Report: U.S. considered paying a ransom for Bergdahl last year

posted at 12:41 pm on June 4, 2014 by Allahpundit

Via Guy Benson, who points out that this tends to … complicate Jay Carney’s theory that Bergdahl was a “prisoner,” not a “hostage.”

A military intelligence source also confirmed to Fox News that a second option — involving the payment of a cash ransom for Bergdahl’s freedom — was pursued as late as December 2013.

The source said the goal was to reach out to Pakistan leadership with direct ties to the Taliban, and float the possibility of trading cash, instead of prisoners, for Bergdahl. That option, though, was put “on hold” in December when it was made clear the administration intended to pursue a prisoner swap.

Intelligence officials confirmed to Fox News that the Bergdahl prisoner swap was then on an accelerated track, and no formal assessment of the entire intelligence community was conducted. This made the opportunity to push back against the transfer extremely limited.

How come they didn’t ransom him? One reason, obviously, is Guy’s point. If you’re paying cash for an American’s safe return, it suddenly becomes harder to argue that the people you’re paying are a legitimate army rather than a bunch of terrorists — and of course the U.S. doesn’t negotiate with terrorists. It’s salesmanship, in other words. Obama’s invested in presenting the Taliban to the public as an outfit worthy of sitting across from us at the bargaining table as we negotiate an exit from Afghanistan. A straight prisoner swap preserves that fiction. Paying the danegeld wouldn’t. And really, Obama would have caught almost as much hell for ransoming Bergdahl as he’s getting this week for trading for him. Most of the objectionable elements are common to both scenarios: Bergdahl still would have been accused of desertion, Obama still would have been hammered for incentivizing kidnapping, and he and the White House still would have been branded appeasers in handing something of value to terrorists. The prisoner swap at least lets him hide behind tradition — “the U.S. has always done POW exchanges!” — even if the particulars of it stink on ice.

But there’s another reason, I suspect, they dropped the ransom idea. If I’m right that Obama’s key motive in all of this is getting the ball rolling on closing Gitmo, not getting Bergdahl back, paying a ransom for him makes no sense. That would have forced the White House into two separate transactions, each of which would be judged independently — paying cash for Bergdahl on the one hand and, on the other, releasing the Taliban Five in exchange for nothing whatsoever. Imagine the uproar if O had simply cut them loose, sending them to Qatar en route to the battlefield back in Afghanistan, and offered no defense better than “Hey, it’s time to Guantanamo.” He would have been destroyed over it. The obvious solution was to combine Bergdahl’s release with freeing the Five so that he could frame this as proof that he’s willing to do anything, even make painful concessions, to bring home an American soldier in harm’s way. Bergdahl is just political cover for the White House’s larger, unpalatable goal. Sean Davis makes the same point:

Now, wars are messy things. And P.O.W. exchanges can be even messier. But because the president cared so much about leaving no man behind, he was willing to let some other bad men go in order to return a brave soldier to his family. Yes, those five Taliban terrorists probably deserve to spend their remaining days rotting in a cell, but when given a menu of only terrible options, real leaders make the tough, thankless decisions necessary to preserve the sacred honor of the U.S. armed forces.

That’s how it was supposed to go…

If I had to guess, I’d say that getting Bowe Bergdahl home was not the real priority of the Obama administration. I’d say the real priority was paving the way to the final emptying and closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention center. And what better way to do that than by freeing its most dangerous inhabitants? After all, if it’s not being used to house the worst of the worst — and make no mistake, that’s how multiple governments characterized the Taliban Five — then what’s the point of its continued existence?

Precisely. The “euphoria” Obama expected after Bergdahl’s release was supposed to be the perfume masking the stench from sending five lethal degenerates back into the jihadi ranks as a prelude to closing Gitmo entirely. Remember, he said in his State of the Union address in January that this was the year he wanted the prison shut down; that was one month after the ransom idea for Bergdahl had been dropped. Having resolved to exploit his lame-duck status to the fullest in 2014 and proceed with shuttering Gitmo, he recognized that Bergdahl would be better used as a consolation prize in handing over Taliban leaders than as part of some dubious ransom deal.


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Smart Power

Ca97 on June 4, 2014 at 12:44 PM

Would this have been a variant of ‘cash for clunkers’?

ajacksonian on June 4, 2014 at 12:44 PM

No, no, no…Dear Leader wanted to release some high level terrorists…

d1carter on June 4, 2014 at 12:46 PM

They probably paid ransom for Bergdahl this time too, but threw in five murdererous terrorists to boot.

