Pentagon got duped, made ransom payment for Bowe Bergdahl to con man
“Given the significance of this matter, as well as the fact that Pentagon officials have denied that a payment was even considered — and you also said you were unaware of any such attempt — I ask you to immediately inquire with JSOC to determine the specific order of events,” said Mr. Hunter, California Republican and member of the House Armed Services Committee.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Tuesday that Mr. Obama “continues to believe, as previous presidents have concluded, that it’s not in the best interest of American citizens to pay ransoms to any organization, let alone a terrorist organization.”
“And the reason for that is simple: We don’t want to put other American citizens at even greater risk when they’re around the world,” he said.
Secretary of State John F. Kerry also said in a speech Tuesday that ransom payments will not be paid. Both officials spoke following the latest beheading of an American, Peter Kassig, by Islamic State terrorists.
Officials said the Bergdahl ransom was an unspecified large amount of money and that the exchange was handled by the Army’s elite Delta Force anti-terrorism squad. The FBI also was involved in the ransom payment attempt and was waiting inside Afghanistan’s border with North Waziristan when the release failed, confirming that it had been a scam.
The Pentagon’s spin on the payment is that the money was not technically a ransom. Instead, defense officials are claiming the cash was intelligence money paid to a source for information that would lead to the release of Sgt. Bergdahl.
Before the prisoner swap for Sgt. Bergdahl, which angered Congress because it violated promises of consultations prior to the freeing of Guantanamo inmates, special operations commandos had been preparing to conduct a rescue raid if Sgt. Bergdahl’s location was uncovered.