In a post from earlier this evening, I noted that Defense Secretary Panetta and Director of National Intelligence Clapper opposed the idea of a prisoner exchange involving Bowe Bergdahl and Gitmo prisoners when it was discussed in 2012. But where did Hillary Clinton stand?
Clinton publicly supported the deal after it was announced, though not with enthusiasm. However, she would like to create the impression that she wasn’t onboard during the discussion phase. Her line, as set forth in the Washington Post, is that she had reservations about the deal back in 2012 and wanted stricter conditions imposed on the released Taliban prisoners than those that ultimately were agreed upon.
In addition, it is said, she wanted more from the deal than just the release of Bergdahl. Indeed, she wanted the Taliban to cease hostilities in exchange for the release of the Taliban commanders.
I don’t doubt that Hillary wanted all of this, and probably said so. But this meant nothing then and it means nothing now.
The Taliban was never going to stop fighting in order to get five commanders back. This isn’t Duck Soup and Afghanistan isn’t Freedonia. Thus, it’s irrelevant whether Clinton wanted this, or other wish-list items, to be part of a deal.
The question is not whether Hillary Clinton wanted a better deal in 2012 than Obama got in 2014. Presumably, even Obama wanted more back then than what he later got; otherwise, he probably would have settled in 2012 for what he received in 2014.
The question is whether, once it became clear that the U.S. could not get from the Taliban what Clinton wanted, she was (or would have been) willing to accept what the Taliban would give us.
The best evidence is her own statement supporting the deal, albeit not enthusiastically.
Hillary Clinton can probably succeed in distancing herself from the Bergdahl deal. But she has her fingerprints all over enough bad, and in some cases disastrous, policies that Republicans may not need the Bergdahl deal in order to tar her.