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Shannyn Moore: Too bad pundits didn't scrutinize war plans like they did Bergdahl

Shannyn Moore

I asked a friend this week if he remembered the name of the Atlanta Olympics bomber.

"Oh, that was Richard Jewell, right? Wait. It wasn't him. He actually got people away from the bomb but then they thought it was him. Who actually did do it? Weird. I can't remember his name."

The real bomber, Eric Rudolph, was convicted of the Atlanta bombing that injured more than 100 and killed one woman after he bombed an abortion clinic.

I had to look up his name. That's how distorting the media frenzy can be. Mr. Jewell did win defamation cases against news outlets, but years later his name is the one people associate with domestic terrorism.

This week we've seen the same sort of whiplash in reporting. Hero! Traitor! We need theme music and a graphic, quick!

The release of POW Bowe Bergdahl was wrapped in a yellow ribbon and presented to America. The Obama administration had released five Guantanamo Bay detainees (notice we don't call them prisoners of war, though they clearly are) in exchange for Bergdahl's freedom.

The Taliban said they would kill him if the exchange were made public. Probably not a bluff you want to call.

Television pundits (I'm being kind here) turned into bullies. Bergdahl's father, who had stopped shaving when his son was captured five years ago, was mocked. He didn't have to look like the Taliban anymore, they said. (Really? You ever watch the Stanley Cup finals? Entire sports teams making a statement with their beards. Duck Dynasty full of terrorist look-alikes? I never thought of it like that.)

Soldiers who had served with Bergdahl here in Alaska called my radio show. Others went on national television and said Bergdahl had deserted. One told me Bergdahl was actually working for the Taliban.

Proof? Not an ounce. A hearing? Nope. Trial? Why bother?

Here's why I'll call bunk on that. President Obama had no problem using a drone to kill an American citizen, Anwar al-Awaki, with no indictment. We killed both him and his son because Obama considered them threats to America. If Bergdahl was a threat to our security, do you really think he'd still be breathing?

Then came charges that the president could have got a better deal. Dick Cheney, our former No. 2 chickenhawk, weighed in to say the negotiation was a bad deal. Really, Dick? Really?

Compared to Israel, Obama is a genius at prisoner-swap negotiations. In October 2011, the Israelis released 1,027 prisoners, mainly Palestinians responsible for the deaths of 569 Israelis, in exchange for the freedom of one soldier. One.

The five prisoners the president traded would have had to be released when the conflict in Afghanistan ends in 2016.

We traded prisoners with Vietnam at the end of the war. One of them was Sen. John McCain, who thought a swap for Bergdahl was a good idea in February but is now cranky about it. For the same reason that Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai wasn't told, neither was McCain or the rest of Congress. Our side couldn't afford to have the information leak. Think about that.

"We never negotiate with terrorists!" was the next talking point.

Ronald Reagan traded arms with Iran for hostages (then illegally sent the money to the Contras fighting the Sandinistas in Nicaragua). So I find "never" to be a strong word.

The town of Hailey, Idaho, Bergdahl's hometown, has held an annual event called "Bring Bowe Back." He was not forgotten. The town is covered in yellow ribbons for one of their own. They had planned a celebration of his release but cancelled it. Why? Threats to their town of 8,000 people.

Threats from the Taliban? No. Threats from Americans who apparently support the troops -- whenever it suits their political agendas.

There are indeed questions about how Bergdahl came to be captured. The Pentagon has said it will investigate. Bergdahl will have to answer for his conduct. Even so, there are people unwilling to wait for that process to play out and are spitting on the return of an American soldier.

If only they were as quick to jump on the people who lied us into a war that has broken so much.

It would be nice if we could all agree that we don't leave our soldiers behind. No exceptions.

Shannyn Moore is a radio broadcaster. Listen to her show, "The Last Word," Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on KOAN 95.5 FM and 1080 AM and 1480 We Act Radio in Washington, D.C., and on Netroots Radio.



By SHANNYN MOORE