Does The US Negotiate With Terrorists?

Tyler Durden's picture

    "We don't negotiate with terrorists"

    - Every US president in history

It was a good weekend for the friends and family of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl: after five years of being held captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan, on Saturday morning it was reported that the 28-year-old native of Hailey, Idaho was finally freed. In exchange for his freedom, the US agreed to also set free five Taliban militants - among which the Afghanistan deputy defense minister under Taliban rule and others who was said to be involved in the September 11 attack - held at Guantanamo. In other words, this was a pre-negotiated settlement or, stated otherwise, a negotiation.

Adding fuel to the fire is the realization that Obama was transacting largely alone: instead of abiding by a legal requirement to give Congress advance notice when prisoners are released from the detainee facility at Guantanamo Bay, Obama once again took unilateral action. Actually it wasn't completely unilateral: it was revealed that the deal was bartered by America's new middle east BFFs (courtesy of the false flagged Syria conflict): officials from Qatar who agreed to keep the detainees in their country for a year.

And then the media circus took over.

On one hand, it was Republicans bashing Obama for keeping the prisoner swap secret and also for negotiating with terrorists. From the WSJ:

Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), himself a former prisoner of war in Vietnam, voiced fears that the five prisoners sent to Qatar in exchange for Sgt. Bergdahl could rejoin terrorist networks. "It is disturbing that these individuals would have the ability to reenter the fight," Mr. McCain said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "And they are big, high-level people, possibly responsible for the deaths of thousands."


Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), a potential presidential candidate in 2016, released a statement Sunday saying, "The release of five senior Taliban commanders to Qatar under unspecified conditions is very troubling and may endanger American lives. In the coming days the Congress must examine the circumstances under which Sgt. Bergdahl's release was achieved, and what conditions, if any, the administration secured to ensure these enemy combatants do not return to the battlefield."


Fellow Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, also a possible GOP presidential candidate, suggested in an appearance on ABC's "This Week" that there were better ways to free Sgt. Bergdahl.


"How many soldiers lost their lives to capture those five Taliban terrorists that we just released?" Mr. Cruz said. "What does this tell terrorists, that if you capture a U.S. soldier, you can trade that soldier for five terrorists we've gone after."


* * *


Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said administration officials indeed told Congress about a year ago that such prisoner negotiations were a possibility. "They didn't get a very warm reception from either party in the national security committees," Mr. Rogers said.


Mr. Rogers added that the administration was required "to keep Congress currently informed."... "Some notion that this was so secret and so sensitive that that couldn't happen is just wrong."

On the other hand, democrats scrambled to defend Obama's actions.

First and foremost, it was Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who on NBC's "Meet the Press" in a live feed from Afghanistan where he had made a surprise visit, said prisoner exchanges are a standard practice of warfare and added that "We didn’t negotiate with terrorists." He added that "America’s record is pretty clear on going after terrorists, especially those who take hostages, and I don’t think what we did in getting our prisoner of war released in any way would somehow encourage terrorists to take our American servicemen prisoner or hostage.

The excuse: the swap had been worked out by the government of Qatar (to whose Amir, none other than the president gave his thanks yesterday).

Another person defending Obama was White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice who appeared earlier on CNN and said the Obama administration informed Congress after Sgt. Bergdahl was in U.S. hands. She said the urgency of the mission, coupled with concerns about Sgt. Bergdahl's health, made it necessary to rescue him without giving the required 30 days advance notice.

Wait, he was in captivity for 5 years, but suddenly 30 days was a matter of urgency?

Ms. Rice said that defense officials, however, consulted with the Justice Department before the operation. "It was determined that it was necessary and appropriate not to adhere to the 30-day notification requirement because it would have potentially meant that the opportunity to get Sgt. Bergdahl would have been lost," she said.

One wonders what other decisions are made in the secrecy of bilateral talks between Obama and the DOJ, which skip America's elected legislative body entirely.

And then the excuses branch out in the outright surreal: "The Taliban prisoners released weren’t mere bargaining chips: It’s quite possible that, as influential figures, they’ll facilitate a broader negotiated settlement,” in Afghanistan, said Blank, a former staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Hagel said today it’s possible the agreement could lead to a new round of negotiations between the U.S. and the Taliban about the organization’s rule in Afghanistan. “We have strongly supported an Afghan-led effort to come to an agreement with the Taliban,” Hagel said on NBC. “Maybe this will be an opening that can produce an agreement.”

