President Obama originally wanted to release the “Taliban Five” as part of a largely one-sided exchange to empty out Guantanamo Bay and only asked for Bergdahl in return after he met resistance from the intelligence community, according to a report cross-checked with other documents.
The president initially only asked the Taliban to open a “political office” in Qatar to “conduct peace negotiations” in exchange for the five prisoners, but had to modify the deal to include Bergdahl to appease intelligence officials, the Investor’s Business Daily stated in a report that’s plausible when cross-referenced with a 2009 executive order and a 2012 article reporting on Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai.
On Jan. 22, 2009, five months before Bergdahl found himself in Taliban captivity, President Obama signed Executive Order 13492 to launch the “review and disposition” of Gitmo prisoners, including the Taliban Five, as part of a process to ultimately close the facility.
“Bergdahl, who walked off his post and into the arms of the Taliban in June 2009, wasn’t even part of the negotiation back then,” the IBD stated. “The original deal was a one-sided release, naked any trade for a ‘POW’ or ‘hostage’ or soldier who allegedly had served ‘with honor and distinction.'”
A 2012 news article on the proposed prisoner release also alluded to a one-sided exchange when reporting on a statement from then-President Karzai asking for the release of the Gitmo prisoners.
“Karzai made the statement to journalists gathered at a press conference in Tokyo on Sunday, responding to a question as to whether he felt the US should release the prisoners to Qatar – an earlier plan,” TOLOnews.com reported.
Interestingly, the article makes no mention of Bergdahl.
“Truth is, Obama used Bergdahl as a pretext for doing what he always sought to do — empty out Gitmo, national security be damned,” the IBD added. “The freed Taliban leaders were among the nearly 40 prisoners at Gitmo classified as ‘indefinite detainees’ — too dangerous to release.”
“To shutter the Cuban prison, Obama first had to whittle down that list, starting with the Taliban Five.”
The Obama administration only seemed truly motivated to save Bergdahl from captivity last year after the White House accidentally revealed the head of CIA operations in Afghanistan, five years after Bergdahl’s disappearance.
That, of course, poses the question whether Bergdahl was actually an embedded intelligence asset who was endangered by the White House screw-up, which would explain why a modified prisoner swap that included Bergdahl would meet less resistance from intelligence officials.