How the Taliban Prisoner Swap Came Together

Monday, June 02, 2014

President Barack Obama makes a statement about the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl as his parents, Jani Bergdahl (L) and Bob Bergdahl (R) listen May 31, 2014 in the Rose Garden at the White House. (J.H. Owen-Pool/Getty)

A deal with the Taliban for the release of a US prisoner is drawing both praise and criticism. Adam Entous of the Wall Street Journal discusses the how the deal was brokered for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl to come back to the United States in exchange for the release of five Afghan Guantanamo detainees.


Adam Entous

Comments [26]

Josh Levine

Great job to the reporter!

I hope to hear more of his analysis and insight in future segments.

Jun. 03 2014 01:21 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

I hope Bergdahl is locked up in Gitmo.

Jun. 03 2014 11:24 AM

The Impeachable Coward leaves the White House in 962 days 20 hours and 55 minutes. Maybe a tiny sliver of our international stature will survive intact.

Jun. 02 2014 03:04 PM

God bless this POW and God bless even the war criminal Obama for getting him released. Once again the reality on the ground trumps the US congress and it's labels and the right wing media. Whether "terrorist" or "soldier" in a war you negotiate to exchange prisoners[we negotiate with murdering thuggish street gangs too]. Been happening since the beginning of time. And the Taliban were the government of Afghanistan. All these right wing hypocrites who love to glorify the military and call all soldiers "heroes" and say we can't do too much for these soldiers, yet when it comes to this POW they want to abandon him,sound like the very enemy who they claim don't value the lives of their own. Suddenly a soldier is expendable but when the enemy reasons this way we decry their lack of value for human life. The right has abandoned their own American values in saying we should not negotiate to release one of our own. The Taliban show more integrity in this regard for wanting to get their own back then the US congress and other right wingers. Kudos to Obama and all those in the military who did not listen to the morally bankrupt right wing and the US congress hypocrites. If you really do value your soldiers then you exchange as many prisoners as it takes to get one of your own back. The reality of war where negotiations and prisoner exchanges happen trump the labels of the US congress and the war mongering right wing media. The US congress and the right wing media can't control the world and its people in spite of their labels and their narrative. The label "terrorist" is designed to dehumanize people. This exchange trumps that. A little humanity broke through. Thank God.

Jun. 02 2014 01:37 PM

I would hope that with our technology we have the ability to implant a tracking device into these persons prior to their release. Thus we can watch and locate 5 terrorists to see where they go and what they are doing.

Jun. 02 2014 12:01 PM

Jun. 02 2014 11:33 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

There is a lot of evidence that he did in fact desert his unit ... what comes of that is hard to tell. He's suffered quite a bit in captivity and given how politicized the deal has become I doubt anything will come of it. POTUS is still Commander and Chief as far as I know and he's obviously already signed off on it. BTW - The Taliban is not Al Qaeda, they are not an international terrorist organization. That is not just a "distinction without a difference" though you wouldn't know it reading these comments. Back in the Reagan Years these guys would have been called "Mujaheddin" and were heroes in the fight against soviet imperialism...

Jun. 02 2014 11:26 AM

hahahaha, talk about making up things, "legal warfare". Sorry, but there's just no such thing.

Jun. 02 2014 11:22 AM

The BBC this morning had a Captain say that Bergdahl's wandering off may have been due to his having epilepsy. If the President hadn't gotten him back the right wing would carp about callously leaving personnel behind.

Jun. 02 2014 11:18 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Brian, if you treat terrorists the same as regular soldiers, you encourage terrorism and breakdown the conventions of legal warfare. So it is a conundrum because we too often use special forces that operate dressed as civilians as well. We don't want them summarily executed either.

Jun. 02 2014 11:16 AM
Brian from Manhattan

A little disappointed with Brian Lehrer today. He keeps associating The Taliban with Al Qaida. The Taliban were the army of Afghanistan prior to the US invasion. They're not illegal combatants or terrorists, they're a rebel group. They were not the people that attacked the World Trade Center. Those were Saudi members of Al Qaida.

There's also a false dichotomy being presented here. The Taliban may take more prisoners than before. But that might not be a bad thing. The alternative here is that they kill our soldiers rather than take them prisoner. They're not going to stop their future military operations anytime soon. So the option of prisoner exchange in times of war is important.