Indeed: now that America is said to be departing Afghanistan (we will believe it when we see it), someone who is friendly to the US should maintain the record opium production: after all the poppy seed, and heroin, must flow and keep western populations drugged up and happy.

Recall the following charts: first, the surge in Heroin use in the US:


And then the following chart which shows opium cultivation in Afghanistan:

Surely there is no relation between soaring US heroin use, soaring Afghanistan opium production (under US supervision) and recent developments in Afghanistan.

But even more perplexing than the simple question of whether Obama negotiates with terrorists - he clearly does - is another question: are we now rerunning an episode of Homeland.

Recall the back in August 2010 when the news of Bergdahl's capture were first making the rounds, that the Sunday Times reported "a captured American soldier is training Taliban fighters bomb-making and ambush skills, according to one of his captors and Afghan intelligence officials. Private Bowe Bergdahl disappeared in June 2009 while based in eastern Afghanistan and is thought to be the only U.S. serviceman in captivity. The 24-year-old has converted to Islam and now has the Muslim name Abdullah, one of his captors told The Sunday Times."

The rabbit hole gets deeper:

A Taliban deputy district commander in Paktika, who called himself Haji Nadeem, told the newspaper that Bergdahl taught him how to dismantle a mobile phone and turn it into a remote control for a roadside bomb.


Nadeem claimed he also received basic ambush training from the U.S. soldier. 'Most of the skills he taught us we already knew,' he said. 'Some of my comrades think he's pretending to be a Muslim to save himself so they wouldn't behead him.'


Afghan intelligence officials also believe that Bergdahl is 'cooperating with the Taliban' and is acting as adviser to fighters at a base in the tribal area of Pakistan.

And then there was Bergdahl's video:

The seven-minute video of Bergdahl shows him sporting a beard and doing a few press-ups to demonstrate he's in good physical condition.


There was no way to verify when the footage was taken or if he is still alive.


In the sometimes choppy video, Bergdahl talked about his love for his family, his friends, motorcycles and sailing.


'I'm a prisoner. I want to go home,' he said. 'This war isn't worth the waste of human life that has cost both Afghanistan and the U.S. It's not worth the amount of lives that have been wasted in prisons, Guantanamo Bay, Bagram, all those places where we are keeping prisoners.'


At times speaking haltingly, as if holding back emotions, Bergdahl - clad in what appeared to be an Army shirt and fatigues - clasped his hands together and pleaded: 'The pain in my heart to see my family again doesn't get any smaller.


'Release me. Please, I'm begging you, bring me home.'

The good news is that four years later he is finally home. The questions remain.

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LetThemEatRand's picture

The mob always negotiates with other families when they need to.  Sure they'll do a fly by drone shooting later, but they'll negotiate when it's convenient.  Snark aside, glad they let this soul come home from the banker war.  I'm pretty sure that whomever they had in Gitmo were just some pissed off allah praising clowns, any one of which is replaceable in their homeland.

RevRex's picture

5 Taliban Commanders for one soldier who deserted his post?






I guess "Bush did it too, or both parties are the same".....

LetThemEatRand's picture

Who cares?  The Taliban was originally funded by the U.S., led by our guy Osama Bin Laden.  Are you really afraid that the Taliban "commanders" are going to hurt you?  I'd trade 100 Taliban "commanders" for any American citizen being held overseas any day.  Or make that any number you want more than 100.  

NoDebt's picture

Sorry, Rand, but straight from the gut, I'm with RevRex on this one.  This is a dangerous precedent to set.  And he did it without the (legally required) notification to Congress.  Now, I know Obama breaking the law is just an average Tuesday for him, but this one's going to have consequences for average Americans overseas (not just soldiers in a combat theatre) later.  

LetThemEatRand's picture

Seriously?  Now we're at real war?  Obama traded an American citizen for a guy that wears sandals and has a strap-on (bomb).  Obama is a war criminal like Congress.  The whole controversy is a distraction.  Does the girl with the red dress have a gun?  This kid went over to fight a fake enemy for good reasons or fucked up reasons, I don't care.  He's an American citizen.  Glad he's coming home from a stupid banker war.

