The trade of five Guantanamo prisoners for one American held captive by the Taliban becomes a clear touchstone for debate when one considers who was swapped for whom.
According to information from their case files gleaned by Washington Post, the Guantanamo detainees traded include a former Taliban interior minister who is said to have played a role in the 1990s in founding the Taliban movement; a chief of staff of the Taliban army who personally supervised killing of thousands of Shiite Muslims; a provincial governor who may have been involved in the killings of the thousands of Shiites; the deputy chief of Taliban intelligence who used his office in support of al Qaida; and a member of a former joint Taliban-al Qaida cell.
While the full story of Bowe Bergdahl may not be out yet, what has been learned from fellow soldiers is that at best, his conduct was suspect and at worst, he was a traitor.
Members of his platoon said he went missing and others died in searching for him when he disappeared in 2009. Pentagon officials say the circumstances of his leaving his base and his capture by the Taliban were not known yet.
The larger issue, beyond whether Bergdahl was worthy of U.S. attention at the highest levels, is how the nation obtained his release.
The Obama administration said it worked through Qatar, which worked with the Taliban to carry out the deal. Qatar is considered by some Middle Eastern nations to be at least looking the other way on terrorism, if not outright supporting terrorists, while the U.S. maintains a working relationship with the nation.
President Barack Obama can couch the deal in favorable terms behind his smile while basking in the warm glow of Bergdahl's grateful parents, but in the simplest terms, the trade was one sought by the U.S. and carried out by the U.S., a five-terrorists-for-one-possible-deserter swap.
Is this the foreign policy direction of the future?