Political divide: 'Don't negotiate with terrorists' vs. 'Leave no man behind'
May 31st, 2014
08:56 PM ET
5 years ago

Political divide: 'Don't negotiate with terrorists' vs. 'Leave no man behind'

(CNN) - Amid the jubilation over the return of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, some top Republicans are questioning the tactics used to get him home.

While happy that America's only soldier taken prisoner during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is being repatriated, they stressed that the United States does not negotiate with terrorists. They warned that swapping American soldiers for Taliban militants sets a dangerous precedent.

Together with the announcement that Bergdahl was released after nearly five years of captivity came the news that five detainees at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were being transferred to Qatar.

Two senior administration officials confirmed the names of the five released detainees as Khair Ulla Said Wali Khairkhwa, Mullah Mohammad Fazl, Mullah Norullah Noori, Abdul Haq Wasiq and Mohammad Nabi Omari. All were being held at the notorious prison for alleged ties to terrorist groups.

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was one of the first to speak out, saying he was "extremely troubled" by how the United States negotiated with the Taliban to release Bergdahl.

"This fundamental shift in U.S. policy signals to terrorists around the world a greater incentive to take U.S. hostages," said Rogers. "Further, I have little confidence in the security assurances regarding the movement and activities of the now-released Taliban leaders and I have even less confidence in this administration's willingness to ensure they are enforced. I believe this decision will threaten the lives of American soldiers for years to come."

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, echoed the same sentiments - "pleased" to have Bergdahl return, but concerned about the exchange.

"These particular individuals are hardened terrorists who have the blood of Americans and countless Afghans on their hands," McCain said in a statement. "I am eager to learn what precise steps are being taken to ensure that these vicious and violent Taliban extremists never return to the fight against the United States and our partners or engage in any activities that can threaten the prospects for peace and security in Afghanistan. The American people, and our Afghan partners, deserve nothing less."

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-California, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, termed the release "fantastic," but indicated concerns remain about negotiating with the Taliban.

"There are still questions around the entire operation, knowing what it took to make this happen, but at least for today we can be happy that Bowe is back in U.S. hands," Hunter said.

A senior administration official said Bergdahl's release wasn't a concession and was in line with Obama's goal of closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.

According to administration officials, Qatar, which brokered the deal between the U.S. and the Taliban, agreed to take custody of the detainees and provide assurances they would not pose a threat to the United States, including a one-year ban from travel out of Qatar.

Democratic leaders in Congress were enthusiastic about the outcome, repeating a well-known military maxim:
Bergdahl's safe return marks the "nation's commitment to leave no service member behind," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, supported Obama's decision, "particularly in light of Sgt. Bergdahl's declining health," she said. "It demonstrates that America leaves no soldier behind."

And Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, "Soon we all will celebrate Bowe's freedom and homecoming. It is our ethos that we never leave a fallen comrade. Today we have back in our ranks the only remaining captured soldier from our conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Welcome home SGT Bowe Bergdahl."

C.L. "Butch" Otter was more concise. "We join all of Idaho and America in expressing our joy and welcoming this wonderful news," the Republican governor of Bergdahl's home state said in a statement.


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soundoff (102 Responses)
  1. Chris-E...al

    Now just make a phone call Mr 0bama and get 0ur Marine out of Mexico . What the chit chat is wrong with this picture ? ? ? Oh probably no help from you we know you stay busy with important issues maybe the mexican judge will help him thx again . Sorry to bother you sorry sleep well . thx

    May 31, 2014 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  2. smith1

    senator Mccaine should shut his big fat mouth. we where holding these guys in gitmo with out bring able to charge them. Sure they are garbage but go talk to Bo's parents. The repos just can't stand the fact that the present administration got something done. Go back in your hole you trolls . Good to have you home Bo

    May 31, 2014 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  3. Mark Anderson

    Why not look at how Israel negotiates for the release of it's soldiers.

