I’d say this is unbelievable, but that’s been my opening line in about a dozen stories the past two days and I should probably mix it up a bit. Let’s go with simply insane for this one.
You may recall that Barack Obama once released five top Taliban leaders in exchange for a deserter who got other soldiers killed. The Bowe Bergdahl situation captivated the country for a period of time. Because Obama was Obama, there was almost no condemnation from the media involved and it was left to us peasants in the right-wing media to opine on how ridiculously stupid the trade was.
We were assured these militants would not return to the battlefield. Well, maybe they were technically right because instead they showed up as the Taliban’s negotiation team in the ongoing talks over Afghanistan. Yes, this really happened.
“During our time in Guantánamo, the feeling was with us that we had been brought there unjustly and that we would be freed,” said one of the former detainees, Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa. “But it never occurred to me that one day there would be negotiations with them, and I would be sitting there with them on one side and us on the other.”
The five senior Taliban officials were held at Guantánamo for 13 years before catching a lucky break in 2014. They were exchanged for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the only known American service member to be held by the insurgents as a prisoner of war.
A lucky break? I’d hardly consider Obama’s terrible deal simply a stroke of luck. It was planned and executed by his administration, without the required legal notification of Congress, as part of the former President’s misguided attempt to empty out Guantanamo Bay of it’s prisoners. So desperate was he to keep a dumb campaign promise, he was willing to let many terrorists walk free, some of which are verified to have went right back to targeting American service members.
The deal for Bergdahl violated every normal tenant of American foreign policy and had it been any other President, that person would have been rightly ridiculed. It was Barack Obama though, so the media covered for him, praised him, and generally ignored the negative consequences of his actions.
But Obama had no scandals right?
As an aside, here’s how CNN’s White House reporter Jeremy Diamond described the article. Not as disturbing, but as “fascinating.”
This is fascinating. Five men held by the US at Guantanamo for 13 years are now part of the Taliban team negotiating with US officials in Qatar. They were released as part of a prisoner swap for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl: https://t.co/C5qqhBSfj1
— Jeremy Diamond (@JDiamond1) March 26, 2019
The New York Times article continues by essentially painting these killers as victims.
When they did address the group, they seemed less harsh or strident than some of the other Taliban negotiators, perhaps mellowed by years of hardship or wary that their freedom could be fragile. Over the past few years, they have stayed in Doha and have been reunited with their families, but remain under watch by the Qatari authorities at the request of the United States….
…In their introductions around the table as negotiations started last month, the five men held up their detention at Guantánamo as the most important part of their identity.
“In important moments like this, my own personal troubles don’t come to mind,” Mullah Khairkhwa said in the interview, after the negotiations had ended. “I am really not thinking about who is sitting across from me and what they had done to me.”“What is important is what we are talking about,” he said, “and what is in it for our interests, for our goal and for our country.”
Yeah, I’m sure these guys are really worried about the welfare of their country. It’s not like the Taliban has been an oppressive, violent force for decades there. The Times even puts forth one’s complaint about not receiving a spoon.
Listed in Mullah Khairkhwa’s record, along with making disruptive noises or refusing to eat or shower at times, is this: trying to kill himself and urging others to kill themselves. But in his tribunal hearing, Mr. Khairkhwa denied having done so.
“There was no spoon in my meal, so I asked the guard for a spoon,” Mullah Khairkhwa said, according to the transcript. “Other detainees also shouted that they did not have spoons, either. The sergeant said he was sorry and from orders of his boss he could not provide me with a spoon.”
“When I asked the reason,” Mullah Khairkhwa added, “he said that I was trying to kill myself and encourage others to do the same.”
There’s something conspicuously absent from this piece on the Taliban five though. Nowhere in the article is the name Barack Obama mentioned. It’s like he had no part in this. In fact, the Times seems to have no moral problem at all with five high level Taliban leaders, who no doubt directly led efforts to kill American troops, now sitting across from US Generals as equals. They only comment on the irony while assigning no blame to those who made such a ridiculous scene possible.
Imagine if Donald Trump had been the one to let these guys go. Would the Times be so mum about that detail? Would they be painting this as simply the normal contradictions of life? Or would they be berating him for making such a nonsensical deal that led to these five Taliban leaders being there in the first place? I’ll give you one guess.
With so much going on, it’s sometimes easy to become nostalgic about certain figures. We can forget some of the incredibly reckless actions that Barack Obama took, buried under a mountain of current news. This is a small reminder of just how much of a disaster his Presidency really was.
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