There has been a lot to think about during these years of Obama’s foreign policy. But the problem is not just the existential issues, from reset to Benghazi, but also the less heralded developments, such as young non-high-school graduate Edward Snowden’s trotting off with the most sensitive secrets of the NSA, the “stuff happens” outing of a CIA station chief in Afghanistan, and the failure to destroy the downed drone that ended up in Iran.
In the latter category falls the mysterious prisoner swap of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five top Taliban inmates, given that even at this early juncture there are lots of disturbing questions: Why not as the law demanded consult Congress on the releases from Guantanamo, or at least the congressional leadership? Why swap some of the most dangerous and important members of the Taliban hierarchy? What exactly were the circumstances of the original departure of Bergdahl (in 2009 two military officials told the AP that Bergdahl “had just walked off” with three other Afghans), and why were other soldiers requested not to disclose what they knew about the nature of his departure or the costly efforts to find Bergdahl? What exactly is the present U.S. position on trading captives for prisoners/hostages? Do we really believe that the released terrorists will be kept another year in the Middle East?
All of the above may prove to be irrelevant concerns, and it is certainly good to have a U.S. soldier out of the hands of the Taliban or its allies. But right now the problem is that Susan Rice, given her past proclamations about Benghazi, is not a credible official to assure the public about the past and present status of Bergdahl or the nature of the swap. And given the president’s past neglect of enforcing settled laws and his most recent efforts to circumvent the Congress on energy matters, the present end around on Guantanamo likewise stains the entire episode.
The picture may change as more information is collated, but the Bergdahl incident seems to fit the iconoclastic pattern of a Bradley Manning or Edward Snowden, unlikely loners who voiced anger at the U.S., and likewise whose actions ended up changing the most sensitive areas of American security. Otherwise it is the same old, same old: Susan Rice goes on TV to assert the “truth,” Barack Obama circumvents the law and ignores the Congress, and, as in the Pat Tillman case, the military initially does not wish to disclose the full details surrounding a disturbing episode. Meanwhile, we are back to the VA . . .