    May 31, 2014 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  4. Smitty

    Once again Obumbles gets bent over, what a lame excuse.

    May 31, 2014 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  5. waco liberal obama

    Negotiates with what he called the beautiful religion of islam. Elementary school in indonisia says barrak hussein was a muslim.hung out with a known terrorist bill ayers. Bill ayers contributed money to his campaign. Saudi arabia paid for his tuition at columbia. Sat around watched 100000 people slain in syria. Took out allie bararak and rigged a muslim brotherhood egypt president anf gives him f16 fighter jets free. Took out ghadiffi lybia president while hillary laughs that they drug him in the streets and shoved stuff up his rectum. Lets terrorist kill ambassador who also was drug in the streets and had stuff shoved in his rectum. Started cold war with russia again. This obama is dangerous to the entire world. Weakest gay proud president it frankly scarey and embarrasing at the sametime. 2016 cant come soon enough

    May 31, 2014 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  6. waco liberal obama

    I trust this scary president even less now

    May 31, 2014 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  7. rock woman

    Here the Repubs go again, belly-aching about what the administration did - without offering the faintest suggestion or idea of a better way to secure the freedom of a captive soldier. A couple of juicy term used by Spiro Agnew ( Republican vice president) seems to fit today's Republicans very, very well: "nattering nabobs of negativism" and "hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history."

    May 31, 2014 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  8. Bryan Rickard

    Of course McCain would complain. And make sure it's complete by adding phrases like "these vicious and violent Taliban extremists" for emphasis. Obviously McCain you did nothing to help. He should keep his mouth shut. .

    May 31, 2014 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  9. drake mallard

    what happen to leave no man behind motto

    May 31, 2014 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  10. king

    Owe those good old patriotic repubs. They wint negotiate even if it means a hundred soldiers being killed. Lesson folks their is nothing in life that is constant, but change. long as the earth keep movIng around the sun things will evolved and ratuonel will prevail. I know these conservatives wants to conserve the way things are forever, but progressive sees the world as it is and tries to move and elevate with times.

    May 31, 2014 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  11. Alfredo Araujo

    I do not know how a politician in the name of their political coherence has the courage to say that was a bad business to trade Sargent Bow Bergdhal because...bla bla bla bla...Mainly coming from John McCain that was POW in vietnam war for 5 years. So he, John McCain himself probably disagree from him being release from his prison in Hanoi, North Vietnam. Negotiation that happened through USA and Vietcongs leaders. Vietcongs at that time were considered comunists and terrorist as well. What was worst than that at that time?

    May 31, 2014 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    Negotiate. Then drone. Easy.

    May 31, 2014 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  13. neverbefore5

    Negotiate...then drone. Easy.

    May 31, 2014 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  14. Alfredo Araujo

    Correction: "Senator John McCain" and not just John McCain. Which would have to give him a much more responsability to watch what he is saying in such sensitive situation.....This is not s

    May 31, 2014 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  15. A Republican supporter of President Obama

    I can say that our President made the correct call. I do not care what the Republicans say because they are trained to go against everything our president does.

    Anyone who disagrees should look back at the real reason why we went to was in the first place.

    June 1, 2014 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  16. A Republican supporter of President Obama

    I can say that our President made the correct call. I do not care what the Republicans say because they are trained to go against everything our president does.

    Anyone who disagrees should look back at the real reason why we went to war in the first place.

    June 1, 2014 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  17. troy

    Obama is the weakest president in American history. While we are all happy to see our fellow soldier home, you never sacrifice the future safety of soldiers and civilians. Currently top commanders are stopping all soldiers from going on leave while they structure a new safety policy. No soldiers will be allowed to travel alone and only in designated areas. Now all soldiers and American civilians are targets in every international city. Americans civilians are now worth money and American soldiers are worth more. I f you have plans to travel outside the USA, you should rethink your plans, hire a security, only travel at day time in well populated areas.

