Archived Story

Editorial: Prisoner exchange bumbled badly

Published 9:42am Tuesday, June 17, 2014

It’s darn near impossible in this 24/7 news cycle and ever-insatiable Internet society to get a national consensus for people to keep their powder dry on rushing to judgment on a controversial issue.

We believe that would be best regarding at least a portion of the case of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s release as a captive of the Taliban in exchange for five serious terrorists as to the actual facts of what happened after he deliberately left his post and while in the hands of the Taliban.

Americans need to hear details from Bergdahl before reaching their final conclusions on that part of this confusing tale.

But we find the most credible, believable and honest words on the Bergdahl saga so far coming from his Army brothers whom he left. They are saying, in no uncertain terms, that he is a deserter who willingly walked away from his post. And Bergdahal’s own words and actions prior to his decision to leave and seek out the Taliban only give more legitimacy to such a determination.

A Rambo he was not.

And we certainly do not find even a morsel of credence in the words of Susan Rice, President’s Obama’s national security adviser, who went on talk shows last Sunday to say Bergdahl served “with honor and distinction.”

Yep, this is the same Susan Rice who as ambassador to the United Nations did the Sunday news show tour after the terrorist attack that killed four Americans, including our Libyan ambassador, at our consulate in Benghazi. She then dutifully read administration talking points that blamed an anti-Islam video for the attack. A competent presidential aide she is not.

Whether it was proper for the commander-in-chief to make the five-for-one deal with the enemy found at least mixed results in initial polls. But it didn’t take long for that to start dissipating. And the president has no one but himself to blame.

The administration’s decision to not notify key members of Congress before executing the swap was bad enough. In so doing, the president showed complete disregard for the very core of our constitutional foundation and the trustworthiness of leaders of both political parties.

But then he doubled-down on arrogance. He took a personal “victory lap” in the Rose Garden, trotting out Bergdahl’s parents like props while touting his prisoner deal.

That was a poke in the eye to Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers who served with him and went out on countless dangerous missions to try to find him. And some of those soldiers, who definitely did serve “with honor and distinction,” are now also claiming that a few soldiers were killed on patrol while in search of Bergdahl.

The president knew of all this fog of war that surrounded the Bergdahl case, yet still tried to reap a political harvest from it with his Rose Garden antics.

That show was terribly disrespectful to the great office he holds. And it was remarkably tone-deaf to the public reaction realities that should have been visible for all in his administration to see.

President Obama may have once been a political whiz kid, but not any more.

— Mesabi Daily News, June 9