UPDATE 5/31/14 7:45 EDT High-ranking military source: “We’re glad this troop is back. This is not unprecedented, to trade prisoners in war. It’s not clear what the results of this trade will be. We hope the terrorists don’t think this sets some new precedent.” Releasing the Taliban prisoners now is a different action than it would have been even last year.
Army Sgt Bowe Bergdahl, held captive by the Taliban since 2009, has been exchanged for five detainees from the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station. The deal was brokered by the Amir of Qatar. The five prisoners released were top Taliban commanders.
“It is our ethos that we never leave a fallen comrade. Today we have back in our ranks the only remaining captured soldier from our conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Welcome home SGT Bowe Bergdahl,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said.
The White House said in a statement,
Today we also remember the many troops held captive and whom remain missing or unaccounted for in America’s past wars. Sergeant Bergdahl’s recovery is a reminder of America’s unwavering commitment to leave no man or woman in uniform behind on the battlefield. And as we find relief in Bowe’s recovery, our thoughts and prayers are with those other Americans whose release we continue to pursue.
The White House explained they hope the deal will set an example for cooperation between the Taliban and the secular government.
This week the United States renewed its commitment to the Afghan people and made clear that we will continue to support them as they chart their own future. The United States also remains committed to supporting an Afghan-led reconciliation process as the surest way to achieve a stable, secure, sovereign, and unified Afghanistan. While we are mindful of the challenges, it is our hope Sergeant Bergdahl’s recovery could potentially open the door for broader discussions among Afghans about the future of their country by building confidence that it is possible for all sides to find common ground.
While it is possible that tensions will be lower with the release of Bergdahl, trading five terrorists for one American demonstrates the leverage taking a hostage gives America’s enemies.
In addition, many prisoners released from Gitmo return to the battlefield, or to terrorist activity.
As the Daily Beast reported, the prisoners released were top Taliban commanders.
A senior U.S. defense official confirmed Saturday that the prisoners to be released include Mullah Mohammad Fazl, Mullah Norullah Noori, Abdul Haq Wasiq, Khairullah Khairkhwa and Mohammed Nabi Omari.
Abdul Haq Wasiq. for instance, was apparently something of a double agent.