Not exactly brilliant negotiation skills there.

And they accuse critics telling the truth of “Swift Boating.”

Evi L. Bloggerlady on June 4, 2014 at 12:47 PM

And, Harry Reid is the only one they called………?

d1carter on June 4, 2014 at 12:47 PM

Dannegeld

Socratease on June 4, 2014 at 12:48 PM

I heard on one of the news reports that two of these guys were wanted by the U.N., why wasn’t that an option. Not that it would have been much different than Qatar but at least it makes a bit more sense.

Cindy Munford on June 4, 2014 at 12:49 PM

Dear Leader wanted to give them more Gitmo detainees but the Taliban negotiated the deal down to just these five….

d1carter on June 4, 2014 at 12:50 PM

So much for this deal being one that was one of ‘opportunity’ and needed quick, independent action before it passed.

This Administration has been trying since 2011 to make a deal – and dispose of the captured war criminal / terrorists to facilitate the closing of Gitmo.

The only thing that has changed has been the calculation of Obama and his inner circle. They know, in Nov 2014, that they will not regain control of Congress – and that affecting change / their agenda via legislation will be impossible. They also know that the President will never again return to above 50% in terms of popularity / favorability in the polls. Finally, they know that the only way that the President can proceed on his agenda and define his legacy, is to push forward on ‘fundamental change’ via abuses of executive power and say ‘to hell with the consequences’.

We’ve entered Obama’s ‘scorched earth’ phase of leadership. Any lie is justified. Any action is justified. Any abuse of power is justified – because the ENDS JUSTIFIES THE MEANS.

Athos on June 4, 2014 at 12:50 PM

How horrible was the “POW” swap that the alternative of giving a bunch of cash for the deserter would actually have been the better of the two deals!

nextgen_repub on June 4, 2014 at 12:52 PM

Can you imagine what Dear Leader last official act will be..?

d1carter on June 4, 2014 at 12:52 PM

Was money transferred to the Haqqani network?

They are a criminal network motivated 80% by $ and 20% by jihad.

aquaviva on June 4, 2014 at 12:53 PM

They did pay a ransom of 5-6 million…the question I have is “who paid it?” I want an investigation to find out who paid the Haqquanis the dough? If it was your taxpayers then obama is double treasonous.

Bmore will try to photoshop a beard onto the MAD obama picture, perfectly.

Schadenfreude on June 4, 2014 at 12:53 PM

This is Castro clearing out his prisons during the Mariel boat lift, not giving a flying crap how many innocents will get murdered or how many people will be ruined; it’s a convenience thing.

This is the sort of fud that you get when skin color trumps competence, when “community organizing” becomes a catch-all for experience in everything, when 52% of the country decides to pull the lever for a guy whose main selling point is a catchy slogan.

Bishop on June 4, 2014 at 12:53 PM

I heard on one of the news reports that two of these guys were wanted by the U.N., why wasn’t that an option. Not that it would have been much different than Qatar but at least it makes a bit more sense.

Cindy Munford on June 4, 2014 at 12:49 PM

Just this one time, I want the UN to come and pi$$ all over Oblahblahs ‘parade’, I hope they sanction him, I hope they put him on trial, oh how I hope…

I am awaiting the furor from the EU and our allies…

#BACKFIREGATE

Scrumpy on June 4, 2014 at 12:54 PM

Imagine Bill Clinton’s voice “Hillary, this ain’t good for us – you have to be against it. You did not have relations with obama”.

Schadenfreude on June 4, 2014 at 12:54 PM

The NY Slimes paid millions to get their guy back, have not paid the people who helped to negotiate it, and printed “the captors just left the door open and he escaped”. Hah.

Schadenfreude on June 4, 2014 at 12:55 PM

Barack Obama has committed murder, live on International Television, and the Democrat, Progressive Liberal Left and the Media are cheering him on for it.

oscarwilde on June 4, 2014 at 12:55 PM

The NY Slimes guy was with the Haqqanis too. They love loot and they are harsher than the Taliban. They slit 6,000 throats of sheepherders and others, with forcing their wives/kids to watch.

Yes, that’s whom Bergdahl ended up with. They beat and scroooomed him better than the Taliban ever would and that’s when the fool realized what his idealism was. One can’t write all this in fiction.

Schadenfreude on June 4, 2014 at 12:57 PM

The one possible silver lining in this whole debacle is that the public is now so angry and disgusted at Obama that he may feel like he needs to hold back on his next illegal amnesty-by-EO decree, which we all know he’s itching to issue.

