California Congressman Duncan Hunter, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, claims that the Obama Administration paid ransom for Bergdahl release, according to a letter the Congressman sent to the Pentagon. Bergdahl, who deserted his post in 2009, was held for five years before the Obama administration traded five Taliban terrorists to secure the release of Bergdahl.
Congressman Hunter is charging the US military unsuccessfully attempted to secure the release of Bowe Bergdahl by making a cash payment earlier this year.
In a letter to the Pentagon released last Wednesday, Representative Hunter said the Obama Administration paid an Afghan intermediary early this year to help secure the May 31 release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held for nearly five years by the Haqqani Network in Pakistan. The Haqqani Network is, by every measure, a terrorist organization.
Pentagon officials have denied paying cash to secure the release of Bergdahl, who was captured in Afghanistan in 2009. A senior defense official reiterated that denial when asked about Mr. Hunter’s letter.
Bergdahl was freed in a deal mediated by the government of Qatar, after the Obama administration released five Taliban prisoners from the US detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The trade has been criticized by Republicans, who said it created an incentive to take Americans hostage and complained the Obama administration ignored legal provisions that require Congress be notified at least thirty days prior to any release or transfer of detainees from Guantanamo.
In his letter, Mr. Hunter asked Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to make new inquires with the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) about the allegations that the US made the payment.
According to Representative Hunter, a Republican from California, the intermediary took the money but failed to secure Bergdahl’s release. Congressman Hunter didn’t specify how much money was paid to the Afghan intermediary, and didn’t identify the sources of his information.
The US government is prohibited from paying ransom to terror groups, such as the Haqqani Network. The Obama administration clearly broke the law if this information is true. However, it isn’t clear whether a payment to an Afghan intermediary who isn’t a member of a terror group would constitute an illegal ransom.
It will be no surprise when the allegation that the Obama Administration paid ransom for Bergdahl turns out to be true. Nor, will it be surprising when the Obama administration claims that the intermediary who absconded with the money never paid it to terrorists. Therefore, because the Obama administration is incompetent, it’s not guilty of having paid terrorists.
The allegation that the Obama administration paid ransom for Bergdahl, which is illegal, is in addition to the non-partisan Government Accountability Office legal finding that the Bergdahl trade was illegal.
The Republican mid-term election victories last Tuesday will undoubtedly lead to additional congressional investigations into the Bergdahl trade deal. The House Armed Services Committee has been investigating the Bergdahl prisoner swap.