Manthong's picture

So why would Obama release five of most dangerous Taliban Commanders in U.S. custody in exchange for a guy who went AWOL in Afghanistan five years ago and was captured?

The answer is simple.. to keep the terror threat alive and justify continued Orwellian U.S. state surveillance.

Knowing all that they know and who represents the threats, I wonder if they will be any better at preventing an attack than they were on 9/11 or at the Boston Marathon.

LetThemEatRand's picture

I've never been threatened by a Taliban Commander, dangerous or otherwise.  

kliguy38's picture

I'm with you on this Rand......itsa joke ....they've always done back door deals for swaps and the deeper the cover the asset is the more dealing they do if you get my drift

kliguy38's picture

you really think this guy was brought back for mommy and daddy because he was just a lonely GI that walked off his post......BWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

zerozulu's picture

Some thing is not right. Gilad Shalit was released in return for the release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners

eatthebanksters's picture

5 Taliban commanders for a deserter...yup, another great deal negotiated by his imperial highness all by his lonesome.  The best thing is he gets to take all the credit when the shit blows up.

Citxmech's picture

And I'm sure we're not tracking the release-ees, right? 

Oh regional Indian's picture

I'm sure they are RFID'd, tracked all the way.

But more scarily, are we seeing the manufacturingof a McCain replacement in this new release, Dahl.

Berghdal 2022.

First he'll become the Governor of Idaho.

Just because he was a POW.



Triggernometry's picture

This most certainly comprises a negotiation, though the taliban's terrorist designation is debatable, as they never harmed us before we invaded Afghanistan.  The frequent deliberate conflation of taliban with AQ continues unabashedly, but this in no way adds material substance to the hyperbole of "negotiating with terrorists."

Obviously the unilateral nature of negotiations is of concern, and should be accounted for (although it won't, as we know).

McCain's claim "these are big, high-level people posible responsible for the deaths of thousands" presents an egregiously tenuous assertion of responsibility for 9/11 despite the glaring fact we've been unable to build a case against them for the past 13 years, and weren't about to anytime soon.

12ToothAssassin's picture

Keep your eyes on the June 15th false flag prize. The six week cycle strikes mid june and this is shaping up to be a doozy because when your distraction from VA scandal is a whole new scandal then you gotta triple down on the staged [controlled] distraction.

LetThemEatRand's picture

The comments to this article are enlightening in a really fucked up kind of way.

kliguy38's picture

hehehehheheeheh.........too much MSM conditioning to overcome

ndotken's picture

I wonder how many US soldiers we could get released if we gave them our leader?

zerozulu's picture

May be Taliban secured the sole distribution of opium.

InjectTheVenom's picture

Gee...I didn't know we even HAD a leader !

Slave's picture

From the article:

"On the other hand, democrats scrambled to defend Obama's actions."

Hence, LTER's comments.

LetThemEatRand's picture

You are fully immersed in the matrix.

Slave's picture

No, I've just paid attention to your comments for years.

LetThemEatRand's picture

So if I am for releasing the soldier from captivity in a bullshit banker war, I'm a democrat.  If I'm against releasing the soldier, what does that make me?  Hint:  there are options other than black and white.  You obviously need the hint given your immersion in the matrix of Red and Blue.

Slave's picture

No, this goes well beyond this current issue. I just felt like making a joke in my original comment.

Anybody who has read you for years knows. Not really fooling anybody.


InjectTheVenom's picture

... crickets ... chirp - chirp - chirp

LetThemEatRand's picture

Fuck you.  How is that for circket fuckhead?

KickIce's picture

Kinda hard to distinguish the terrorists anymore isn't it?  Congress has taken far more liberties with a pen (and a couple of planes) than any taliban with an AK-47.

Freddie's picture

Why are we there?  Why are we in any of these places letting our kids get blown up? 

Oh yeah - banksters, elites, MIC, billionaires.  Need those billions to buy losing basketball teams and to feed the locust with EBT/WIC cards.

wee-weed up's picture



There is a much better name to use for a President who always acts unilaterally...


Galahad Threepwood's picture

What's the big deal?

The US is a terrorist nation.  Why shouldn't it negotiate with its fellow terrorist organisations?

