Editorial

6/3/2014

Prisoner exchange draws ire

Ask the parents of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl if President Barack Obama did the right thing in releasing five Taliban from the Guantanamo prison in exchange for their son, and they will tell you, most assuredly and without a moment's hesitation, he did.

That's perfectly understandable. Any of us would feel the same way if it were our son, our daughter or our spouse who was in the hands of an unstable enemy thousands of miles away.

Their safe return would be all that mattered to us.

But the exchange - the life of an American soldier for the lives of five terrorism detainees - has triggered yet another avalanche of criticism upon the administration of President Obama from Republicans and from others who fear the consequences of making deals with the devil - in this case, the Taliban. Nothing good can come of it, they warn.

Included among the critics is Sen. Saxby Chambliss. As vice chairman of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, it would be fair to say that the Georgia Republican knows a thing or two about proper procedure. And this exchange, the senator laments, violates every line and syllable of it.

First of all, Sen. Chambliss points out, the United States does not deal with terrorists. To do so only endangers the lives of other Americans. Got a beef with the U.S.?

Just snatch a soldier off the battlefield or an American traveling abroad, and dial "O" for you know who. The president seems to be in the market for making deals, or so it might appear to anyone desperate out there, and there are a lot of desperate individuals and terrorist groups stalking this nation in the 21st century.

Secondly, as Sen. Chambliss points out, the law requires the notification and consent of Congress. The Obama administration seems to have bypassed that step and signed off on the trade without either. In their defense, they said there was little time for chatter on the issue because of a pressing situation.

Thirdly, there's a marked difference between trading the life of a soldier for the lives of terrorists, Sen. Chambliss reminds the administration. Terrorists are not soldiers, not by any stretch of the imagination except their own.

We join the parents of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in celebrating his safe return to a nation that is grateful for his service.

At the same time, we pray that President Obama hasn't, indirectly and certainly unintentionally, opened Pandora's Box and put the lives of other Americans in jeopardy.