AZCoyote on June 4, 2014 at 12:57 PM

#BACKFIREGATE

Scrumpy on June 4, 2014 at 12:54 PM

Fantastic

Schadenfreude on June 4, 2014 at 12:58 PM

The one possible silver lining in this whole debacle is that the public is now so angry and disgusted at Obama that he may feel like he needs to hold back on his next illegal amnesty-by-EO decree, which we all know he’s itching to issue.

AZCoyote on June 4, 2014 at 12:57 PM

Obama does not care what the American people think or feel, he is trying to kill America.

oscarwilde on June 4, 2014 at 12:59 PM

#Boomeranggate

Schadenfreude on June 4, 2014 at 12:59 PM

I guess “millions for defense, not one cent for tribute” is too 19th century, huh?

CJ on June 4, 2014 at 1:00 PM

The one possible silver lining in this whole debacle is that the public is now so angry and disgusted at Obama that he may feel like he needs to hold back on his next illegal amnesty-by-EO decree, which we all know he’s itching to issue.

AZCoyote on June 4, 2014 at 12:57 PM

It hasn’t reached ‘fever pitch’ yet, when marches are organised and people drop everything to let this dirtbag in the “Spite House” know he is not wanted, that we want him impeached, then I will know just how disgusted and angry people really are.

Scrumpy on June 4, 2014 at 1:01 PM

So – they considered it last year.

Wonder if they paid it This Year.
And, if so, how much.
And, if so, who approved it.

TimBuk3 on June 4, 2014 at 1:01 PM

Get the vet who is now in a wheelchair on tv, have his wife who must speak for him ask flat out: Is THIS worth the 5 scumbags you released, Mr. Preznit? Is THIS worth your precious legacy and mountain-sized ego?

The photo RWM provided will break your heart, it broke mine and the anger is still there in spades.

Bishop on June 4, 2014 at 1:01 PM

#Boomeranggate

Schadenfreude on June 4, 2014 at 12:59 PM

Also fantastic!! :)

Scrumpy on June 4, 2014 at 1:02 PM

They’d have saved so much time if they had just put a bullet in his head when they found out where he was, but I suppose this administration and the liberal commanders they put in charge had to save some distraction cards for later on.

There are so few distraction cards left to play, I mean, with Clinton having bombed all the asprin factories already.

Diluculo on June 4, 2014 at 1:02 PM

Weasels at the NY Slimes

Schadenfreude on June 4, 2014 at 1:03 PM

http://iowntheworld.com/blog/?p=238213

Nice.

Vigilante on June 4, 2014 at 1:01 PM

O_o

O_O

O_O

O_O

O_O

Bishop on June 4, 2014 at 1:03 PM

Ransoming american soldiers would open one hell of a lucrative business in Afghanistan and other hellholes in which our military presence is somehow required.

Rix on June 4, 2014 at 1:04 PM

http://iowntheworld.com/blog/?p=238213

Nice.

Vigilante on June 4, 2014 at 1:01 PM

Seriously, everyone needs to follow this link.

Bishop on June 4, 2014 at 1:05 PM

Drip

cmsinaz on June 4, 2014 at 1:06 PM

Can we trade Bergdahl to Mexico for Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi?

kcewa on June 4, 2014 at 1:07 PM

…deserter…AND defector dammit!

KOOLAID2 on June 4, 2014 at 1:07 PM

http://iowntheworld.com/blog/?p=238213

Nice.

Vigilante on June 4, 2014 at 1:01 PM

O_o

O_O

O_O

O_O

O_O

Bishop on June 4, 2014 at 1:03 PM

Couldn’t agree more, read some stuff there that elicits the

O_O

O_O

O_O

O_O

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh boy!!

Scrumpy on June 4, 2014 at 1:07 PM

RIP:

Chester Nez, last of the 29 Navajos who developed an unbreakable code that helped win World War II dies at 93 – @AP

davidk on June 4, 2014 at 1:08 PM

Obama does not care what the American people think or feel, he is trying to kill America.

oscarwilde on June 4, 2014 at 12:59 PM

I agree that he doesn’t care much, but he’s a calculating politician who cares deeply about his own “legacy,” so he won’t risk angering the public so much that he isolates himself from the other Dims whose support he needs to push his agenda through.

AZCoyote on June 4, 2014 at 1:08 PM

Can we trade Bergdahl to Mexico for Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi?

kcewa on June 4, 2014 at 1:07 PM

…nope!…he had ‘guns’!

KOOLAID2 on June 4, 2014 at 1:08 PM

http://iowntheworld.com/blog/?p=238213

Nice.

