Editor’s note: This is another in a series of “WND/WENZEL POLLS” conducted exclusively for WND by the public-opinion research and media consulting company Wenzel Strategies.
Fifty-four percent of Americans say Barack Obama’s deal to swap five Taliban leaders for a detained U.S. soldier in the Middle East amounts to providing aid to terrorists – a violation of federal law – according to a new poll.
That result is just one of the factors that reveals a deep outrage across America over the deal through which Obama freed five terrorists who had been confined at Guantanamo Bay as too dangerous to release in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl, whose platoon-mates say he actually deserted his Army post before being taken by the Taliban.
The results are from a national survey of registered voters by Wenzel Strategies. It was conducted June 12-14 and has a margin of error of 3.95 percentage points.
“The country’s disapproval of the Obama prisoner exchange likely stems from the fact that they feel the national security of the U.S. should always trump the health and safety of one soldier,” said Fritz Wenzel, of Wenzel Strategies.
He continued, “And there is evidence in the survey data that Obama has put the country at risk with this trade.
“We offered respondents two chances to answer this question with a slight change in nuance. In one question, we posed it as Sgt. Bergdahl simply being held as a hostage, and in the second instance, we added language that highlighted his walking away from his post prior to his being taken captive, but respondents didn’t seem to care. In both instances, they said the security of the nation should take preeminence over the life of one soldier.”
The results had 78 percent of respondents stating that the security of the nation was more important than Bergdahl’s security, with not even 22 percent taking the opposite stance. Even 65 percent of Democrats held that majority position.
Wenzel also noted a powerful sentiment against Obama’s decision to take the action without notifying Congress, which also is required by the law.
“There is considerably anger over the flouting of U.S. law in Obama’s not notifying Congress about this deal-making before the trade took place,” he said. “Nearly two-thirds – 64 percent – said they disagree with the White House’s decision to go it alone on making the deal.
“Disagreement with Obama on this point is intense, as 54 percent said they ‘strongly disagree’ with the White House’s decision to keep Congress in the dark. This after almost two weeks in which the White House has executed a campaign to discredit the trustworthiness of Congress on such sensitive matters, a factor that leads one to conclude that Americans are not buying what the White House is selling,” he said.
“What is more is that a majority of Americans – 54 percent – said they think the Obama hostage deal amounts to Obama’s providing aid to a terrorist organization – the Taliban – by making the exchange. And on this point, even a majority of Democrats agree, as 50 percent said they agreed the trade did aid the Taliban, compared to 40 percent of Democrats who disagreed with that sentiment,” Wenzel said.
“Among Republicans, 62 percent said they agreed Obama had provided aid to terrorists. Gender differences are interesting on this question, as 57 percent of men said Obama had aided terrorists, while just 50 percent of women said the same thing. More blacks agreed (44 percent) with the sentiment than disagreed with it (35 percent), with the balance undecided on the question.”
He explained that the White House undoubtedly “expected this Bergdahl exchange to get the VA scandal off the front pages, and it has certainly done that, but not in the way the White House probably expected. Instead of being a bright and shining example of Obama’s skill on the world stage, the WND/Wenzel poll shows it is seen by a majority of Americans as a significant mistake – 60 percent of all registered voters nationally disagreed with Obama’s five-to-one trade to get the soldier back.
“As has been the case since the start of his second term, independent voters are strongly against the trade, as 65 percent said they oppose it. It is not surprising that just 14 percent of Republicans supported the exchange. Among Democrats, 64 percent said they agreed with the White House deal with the Taliban.”
The public has come to see the situation as an “ill-advised capitulation to a terrorist group,” he said.
“What the White House failed to do here, based on these poll findings, is to control this story from the outset. There is no way that, once having launched this story into the mainstream consciousness with its own Rose Garden ceremony, they could have stopped the media from covering the subsequent fallout,” he said.
There’s not a good outcome for the Obama administration, he suggested.
“The die has largely been cast on this as a serious foreign policy blunder, reinforced by the thought that these five Taliban leaders may well come back to haunt the U.S. much the way Obama’s walkaway from Iraq is also now blooming into a disaster of epic proportions.
“For a man who came into office promising to unite the world and heal old wounds, the meltdown in the Middle East must be disturbing to even Obama’s staunchest supporters. This survey shows the American public has lost all confidence in his leadership abroad, and that they are growing less and less likely to trust his judgment – if not his version of the facts.”
See detailed results of survey questions:
The return of U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for the release and return to the Middle East of five high-level leaders of the Taliban has triggered a great deal of controversy across the country. How familiar are you with this news story that has developed over the past week or so?
If you HAD TO CHOOSE, which do you think is more important for the president to be concerned about – the health and safety of one U.S. soldier held as a hostage in Afghanistan, or the national security of the country?
If you HAD TO CHOOSE, which do you think is more important for the president to be concerned about – the health and safety of one U.S. soldier who walked away from his post and was subsequently kidnapped in Afghanistan, or the national security of the country?
President Obama did not consult with Congress before ordering the release of the Taliban leaders – as required by U.S. law – because, the president said, he was fearful for the health and safety of Sergeant Bergdahl. Knowing this about why Obama took the action he did, do you agree or disagree that Obama was justified in ignoring the law and bypassing Congress in releasing the Taliban leaders?
There is another federal law that prohibits any U.S. citizen from providing aid to a terrorist organization. The U.S. government has classified the Taliban as a terrorist organization. Knowing this, do you agree or disagree that Obama’s action to return five high-level Taliban leaders to the Middle East amounts to his providing aid to a terrorist organization?
Members of his own unit say Sergeant Bergdahl had expressed disgust for the United States mission in Afghanistan, had written of wanting to renounce his U.S. citizenship, and had walked away from his post in Afghanistan before he was captured by enemy forces and held for five years. Knowing this, are you more or less likely to support Obama’s decision to release the five high-level Taliban leaders in exchange for Army Sergeant Bergdahl?
Do you believe that President Obama knew about the allegations from his own unit members that Sergeant Bergdahl walked away from his post and of his desire to renounce his U.S. citizenship BEFORE he decided to release five high-level Taliban leaders in exchange for Bergdahl’s freedom?