Afghanistan

Did White House Keep Taliban Trade a Secret Because Congress Opposed It?

Officials say Bergdahl too fragile to be questioned.

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When the Obama administration arranged the trade of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl (accused of being a deserter) for five members of the Taliban held in Guantanamo Bay, lawmakers accused the administration of violating a law requiring the White House give Congress a month's notice before transferring or releasing these prisoners. The White House said it had moved quickly when an opportunity arose.

Today, though, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) wondered whether the real reason the administration didn't tell Congress was because it knew Congress would oppose the deal, as it has in the past. The Hill takes note:

[Boehner] also said lawmakers were opposed to the exchange when it was first raised, and accused the White House of keeping Congress in the dark because of that opposition.

"More than two years ago, Members of Congress were briefed on the possibility of such an exchange, and the chairmen at the time and I raised serious questions to the administration," Boehner said in the statement.

"Unfortunately, the questions and concerns we had were never satisfactorily answered and they remain today. At the time, the administration deferred further engagement because the prospects of the exchange had diminished," Boehner said.

The White House apologized to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) for not telling the Senate like they were supposed to. Feinstein said she got a call from an administration official declaring the failure to follow the rules "an oversight."

Bergdahl too fragile for questioning

The details about how Bergdahl ended up becoming a prisoner of the Taliban in Afghanistan and whether he deserted his post are still unanswered. Officials say he's still recovering from his five-year captivity and hasn't been interviewed as yet. From ABC News:

Newly freed Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is not being asked about the circumstances of his "capture" by the Taliban, though a note he left at his base back in 2009 could help tell the story, a senior defense official told ABC News today.

The official, who spoke about the sensitive details of Bergdahl's case on the condition of anonymity, said that Bergdahl is not being interrogated at the American military medical facility in Germany, to which he was brought this weekend after being released from five-year captivity by the Taliban. The official said there are legitimate concerns about Bergdahl's physical and mental health, which have deteriorated over the years – so serious that doctors have cautioned officials and family not to reach out to even just say "welcome back" yet.

Though the medical facility said today that Bergdahl's condition is listed as "stable," it may be a long time, the official said, before Bergdahl can be questioned about his experience with the Taliban.

Reportedly, Bergdahl walked away from his post, leaving behind a note that he was disillusioned with the mission in Afghanistan and had a better plan. Officials still don't know how he got off the base in Afghanistan and got into contact with the Taliban.

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  1. Yeah, this is an oversight. As if releasing five dangerous terrorists to save a traitor isn’t something the traitor-in-chief would think twice about. Then sending them to the Muslim Brotherhood loving Qatar (like Obama’s love of them) is a guarantee they won’t resume their life’s work. What a bunch of crap. Obama’s lawlessness, and treason keeps expanding daily.

    1. At some point We the People must make out voices heard.

      To not do so is to legitimize the lawlessness, setting a precedent that can and will only metastasize with time.

      Impeachment of the Taliban collaborator-in-chief is the only appropriate response.

  2. Trust Obama to blow even a feel-good POW return story into a massive screw-up.

    There is certainly a plausible case that BB is not a deserter, but rather a traitor who joined the enemy. When he got tired of the Pashtun way of life he and his buddies asked for a trade to get five big time terrorists released.

    That might not be true. But, he said in his note he ‘was going to start a new life’. What was that? Opening up a street taco stand in Kabul? Wander into the mountains and get shot? What other ‘new life’ was available, other than joining the Taliban.

    If it comes out he was a traitor, then Obama looks like a fool for releasing the 5 high ranking Taliban. I mean, even more of a fool than he usually looks.

  3. First, there doesn’t seem to be any published evidence that four of the five Gitmo detainees were “terrorists”; they all simply belonged to the Taliban, which opposed the US invasion of Afghanistan (the fifth, Farzi, has been alleged to have been a terrorist, killing a large number of Shiite civilians).

