The unrest surrounding the Obama Administration’s decision to exchange five Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay for US soldier Bowe Bergdahl has knocked every other controversy off the front page, including the VA backlog scandal. Instead, the DC commentariat and politicians desperate for camera time have been flipping and flopping to either condemn President Obama or defend him.
The White House is now responding to the backlash from right wing attacks that Bergdahl was a deserter by claiming Republicans are being hypocritical as many supported securing Bergdahl’s release previously. Though true, the point has done little to assuage conservative outrage.
Prisoner swaps are common elements of any war and that the Taliban and Al Qaeda are different organizations seems to be lost on many critics, though some of them have truly outdone themselves such as Iran-Contra figure Oliver North who has condemned the Obama Administration for financing terrorism.
Speaking to former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) on his Newsmax program, North demanded to know if a ransom was paid to terrorists in order to execute the swap. “Was there a ransom paid?” North said. “Did the government of the United States, either directly or indirectly, finance a terrorist organization?”
North went even further in an interview with Newsmax host Steve Malzberg. He strongly disputed the characterization of Bergdahl as a “prisoner of war,” asserting that he was in fact a “hostage” of the Haqqani terrorist network, which is allied with the Taliban.
If the US government did fund a terrorist organization it wouldn’t be the first time, would it be Ollie?
Whether or not any money was paid to free Bergdahl is unknown. With the war winding down on the US side the point of continually holding Taliban commanders at Gitmo is lost. One might think North of all people would appreciate the virtue of exchanging something for a hostage.
In any case, it appears as though Bergdahl’s release has become the new Benghazi on the right – not so much a story as a cause, an opportunity to affirm one’s undying hatred for Barack Obama. The insanity has just begun and, as usual, the DC press is happy to play along.