Why Republicans Are Crying Foul About the Release of a POW

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 2 2014 9:02 AM

Why Republicans Are Crying Foul About the Release of a POW

495200405-sign-announcing-the-release-of-sgt-bowe-bergdahl-sits
Should be something to celebrate

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Late on Sunday, the Republican focus-group sherpa Frank Luntz wrote a tweet that probably confused anyone who wasn't paying attention to the conservative media.

Luntz was responding to a growing consensus. On the right, increasingly—and we're talking about a story that has not yet reached the 72 hour mark—it's believed that the Obama administration was buffalo'd in negotiating the Bergdahl release in exchange for the release of five Taliban fighters. The reasons? 

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First, the deal represented "negotiating with terrorists," as outgoing Intel chairman Rep. Mike Rogers said on Sunday. "If you negotiate here, you’ve sent a message to every Al Qaeda group in the world — by the way, some who are holding U.S. hostages today — that there is some value now in that hostage in a way that they didn’t have before," he offered.

Second, there's evidence that Bergdahl's family harbored some fishy non-American opinions. Former Rep. Allen West, who is enjoying a second life as a hawkish pundit, was among those who highlighted a May 28 tweet from Bergdahl's father, imn which he said he was working to free "all Gitmo prisoners."

Third, as seen in the link just above, reporting from CNN and other sources has found Bergdahl's fellow soldiers referring to him as a "deserter," and asking why he said he was "ashamed to be an American" before his captivity.*

He'd hardly be the first POW pushed to give treasonous statements during captivity, but fourth—well, I haven't even gotten to the Republican complaint that president broke the law by negotiating this. There's already so much that's got them irate.

*I initially got the timing wrong; according to Michael Hastings, the "ashamed" line was in a letter Bergdahl left behind. The authenticity of the quote is now disputed because it wasn't mentioned in an initial report.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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