Leaving aside the fact that acceding to the terrorists’ ransom demands placed at risk all Americans and especially our soldiers from every two-bit terrorist wannabe looking to make a buck—and from every serious terrorists, there are other concerns.
But wait. Terrorists already are kidnapping “young school girls, business people and other innocent people.” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said as much in defending this ransom payment. Unfortunately, he carefully elided the fact that, with empirical evidence that the thing works with our government, that risk has gone up sharply. The United States does not negotiate with terrorists? This administration just did.
But back to my main point. The law of the land—the just passed (!) 2014 National Defense Authorization Act requires the administration to give a 30-day notification to Congress before releasing detainees—five of whom, in the present case, constituted the ransom—from Guantanamo. Here is where the dishonesty so ingrained in this administration’s senior personnel that they don’t even recognize what they’re doing becomes obvious.
Hagel justified the lack of notice by claiming there wasn’t time. He deliberately omitted to give that required notification because
We believed that the information we had, the intelligence we had, was such that Sgt Bergdahl’s safety and health were in jeopardy. In particular his health was deteriorating. It was our judgment that if we could find an opening and move very quickly, we needed to get him out of there, essentially to save his life.
He also said, though, in that same discussion with a distracted press,
This didn’t just start; this has been an ongoing effort. The timing was right, the pieces came together. Our consistent efforts that we have been making over the years paid off.
By his own words, this administration had the time to obey the law. The law, though, was inconvenient.