The White House, A Libertarian-Republican, and Taliban Talk Bergdahl


The swap of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held hostage for five years in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in exchange for five high-ranking members of the Taliban has proven to be controversial to say the least. Today, even more claims have been made about the legality of the exchange and its repercussions. President Barack Obama defended his action, libertarian-leaning Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) criticized his own party's claims that such exchanges are unheard of, and a Taliban commander said that his group now intends to take more high-profile hostages.

"I make no apologies for making sure we get a young man back to his parents," the president said from the G7 summit in Brussels. "We had a prisoner of war whose health had deteriorated and…we saw an opportunity and we seized it, and I make no apologies."

Republicans have voiced loud criticism of the Obama administration for the exchange. One of their major contentions is that the White House conducted the deal illegally by not giving Congress 30 days notice that it was releasing Guantanamo Bay prisoners.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the White House has a defense, though:

Obama administration officials have told lawmakers they didn't give Congress advance notice of a prisoner exchange with the Taliban last week because the Taliban had threatened to kill Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl if news of the pending trade deal leaked out, according to a Senate aide familiar with the discussions. …

As White House officials interpret the law, they were permitted to sidestep the 30-day notice rule because delaying the transfer would have interfered with the president's constitutional duties to protect the lives of Americans abroad and U.S. soldiers.

Hawkish members of the GOP have also argued that Obama's decision to deal with the Haqqani network, which was holding Bergdahl, marks a dramatic removal from the United State's policy of not negotiating with terrorists.

Labrador, however, who has been described as having "libertarian tendencies," broke ranks with his party on this matter. He said:

I'm a little bit disturbed by some of the Republicans out there who keep saying this has never happened before.

That is not entirely true. If you look historically, at the end of any conflict, you have a swap of prisoners, and that happens. Usually our side will release people that are less than desirable in order to get some of our people back in these swaps. So I would suggest that anybody who's being hyper-critical about this, they should look at the history. This has happened before.

Indeed, numerous policy experts have corroborated Labrador's claim, citing the Iranian Hostage Crisis during the Carter administration, the Iran-Contra affair during the Reagan administration, and so on.

Still, conservatives' concern that the deal could put more American lives at risk may not be wholly unfounded. An unnamed Taliban leader told Time that the deal has shown them that they have leverage when they kidnap people like Bergdahl. Speaking under the condition of anonymity, the commander said, "It's better to kidnap one person like Bergdahl than kidnapping hundreds of useless people. It has encouraged our people. Now everybody will work hard to capture such an important bird."

Read more Reason 24/7 coverage of the Bergdahl situation here, here, and here

NEXT: School Lunch Revolution: How the Free Market Is Tackling Bad Cafeteria Food

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “‘I make no apologies for another PR gambit’ the president said from the G7 summit in Brussels.”

    1. VA? What’s a V-A?

  2. He’s a bird?

    1. Not just any bird; he’s a precious bird.

  3. The author probably should have noted that Rep. Labrador’s support for this deal was far more likely a product of him being one of two Congressional Representatives of Idaho — Bergdahl’s home state — than his “libertarian leanings.”

  4. Sure, sure, we don’t negotiate with terrorists. And the modern definition of terrorist is anybody we are at war with. The Taliban are some nasty fuckers, but are they worse than say, the Third Reich, with whom we exchanged prisoners? Or the USSR, with whom we exchanged prisoners? Al Qaeda are terrorists. The Taliban are nasty evil people, but not terrorists, IMHO, but insurgents, and only insurgents because we (justifiably) invaded Afghanistan and kicked them out of power. But they were, at one time, the popularly supported, de facto, and internationally recognized government of Afghanistan, who yes, gave safe haven to terrorists.
    You can’t just label all your enemies terrorists in order to avoid the Geneva Conventions, and then refuse to negotiate with them, because you have called them terrorists. No wonder this war just won’t end.

    1. Right, but I still say a swap of five high-level commanders for one low level private was a bad deal.

      I’m all in favor of prisoner exchanges. I just think we should be tougher negotiators. This deal was way too lopsided in favor of the Taliban.

  5. This Labrador character is no Libertarian and certainly does not lean Libertarian. What utter rubbish.

    1. I would agree, but I think Zenon was just putting emphasis on Labrador’s breaking away from party lines, not necessarily proclaiming him to be a Libertarian. He quotes his as being described as having “libertarian tendencies.” just my $0.02 (which is worthless, lol)

  6. Come ON, now, y’all, PLEASE don’t be TOO terribly small-minded and intolerant? After 5 years in the company of the Afghan goat-fuckers, Sgt. Bergdahl will doubtlessly be able to enlighten us sub-par, non-multicultural heathens, in the Finest of Fine Multicultural Arts, AKA multi-cultural goat-fucking, Afghan-style? Unlike us AmeriKKKan heathens, who have only WAY recently discovered that sex-change operations are “medically necessary”, and should be paid for by the USA taxpayers, I bet that those Enlightened Afghans will show us that even the GOATS THEMSELVES deserve tax-payer funded sex change operations! Sgt. Bergdahl will show us the way, just you wait and see!

    1. Have you never fucked a goat?

      1. No? I’ve tried and tried, but I just never could manage to be quite that multi-cultural and tolerant and all. It would even be fair to call me goatophobic (hangs head in shame).
        I could, however, perhaps (and maybe for the right price, like free milking privileges) be persuaded to hump a milk cow, if she wore a cute muumuu, and said, “MoooOOOOooo, MoooOOOOooo, in just the right, seductive manner, and she looked like this? ?

        1. Wait, four tits? Like two pairs? Look, I won’t say I’m not intrigued.

          And I mean that in the most respectful way possible.

  7. merous policy experts have corroborated Labrador’s claim, citing the Iranian Hostage Crisis during the Carter administration, the Iran-Contra affair during the Reagan administration

    People went to prison for the Iran-Contra deal.

    1. Yeah, but that was sooooo long ago, like the 80s. Plus that guy hosts a show on Fox News or something, so he made out alright.

  8. BuckyBall composed by 216 strong neodymium rare earth magnetic beads, is a spherical strong magnet which was exquisitely processed by magnetic balls.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.