Vigilante on June 4, 2014 at 1:01 PM

Looks like Ed is getting himself known as the major squish and master beta.

Is that really what you wanted Ed? You know what happens to creatures that sit in the middle of the road, do you not?

Diluculo on June 4, 2014 at 1:08 PM

O_o

O_O

O_O

O_O

O_O

Bishop on June 4, 2014 at 1:03 PM

Reminds me of that time that Indiana Jones got inside that fridge to escape a nuclear explosion.

oscarwilde on June 4, 2014 at 1:09 PM

Can we trade Bergdahl (and what the heck include his dad in the deal) to Iran for Pastor Saeed?

kcewa on June 4, 2014 at 1:09 PM

http://iowntheworld.com/blog/?p=238213

Nice.

Vigilante on June 4, 2014 at 1:01 PM

O_o

O_O

O_O

O_O

O_O

Bishop on June 4, 2014 at 1:03 PM

Couldn’t agree more, read some stuff there that elicits the

O_O

O_O

O_O

O_O

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh boy!!

Scrumpy on June 4, 2014 at 1:07 PM

Ouch. http://iowntheworld.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Screen-Shot-2014-06-03-at-8.12.28-PM.jpg

davidk on June 4, 2014 at 1:11 PM

The pictures of Obama working out in a Polish gym, linked by Drudge, are absolutely hilarious

A must see…he’s lifting two (5) lb ladies weights, and looks like he’s struggling, grimacing and about to get a hernia…

PatriotRider on June 4, 2014 at 1:13 PM

davidk on June 4, 2014 at 1:11 PM

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Boy!!

Scrumpy on June 4, 2014 at 1:13 PM

Was money transferred to the Haqqani network?

They are a criminal network motivated 80% by $ and 20% by jihad.

aquaviva on June 4, 2014 at 12:53 PM

That has been puzzling me. The Haqqani aren’t the Taliban, and they’re mostly in it for the money. It’s unlikely they’d have released Bergdahl without being paid, so let’s assume they were and the truth will out. But then, how connected are the Haqqani with the Taliban? And if not so much, what were the Fab Five released for? Did that make any difference to the Haqqini holding Bergdahl?

de rigueur on June 4, 2014 at 1:13 PM

Diluculo on June 4, 2014 at 1:08 PM

…the comments following… are pretty good!

KOOLAID2 on June 4, 2014 at 1:14 PM

This is Castro obama clearing out his prisons during the Mariel boat lift freeing illegal aliens, not giving a flying crap how many innocents will get murdered or how many people will be ruined; it’s a convenience thing.

This is the sort of fud that you get when skin color trumps competence, when “community organizing” becomes a catch-all for experience in everything, when 52% of the country decides to pull the lever for a guy whose main selling point is a catchy slogan.

Bishop on June 4, 2014 at 12:53 PM

Please excuse the redaction.

davidk on June 4, 2014 at 1:14 PM

Chester Nez, last of the 29 Navajos who developed an unbreakable code that helped win World War II dies at 93 – @AP

davidk on June 4, 2014 at 1:08 PM

Thank you, davidk.

May he rest well.

Schadenfreude on June 4, 2014 at 1:15 PM

this tends to … complicate Jay Carney’s theory that Bergdahl was a “prisoner,” not a “hostage.”

I’d rather discuss these issues with my cocker spaniel than Jay Carney. It’s a much more productive discussion because, unlike Carney, my spaniel merely wags her tail when she doesn’t know what is going on. Jay Carney makes stuff up.

Happy Nomad on June 4, 2014 at 1:19 PM

And who says that dollars did not exchange hands for Tali-Bowe in addition to the 5 degenerates?

One certainty: we will never know!

Quaere Verum on June 4, 2014 at 1:20 PM

The pictures of Obama working out in a Polish gym, linked by Drudge, are absolutely hilarious…

A must see…he’s lifting two (5) lb ladies weights, and looks like he’s struggling, grimacing and about to get a hernia…

PatriotRider on June 4, 2014 at 1:13 PM

And his form is absurd. It’s like he’s never been in a gym before.

Happy Nomad on June 4, 2014 at 1:24 PM

C’mon, people. King Putt is sick – he needs help. [Secret Service - I am not being sarcastic. Still not there too ...]. We need to rally behind him! Allow him a graceful exit! He forgot to go with his Taliban Five, back to the homeland. Hey …. let’s send him to Arizona! It’ll work. We’ll give him a copy of Mad Magazine to while away his time.

It could work … He’s got a fevah!