Did someone say it's against the law?   Well so is storing everyone's emails, texts, chats, Google searches and monitoring our webcams

Since when does a terrorist nation care about the law or the constitution?

Matt's picture

Trading a sargeant for (the equivalent) of 5 captains?

Maybe a chess analogy: trading 1 pawn for 2 knights, 2 bishops and a rook?

A food analogy: trading 5 steaks for a loaf of bread?

trading 5 houses for a tent?

1) it is a terrible trade

2) it goes against "no negotitation with terrorists" and sets bad precedent

3) It seems to be another illegal, imperial action

For 3 reasons it is a bad move.


zerozulu's picture

At least from now on,"we don't negotiate with terrorist" thing is over.

BlindMonkey's picture

It is an American loaf. Fuck Afghanistan. Time to roll the hell out of there and never look back. We are taking our wayward whatever-the-fuck with us. The Taliban commanders won't be a problem unless we go back into Afghanistan for some fucked up reason.

zerozulu's picture

" Time to roll the hell out of there and never look back"

That's what precisely will happen.

Quus Ant's picture

Americans will scrub it from the collective mind and they shall be washed whiter than snow.  Any wayward theorist who interjects the uncomfortable, like how much ordinace we dropped on Vietnam or the use of depleted uranium in the Middle East, shall be met with derision and dismissal from polite society. 


Quus Ant's picture

With all the physical and psychological  torture they've been through in gitmo these knights, bishops and rook may be completely, blitheringly mad at this point.  I'm surprised ZHers give a shit given what they should know by now.  The local gang- the taliban- were placeholders who never should have cut back on the opium flow.  Plus a couple bases in afghanistoo might come in handy down the road for the world's only-hanging on by a thread- superpower.  The taliboo will be back in power eventually.  A little older.  A little wiser.  And swimming in opium.

putaipan's picture

well here's how it's gonna spill out for the next couple of weeks ... better than a missing plane anyway-

at first i thought we were just givin' back 5 of the twenty or so that have been labelled "innocent but we still gotta hold you in an orange suit and shove tubes down your thoat", but it doesn't appear that way. so we are sending back exactly what quus-ant describes as "blithering mkultra'd up the yingyang" via quatar (shit are they just gonna make it easier for everyone and drop them straight into syria for us?). for-

that poor kid-as soon as as he can stop speaking pushtan will still be  labled as "walking away in the night dissillussioned by how fucked up what he was doing and the war were". just the kind of hero a whithering presidency needs to stand behind. sheesh-

helluva trade barry! if you are still shitting your shoes over what they did to m.l.k. you should gone with the one wild card you had and praised and pardon snowden instead. but nooooo ... you're just gonna let 'them' slowly shame you (and us.)with shit like this poor kid rubbing our nose deeper and deeper into own colapse.

postyscript- if he does finally pardon snowden on his way out- definitely controled psyopposition.

Telemakhos's picture

Maybe it's not about the value of the pieces, but about the fact that an exchange is possible at all.  The move shows the US that there is a command structure within the Taliban that will negotiate and achieve tangible, measurable results (a returned POW, even if a deserter, is still a tangible result), not just talk (which is about all that Hamid Karzai was ever good for).  In return, it shows the same to the Taliban, namely that the US interlocutors can achieve results on their end.  It also shows that the Qataris are useful intermediaries.

This wasn't about Bergdahl or the five who were traded for him, but about proving to each side that a channel is now open for negotiations.  It's not about the pieces, but about whether there's a game to be played.

The US is trying to withdraw from Afghanistan, and the Taliban is almost certainly going to be in a position to retake large swaths of it.  Now each side knows that they at least can meaningfully negotiate if they want to.  

Plus, the presidential elections in Afghanistan are in runoffs, and the new guy, either Abdullah (former foreign minister) or Ghani (World Banker), is also going to have to negotiate with the Taliban from the get-go, provided that he survives the election in two weeks, which happens to coincide with Afghan Spring Offensive Season.  Pakistan is also getting tired of the same old shit, so their army chief just visited Kabul as well.

It might not have been a bad move to prove to the Taliban that talks can have tangible results.  It doesn't change the worst-case scenario (a disorderly exit from Afghanistan, which could have happened without the exchange), but it does up the odds for a negotiated settlement.

johnnymustardseed's picture

NoDebt giving Taliban Stinger Missles set a bad precedent and Ronald Reagan is the guy who did that. He also left the Taliban in the vaccum created by the Russians leaving Afghanistan and that lead to the rise of Osama Bin Laden. So hang your right wing hat on that fact jack!

