Appearing Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, US National Security Advisor Susan Rice heralded the release of five terrorist masterminds for the return of an army private whose desertion caused the death of at least six US servicemen killed on missions to find him as “an extraordinary day for America” that should be “celebrated.”
“When we are in battles with terrorists and terrorists take an American prisoner, that prisoner still is a U.S. serviceman or woman,” Rice told CNN Anchor Candy Crowley. “We still have a sacred obligation to bring that person back. We did so, and that’s what’s to be celebrated.”
Appearing that same day on ABC’s This Week, Rice made what many regard as even more dubious assertions when she claimed that Bergdahl “was an American prisoner of war taken on the battlefield” who “served the United States with honor and distinction.”
Rice wasn’t the only senior administration official who appeared to be celebrating what Jonathan Tobin at Commentary Magazine calls a “grubby and inglorious compromise.” Joining Rice in the “victory lap” was none other than President Obama himself, who personally announced Private Bergdahl’s release in a televised Rose Garden event together with his parents. Bergdahl’s father thanked “Allah” for his son’s release and sent his greetings in Arabic. US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel even made a special trip to Afghanistan in order to commemorate Bergdahl’s release.
How precisely Bergdahl was taken prisoner by the Taliban after he left his post without authorization is not yet known.
The names of the six US servicemen confirmed killed performing their duties on the many dangerous missions launched to free the private are Staff Sgt. Clayton Bowen, Pfc. Morris Walker, Staff Sgt. Kurt Curtiss, 2nd Lt. Darryn Andrews, Pfc. Matthew Michael Martinek, and Staff Sgt. Michael Murphrey.
As CNN’s Jake Tapper reports, Bergdahl’s disappearance caused the army to shift gears and make his rescue or recovery a top priority. All other planned operations were shelved so everyone could focus on finding the missing private. As both personnel and equipment like surveillance aircraft, manned and unmanned, were diverted from tactical and regular combat operations in order to assist the search for Bergdahl, the planned closure of a dangerous combat outpost – Combat Outpost Keating – was delayed. Eight more soldiers would be killed at COP Keating before it could be closed.