Maybe I’m getting cynical in my middle age, but this response to the release of the only known P.O.W. in Afghanistan does not surprise me at all.
Amid jubilation Saturday over the release of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from captivity by the Taliban, senior Republicans on Capitol Hill said they were troubled by the means by which it was accomplished, which was a deal to release five Afghan detainees from the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Top Republicans on the Senate and House armed services committees went so far as to accuse President Obama of having broken the law, which requires the administration to notify Congress before any transfers from Guantanamo are carried out.
“Trading five senior Taliban leaders from detention in Guantanamo Bay for Bergdahl’s release may have consequences for the rest of our forces and all Americans. Our terrorist adversaries now have a strong incentive to capture Americans. That incentive will put our forces in Afghanistan and around the world at even greater risk,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. McKeon (R-Calif.) and the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, James M. Inhofe (Okla.), said in a joint statement.
Not to be outdone, John Bolton, the man who never saw a war he didn’t like, said the exchange was “despicable.” And he should know all about being despicable.
It takes an enormous amount of gall for the Republicans to complain about anyone breaking the law in terms of executing war, and for those of us who remember when members of an administration run by their sainted Ronald Reagan engaged in illegal activities and traded arms with a sworn enemy to secure the release of hostages, it is especially ripe.
I sincerely hope that the Republicans try to run on this as a campaign issue in the fall. I would like Mr. McKeon, Mr. Inhofe, and Mr. Bolton to tell the family of Sgt. Bergdahl and the people of Haley, Idaho, where they’ve been tirelessly working to get him released, that it was wrong for him to be released and that he should still be rotting away in some basement in Afghanistan. I’d like them to stand up in the middle of the city and proclaim their point of view… and then watch as the townspeople collect the tar and feathers.