In comments first reported in USA Today, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf defended President Obama’s decision to release the world’s five most dangerous terrorist detainees for the return of an alleged army deserter. She stated that Obama did not demand the return of any other U.S. citizens currently held hostage by the Taliban because “it is longstanding U.S. policy not to make concessions to hostage-takers.”
Ms. Harf was apparently not asked an obvious followup at Thursday’s briefing: “What, if not a concession to hostage-takers, does the White House call releasing the world’s five most dangerous terrorist masterminds to win the safe return of Sgt. Bergdahl?”
The standard definition of a “hostage” is someone taken captive against his or her will and held as a form of security toward the fulfillment of conditions established by the capturers.
According to unanimous eyewitness accounts, Bergdahl was not a prisoner of war captured on the field of battle. Rather, he was an Army deserter who left his unit to “seek out”–for reasons still unknown–his subsequent Taliban capturers.
If the facts in the Bergdahl case hold up and are confirmed, according to the administration’s own definition, the civilian U.S. hostages currently being held by Taliban forces in Pakistan should have been more entitled to U.S. efforts to free them than Bergdahl was.