Afghanistan

7 Libertarian Arguments About Bowe Bergdahl

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The Bowe Bergdahl prisoner-exchange case has been riveting to watch unfold in part because of the many fissures within public opinion it exposes, not least among libertarians. For instance, Antiwar Radio's Scott Horton called the following criticism of mine about the illegality of President Barack Obama's non-notification to Congress "shameful," and gave me a hashtag #puke:

To which one wag piled on:

Prison Camps are fine according to @mleewelch as long as pot is legalized. The warblogger really strikes the root!

Totes, bra!

Bergdahl brings up a variety of issues worth treating separately, and in fora longer than two-minute broadcast spiels. To work through some thinking about this, and hopefully extend the controversies, here's my list of seven points worth considering about this case, beginning with a disagreement I have with a conclusion made right here at Reason.com by the great anti-interventionist Sheldon Richman.

1) We should blame Bowe Bergdahl if he deserted, because there are other choices for opting out of our all-volunteer military.

Richman, in a piece titled "Why You Shouldn't Blame Bowe Bergdahl for Deserting in the Fog of Endless War," is absolutely right (IMO) that war is hell, full of morally dubious choices, and that there's no good goddamn reason for the United States to have been fighting in that country since 2002. But there is a considerable gap between "wondering what the point of the war" is and the first paragraph of this New York Times article from Monday:

Sometime after midnight on June 30, 2009, Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl left behind a note in his tent saying he had become disillusioned with the Army, did not support the American mission in Afghanistan and was leaving to start a new life. He slipped off the remote military outpost in Paktika Province on the border with Pakistan and took with him a soft backpack, water, knives, a notebook and writing materials, but left behind his body armor and weapons — startling, given the hostile environment around his outpost.

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The fog of war and the slipperiness of early-cycle news of battlefield controversies tell us we should exercise skepticism about these widely reported claims (and note that today's Times article supplants some of these details while shedding doubt on some others), but if the desertion narrative is broadly true, then Bergdahl made a grave error of judgment.

Why? Because if you want an all-volunteer military—and since the practical alternative to that is involuntary conscription—then you damn well better have a code of conduct precluding people from just wandering off near or into enemy territory when the disillusionment gets too strong.

There are many ways to leave the battlefield, come home from a deployment, or exit the military altogether, not least of which is applying for conscientious objection or some of the many other categories of voluntary separation. The process is far from frictionless, and certainly lacks the grand gesture and immediacy of mailing your stuff back home and then peacing out into the wilderness, but it packs just as much moral significance while being far less dangerous for you and your comrades.

Now, maybe you think it's the universal soldier who really is to blame, in which case desertion may seem like the only honorable end to an otherwise wholly dishonorable vocation. But surely even that utopian (or dystopian) view would prefer a man seceding from his commitment peacefully and going home rather than being snatched and mistreated by another paramilitary unit for five years?

2) No one is saying that we should have left Bowe Bergdahl behind.

I've spent hours searching for anyone of significance saying on the record that the de-motivated so-and-so shoulda been left to rough it with his Taliban captors, and found nothing except for bad Chris Hayes Tweets and huffy Obamaite declarations about how "We still get an American soldier back if he is held in captivity. Period. Full stop."

Well yes, it's right there in the Code of the United States Fighting Force:

Just as you have a responsibility to your country under the Code of Conduct, the United States government has an equal responsibility—to keep faith with you and stand by you as you fight for your country. If you are unfortunate enough to become a prisoner of war, you may rest assured that your government will care for your dependents and will never forget you. Furthermore, the government will use every practical means to contact, support and gain release for you and for all other prisoners of war.

So the question isn't whether, it's how, both cost-wise and procedurally. And before we get to those considerations, it's important to acknowledge another piece of complexity.

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3) Bringing American hostages home is damn difficult work.

Ask Jimmy Carter or the ghost of Ronald Reagan: Trying to secure the freedom of captive Americans is politically, operationally, and ethically perilous business for U.S. presidents. Take a look at Richard Nixon's Operation Ivory Coast sometime, or go down the anti-Clinton rabbit hole about Navy Lt. Commander Scott Speicher.

