DOD Uses Release of Michael Durant to Justify Bergdahl-Taliban Swap

by Greg Pollowitz

Did the Department of Defense just reveal that former President Clinton lied to America in 1993? Could be.

At the Bergdahl/Hagel hearing going on in the House today, Democrat Rep. Adam Smith asked DoD General Counsel Stephen Preston for a specific example from the past where the United States “dealt with non-state actors who are holding a service member in order to achieve their recovery.” Preston cited the release of Michael Durant, the Army helicopter pilot of Blackhawk Down fame, who was held prisoner for eleven days by Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid​ after his helicopter was shot down in 1993. Preston suggested Durant was released in exchange for a number of Adid’s fighters who were captured during the same battle. Here’s the clip:

This raises two issues. One, the idea that Durant was traded for Somali prisoners was news to me. Back in 1993, President Clinton said “no deals” were made to secure Durant’s release and Adid called the move a “goodwill gesture.” The top lawyer of the DOD, however, just contradicted that version of events. It should be noted that Preston worked for the DOD before — under President Clinton. If anybody would know the truth, it’s Preston.

And two, Representative Turner said during the hearing that he asked representatives from the White House the same question posed to Preston above, but was told there was no example of the United States trading for a captured serviceman with a non-nation state. Not only is the DOD contradicting this White House, it outed a former White House? Oops.

Here’s Representative Turner’s questioning of Preston, which ends with Turner asking for the specifics of the Durant exchange in writing: 

I look forward to seeing what exactly, if anything, the DOD does send to Congress on the Durant release. 

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