“Stop, Thief!” Cried the Master Burglar

The capacity of those in the chattering classes to live in a house with no mirrors reached a new high, or low, with this development in the verbal war over the Bergdahl exchange (per a report from TPM’s Tom Kludt:

Naturally, Lt. Col. Oliver North has plenty to say about the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

North, the former Reagan aide-turned-conservative commentator best-known for his central role in the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s, was on a mission Tuesday to hand down his indictment of the prisoner swap that secured Bergdahl’s rescue.

Speaking to former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) on his Newsmax program, North demanded to know if a ransom was paid to terrorists in order to execute the swap.

“Was there a ransom paid?” North said. “Did the government of the United States, either directly or indirectly, finance a terrorist organization?”

North went even further in an interview with Newsmax host Steve Malzberg.

He strongly disputed the characterization of Bergdahl as a “prisoner of war,” asserting that he was in fact a “hostage” of the Haqqani terrorist network, which is allied with the Taliban.

Moreover, North estimated that the ransom paid for Bergdahl must have been in the range of $5-$6 million, given that he had heard it was around $1 million at some point in the past. North didn’t provide any evidence that a ransom was paid in conjunction with Bergdahl’s release.

“Someone paid a ransom,” North said. “Whether the Qataries paid it, or some big oil sheik, or somebody used our petrodollars, but there was a ransom paid in cash for each one of them, my guess somewhere in the round numbers of $5 or 6 million to get Bergdahl freed. I know that the offer that was on the table before was close to a million.”

North had more to say on Tuesday night, joining his pal Sean Hannity on Fox News to suggest that Obama might believe “unilateral surrender is the way to end the war.” He once again demanded to know whether a ransom was paid to the Haqqanis.

So on and on North babbles, with only the vaguest acknowledgment (i.e., that he knew “a lot about hostage negotiations”) that he orchestrated the Iran-Contra outrage, for which he has never, so far as I know, apologized other than to express the wish that he hadn’t been caught.

Moral casuists may well debate where North ranks in the annals of unwelcome commentary for daring to criticize the Obama administration over the Bergdahl exchange, as compared, say, to unrepentant Iraq War enthusiasts who are forever lusting for fresh combat. I’d say he takes the cake and Bible.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.