Taliban Prisoner Swap Lacks Transparency

Wednesday, 26 Feb 2014 09:30 AM

By Allen West

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As we draw down our forces in Afghanistan, there is one American soldier not accounted for: Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.
 
Sgt. Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, went missing on June 30, 2009, in eastern Paktika province of Afghanistan. We certainly want our soldier back home.
 
The circumstances surrounding Sgt. Bergdahl are a mystery and if there is a cover-up, the question is simply, why?
 
Apparently, Sgt. Bergdahl was not taken prisoner or captured as a result of a combat engagement. Several reports point to a disenchanted soldier who simply walked off of his combat outpost, leaving his weapon and gear. Unlike a major combat installation like Kandahar or Bagram, or even a Forward Operating Base, Bergdahl was assigned to a smaller combat outpost that facilitated his departure.
 
Even an Associated Press story dated June 8, 2012, points out some questions about Sgt. Bergdahl’s disappearance.
 
“Emails an American soldier reportedly sent to his parents before he was captured by the Taliban three years ago suggest he was disillusioned and considering deserting. Bowe Bergdahl told his parents he was "ashamed to even be American" and was disgusted with the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and with the Army, according to emails quoted in Rolling Stone magazine.”
 
The military has never detailed circumstances of Sgt. Bergdahl’s disappearance or capture, and he is not classified as a deserter. He was initially listed as "duty status unknown" and is now considered "missing-captured." He is the only U.S. prisoner of war from the Afghanistan conflict, and U.S. officials say they are actively trying to free him.
 
After an initial manhunt in which several U.S. soldiers were wounded, there have never been any follow-up operations to secure Sgt. Bergdahl. In addition, there are rumors and stories that soldiers knowledgeable of this incident were forced to sign non-disclosure statements — something hinted at for Benghazi survivors as well.
 
In the U.S. military we operate with a simple maxim in combat, “leave no one behind.” That maxim inspired the heroic actions of Army Delta Snipers MSG Gary Gordon and SFC Randy Shugart to secure downed Army “Nightstalker” pilot CW3 Michael Durant. They gave their lives to secure the life of one of their own. It was the reason why as soon as notified, a recovery operation was immediately launched for “Lone Survivor” U.S. Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell.
 
When I was a combat commander in Iraq in 2003, part of our pre-mission briefings stressed personnel accountability and TTPs (tactics, techniques, and procedures) to ensure everyone had a battle buddy and patrols always had backup and a QRF (quick reaction force) standing by. We knew that in the fight against Islamic jihadists, there was no quarter for our captured troops.
 
During my combat assignment in Iraq, two U.S. soldiers from a sister artillery unit out of Ft. Sill were taken from a checkpoint just north of our area of operations. Our battalion was part of the massive manhunt. We found the soldiers’ stripped down Hummer with shell casings in the carriage. Their naked bodies were found covered lightly in straw and dirt. They had been executed, shot in the head.
 
I ordered my Command Sergeant Major Henry Burns to put the Hummer in front of our Battalion CP for 48 hours as a reminder of whom we were fighting against. And why you never allowed the enemy close to your operation.
 
We did later track down the perpetrators who were wearing their uniforms, and killed them.
 
This enemy has a long history of barbaric treatment of those captured in combat. Shugart and Gordon received such a fate. There was the despicable treatment of several U.S. security contractors whose dismembered and charred bodies were hung from a bridge in Fallujah.
 
I also remember the summer 2006 disembowelment of two captured U.S. soldiers of the 101st Airborne. Five U.S. soldiers were kidnapped, ritually dismembered and beheaded by Ali Musa Daqduq in southern Iraq — Dadduq, a Lebanese terrorist recently released by the Obama administration.
 
And that is why the disappearance of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is a mystery. Given such a history of barbaric treatment, why would this enemy have kept Sgt. Bergdahl alive for almost five years?
 
Could it be the Obama administration is not telling the American people the entire truth (not that such a thing has ever happened before)?
 
Talks are resuming for his release, but it has been reported the Pentagon is trying to arrange a prisoner swap of Sgt. Bergdahl for five Taliban. There is even a possibility that a Haqqani terrorist prisoner may be released.
 
As a former soldier, I want Sgt. Bergdahl returned. As an American statesman, I want the truth about the Sgt. Bergdahl disappearance to be known before the American people learn, ex post facto, about a Taliban release.
 
If Sgt. Bergdahl is a deserter, the military justice system will deal with the situation — but for the sake of national security we deserve to know the truth. The Obama administration is, after all, the “most transparent administration.” Supposedly.
 
As a former member of the House Armed Services Committee, I call upon Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon to call for an open hearing on the Sgt. Bergdahl incident before any prisoner exchange by the Obama administration is conducted. I think every American can agree.
 
Allen West was born and raised in Atlanta, Ga., in the same neighborhood where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once preached. He is the third of four generations of military servicemen in his family. West served as a U.S. representative for Florida’s 22nd District. He is a Fox News contributor and a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research. He also regularly writes for numerous media outlets. For more of Allen West's reports, Go Here Now.
 
 
 
 

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