Bowe Bergdahl: What the Left, Right, and Taliban Have To Say


Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl spent five years as a captive of Taliban-affiliated forces in Pakistan after he went AWOL in Afghanistan. On Saturday, the Obama administration negotiated with the jihadist Haqqani Network for Bergdahl's release in exchange for five high-profile detainees from Guantanamo Bay.

Qatar, which moderated the deal, will take and monitor the freed Taliban members for one year. They are all considered "high risk" leaders and "two of the five, according to files prepared at Guantanamo, have been wanted by the UN for war crimes," explans to The Long War Journal. This fact, along with Bergdahl's own reckless behavior, has stirred debate about the costs and benefits of the exchange. Here's what Democrats, Republicans, the Taliban, and others have said about the situation.

From the left, applause:

Susan Rice, President Barack Obama's national security adviser, said:

Sergeant Bergdahl wasn't simply a hostage; he was an American prisoner of war captured on the battlefield. We have a sacred obligation that we have upheld since the founding of our republic to do our utmost to bring back our men and women who are taken in battle, and we did that in this instance. …

Had we waited and lost him. I don't think anybody would have forgiven the United States government.

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) applauded the Obama administration for its "commitment to leave no service member behind." Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) made an almost identical statement.

To the right, renewed dangers:

Several prominent Republicans criticized the move. Rep. Mike Rogers (Mich.), Sen. Marco Rubio (Fl.), Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) expressed overlapping concerns that the U.S. has changed its policy not negotiating with terrorists and that more Americans will be put at risk. Rogers said:

I have little confidence in the security assurances regarding the movement and activities of the now-released Taliban leaders and I have even less confidence in this administration's willingness to ensure they are enforced. I believe this decision will threaten the lives of American soldiers for years to come.

If you negotiate here, you've sent a message to every Al Qaeda group in the world — by the way, some who are holding U.S. hostages today — that there is some value now in that hostage in a way that they didn't have before.

Policy experts are unfazed:

Although Rogers says the deal marks a "fundamental shift in U.S. policy," Bush-era State Department official Mitchell Reiss suggests, "There's little that's actually new here" in terms of negotiating with terrorists.

USA Today spoke with Bruce Hoffman of Georgetown University's Center for Security Studies, who highlighted the fact that the U.S. has successfully made high-profile swaps with terrorists in the past. He cited the Iran Hostage Crisis during the Carter administration and the Iran-Contra affair in the Reagan years.

The conservative Heritage Foundation's Charles Stimson added that 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."

Still, the Obama administration did conduct the deal without going through the proper channels. The White House is supposed to give Congress 30 days notice before releasing Guantanamo Bay prisoners.

Some veterans are unhappy:

CNN's Jake Tapper writes that a Facebook page titled "Bowe Bergdahl Is NOT a Hero" was started by one of Bergdahl's "former squad leaders."

Likewise, former Sgt. Matt Vierkant, a member of Bergdahl's platoon, told CNN, "I was pissed off then, and I am even more so now. … Bergdahl deserted during a time of war, and his fellow Americans lost their lives searching for him."

The Taliban claims victory:

Regarding the release of Mohammad Fazl, Mullah Norullah Noori, Mohammed Nabi, Khairullah Khairkhwa and Abdul Haq Wasiq, Taliban leader Mullah Omar issued a statement that read, "We shall thank almighty for this great victory. The sacrifice of our Mujahedin have resulted in the release of our senior leaders from the hand of the enemy."

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  1. Instead of joining the military, I went to art skool!

    I would’ve loved to go to Afghanistan had I enlisted as I was fascinated with the Soviet-Afghan War.

    1. I actually know someone did both of those things – go to art school and Afghanistan. Back in the Russia vs Afghan days, he got himself embedded in a Mujaheddin unit and he did a painting a day documenting the experience.

      1. Man, I never thought that was possible, SS.

  2. Libertarians don’t have an opinion I guess.

  3. Bleh

  4. “Quick, find me something to get the public to stop talking about the VA before they begin to draw parallels to Obamacare!”