NoDebt's picture

We've given weapons to a lot of groups over the years that we shouldn't have.  I fear we're doing it in Syria right now.

However, past stupidity is no excuse for making poor decisions in the present that can (and likely will) affect things moving into the future.  This was a stupid trade made for the wrong reasons and there will be consequences.

Chaos_Theory's picture

The Soviet puppet gov fell in April 1992.  Taliban began no earlier than 1991 in the Madrassas of the NWFP of Pakistan, with Mullah Omar getting his start in Kandahar in 1994.  Only in 1994 did waves of those Madrassa students flow into AFG to join Omar's team.  The most likely recipient of the Stingers of the 1980s was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hezb-e-Islami (HIG), as they were the ISI's cat's paw during the Soviet occupation, and the U.S. used the ISI as the funnel for U.S. support to the Mujahhadeen (along with the precursor to "the Base" of Bin Laden). 

Either you're confusing the Taliban of 1994 with the Mujahadeen of the 1980s, or you're a standard Team D useful idiot spouting a few lines you can be taught during your 30-second attention span when you're sober.  Based on the cheesy last line, I'd guess the latter.  Oh well, looks like one lucky sperm got past the Planned Parenthood human gene improvement program.  Lucky you...

Dr. Destructo's picture

Releasing prisoners isn't going to cause as much danger to Americans overseas as our foreign policy that is  focused on building a hegemony. Additionally the true source of terrorism (other than the U.S.) is Saudi Arabia; which is supposedly one of our "allies". Quite a few people around the world do like Americans, but they absolutely hate how our government is dipping it's wick into every sovereign nation's affairs, and that is also the primary reason why "terrorists" are fighting us. They want us out, many Americans here want out, but it's the 0.1% that want in, and the 0.1% are who our government listens to -the laws reflect that.


knukles's picture

"I am not weak."
  -guess who, just the other day

LetThemEatRand's picture

Not you, too!  Who cares if they traded in some fucking asshole Taliban for an American soldier.  Last time I checked, the whole thing is a sham and Congress voted for the fucking thing.  Why should this guy suffer?

fonzannoon's picture

LTER you are coming at this from the aspect of whether or not it should have been done. I'm pretty much with you. I gotta believe at this point they can put a chip in these guys asses and track them if they want to. I think Obama did this more to flex his dictatorship muscles and prove there is nothing anyone can do about it when he wants to something, even if it's never been done by a pres before. I find that a bit scary.

LetThemEatRand's picture

Fonz, I'm quite sure that Obama didn't dream this up and make the military do it on his own.  I'm also quite sure that prisoner exchanges have happened thousands of times without Congressional oversight.  The controversy over who approved it is just as fake as the war that caused this guy to be a prisoner.   But hats off to these guys for making a bunch of people who believe 9/11 was fake and the Afghan war is a banker war suddenly see massive danger because "Obama" did not get approval from a corrupt Congress to let a few sandal wearing clowns go that were taken in a banker war, in exchange for a U.S. citizen who was fighting said war.

fonzannoon's picture

I don't disagree with you. I actually don't think it's that big of a deal. I just think it's one decision on a long list of decisions that will make it easier for a standing pres to skank the retirement funds and stuff em into govvie bonds should the day come when they deem it necessary. It is being presented as "he did this without consulting anyone" because they want you to know he does not need to, and if you don't like it, tough titties.  The other directions this thread has taken I want no part of.

LetThemEatRand's picture

"It is being presented as "he did this without consulting anyone" because they want you to know he does not need to, and if you don't like it, tough titties."

I agree that's part of it, but that ship sailed a long time ago.  The bigger point to me is the oligarch controlled MSM rallying Americans back into world police mode, where Obama is "weak" because he's not invading Russia and letting some poor soldier be tortured by a bunch of assholes.  This weekend I've read at least a dozen articles making the point that 1) Syria should have been invaded and Obama is weak for not doing so; 2) this soldier should have been kept overseas because the Taliban are oh so scary and evil; 3) Russia is going to invade us any minute if we don't get tough, etc.