Chuck Ef on June 4, 2014 at 1:25 PM

When the going gets tough, it’s time for President Mompants to blow off some steam at the gym.

blammm on June 4, 2014 at 1:30 PM

Yeah right, Hussein did not give a few hundred millions to taaleeebonn. He not only gave them gobs of money, he gave then US passports as well I’m sure, the only question is how much of that money got laundered back to him .

burrata on June 4, 2014 at 1:31 PM

Yes, those five Taliban terrorists probably deserve to spend their remaining days rotting in a cell,

Based on his actions, so does Bergdahl. The Taliban probably treated him better than an American court-martial will, because he could give the Taliban information useful to them.

Steve Z on June 4, 2014 at 1:37 PM

Can you imagine what Dear Leader last official act will be..?

d1carter on June 4, 2014 at 12:52 PM

To nullify elections not have a last official act and never step down? I grow more afraid of this every day.

JoshuaH on June 4, 2014 at 2:07 PM

In a month or two maybe more, if the GITMO5 have not been confirmed to have participated in any terrorists activities, Obama will declare victory, say he was right all along to release these 5, they pose no danger to our national security and if the 5 worst of the worst are no danger then everyone else in GITMO should be released.

JoshuaH on June 4, 2014 at 2:10 PM

http://iowntheworld.com/blog/?p=238213

Nice.

Vigilante on June 4, 2014 at 1:01 PM

And our subversive preznet saw fit to embrace him while praising his “heroic” deserter of a son, which son was encouraged by his father to “follow your conscience”. This “follow your conscience” imperative was not to fulfill the duties sworn to as a US soldier, but to turn away from those sworn duties.
I am inclined to believe that Bowe Berghdal actively assisted the terrorists, thus the reason for his inordinately long survival while in their presence. There is not much precedence for the humane treatment of Americans, soldiers or citizens, who are so unfortunate as to find themselves in the custody of islamic terrorists.

bobthm3 on June 4, 2014 at 2:11 PM

Was he worth it? No.

Did I expect Barry to make any other call? No.

The TR, Harry S, and Ronnie America are long gone. That is a fact, Jack.

Limerick on June 4, 2014 at 2:15 PM

Well. That’s right friendly of him:

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel agrees to appear at House Armed Services Committee hearing on Bergdahl prisoner swap on June 11 – @ChadPergram

davidk on June 4, 2014 at 2:16 PM

How long before the Taliban demand we return Bergdahl to them? After all, fellow travelers and stuff!

freedomfirst on June 4, 2014 at 2:29 PM

Well, I realize Taliban =/= Haqqani, but you get the point…..

freedomfirst on June 4, 2014 at 2:30 PM

Years and years ago, I read what I remember to be a good thriller called The Red President. Seems it came true. I naively thought it would not come to pass.

freedomfirst on June 4, 2014 at 2:46 PM

He wouldn’t have done this sh*t in Al Anbar Province, Iraq – especially in Ramadi, Fallujah or Hit -and lived. In Iraq, those jihadist cut your head off, film it and email that propaganda to Anderson Cooper and friends.

MoreLiberty on June 4, 2014 at 2:48 PM

What’s funny is the dumba$$ could probably have explained away a money exchange easier than allowing 5 bad guys to get loose. Especially as more and more bad news about this guys real intentions becomes known.

cpomustang on June 4, 2014 at 3:00 PM

No need for a ransom. We should have let the Taliban do the work for us (for a change) by telling them we found Bergdahl’s diary which mentions that Afghans are cowards who have sex with pigs and dogs.

MaiDee on June 4, 2014 at 3:22 PM

One problem with labeling this a prisoner exchange is that Bergdahl wasn’t with the Taliban, he was being held by the Haqqani Network, an islamist terror group based in the ungoverned tribal areas of Pakistan. They are allies with the Taliban, but they are not the Taliban, and the Taliban does not speak for them, or vice versa.

I don’t doubt Obama would love to empty out Gitmo, but they’ve been negotiating through the back channels on this guy for over two years. What made it necessary to do the deal NOW was the hammering Obama was taking over the VA scandal.

He and his inner circle are too tone deaf to realize the reaction would be anything but universal celebration, and are too arrogant to seek counsel outside their tiny cloister.

Adjoran on June 4, 2014 at 4:07 PM

Over 100 years ago, the US government put smallpox on the free blankets distributed to Native Americans.

Seriously, we can’t do that to cash…. ransom cash?

Come on. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving.
There are no innocents.

Tard on June 4, 2014 at 5:55 PM