Legally, the Taliban detainees were declared to be "enemy combatants," not terrorists. That means that they are legally prisoners of war.
We could not have held them for 10 years without trial otherwise. Similarly, Sgt. Bergdahl was not a "hostage," he was a prisoner of war. He was a soldier captured in a war zone, not a kidnapped civilian, as Mr. Egli asserts.
The U.S. was not "negotiating with terrorists." It was a prisoner exchange, pure and simple. Mr. Egli's position in the Bush administration was such that he knows this perfectly well — but he is promoting this line for purely political reasons.
The idea that exchanging prisoners with an enemy will encourage them to capture more soldiers is ludicrous. If they could capture more soldiers they would certainly do so without any further encouragement.
On the other hand, what it might do is encourage them to capture rather than kill enemy soldiers they may overpower. This is surely preferable to the families of soldiers. The fact that the U.S. gave up five enemy prisoners for one of its own soldiers is actually a pretty good deal. Viewed the other way, the Taliban gave up their only prisoner of war for just five of the hundreds of Taliban we have in custody.
Mr. Egli certainly knows these facts, and it is disingenuous for him to act high and mighty when he knows we got the best possible deal for our soldier's return. He says we should have remained "strong" and left Sgt. Bergdahl to rot in captivity forever. Whatever happened to the idea that we don't leave our soldiers behind?
Stan Sunderwirth, Ellicott City
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