    1. +1, and another +1 bonus point since I can break a law that I can’t possibly be prosecuted for. That will really piss off the opposition.

      I am the Most Awesome President ever!

  5. Fuck you Bowe Bergdahl. The blood of men better than you is on your hands.

    That is all.

  6. “Had we waited and lost him. I don’t think anybody would have forgiven the United States government.”

    We’d probably hear a lot of “what difference, at this point, does it make?” from the left.

  7. And Libertarians? Rand Paul is waiting for the smoke to clear to weigh in?

    Well, at least we know Nick didn’t wait. He fired off an article as quickly as possible, quoting mostly sources that condemned Bergdahl for desertion. Just couldn’t wait for an actual investigation to be completed before he condemned this prisoner.

    Who needs fact finding when you can condemn someone in the press.

    1. “quoting mostly sources that condemned Bergdahl for desertion.”

      Yeah, Nick has a horrible journalistic practice of “quoting sources” and all. /sarcasm

      It would have been much better if we could have just swallowed the Obama administration’s story that Bergdahl, “served the United States with honor and distinction”.

      You know, despite all the evidence that points in the exact opposite direction.

      In fact wouldn’t we be all a lot better off, if we never criticized the Administration and it’s policies. Because, after all, their intentions are pure and they are all a bunch of really smart people?

      1. Here is the sad fact- you, Nick and me know nothing about the facts of his disappearance. You don’t know if he was suffering from a mental disorder, or physical disorder, intoxication, whatever. The investigation was never completed. And the most important person in the whole affair has yet to be heard from…and that would be Bergdahl. You’d want a fair hearing, wouldn’t you? I am sure Nick always believes in fair hearings, just maybe not on this one.

        To suggest, as Nick did yesterday, that it was more nefarious is disgraceful. And regardless, he was a US soldier, and one never gets left behind.

        Here’s what Nick has a habit of…quoting only sources AND polls that reinforce his dislike of Obama. Fair hearing is not in the cards…even for a US prisoner.

        1. “Here is the sad fact- you, Nick and me know nothing about the facts of his disappearance.”

          Are you fucking delusional? By every substantive account Bergdahl deserted his post.

          “Bowe Bergdahl had a different response. He decided to walk away.

          In the early-morning hours of June 30th, according to soldiers in the unit, Bowe approached his team leader not long after he got off guard duty and asked his superior a simple question: If I were to leave the base, would it cause problems if I took my sensitive equipment?

          Yes, his team leader responded ? if you took your rifle and night-vision goggles, that would cause problems.

          Bowe returned to his barracks, a roughly built bunker of plywood and sandbags. He gathered up water, a knife, his digital camera and his diary. Then he slipped off the outpost.”


          “You’d want a fair hearing, wouldn’t you? I am sure Nick always believes in fair hearings, just maybe not on this one.”

          This is not a hearing. Surely you aren’t so immature as to conflate news reports with a hearing? The processes are completely different.

          A hearing is exactly what should take place now. A hearing to determine if a court martial is appropriate. But at this point, with the head of the military, backing a version of events that’s directly contradictory to all the evidence, I don’t expect to see an impartial hearing.

          1. Judge, jury and executioner…welcome to Reason. And I thought this was supposed to be a Libertarian blog.

            1. If you look carefully, you’ll see that there isn’t a judge, jury, or executioner… because there isn’t a trial. Instead, this is what’s known as a “discussion.” Aren’t you supposed to be reality-based?

            2. As one who served in Afghanistan, Fuck You !

              What you think is meaningless. Men died searching for this guy and everyone knew he deserted. A 15-6 investigation occurred, the Army knows what happened, he walked away. I was over there for a DUSTWUN. We throw everything and the kitchen sink searching for our comrades. For this guy to knowingly create that situation is a disgrace. There is a reason soldiers didn’t cheer or even acknowledge the SECDEF when he told them the good news that Bergdahl was found. This is a small community and shit like this isn’t kept secret.

