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June 16, 2014

In Our Opinion: Trading for Bergdahl was correct move

Now that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is back on American soil after five years of captivity with the Taliban in Afghanistan, it is absolutely correct to ask whether President Barack Obama did the right thing by trading five terrorists to get him back.

And the absolutely correct answer is … of course it was the right thing to do.

Even as the same politicians who were calling for Obama to do whatever he had to do to obtain Bergdahl’s release have scurried for cover or reversed themselves completely amid criticism of the trade, the responsibility was the president’s.

While the clamor over whether Obama should have consulted more with Congress before the swap is certainly justified, that is a relative footnote to the sacred pledge we give to our fighting men and women that no American will be left behind.

There is so much we do not know about the actions that led to Bergdahl’s captivity, but that has not stopped pundits and political opportunists from jumping to conclusions and assuming things that are not in evidence.

Right now, all we really know for sure is that Bowe Bergdahl volunteered to serve his country, was sent to Afghanistan and put himself into a situation that led to his capture.

Now that he is back in the United States, there is plenty of time to determine whether Bergdahl is a deserter or a malcontent or a traitor. If he has not done his duty, if — and it is still a big “if” — his actions led to the deaths of other service people, then he should face appropriate punishment.

That is something that could not happen if he were still in some Taliban prison.

As for the five Taliban bad guys, Qatar says it will keep tabs on them. Still, Obama administration officials told Congress that four of the five are likely to rejoin the Taliban after leaving Qatar in a year. That would be past the time when almost all American troops are expected to be out of Afghanistan.

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