    Second, even if Bergdahl decided he would no longer fight, that does not necessarily mean he was a traitor to the US. If, in fact, he came to the conclusion that the US aggression against Afghans was not ethical or legal, then it is the US Army, in violating this, that was traitorous.

    Third, it is not clear that Bergdahl had deserted; he may have only been naive, believing he could pursue an alternative (the “better plan” alluded to in the article), but was taken prisoner after he left the camp.

    Fourth, I’m surprised that neither side has quoted the relevant passage in the law prohibiting Obama’s actions (admittedly I have not looked it up myself). It may be that the law only covers transfers, rather than release, and that Obama was not in violation. A deeper analysis should be done by the media.

    1. “First, …. the fifth, Farzi, has been alleged to have been a terrorist, killing a large number of Shiite civilians”

      So what. Do think just because only One of the trades was an actual murderer, that excuses this in any way? No, that’s a stupid point.

      “Second, … does not necessarily mean he was a traitor to the US.”

      Agreed that there’s no conclusive evidence that he actively abetted the enemy.

      “Third, it is not clear that Bergdahl had deserted”

      Another stupid point. Assuming that every other member of his unit isn’t lying, including his squad leader, Bergdahl is a deserter. All the evidence points that way. Certainly there’s enough suspicion to warrant a hearing to determine if a court martial is appropriate.

      “Fourth, I’m surprised that neither side has quoted the relevant passage in the law prohibiting Obama’s actions (admittedly I have not looked it up myself).”

      So, you are lazy and you didn’t even bother reading the article. Seriously do you go around telling people, “I think you might be wrong, but I haven’t bothered to check.” At the very least you should never write this kind of comment down and leave a trail stupidity.

      Read the article, it’s clear that The White House and the Democratic Senator Feinstein admit the administration broke the law.

  4. So the dude who deserts his unit is the moral authority on the definition of treason?

  5. “Officials still don’t know how he got off the base in Afghanistan and got into contact with the Taliban.”

    Actually, they know exactly how he got off base and with whom; they’re just not telling you that because it’ll spoil the narrative. They’ve even interviewed the people he left the base with, and know every exact detail.

  6. Maybe it was kept a secret because aiding and abetting a terrorist organization is a felony. Giving them 5 top guys would be aiding in a material way. No? Felony? Yes!

  7. I’m disgusted with the unlibertarian attitudes being expressed here in regard to desertion of post. No one has the right to bind you to service. You can sign on a piece of paper, your life to your government, but that doesn’t mean it has any more power than to give you a splinter. Words in a contract can not bind you to die.

    1. You’re so right. You can just break your oath and do whatever you want. Later, though, you can be held accountable for your actions which jeopardize the lives of your fellow soldiers.

      Oh, say you’re supposed to be standing watch on the perimeter and decide you’re too tired to continue. Just go back to your tent without first warning anyone and have a good night’s sleep. Whoa, isn’t life simple?

      1. Not just “jeopardize.” This got people killed.

      2. Which should get you fired, not imprisoned.

    2. I’m pretty sure that the rights & obligations inherent in contracts IS a prime libertarian principle. The sergeant wasn’t drafted, he voluntarily joined, signed an employment contract, got paid, swore an oath. The fact that he had a change of heart doesn’t give him the right to unilaterally void the contract. He could have asked to be reassigned, applied for conscientious objector status (which would have been denied) or simply refused to engage in his duties and taken the consequences like a man. Instead, he deserted his unit, endangered both American soldiers and Afghan locals and gave an enemy he swore to fight a bargaining chip.

      1. Contracts can’t force you to die. They can’t force you to hold others’ lives above your own. Regardless of contracts signed, all soldiers have the right to run from combat, to disobey and expect no punishment, except to get fired. It is tyrannical to punish people for acts of self-preservation.

        Don’t get me wrong, contracts ARE an important libertarian (even capitalistic) principle. But there are some things they can’t do, and binding you to die by your own prior agreement to the contract is one of them.

