So wait… you mean we could have just given money instead of terrorists? I mean if we’re going to negotiate with terrorists can’t we at least of gotten this better deal?
Check it out:
Via Guy Benson, who points out that this tends to … complicate Jay Carney’s theory that Bergdahl was a “prisoner,” not a “hostage.”
A military intelligence source also confirmed to Fox News that a second option — involving the payment of a cash ransom for Bergdahl’s freedom — was pursued as late as December 2013.
The source said the goal was to reach out to Pakistan leadership with direct ties to the Taliban, and float the possibility of trading cash, instead of prisoners, for Bergdahl. That option, though, was put “on hold” in December when it was made clear the administration intended to pursue a prisoner swap.
Intelligence officials confirmed to Fox News that the Bergdahl prisoner swap was then on an accelerated track, and no formal assessment of the entire intelligence community was conducted. This made the opportunity to push back against the transfer extremely limited.
How come they didn’t ransom him? One reason, obviously, is Guy’s point. If you’re paying cash for an American’s safe return, it suddenly becomes harder to argue that the people you’re paying are a legitimate army rather than a bunch of terrorists — and of course the U.S. doesn’t negotiate with terrorists. It’s salesmanship, in other words. Obama’s invested in presenting the Taliban to the public as an outfit worthy of sitting across from us at the bargaining table as we negotiate an exit from Afghanistan. A straight prisoner swap preserves that fiction. Paying the danegeld wouldn’t. And really, Obama would have caught almost as much hell for ransoming Bergdahl as he’s getting this week for trading for him. Most of the objectionable elements are common to both scenarios: Bergdahl still would have been accused of desertion, Obama still would have been hammered for incentivizing kidnapping, and he and the White House still would have been branded appeasers in handing something of value to terrorists. The prisoner swap at least lets him hide behind tradition — “the U.S. has always done POW exchanges!” — even if the particulars of it stink on ice.