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Bergdahl, Boko Haram and Benghazi

By Newt Gingrich
updated 4:02 PM EDT, Thu June 5, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Newt Gingrich says the problems with the Bergdahl case are part of a larger pattern
  • He links the Nigerian terror group Boko Haram and deaths in Benghazi to soldier's release
  • He calls the swap for five prisoners a surrender, not a negotiation

Editor's note: Newt Gingrich is a co-host of CNN's "Crossfire," which airs at 6:30 p.m. ET weekdays, and author of a new book, "Breakout: Pioneers of the Future, Prison Guards of the Past, and the Epic Battle That Will Decide America's Fate." A former speaker of the House, he was a candidate in the 2012 Republican presidential primaries. Ali Meshkin is a researcher for Gingrich. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the authors.

(CNN) -- The third "B" in the collapse of our national security system and the State Department hit this week.

The release of five very high-value terrorist leaders as a swap for one U.S. serviceman was the third strike against the Obama administration's policy of defeat, dishonesty and self-delusion.

When Congress starts investigating the Bergdahl case it must broaden the analysis to look at the common patterns which connect it to the administration's approach on two other national security questions: Boko Haram and Benghazi.

The first was Hillary Clinton's State Department's decision from 2011 to 2013 to reject requests by the FBI, CIA, Justice Department and many congressmen and senators on both sides of the aisle to list Nigeria's Boko Haram as a terrorist organization.

Newt Gingrich
Newt Gingrich

Well before Boko Haram abducted more than 200 girls from a school in northern Nigeria in April, the State Department's arguments for keeping the Nigerian extremist group off the list were almost exactly the arguments used to distort what happened in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012, and to justify releasing five extraordinarily dangerous Taliban leaders.

Boko Haram, we were told, was a local organization without aspirations to international terrorism. This assessment required us to ignore the fact that Boko Haram's first base camp in northern Nigeria was called "Afghanistan" in honor of the Taliban. It required us to ignore the fact that the group burned Christian churches on Christmas Day. It required us to ignore the fact that members of Boko Haram went to Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan for training. None of this, self-delusional "experts" in the State Department assured us, meant that Boko Haram was a "real" terrorist organization.

Then in 2012 came riots in Cairo and Benghazi, among other places in the Muslim world. These were not caused by vicious, anti-American religious extremists, the experts assured us -- that would have violated the State Department ethos of appeasing others and blaming ourselves -- but by a YouTube video. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton eventually went so far as to disavow the content of the video on behalf of the American people.

Just as the apology machine began to run at full speed, blaming the obscure filmmaker and absolving the mob of its permanent willingness to attack the United States for any reason, along came the attack that killed the American ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi.

The self-deluding national security machine lied to the entire country and denied what really happened at Benghazi. The driving force in the lies was the Clinton State Department, which specifically asked for the intelligence community analysis to be changed.

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The days before Bergdahl's capture

Now we have the most disastrous of the three "B's": Bergdahl.

While we can be glad an American soldier has been returned from captivity, the release of five senior enemy commanders is a defeat of the first order. Taliban leader Mullah Omar declared the swap a great victory. The Taliban got everything it asked for. This swap was a surrender, not a negotiation.

It's likely that the five Taliban leaders will all go into action immediately. The notion that their presence in Qatar restricts them is just one more example of self-delusion and dishonesty by the State Department. Both the Treasury and the State Department have identified Qatar as a hot bed of fundraising for radical Islamists. The Qataris have consistently meddled in Middle Eastern countries on the side of radicals and against the U.S.

The return of the senior Taliban commanders is as big a defeat as America has suffered in a very long time.

Who knows how many will die when these five leaders resume their war against the West?

Taliban video shows Bowe Bergdahl's release in Afghanistan

President Barack Obama released the five Taliban leaders without ever consulting his Afghan "allies," who must feel very threatened between the previous week's announcement by the president of an arbitrary American withdrawal date and now the unilateral release of five of their mortal enemies.

The Left's selfishness, self-centeredness and duplicity abandons allies when they become "inconvenient."

Obama's foreign policy successes seem to come at enormous cost to other people.

These are photos obtained by WikiLeaks that match the names of the detainees released by the Department of Defense. Their release was in exchange for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl who was being held by the Taliban. The Department of Defense would neither confirm nor deny their accuracy. Khair Ulla Said Wali Khairkhwa was an early member of the Taliban in 1994 and was interior minister during the Taliban's rule. He was arrested in Pakistan and was transferred to Guantanamo in May 2002. During questioning, Khairkhwa denied all knowledge of extremist activities. These are photos obtained by WikiLeaks that match the names of the detainees released by the Department of Defense. Their release was in exchange for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl who was being held by the Taliban. The Department of Defense would neither confirm nor deny their accuracy. Khair Ulla Said Wali Khairkhwa was an early member of the Taliban in 1994 and was interior minister during the Taliban's rule. He was arrested in Pakistan and was transferred to Guantanamo in May 2002. During questioning, Khairkhwa denied all knowledge of extremist activities.
Guantanamo detainees swapped for Bergdahl
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The president's argument that we simply had to cut a deal for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl because of his health goes against the American experience in every recent war. In Vietnam, many American prisoners of war were held longer than Bergdahl and 114 died in captivity. In the Korean War, more than 7,100 Americans became prisoners of war and just over 2,700 are known to have died in captivity.

The six soldiers at center of Bergdahl debate

What President Obama really did this week is to guarantee a much lower military interest in risking life and limb to take high-value prisoners alive given that there is now a possibility that they will released in the future. Instead, missions will be more focused on killing than capturing these targets.

Hillary Clinton wanted tougher deal for Bergdahl, former officials say

The Obama team clearly believed that chanting "We Don't Leave Americans Behind" would be a winning argument. Every spokesperson for the administration repeated the line. Susan Rice, now national security adviser, replayed her post-Benghazi role of going on Sunday shows and either misleading or lying to the American people, claiming that this was "a joyous day."

One final example of the Left's passion for self-delusion and dishonesty.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel asserted that we never negotiated with the Taliban. Other administration figures took up that claim.

Opinion: Five tough ethics issues in Bergdahl swap

It is so pathetic a lie it is hard to understand how he could say it with a straight face.

The claim is that the Qataris talked to the Taliban.

In this case, of course, the Qataris were our agents and were negotiating for us. But we are asked to indulge the deceit.

The State Department may be the second-most urgent reform target after Veterans Affairs. Congress should link together the three "B's" and understand that we are faced with delusion across our national security apparatus.

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