Obama administration officials are now saying that Bergdahl's life was in immediate danger, and that the situation was too delicate for any informing-Congress-as-is-required-by-law stuff (though those claims, too, have been contradicted by other administration officials). While there's every reason to be suspicious of the administration's justifications (on which more at #4), any sense of fairness requires acknowledging the degree of difficulty and managerial anguish that comes with the task of freeing hostages.

4) It matters that Obama violated the law in a way that aggrandizes executive power, which is a pattern for him despite his 2008 campaign to the contrary.

Conor Friedersdorf makes this point pretty well in a post from Wednesday:

The law requires 30 days' notice to Congress before a Gitmo detainee is transferred or released. The White House has now brazenly flouted that requirement. And the precedent being set by Team Obama is problematic in the same ways as the executive-branch power grabs that happened during the Bush Administration. In fact, Senator Obama was a critic of the logic he has now shamelessly adopted. He decried signing statements, for example, but cites a signing statement of his own as if it is a defense against violating the plain text of what he signed.

The illegality of the Obama Administration's actions is underscored by the way their story keeps changing. The White House began by hinting that the 30-day notification requirement is unconstitutional. But it is unwilling to press that claim. Its current position is that Congress didn't intend the law to say what it says.

You might think a law requiring 30 days notice before the president releases a Gitmo detainee is foolish, and/or that the prison itself should be closed. That still does not change the fact that it is a law, and a law that President Obama voluntarily signed. If you believe, as I believe and candidate Obama professed to believe, that the executive branch in the U.S. government has swollen all out of constitutional proportion, particularly in the conduct of an open-ended war, then the only way you can arrive at indifference to his latest contravention of law is by either A) swallowing his latest justification whole, or B) deciding that constitutionality and rule-of-law matters less when you happen to agree with a president's actions.

Let us recall this Obama exchange with Charlie Savage in 2007:

Under what circumstances, if any, would you sign a bill into law but also issue a signing statement reserving a constitutional right to bypass the law?

Signing statements have been used by presidents of both parties, dating back to Andrew Jackson. While it is legitimate for a president to issue a signing statement to clarify his understanding of ambiguous provisions of statutes and to explain his view of how he intends to faithfully execute the law, it is a clear abuse of power to use such statements as a license to evade laws that the president does not like or as an end-run around provisions designed to foster accountability.

I will not use signing statements to nullify or undermine congressional instructions as enacted into law.

That's not the only relevant passage from Obama's executive-power questionnaire. As I wrote in this November 2013 column,

Obama declared to The Boston Globe that "the president does not have the power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation."

Yet in 2011 the president did precisely that. Not only did he bypass Congress in authorizing the U.S. military to help topple the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, but he flagrantly defied Congress several months later after it voted 295-123 to reject further authorization of lethal U.S. force there.

"The President is of the view that the current U.S. military operations in Libya are consistent with the War Powers Resolution and do not under that law require further congressional authorization," the administration stated in a dismissive letter, "because U.S. military operations are distinct from the kind of 'hostilities' contemplated by the Resolution's 60 day termination provision."

I do not see how you can oppose war yet shrug at executive power-grabs.

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5) The Guantanamo Bay detention facility should and can be emptied and slated for closure by President Obama, even though it's practically difficult and almost certain to release future murderers onto the world.

How do you close Guantanamo over the wishes of congressional Republicans who'd rather just jail suspected bad guys indefinitely without trial? Human Rights Watch Counterterrorism Advisor Laura Pitter wrote a good column about this for Foreign Policy 11 months ago. Excerpt:

