Former Lt. Col. Oliver North continued his campaign against the Obama administration on Friday, accusing officials of needlessly trading five detainees for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, America's only prisoner of war in Afghanistan.
"All they ever wanted was money," the former Reagan aide said of the Taliban on Hugh Hewitt's radio show. "They never once mentioned in all of the dialogue that occurred trying to get him back earlier, that they wanted anything but money. So somehow, this administration concocted the release of five very senior, very brutal terrorists."
The contours of a possible deal for Bergdahl included the release of Taliban detainees at Guantanamo Bay for several years, and were reported as early as February 17.
North didn't provide any evidence to back up his assertion, but he claimed that a "senior person in our U.S. government" requested his assistance with the exchange because he had "a lot of experience in dealing with hostage situations."
The conservative commentator was infamously convicted of covering up 1980s Iran-Contra scandal, where he and other Reagan administration officials helped engineer the illegal sale of arms to Iran in exchange for the release of American hostages. The proceeds of the sale were then used to finance rebels in Nicaragua.
Responding to claims that Bergdahl deserted his post in Afghanistan, North said that the 28-year-old deserved to be prosecuted.
"I’ve never met [Bergdahl], but I’ve met the family," he said. "Some have posited that he’s betrayed his country, that he’s defected, that he’s actually taken up arms against them. Look, here’s my take on that. One, none of us who have ever been hostages understand fully what one goes through under those circumstances. That’s number one. The so-called Stockholm Syndrome is a real thing and we’ll leave it at that. Number three, he deserves justice."
In an interview with Newsmax earlier this week, North speculated that Bergdahl's ransom was somewhere in the range of $5-$6 million, given that he had heard it was around $1 million at some point in the past. But he didn't provide any proof to that claim either.
"Someone paid a ransom," he 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."
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