          2. Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything that’s even remotely true. Facts, schmacts.-DoD spokesman Homer Simpson

        2. We don’t know anything because the administration and the DoD basically put a gag order on anyone who knew anything about him, his mental state and his actions that night. What they are reaping now is the fruits of that determined secrecy.

          I guess they did learn a few things from their treatment of Pat Tillman’s death.

      2. As opposed to quoting all of Bergdahl’s friends and family who swear he didn’t desert and that he’s a hero (except that guy who he told he’d just walk off if the deployment was lame).

        I’m not sure which group I trust more to try and understand what happened in Afghanistan.

    2. As opposed to the masses who are saying he’s a hero despite testimony and sworn statements to the contrary? The military did do an investigation, why not just release that information and the statements they’ve already collected rather than waiting until after he’s been debriefed?

      Could it be that they’re building a narrative around him that has nothing to do with facts and everything to do with a photo op and nifty campaign of how Obama supports the troops right during the problem at the VA?

      1. Here we go…the conspiracy theorists are at it again.

        They STARTED an investigation…it was never completed. You’d want his side of the story, wouldn’t you?

        1. I’m willing to hear his side of the story. Perfectly willing and waiting anxiously to do so.

          But since information exists now regarding this case and those who served with him are offering their version of the story, how hard would it be to refute those stories if the DoD had even one shred of evidence he wasn’t a deserter?

          I don’t think this is a conspiracy any more than any other governmental effort to frame things in the light that serves it best. I think it’s the military maipulating the truth to serve it’s own, unseemly ends.

    3. There have already been investigations. They found that he deserted his unit. If you’re too fucking lazy (or too busy fellating the administration) to figure that out for yourself, go ahead and blame Nick though.

      You’re immune to unpleasant truths anyway.

    4. An investigation was completed within 48 hours of Bergdahl’s disappearance. Every single person he had been in contact with in the weeks prior to his desertion was interviewed. We knew within hours that he deserted, exactly how he left the base, and with whom. Regardless of him being a known deserter, no effort was spared to “rescue” him, people died, and we burned through so much fuel and aircraft hours that it literally changed the outcome of that year’s fighting season.

      The facts are known, and they are irrefutable. That you chose to believe an administration that will literally lie to your face is your problem.

  8. Bow Bergdahl is not a hero? I dare say that no man who voluntarily joins the government’s murder squads are heroes. The last ‘legitimate’ war fought by this government was the Revolutionary War and none of those veterans are living. There is not one single living member of the US military who has ever “fought and died for your freedom”.

    1. Even the dead ones didn’t live…

      1. Blah, blah, blah.

    2. Ha ha. Citation definitely fucking needed.

    3. Murder squads? You’re a fucking moron.

  9. Interesting to check on *cough cough* Infowars showing a clip of Judge Napolitano’s opinion on the subject.…..-argument/

    And the Daily Mail seems to do a better job then the staff of the NY Times for reporting, lol.…..arges.html

    Obama wanted a diversion to forget the VA scandal to hit another upcoming potential scandal.

    1. dawg don’t link Infowars LOL that shit gives all of us a bad name.

      Regardless, yes, this left/right BS is cover for the VA scandal, no doubt.

      1. Looks like they didn’t covered the good way as this Youtube clip mentionned on the American Thinker.…..rabic.html

  10. Thoughts on Bergdahl:
    1) Strategically, if we traded 5 guys to get him back, it’s a huge benefit for us, because one of ours is worth 1,000 of theirs. Any organism (such as a government, or a beehive, etc.) that doesn’t view the world through this admittedly false lens will have a hard time surviving. (Heinlein-influenced view)
    2) The Obama and Bush Administrations are not “us.” They are so fucking abjectly incompetent that the can drag out a short-term ass-kicking against stone-age theocratic savages, and turn it into a war-profiteer orgy, and an ongoing nation-building clusterfuck.
    3) Even though said central bank plantation administrations are abjectly incompetent, we have awesome tech guys. Our tech guys beat their tech guys. We have thousands of SNOWDENs. We can put a missile into a mousehole from a controller that is 7,399 miles away. We are fucking awesome with technology.

