Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Obama was 'On Board' with Trade of Taliban 5

The Secretary of Defense

Chuck Hagel
Chuck Hagel | Source

Chuck Hagel Quote

"War is a dirty business...and we don't like to deal with those realities, but realities they are."

-Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Defense

Chuck Hagel Before Congress

The President of the United States

President Obama
President Obama | Source

Did the Administration Make a Fair Trade?

It is June 2014, and Americans are all wondering why the current Administration and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel feverishly traded the five biggest terrorists (the "Taliban 5") being detained at Guantanamo Bay for one U.S. soldier that deserted his post.

Chuck Hagel said that this was the last and best opportunity to free Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, and did so with five of the most dangerous terrorists that the U.S. had at Guantanamo Bay.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl had known issues

The Washington Post uncovered that Bowe Bergdahl was released from the U.S. Coast Guard after 26 days of basic training because of psychological reasons. Two years after this, he enlisted in the Army (June 2008). Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl left his post in Afghanistan in June 2009 and eight U.S. soldiers died in the search for Bergdahl in Afghanistan.

'Taliban 5' too important to trade for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl?

These "Taliban 5" were linked to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, all being high-ranking officials of the Taliban that gave aid and support to al Qaida in Afghanistan. The Guantanamo Review Task Force labeled all of these five men a "high risk" and two of these five are even wanted by the United Nations for war crimes against Afghan citizens.

There are two answers for this brash trade, and they are both politically motivated:

  1. The President wants to end the war in Afghanistan, and the war can't be ended as long as there is an American prisoner-of-war (POW).
  2. The President wants to close the terrorist prison at Guantanamo Bay, and started by releasing the five worst terrorist commanders in the prisoner exchange.

The prisoner exchange did not comply with the policy in place that Congress should be notified 30 days in advance of any prisoner exchange. However, breaking the law does not seem to be an issue when it comes to the White House getting things accomplished.

This article says that Chuck Hagel:

  • Did not keep Congress informed until after the trade took place
  • Admitted that he didn't handle the situation right
  • Shared that the President and national security team were "on board" with the decision

This article reports that the President:

  • Has acknowledged since the trade that one or more of the "Taliban 5" will likely return to the battle to kills Americans

Senator Ted Cruz asks the President in this article how the release of the "Taliban 5" makes the American people safer.

Hearing Before Congress

In the hearing before Congress on Tuesday, June 10, 2014, there are three reasons Congress is furious over this prisoner exchange:

  1. Congress was not given a 30-day notice, as required by current mandates
  2. The Taliban 5 detainees were much too dangerous as free men because of their involvement in terrorist activities
  3. Bergdahl deserted his post (which is viewed as treason), and U.S. soldiers lost their lives looking for this deserter - which was not worth a trade of five "high risk" terrorists

The hearing left many Congressmen unsatisfied with why Chuck Hagel (and the White House) did not give Congress a 30-day notice. Hagel only provided that it was because the Qatari intermediaries were unwilling to wait. To that, Congress asked why the Administration and Chuck Hagel even negotiated with terrorists.

U.S. Soldier in Afghanistan

U.S. soldier on the ground in Afghanistan
U.S. soldier on the ground in Afghanistan | Source

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