This past week has been a somber one for the United States, especially for military members and veterans. On Friday, May 31, President Obama held a rose garden ceremony, at the White House, with the parents of U.S. Army sergeant and Taliban prisoner Bowe Bergdahl, celebrating the exchange of five Taliban prisoners for their son.
The administration has since described the release of the five Taliban commanders as ''humanitarian,'' and the service of Sgt. Bergdahl as ''honorable an distinctive.'' This announcement comes hot on the heels of a Veterans Administration scandal, where Veterans Administration leadership has neglected the needs of veterans, and misled the American public.
While a prisoner exchange, and the return of an American soldier, held captive by our enemy, is normally a cause for celebration, the circumstances of this exchange strikes a very deep nerve with many military members, veterans and engaged American citizens. One concern is the terms of the exchange itself. It appears lopsided to exchange of five loyal Taliban commanders for one American soldier.
This comes at a time when America appears ever weaker on the world stage. This exchange will likely encourage our enemies to take Americans captive, and cause our friends to question our resolve.
However, America is a civilized society that values human life and its military service members. The same cannot be said for barbarians, such as the Taliban.
Therefore, civilized Western societies have often engaged in lopsided prisoner exchanges. Israel has been known to exchange scores of captive terrorists to secure the return of their military members. We will just have to find solace in the knowledge that one of ours is worth five of theirs.
Many question whether this particular soldier, whose negligent (if not criminal) actions led to his own capture, is worthy of such an exchange. Did his negligence (or criminal action) lead to the death of other soldiers, tasked with the search effort to find Bergdahl? Is Bergdahl a deserter? Is he an enemy collaborator? These are valid questions that must be addressed.
But this should occur after Bergdahl is returned and can speak in his own defense. Bergdahl's military commanders must investigate the circumstances of his disappearance and capture. They alone must then decide whether or not judicial proceedings are in order.
The Obama administration's characterization of Bergdahl's service as ''honorable and distinctive'' is, at best, premature and irresponsible. At worst, it's deceitful.
Military commanders must decide Bergdahl's fate without any undue influence from the Obama administration.
It is likely that the five Taliban individuals will return to their jihad and contribute to the deaths of Afghan citizens, if not Americans. To characterize their release as ''humanitarian'' is irresponsible.
With so many unanswered questions, and cause for concern, May 31, the traditional date for Memorial Day, was not the proper time, and the White House rose garden was not the proper place for this ceremony.