Ben Stein's Diary

The Issue Is the Taliban Five

Bowe Bergdahl's case pales in comparison.

By 6.7.14

UPI
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Exhibit A in the case for why I don’t ever want to be President: The fiendishly difficult case of Bowe Bergdahl.

Was he a deserter? Did he go over to the Taliban and in so doing cost the lives of six or more men who were seeking to rescue him from what they thought was a kidnaping? Had he turned out to hate America and have a rooting interest in the terrorists, as he apparently said in an e-mail? Did he actually get along well with his supposed captors, playing soccer with them and even carrying a weapon around them as has been reported ?

And what about his parents, openly cheering on the Taliban and condemning America and speaking Arabic and praising Allah — as President Obama embraced them in the Rose Garden?

Or was he a brave soldier captured while evacuating his bowels, as the Taliban say, who suffered terribly in his captivity, and was President Obama using his powers as Commander in Chief to rescue a devoted American soldier under the rubric of “leave none behind”?

And what about notifying Congress as the law requires whenever there is to be a prisoner swap? Was it really too much to call a few Senators and tell them what was going on? Or were negotiations so touchy that secrecy had to be maintained at all times ? Do we think the Talibs have wiretapped Mr. Obama’s phone?

I don’t know the answers to these questions and I am not at all sure that Mr. Obama does either. His actions surely do not speak of diplomatic or military or legislative master work. Rather more of amateurish bungling.

But let’s assume that Bowe Bergdahl really was kidnapped, was not a traitor, and that Mr. Obama’s busy Attorney General forgot to tell him to notify Congress. Nevertheless, some huge facts leap out at us.

Those five terrorists released from Gitmo are VERY bad guys. They were terrorists against the U.S. and against civilians in Afghanistan. They were, as the news media keep saying, “...the worst of the worst.” They were, according to what I have read, if not members of bin Laden’s inner circle planning 9/11, close friends and protectors of al Qaeda. It was precisely to remove them, the enablers of the worst single crime against humanity ever committed in North America, that we invaded Afghanistan.

Why should they ever breathe the breath of freedom again? Why should men who aided in the harrowing murder by burning and crushing of 3,000 American civilians, including small children, ever be free? It is not a question of whether they will kill again. Of course they will. But that’s not the issue. They have already killed enough to not be worthy of ever being out of captivity again. This is the inexcusable aspect of the case. One American man’s freedom — even one soldier’s freedom — is not worth setting these criminals free. I know similar deals have been done by us and by Israel. I don’t like them, either

There are some people so horrible that they need to be punished for all of their lives, and those five now in Qatar are among them. That’s the problem. Leave no one behind is a great slogan and noble. But do not let the killers of innocent women and children go free. That’s better.

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About the Author

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes "Ben Stein's Diary" for every issue of The American Spectator.