NEW YORK DAILY NEWS EDITORIAL:
President Obama betrayed the highest obligation of his office — safeguarding national security — in trading five hard-core Taliban for the American serviceman who appears to have deserted in Afghanistan.
The five sworn enemies of the United States are now in the Gulf state of Qatar, where they are free to come and go as they like, beyond the watch of American agents. In just one year, they will be free to return to Afghanistan to fight there and stage terror attacks far beyond that country’s borders.
These facts were known to Obama when he made the deal, and yet he went ahead in irresponsible disregard for lives he has endangered. As the facts have emerged — and more surely will — it has become ever clearer that he lost his presidential compass in the Taliban swap.
In retrospect, his Rose Garden announcement that he was bringing home an American POW appears to have been a cynical act of theater.
Basking in the good feelings generated by the release after five years in apparent captivity of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, Obama characterized the Taliban release as a safe and considered transfer.
“The Qatari government has given us assurances that it will put in place measures to protect our national security,” Obama assured, while aides insisted that the U.S. would be able to monitor the five confirmed jihadists and dedicated killers.
Subsequently, the President elaborated: “I wouldn’t be doing it if I thought it would be contrary to American national security.”
But a Gulf official flatly contradicted the idea the U.S. could monitor the killers, telling Reuters that the Taliban leaders “can move around freely within the country” for the next year, and then “can go back to Afghanistan if they want to.”
Far from keeping the five under guard, a Qatari minister deemed them a “humanitarian case,” and his government flew in family to greet them.
Eventually, the facts forced Obama to gesture at the truth he had sought to evade. “Is there the possibility of some of them trying to return to activities that are detrimental to us?” he asked. Answering himself, he said, “Absolutely. There’s a certain recidivism rate that takes place.”