Jun. 02 2014 11:15 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Brian, if you treat terrorists the same as regular soldiers, you encourage terrorism and breakdown the conventions of legal warfare. So it is a conundrum because we too often use special forces that operate dressed as civilians as well. We don't want them summarily executed either.

Jun. 02 2014 11:15 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Well, the whole issue of "not negotiating with terrorists" is because under the laws of war, according to the Geneva Conventions, combatants are supposed to have uniforms and insignia and to negotiate with terrorists who do not adhere to the conventions of war is to undermine those very laws of war and to encourage illegal combatants. It used to be if were caught out of uniform you were a spy who could be summarily tried and executed on the spot. However, when dealing with Islamic terrorists who crave "martyrdom" ini their religious creed, the fear of summary execution is a ticket to paradise for themselves and members of their clan. Fear of death does not deter them.

Jun. 02 2014 11:12 AM

john, BL never ever called them "victims". You start fair enough, but it's things like that where you shoot any credibility you had in the foot.

Jun. 02 2014 11:11 AM
Jesiah from Upstate Ny

Let's be honest. We have captured hundreds of individuals we have deemed "terrorists" without any due process or supporting evidence. If we don't start negotiating, there will be a lot of collateral terrorists activity as a result. The situation with the Taliban is not as black and white as it seems.

Jun. 02 2014 11:10 AM
Ed from Larchmont

The terrorists remind me of of the SS and the Japanese: they are so dangerous, there is no change of changing their minds or their actions.

Jun. 02 2014 11:10 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Reminds me of the prisoner swaps where Israel has had to swap dozens and in some cases hundreds of captured terrorists in exchange for one or two prisoners. And in Israel they have to face terrorism against civilians on a daily basis, and not just attacks on their soldiers in uniform.

Jun. 02 2014 11:06 AM
john from office

Seth, I listen everyday. There were endless shows about these prisoners. It was always about how awful we were and how terrible their conditions are.

Jun. 02 2014 11:06 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Glad he's home, but these five men are extremely dangerous.

Jun. 02 2014 11:06 AM

May have been a deserter?

" . . . They are convinced that on June 30, 2009, just a few months after he arrived in Afghanistan, Bergdahl willingly walked away from his unit, which was deployed in Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan, adjacent to the border with Pakistan. While they do want Bergdahl home, they think he should have to answer allegations that he deserted his unit. . . . "

The sense of pride expressed by officials of the Obama administration at the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is not shared by many of those who served with him -- veterans and soldiers who call him a deserter whose "selfish act" ended up costing the lives of better men.

"I was pissed off then and I am even more so now with everything going on," said former Sgt. Matt Vierkant, a member of Bergdahl's platoon when he went missing on June 30, 2009. "Bowe Bergdahl deserted during a time of war and his fellow Americans lost their lives searching for him."

Was he a deserter who cost the lives o the men who were sent to search for him?

Jun. 02 2014 11:04 AM

Based on how Bergdahl got into this fix, he probably needed psych' help at the time, and now I'm sure he really needs it. Let's get him home and him on the VA waiting list. At some point, we will empty Gitmo, so at least this way we got something for it.

Jun. 02 2014 11:02 AM
Caesar Romaine from Manhattan

We know about 2% of the truth surrounding this issue. The Wall Street Journal, NY Times, Washington Post, Face the Nation et al only know what they have been carefully told by the military and administration. Like pretty much anything that makes "the news", there's more to the story than is being reported.

Jun. 02 2014 11:02 AM

"Brian has done endless shows about how harmless the "victims" being held in Gitmo are"

Seriously? Come on, john. I'm a daily listener and don't take that many days off. You hurt you're own credibility by making up "cab driver" lies.

Jun. 02 2014 10:59 AM

This deal was a disaster. Bowe may have been a deserter, but of course, this will now get swept under the rug.

Jun. 02 2014 10:55 AM
john from office

Would Brian be so glib about this exchange if it were his son held?? Oh I forgot his "class" does not serve.

Jun. 02 2014 10:53 AM
john from office

Brian has done endless shows about how harmless the "victims" being held in Gitmo are and how awful we are to hold them. They are all cab drivers seized to get Ameican bounties.

Now we learn that 5 major Talban figures are or were held there. Several ACLU lawyers lost some clients over this.

I suspect these 5 individuals will mysteriously die or vanish.

Jun. 02 2014 10:44 AM

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