Hillary said to be skeptical of Bergdahl deal
Josh Rogin of the Daily Beast has an interesting story about how Hillary Clinton was skeptical of any deal with the Taliban what would exchange Gitmo prisoners for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
In fact, Rogin says that Clinton supported a deal with far more restrictions on the released Taliban than Obama eventually accepted.
There were two main differences between the Clinton-led negotiations that took place in 2011 and 2012 and the largely White House-led process in late 2013 and this year that ultimately achieved the prisoner swap. First of all, Clinton’s deal would have had stricter measures to ensure that the Taliban held up their end of the deal—and kept their released commanders from returning to the fight.
The U.S. was going to release three of the five Taliban commanders first, then wait 60 days to see how it went. After that, Bergdahl would be handed over and the other two Taliban would be released from Guantanamo Bay.
The Qatari regime under the Clinton deal would have been required to do a whole host of things to ensure that the released prisoners were adhering to the terms of their pseudo-house arrest, including surveillance, systematic monitoring, and travel bans that would last until there was peace.
Under the deal Obama struck last week, the assurances given by Qatar have remained secret other than a one-year travel ban the White House announced. Reports from Doha this week show that the released prisoners are free to roam about with little or no supervision.
Secondly, for Clinton, the prisoner swap only made sense if it was one piece of a series of events that led to a peace process between the Taliban and the Afghan government. In February 2011, Clinton delivered a major speech that set out her offer to the Taliban for a future inside the Afghan political system.
“Break ties with al Qaida, renounce violence, and abide by the Afghan constitution, and you can rejoin Afghan society,” she told the Taliban. “Refuse and you will continue to face the consequences of being tied to al Qaida as an enemy of the international community.”
Rogin is no water carrier for Clinton, so this rings true to some extent - especially when you consider that the defense and intelligence officials adamantly opposed the deal reached by the Obama administration:
Clinton was not the only top member of the Obama administration skeptical of the deal. Three U.S. intelligence officials told The Daily Beast on Monday that James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, flat out rejected the release of the five detainees, saying there was too high a risk these Taliban commanders would return to the battlefield and orchestrate attacks against Americans. Then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta declined to certify that the United States could mitigate the risk of releasing the Taliban commanders.
Other officials weren’t so sure and said the American negotiators knew the deal had to be iron clad because convincing Clinton to support it would be a challenge.
“She was felt that the Haqqani network were really bad guys,” Congressman Jim Moran told The Daily Beast. “She was reluctant to enter into negotiations with them.”
We're still waiting to hear what Qatar will do to ensure that these released terrorists simply don't up and leave the country, going back to Pakistan to plan more killings of Americans. Clinton's more stringent conditions still wouldn't have guaranteed that the terrorists would have been kept off the battlefield. But it sounds like it's a damn sight better than what the incompetents in the Obama administration negotiated.