Fox News host Megyn Kelly endorsed the canard that President George W. Bush never negotiated with terrorists, an attempt to criticize Obama for negotiations that led to the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from Taliban captivity. The reality is that Obama's negotiation is fully consistent with recent American history, including negotiations conducted by President Bush during the Iraq War.
On the June 2 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File, host Kelly asked former Vice President Dick Cheney whether the U.S. negotiated with terrorists in order to secure the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from the Taliban in an exchange for five Guantanamo Bay prisoners. Kelly used a 2008 speech from former President Bush in Israel where she claimed he “shared this powerful history lesson on the danger of trying to deal with the devil”:
KELLY: America doesn't normally negotiate with terrorists. Did we just do that? Back in 2008 President Bush was speaking in Israel when he shared his powerful history lesson on the danger in trying to deal with the devil.
Kelly, following the lead of many in the media, ignored the fact that Bergdahl's release mirrors similar negotiations throughout U.S. history. In fact, Time magazine pointed out that President Bush, whom Kelly touted as having warned against negotiating with terrorists, “cut deals with Sunni insurgents in Iraq's Anbar province -- working with and even paying people who had been killing American soldiers” during the Iraq War. On June 1, PolitiFact wrote that Mitchell Reiss, who worked under Bush and presidential candidate Mitt Romney, explained that “There's little that's actually new here,” “noting Bush engaged in negotiations with Iran and North Korea even after decreeing them part of the 'Axis of Evil.'”
Security expert Charles “Cully” Stimson told USA Today that presidents from both parties have participated in “small scale negotiations” in the past:
Charles “Cully” Stimson, a security expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank, said there are even more examples of small-scale negotiations with terrorist groups that the public, and many members of Congress, just don't know about.
Under President George W. Bush, Stimson helped coordinate the Pentagon's detainee operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and other places around the world. He said presidential administrations of both political parties routinely have been forced to deal with terrorist groups for “information, supplies, personnel -- a lot of different topics.”
“We have had very quiet negotiations, or discussions at least, with terrorist groups over the years on a whole host of things,” Stimson said. “They just haven't usually come to light.”
The language in this post has been updated for accuracy.