It's not a surprise that Republicans like Marco Rubio are jumping on President Obama and his national security advisors for making the deal that brought back American POW Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban detainees who'd been stuck in Guantanamo Bay for years. Rubio penned a letter
to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel yesterday with 11 specific questions that he wants answers to — and he's not the only one.
Most damaging to the president have been the parents of former U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan who say their sons died because of their search for Bergdahl after he wandered off his base back in 2009. Their appearances have dominated network and cable news over the past few days, and seem to be making many Americans more uneasy about the transfer.
And then there is Hillary Clinton. Fresh off the leaked chapter of her new memoir coming out next week that attempts to address her role in the Benghazi controversy, Team Hillary is, as always, in a combative mood when it comes to knocking down potentially bad press. In a story published last night in the Daily Beast,
sources close to Clinton say that she was always against such a proposal involving Berghdal going back to 2011 and 2012, when such plans were initially floated.
Three former administration officials who were involved in the process told The Daily Beast that Clinton was worried about the ability to enforce the deal and disinclined to trust the Taliban or the Haqqani network in Pakistan, which held Bergdahl until this weekend. Clinton was so concerned, the former officials added, that she may not have even signed off if the negotiations had succeeded.
The controversy about Bergdahl's reported "desertion" has dominated the news coverage. It's probably fair to say that, while the administration was prepared for criticism about the exchange, it expected complaints about exchanging for "the worst of the worst" Taliban prisoners, not the recovered POW. Those former Gitmo prisoners are being repatriated to Qatar, but reportedly are free to roam around the country with no supervision.
But Team Clinton leaks to the Daily Beast that such a deal wouldn't have happened under their candidate. No way.
The Qatari regime under the Clinton deal would have been required to do a whole host of things to ensure that the released prisoners were adhering to the terms of their pseudo-house arrest, including surveillance, systematic monitoring, and travel bans that would last until there was peace
Mrs. Clinton said yesterday that “this young man, whatever the circumstances, was an American citizen — is an American citizen — was serving in our military. The idea that you really care for your own citizens and particularly those in uniform, I think is a very noble one.” You can bet she'll be asked to talk about this story once she starts making the media rounds a week from now.
In other news… Yesterday we spoke with Ed Turanchik,
the main man behind the proposed high-speed ferry service that definitely has some skeptics out there. He said that everything is going relatively smoothly with the plan that ultimately could provide a link from Tampa to St. Petersburg without getting on a bridge.
And Pinellas County Commissioners approved an interlocal agreement
that will allow them to remove the portion of Pinellas property taxes that currently go to PSTA if the Greenlight Pinellas measure passes this November.