US-Taliban Exchange was no “Gilad Shalit,” It Wasn’t even a Prisoner Exchange

Now that the outrage over the prisoner exchange of one U.S. POW  for  five Taliban is dying down a bit, maybe we can relax and see the truth for what it is: It was NOT a prisoner exchange. It was a rubric, the only alternative to simply releasing them with new clothes and airline tickets or staging a fake breakout a la Mission Impossible. But why?

The U.S. gets Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who apparently deserted his Afghanistan post after sending out emails ripping the US and the Afghanistan war effort. Now add that his dad, all spiffy in his Taliban-like beard, has apparently sent out tweets calling for all Guantanamo prisoners to be released.

Most Americans judging by local polls appear to be furious. His fellow soldiers, who claim attempts to locate him before capture cost them six men, are too. Count me in. I served my country first as a paratrooper and later when to Afghanistan as a photo-journalist and was permanently injured. I knew that if captured I’d be executed, and find it curious that Bergdahl wasn’t.

But others in both Israel and the U.S. are arguing that the disproportionality has precedent in the 2011 exchange of Gilad Shalit for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, including some convicted of multiple murders and carrying out terror attacks against Israeli civilians.

Uh-uh. Really bad comparison.

What the Taliban received is what Arizona Republican Senator and former POW John McCain has called, “The hardest of the hard core,” the “highest high-risk people.” Their rap sheets read like a Who’s Who of Evil, Pol Pot devotees, and all are important strategists and leaders.

Arizona Republican Senator and former POW John McCain calls them, “The hardest of the hard core,” the “highest high-risk people.”
Arizona Republican Senator and former POW John McCain calls them, “The hardest of the hard core,” the “highest high-risk people.”

One is wanted by the U.N. for war crimes in the killing of thousands of civilians, to which he has cheerfully admitted. So the Administration has also thumbed its nose at the U.N. as well as all the other allies, including apparently Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who said he’s “furious” that the deal was made behind his back.

It’s presumable they’ll resume operations while still serving an agreed-upon one year in Qatar, and it’s a given they’ll go back to slaughtering civilians and fighting the allies in Afghanistan.

The Obama administration is lying through its teeth on every level: about Bergdahl’s health not permitting the legally-required 30-day notification of Congress; by making a big fuss over the (alleged) one-year ban on the bad guys not going back to the battlefield as if that would impede their operations; by claiming they didn’t negotiate with terrorists (no, they used intermediaries that did so) and so on.

They even claim Bergdahl can’t give interviews because he forgot how to speak English in a mere five years – while making (presumably under duress) English-language propaganda videos for the Taliban! Give us just a bit more credit than that, please!

And if it’s always been U.S. “policy” to obtain release all American prisoners no matter what the cost, as the administration claims, why didn’t the U.S. offer 50,000 North Vietnamese prisoners in exchange for McCain and the other captives in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton prison?”


The Administration must have foreseen this backlash, but it gambled the release was worth making.

The ONLY possible explanation seems that Obama appears to think it can lead to some sort of a negotiated settlement. Indeed, practically lost in all the noise, though it appeared on a highly-watched national TV program, was U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s assertion that “Maybe this will be a new opening that can produce an agreement.” If that isn’t a smoking gun, what is?

Granted, it seems like a truly desperate effort but consider this: The Afghan Foreign Ministry, rather than raise hue and cry, criticized the agreement’s “tough” restrictions that keep the freed Taliban prisoners from leaving Qatar for a year. “The Afghan government wants unconditional freedom of its citizens and demands from U.S. and Qatari governments to treat them like free individuals,” the ministry said in an e-mailed statement.

The inevitable conclusion is that the Taliban now control the Foreign Ministry and presumably other parts of the government and the Obama Administration believes the only way to salvage anything out of the war is to try to influence those Taliban. To try to gain some influence in the new order. But was releasing these five monsters the way to go about it?

The way such strategies are supposed to work is you eliminate the very worst, in the hopes – if only that – that more moderate bad guys will take over. But it’s hard to imagine anybody worse than these Five Horsemen of the Apocalpyse, whom in any case had been removed from circulation. They are all psychopaths, Elliot Rodgers without the BMW but with a lot more firepower and influence. Psychopaths don’t stick to agreements.

The Obama Administration seems to think it’s acting crazy like a fox, but more likely it’s just plain crazy. Or stupid, or whatever.

I’m not privy to inside U.S. intelligence information. So maybe despite past support for al Qaeda and other international terrorists, these monsters have since decided – really decided, as opposed to telling interrogators what they want to hear – it’s in their best interest to keep AQ and the like out of Afghanistan and to behave better than before.

More likely Obama and his aides have just been fooled, as President Franklin Delano Roosevel was by his dear “Uncle Joe” Stalin – despite British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s desperate efforts to make him judge Stalin by his record, not his promises.

Alas, more likely the U.S has taken five of the biggest, baddest wolves in post 9-11 history and released them back into the fold, thereby perhaps converting a possible defeat for the Afghan people and the world into a sure thing.

About the Author
Michael Fumento is an attorney, author, and photo-journalist and US Army Airborne veteran who saw combat as a photo-journalist in Iraq and embedded in Afghanistan as well. He thus has no stomach for sissies. He is author of five published books and over 800 articles for major publications worldwide, and for many years was on staff at several US think tanks. He currently resides in Colorado, USA.