(CNN) – The U.S. secured the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for five Taliban prisoners detained at Guantanamo Bay.
The entire process, years in the making, has raised a lot of questions about whether the move will increase American kidnappings overseas, and if Bergdahl’s release was worth the freedom of these five dangerous men.
Two former Department of Defense officials who were involved in the initial negotiations said the Taliban offered a better deal this time.
“The travel ban on these detainees had not been agreed earlier,” said Chris Kolenda, former Defense Department senior adviser on Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The ban means the five men cannot leave Qatar for at least one year.
“The Taliban caved to those demands after some very hard-nosed negotiations by people in the State Department,” says Kolenda. “It was part of the game changer that allowed this effort to take place.”
Critics are accusing the Obama administration of negotiating with terrorists to free Bergdahl, even setting a price for it. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says that is not the case.
“We didn’t negotiate with terrorists,” Hagel told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Sgt. Bergdahl is a prisoner of war. That’s a normal process in getting your prisoners back.”
“The state of Israel, another democracy, gave up more than 1,000 … Palestinian prisoners that were held in Israeli jails in exchange for one,” said Jeremy Bash, former chief of staff to former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta during the early stages of these negotiations.
“They did that even though the prisoners in the Israeli jails had the blood of some 500 Israelis on their hands, and that’s because they lived up to an ethos, as I think we do here in this country, that you leave no man behind,” said Bash.
For more analysis from Chris Kolenda and Jeremy Bash, check out the video above.