For one, it can begin to transfer the 86 of the 166 detainees [note: those numbers have been reduced to 78 and 149 in the meantime] at Guantanamo already slated for release to their home or third countries. In 2011 and again in 2012, Congress enacted some restrictions on the transfer of detainees from the facility, but those restrictions are not insurmountable. They require receiving countries to take certain steps to ensure that those being transferred do not engage in terrorist activity and that the secretary of defense certify such steps have taken place. If, however, the secretary of defense cannot, for one reason or another, certify those steps have been taken, he can waive the certification requirement in lieu of "alternative actions"—a term which has no clear legal or procedural definition. The only guidelines are that they "substantially mitigate" the risk that the detainee being transferred may engage in terrorism. Clearly then, the administration's ability to transfer detainees out of Guantanamo exists now, even with congressional restrictions. And with Obama again reiterating that keeping Guantanamo open harms U.S. security, the certification—and even more so the waiver—process seems to offer a clear path forward to emptying the facility of more than half its prisoners, if not closing it down.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.N.C.) for one thinks Republicans will start talking impeachment if Obama releases more prisoners, but that's all it is: talk. The law requires prior congressional notification, not approval. George W. Bush released 600 prisoners from Gitmo, the vast majority of which were never charged, and Republicans then were not squawking about executive-power abuse. It is also true that the "worst of the worst" among the ones who remain are the most difficult to figure out what to do with.

Will some of those suspected terrorists go on to get all murdery? Certainly:

[A]ccording to the most recent version of a biannual report published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and required by Congress[, of 614 Gitmo detainees that have been released], 104 — about 16.9 percent — are confirmed to have returned to terrorist activity of some kind, the report says. An additional 74 former detainees — 12.1 percent — are suspected of engaging in terrorist activities after their release, defense officials say.

Pitter argues that "these claims have been discredited," and that "Independent, credible analyses of those figures by researchers at the New America Foundation indicate the number is more like 6 percent, or 1 in 17." More importantly:

Even if the Pentagon figures were true, clearly the vast majority of people released from Guantanamo have not engaged in terrorism; in fact, it's well below the estimated 60 percent U.S. recidivism rate for criminal convictions overall. There are many people in the world who may commit crimes in the future, but the United States has not locked them up indefinitely. The bottom line is that the administration needs to assume some risk that those released may become involved in terrorism—even though that risk is objectively low. But even on a purely moral level, the fear that someone may engage in terrorist or criminal behavior in the future is not a legitimate basis for prolonged indefinite detention.

When it comes to terrorism, apples-to-apples rates of recidivism may not be possible—all it takes is one murderous nutbag to kill scores of people, the "worst of the worst" are probably going to be worse than the first ones released, and it's important to be clear-eyed about the risk here.

But one risk that rarely gets mentioned by War on Terror hawks is the (to my mind) equal certainty that other people around the world will be inspired by the existence of America's Kafkaesque prison to commit murder against Americans. Put another way, we will be able to "see" acts of terrorism committed by those who are sprung from Gitmo, but the "unseen" acts of terror that are partly motivated by the U.S. conducting itself as a superpower above the law are no less real.

It's a messed-up paradox, and one of Republicans' making. Maybe next time we'll think a bit more through the problem of snatching and torturing people and then realizing that such treatment makes them damnably hard to stand even military tribunals.

6) This whole exercise is a reminder that you should never declare an open-ended war against a loosely defined non-country.

What do you do at the end of a war with an actual country? Sign a peace or hostilities-cessation treaty, and exchange any outstanding prisoners. The Sept. 14, 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, by contrast, empowers the president to

use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

The mission creep is baked right in there, with the latitude-expanding words "determines," "aided," "harbored," "such," and "prevent." As Eli Lake wrote presciently for Reason back in 2010,

As long as this authorization of force remains the law of the land, any change in the legal conduct of our open-ended, undeclared war will be, at most, cosmetic. Although it's true that President Obama appears more reluctant to use these extraordinary powers than his predecessor, he is nonetheless asserting, enthusiastically at times, that he has such powers. And because so much of the American war on terror is conducted in secret, it is difficult to know what Obama is and is not doing to wage it.

What's more, the word "terrorism" has some important legal meaning in the United States, since it's against U.S. policy to "negotiate with terrorists," and there are all kinds of automatic consequences that go with designating different groups in different categories:

[On] Tuesday White House National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden noted that the Taliban was added to the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT) by executive orderin July 2002, even if it is not listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) by the State Department. Either designation triggers asset freezes, according to the State Department, though they can differ on other restrictions imposed on the target organization. The Treasury Department told ABC News the Taliban is still on their SDGT list.

