‘He’s actively seeking out the Taliban . . . All the attacks were far more directed.’
Former Army sergeant Evan Buetow tells Jake Tapper and the rest of us who we got in exchange for releasing five high-value Taliban prisoners:
Buetow told CNN that, within days of Bergdahl’s disappearance, military teams monitoring radio communications intercepted radio chatter and telephonic communication which indicated that an American was searching for Taliban members who spoke English.
“When we heard that, it told us, okay, he’s actively seeking out the Taliban,” Buetow said. “And, yes, over the next couple of months, all the attacks were far more directed.”
“I heard it straight from the interpreter’s lips as he heard it over the radio,” Buetow told Tapper. “There’s a lot more to this story than a soldier walking away.”
Wait, there’s more:
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.
“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.
And finally, breaking late Tuesday night, a strong contender for the Most Convenient Leak of 2014:
In 2011 and 2012, Hillary Clinton’s State Department negotiated directly with the Taliban over a swap for Bowe Bergdahl, but Clinton was not a fan of the idea.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was personally and intensely involved in the debate over swapping five Taliban commanders for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in 2011 and 2012. But she had severe reservations about the potential deal, and was demanding stricter conditions for the release of the prisoners than what President Obama settled for last week.
Heck, it may even be true. But her people rushing to the Daily Beast to tell everyone she thought this was an awful idea sure sets up the delicious scenario of Hillary running a somewhat anti-Obama campaign in 2016.
Meanwhile, here’s how the New York Daily News greets the president this morning:
President Obama betrayed the highest obligation of his office — safeguarding national security — in trading five hard-core Taliban for the American serviceman who appears to have deserted in Afghanistan.
The five sworn enemies of the United States are now in the Gulf state of Qatar, where they are free to come and go as they like, beyond the watch of American agents. In just one year, they will be free to return to Afghanistan to fight there and stage terror attacks far beyond that country’s borders.
These facts were known to Obama when he made the deal, and yet he went ahead in irresponsible disregard for lives he has endangered. As the facts have emerged — and more surely will — it has become ever clearer that he lost his presidential compass in the Taliban swap.
In the past six months, Obama has belly-flopped over his obliviousness to the state of Healthcare.gov, his obliviousness to how the VA is operating, and now his seeming obliviousness, or perhaps disregard, of the details of Bergdahl.