        Also, another disgusting unlibertarian attitude is when people say someone should “take their punishment like a man”. That is absurd. That is the same thing my sister says about Edward Snowden. She’s too much of a bureaucrat and a proponent of group-think to see the absurdity in the statement.

        1. “all soldiers have the right to run from combat, to disobey and expect no punishment”

          You went full-retard here. Never go full-retard.

          I’m guessing you’ve never been in combat or the military, right?

          Pro-Tip: Standing up and running away in the middle of a firefight isn’t “self-preservation”; it’s an act of stupidity, cowardice and panic, and a breach of discipline, and it will get you killed by one side or the other.

          The military is “tyrannical” by its very nature. Its job is to kill people and break things, and do other stupid shit like “humanitarian assistance” when ordered to. If that doesn’t appeal to you, then don’t sign the fucking contract.

  8. Benghazi Barry’s main objective was to free his Taliban Buddies, the traitor Bergdahl was simply a means to that end.

  9. “an administration official declaring the failure to follow the rules “an oversight.””

    Translation: FYTW

    The administration barely bothers with the pretense of following the law at this point. They’ve degenerated down to just doing whatever the President wants and then counting on an accommodating media to spin a direct violation of the law as just necessary expedience. Despite the fact that this person had been in captivity for 5 years and a swap had been under discussion for at least 3 years.

    I suspect the only urgency driving this was as a PR move to get the VA scandal off the front pages. Well, Mission Accomplished, Mr. President, Mission Accomplished!

  10. The question is, will the coming home party be held in Hailey or Leavenworth? I predicted long ago that the rule of law for the executive branch would be openly ignored when a certain Prez got away with lying in a legal deposition.

  11. This is the same corrupt gang of thugs that some folks would still trust to collect and monitor the most intimate details of our private lives.

    1. 1: You make the mistake of lumping everyone in government into the same basket. People like Obama, Biden, and Pelosi are almost universally despised by members of the DoD and intelligence community, and the release of five terrorists in exchange for a know deserter only reinforces that sentiment.

      2: Nobody is collecting or monitoring “the most intimate details of (your) private lives”, because in reality, nobody gives a fuck about “the most intimate details of (your) private lives” because you lead a boring, inconsequential life. On the other hand, if you’re a fucking scumbag- mass-murdering -terrorist -drug-cartel -airline-hijacker-planning-to-blow-up-a-school shithead, I WANT my government to have the ability to track you down and shoot you in the face.

      3: When the Executive Branch as Commander in Chief, and the Legislative Branch, AND the Judicial Branch ALL declare that something is legal, it’s fucking legal even if it’s a clear violation of the Constitution, and up until the point that The People start becoming more informed and actually DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT, that’s not going to change. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans are either blithering fucking idiots, are willfully ignorant, or are isolated from reality. My favorite in the latter category are those who advocate for “No Government”, as if Somalia is something our Nation should aspire to become.

      1. “1: You make the mistake of lumping everyone in government into the same basket. People like Obama, Biden, and Pelosi are almost universally despised by members of the DoD and intelligence community, and the release of five terrorists in exchange for a know deserter only reinforces that sentiment.”

        That’s a neat bit of compartmentalization. You can’t possibly know how those folks feel, but while you’re at it how do you think they feel about the perjurer known as James Clapper? He is after all the Director of National Intelligence, their boss, and presumably in the same “basket” as those in the intelligence community, and he flat-out lied before Congress.

        A criminal is a criminal, Anon, whether he’s committing perjury before Congress or breaking the law by illegally releasing prisoners from Gitmo.

        Your attempt to exempt the intelligence community from the larger pile of corrupt government thugs has failed.

        1. Actually, I know very well how they feel, and one lying DNI doesn’t corrupt the entire basket.

  12. “failure to follow the rules “an oversight.””
    I plan to use that same excuse the next time the IRS calls.

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