    June 1, 2014 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  18. BadDog91748

    The only thing of which we may be sure is that this regime is lying to us when they tell us what was given up to gain his release. It was also disgusting that came to the presser looking that unkempt. He is still a soldier and should look the part. He for sure was drawing the pay all the time he was gone.

    June 1, 2014 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  19. YoonYoungJo

    Still agree with the GOP's stance on this. Not negotiating with terrorists is a good position. With that said, you have to allow for negotiation for everything and everyone not a terrorist. Negotiating is a good thing but not for those who cannot see reason and not for those who really can't see past their own selfish wants and needs. In all other situations though negotiating is fundamental. I wish they would negotiate and compromise more in US Congress.

    June 1, 2014 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  20. DC Johnny

    Yet another example of Liberalism vs Conservatism in action.

    Liberals live in a world where they act on impulse, only looking at the very surface level of the topic and making decisions based on what polls well rather than actual policy that sets good precedent.

    Raising the minimum wage, while appearing to help the poor at first glance, will bankrupt thousands of small businesses and result in catastrophic job losses among the poorest Americans that would otherwise have been willing to work for less

    Restrictive gun laws, while appearing to limit the amount of violent crimes due to lack of gun availability, have been proven to increase the rate of serious violent crimes every single time they've been tried, by limiting the ability of law abiding citizens to defend themselves, their property, and other citizens.

    In this case, getting an American hero home safe at all costs sounds like the only plan to take, but the direct result will be 5 violent terrorists released into immediate action, most likely to cause catastrophic events that take many, many lives. And that's nothing compared to the precedent this sets, where terrorists will take as many hostages as possible to secure the release of various high-level targets in U.S. captivity.

    We don't live in a land of unicorns of rainbows. I just wish the bleeding hearts on the left understood that there are real consequences when you act with your heart and not your head.

    June 1, 2014 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  21. Ali

    Leave no man behind!

    June 1, 2014 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  22. Thomas

    Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon of California and Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma have there underpants in a not over the disregard to prisoner exchange law's .

    This sounds like we need another congressional oversight hearing , maybe return U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl back to the Taliban until Darrell Issa gets to the bottom of the legalities involved. Issa could maybe subpoena himself and give a puppet show on C-SPAN on the tax payers dime.

    June 1, 2014 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  23. Vence

    A republican president started this war based in lies and deception. Seems like republicans want to condemn soldiers for life spite of this. Republicans, the conflict is over, soldiers are not to blame for your lies!!

    June 1, 2014 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  24. Getoverit

    Unfortunately Obama thinks the terrorists are his political opposition. He has no knowledge of the real ones.

    June 1, 2014 02:58 am at 2:58 am |
  25. J.V.Hodgson

    Politics in full flow in standard fashion
    The Idaho governor Unqualified OK,. Rogers and McCain simply find a critique of what Obama has done. Now there we have hypocrisy and politics by Republicans starkly displayed... ( amongst many, many, others) and the worse still no concrete alternative to leaving him captured and maybe killed. ( also realistic alternate ways on many , many, other things as well.
    "Threatens the lives of American soldiers for years to come"... give me a break we lost blood and treasure in huge numbers warring in Afghanistan and Iraq, and separately fighting the war on terror elsewhere.
    Rogers and McCain just don't get If we get out completely of Iraq and Afgahanistan ( planned and they disagree with that of course) but it takes away from the Afghans and Iraqi's the right to Jihad..... they have to come up with another Raison d' etre!..... time to let the Sunnis, Shiites, wahabbi, or whatever exercise their religious views within their own nations and if that leads to ( choose your own semantic version) secular violence, civil war maybe in Syria.... so be it let them at it; if they feel its honorable and justified to them for whatever reason especially religious based its their right.
    Welcome home Bowe, and 5 Taliban back in Qatar a small price to pay.
    Until Rogers and McCain have a better solution they should ST<<<<up!
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    June 1, 2014 03:55 am at 3:55 am |
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