John Kerry has a word for critics who charge that American troops are in greater danger in the wake of the prisoner swap that freed five Taliban leaders, and that word is "baloney." Of the Taliban, he says, "I am not telling you that they don’t have some ability at some point to go back and get involved," adding ominously that "they also have an ability to get killed if they do that." Meanwhile, of Bowe Bergdahl, he says, "it would have been offensive and incomprehensible to consciously leave an American behind, no matter what." Kerry faced plenty of criticism on the Sunday dial today. A sample, as per Politico:
- John McCain: "There are other prisoners, some of whom we have already released, that we could have released in exchange. These five are the top five picked by the Taliban. Not by us, but by the Taliban. We should do everything we can in our power to win the release any of American being held, but not at the expense of lives and well being of their fellow service men and women."
- Dianne Feinstein: "Secretary Kerry made a very strong statement this morning saying, ‘Oh, we have ways, and we will see that they do not defect, move, speak, whatever,’" she said. "It’s hard to be comfortable when you really haven’t been briefed on the intricacies of carrying out this agreement," and "we have no information" on how the White House would ensure the Taliban don't fight again.
- Mike Rogers: He's "absolutely convinced" the freed Taliban will fight again. "Maybe not all five: Three for sure, likely four, and that fifth one is on the fence but will probably play some role."
- And furthermore: "We’ve made a serious, serious geopolitical mistake. We’ve empowered the Taliban. The one thing they wanted more than anything was recognition from the US government, so they can use that to propagandize against areas that are unsecure still in Afghanistan. We’re going to pay for this decision for years."
But Kerry had a couple of unlikely allies:
- Former AG Mike Mukasey: President Obama "broke the law, but I believe that the law itself is unconstitutional. Article II [of the Constitution] makes him the commander in chief of the armed forces. These people were in the custody of the armed forces."
- Former CentCom chief Major Gen. James Mattis: "We no longer have that concern (the Taliban) have this pawn they can play against us. It’s also a military vulnerability the Haqqanis now face, the Taliban now faces, because they no longer hold one of the US soldiers in captivity."