  11. 4) We know how much more sophisticated we are, than they are. It’s basically like a Senior in Highschool beating up a retarded kindergartner –it’s not fair. Plus, due to the fact that the American taxpayer has his head totally up his ass, and is willing to pay 20,000,000 times what a total victory actually costs, we keep on fucking up royally, and killing our own allies, innocent civilians, and all kinds of other people “over there” by accident (A la the “collateral murder” video by WIKIleaks). The war itself is just “PR” the true mission is to spend the U.S. taxpayer’s money. Imagine that we simply turned the war over to the Koch brothers, and had them execute it as efficiently as possible, with the goal of SAVING AMERICAN LIVES (So they could buy more Koch products –everybody wins!). I have total confidence that the Koch brothers would have the “war on (some)terror” ended and WON, within the week. The Taliban and other theocrats would simply surrender, because they’d have no support within their own countries, because the Kochs would win with TECHNOLOGY, and have almost ZERO innocent casualties. Innocent casualties recruit for Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

  12. 5) For all of the prior reasons, I’m going to go out on a limb and bet that we implanted those 5 Al Qaeda guys with stealth technology that can be used to track the meta data and personal communications of those 5 guys. I’m going to bet that we covered them with implanted chemical signals, and many other things. We had them under a microscope for many years.

    Those 5 guys aren’t “free” because right now, they’re our best informants. You can’t interact with miniaturized computer systems and prevail. They can be programmed to be smarter than your entire human network.

    So, either they stop acting as radicals, or they give up their radical networks.

    1. Maybe. It does fit a bit with why we gave up 4 Taliban and 1 Haqquani (sp?) for a guy who wasn’t being held by the Taliban – he was being held by the Haqquani.

  13. The trouble is, Obama couldn’t find anyone militarily “worth” trading them for. There was no plausible reason to trade them until this dumbshit Bergdahl “volunteered.” Obama wanted to send them back into Afghanistan and Iraq, and wherever else they might go, because that basically gives us a “back door” into radical Islam (until the militants figure out what I just wrote, which, even for them, shouldn’t take long).

    Ironically, even when Obama gets something like this militarily right (through no fault of his own), the right wing attacks him for it, out of sheer ignorance about what’s actually going on. The “brother” can’t catch a break! For this reason, if we have to have a prison-industrial-complex whoring, war-profiteer whoring, central bank puppet for a president (which I don’t think we do), it’s probably better that it’s a black guy, just so the blacks can finally say that they at least got to participate in the system as it stands. (Even if they had only the ability to put a black sociopath into the puppet position.)

    The real hatred I harbor, is for white America that has turned its back on the principles of individual freedom. (And for the big-L Losertarians that don’t care about individual freedom enough to win it back.)

    But I digress.

  14. I also sympathize heavily with the people here who are annoyed with all the right-wing comments. (Just because I understand the right-wing nuttery doesn’t mean I agree with it.) I too, thought this was supposed to be a libertarian blog.

    There’s really nobody a smart libertarian can talk to, these days. The government schools have performed their function too perfectly. The sociopaths in government understand perverse incentives far better than we do, hence the ballot access restrictions that incentivize useless candidates. It’s all perfect, sociopathic, destruction, designed to part idiots from their very last dollar.

    Which is why I need to get back to the new primary mission (given the domination of human networks by sociopaths): building smarter than human AGI. (Or SGI if you want to be “politically correct” and “polite.”)

    1. Too bad deterministic state machines will never be capable of meaningful intelligence, fantasies of the entire worthless AI “industry” not withstanding.

    2. Inane blather. Technology doesn’t gain ground and hold it; guys with guns do.

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