- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 12, 2014

In the wake of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s rescue, Americans wonder: Is it worth negotiating with terrorists for the safe release of U.S. prisoners, or is it more important to discourage terrorists from taking prisoners by refusing to deal with them? The nation is divided on the answer, but politics brings out the differences. There is a huge partisan divide between Republicans and Democrats.

A new Gallup poll finds that 44 percent of Americans say it’s more important to refuse to negotiate with terrorist groups, 43 percent say the return of prisoners takes precedence, even if it means compromising American policy. Things differ with political leanings: 64 percent of Republicans say the U.S. should not negotiate with terrorists, 26 percent say securing the release of U.S. prisoners is more important.

Among Democrats, 26 percent say refusing to negotiate is most important while 61 percent say prisoners are paramount.

“The Bergdahl situation has proved to be highly controversial and President Obama continues to be questioned about his decision to exchange prisoners with the Taliban. The president has emphasized the United States’ desire to bring home all of its captive soldiers as a rationale for his decision,” notes Gallup analyst Jeffrey Jones.

The prisoner exchange has worried one Michigan Republican in particular.

“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 U.S. government, so they can use that to propagandize against areas that are unsecure still in Afghanistan. They got all of that,” Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told ABC News earlier this week.

Not everyone is that alarmed. Hillary Clinton is not one to worry, for example, about the five Taliban fighters who were freed in exchange for Sgt. Bergdahl’s release.

“These five guys are not a threat to the United States,” she told NBC News. “They are a threat to the safety and security of Afghanistan and Pakistan. It’s up to those two countries to make the decision once and for all that these are threats to them. So I think we may be kind of missing the bigger picture here. We want to get an American home. Whether they fell off the ship because they were drunk or they were pushed or they jumped, we try to rescue everybody.”

Observes PJ Media columnist and author Andrew C. McCarthy: “There are still thousands of American troops in harm’s way in Afghanistan and it is a ripe dead certainty the five jihadist commanders with which President Obama has just replenished the Taliban will go back to the anti-American jihad.”