the myriad differences between President Bush and President Obama. I mean jesus christ, really??

  6. I would trade Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and Ted Cruz….

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