The United States does not negotiate with terrorists.

That simple declaration has been the underpinning of our national resolve for as long as most Americans remember. The revelation that our current president negotiated with terrorists to release terrorists in exchange for an American soldier in the hands of terrorists isn’t just more of the same when it comes to Barack Obama.

This is the game-changer that many of us have feared when it comes the conduct of this president.

For the moment, disregard whether Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl willingly walked away from his post. Set aside, for that matter, the condemnation from many in the military about his conduct and the subsequent loss of American lives that went into trying to save him. The administration has a solemn duty to those who presently serve — and especially to the families of loved ones killed in the course of trying to rescue Bergdahl — to sort out those facts and present them to the American people.

But for now, focus solely on the decision the president made, and why he made it, to deliver into the hands of terrorists, kingpins of terrorism.

It’s a combination of willful hubris and lack of gravitas that led Obama to jeopardize the life and safety of Americans around the world: from U.S. soldiers in the field, to diplomatic personnel, to American citizens traveling anywhere in the globe. There is now a price on their heads — and an understanding that the price will be paid.

The president of the United States sent a clarion call around the world to terrorists that the United States negotiates with terrorists.

Obama boasted to the world that the way he is ending the U.S. role in Afghanistan is the way “ … wars end in the 21st century.” Last week he stood before the sworn protectors of America at West Point and lectured them on his vision for how the United States would act in the 21st century.

He is a man of many words, so insulated from the world that even his own advisers no longer can convince him of the fact that the emperor has no clothes.

Fully exposed in the world, he still preens and cavorts to a personal philosophy that is more akin to a child wanting and wishing his way than it is to a hardened leader who understands that actions have always been heard more clearly than words.

The president knew that U.S. law required him to consult with Congress before he released terrorists from Guantanamo. He deliberately chose to break the law. He knew that every single terrorist he freed from captivity had a role in killing and injuring Americans or our allies — or both.

What the president knew cannot be covered up by even his most ardent defenders.

The notion that we should be grateful to be rid of five terrorists who were behind bars is as dangerous to America as the president’s decision to free them. The president wanted his way on Guantanamo. He wants it closed. Even if he has to deliberately break the law to do it.

Liberal defenders in the press and in politics tell us this is about closing the chapter of a war in Afghanistan. We are told that every American president has traded prisoners of war at the end of war. We are told that this was about leaving no American behind.

I am glad Bergdahl is home in America, where his freedom is guaranteed by those who died to gain his, as well as those who continue to fight to preserve ours. But this isn’t about liberating Bergdahl. Or about how America ends its wars in the 21st century.

This is about an American president boldly endangering the lives of his fellow Americans to prove his infallibility.

This is not about politics or partisanship. This is simply about a place in time in Obama’s presidency.

It is a time when accountability cannot simply be ignored because the truth is inconvenient.

The president broke the law. He put Americans in harm’s way. He negotiated with terrorists.

And when you negotiate with terrorists, terrorists win.


Norm Coleman is a former U.S. senator from Minnesota and current chairman of American Action Network and Minnesota Action Network.