Right. So this is why you have such verbal gymnastics as this bit from White House Spokesman Jay Carney:

When asked if the United States had "negotiated with terrorists" for Bergdahl's release by promising the reciprocal release of prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, Carney said that was not the case. "He was not a hostage," Carney said of Bergdahl. "He was a prisoner." […]

"Why not just call this what it was?" Cuomo asked. "You negotiated with these terrorists because he is a prisoner of war and you have this pledge of leaving no man or women behind?"

"The fact is he was held in an armed conflict with the Taliban," Carney said. "We were engaged in an armed conflict with the Taliban, and we have a history in this country of making sure that our prisoners of war are returned to us."

The U.S. argues that its soldiers should be given full Geneva Conventions protections, but that Gitmo prisoners should not. This legal asymmetry (which, let's acknowledge, arises in part from the existence of trans-national terrorist groups that have proven able to kill thousands of Americans), coupled with triggered consequences of designating various groups as "terrorists," basically ensures that any presidential action to secure an American prisoner in the War on Terror will lead to torture of the English language, and opposition accusations of lawbreaking.

What if America had just declared war against Taliban-run Afghanistan? Perhaps this negotiation would be a lot more straightforward, though it would also result in more, not fewer, releases of dangerous prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. As David Brooks points out today, Israel for one has engaged in far more numerically lopsided prisoner/terrorist exchanges than this.

7) Susan Rice needs to spend more time at home with her family.

It's hard to know what a person has to do to get fired by the Obama administration, but using the phrase "honor and distinction" to describe Bergdahl's service more than qualifies for me. The word "honor" has very specific and important meanings in a military context. The White House spin on this release has been ham-handed and shameful.

We will see considerably more fog-of-war reporting, analysis, and commentary in the days to come, including the serial battering of strawmen by partisan dead-enders on both sides of the major-party divide. The ugly trans-partisan truth underlying all this talk is that ending wars, whether actual or metaphorical, is a damnably messy enterprise, in large part because war itself is the definition of policy failure.

So yes, let's argue about Bowe Bergdahl, and the process of his release: It's legitimately fascinating, and raises more questions than even seven points or 3,000 words can cover. But let's never forget that he was captured by the Taliban in 2009, more than seven years after the U.S. military drove the Taliban from power. You want fewer controversies like this? Get the U.S. military out of the nation-building business, and re-orient their missions toward the defense of America, rather than the defense of misguided American policies.

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  1. Prison Camps are fine according to @mleewelch as long as pot is legalized.

    Derptastic.

  2. now summoning all trolls, trollops, and scallywags…..

  3. I think Susan Rice is the office idiot. Whenever Valarie Jarrett comes up with something fantastically stupid to say, she hands it off to Rice. Probably with promises of popularity and future cabinet positions. Rice keeps jumping at the chance to shine in the spotlight like Charlie Brown kicking a field-goal.

    1. Rice is the one chosen to do the job and she does it, knowing that no consequences will follow. She didn’t come up with Bergdahl narrative on her own any more than she along conjured the “Benghazi was about a video” story.

      After Benghazi, she did get a promotion and this latest demonstration of inanity will have zero lasting effect. Incentives. Being seen as a moron has helped her career.

    2. Susan Rice says Bergdahl served with “honor and distinction.” Does she even realize how much that cheapens my own military service, and that of millions of others? And to say that in the same week we celebrate the 70th anniversary of D-Day is truly beyond the pale.

      Does she or anyone else in the White House realize what a slap in the face that is to veterans? I am personally insulted. And this time I’m not kidding.

      1. They really don’t give a fuck. They are totally depraved. I seriously believe that there is no depth to which these clowns will not sink.

      2. You’re just mad that no one thinks your Drone Medal is cool

        1. That medal idea got nixed, GILMORE. 🙂

          1. He’s just mad he didn’t get his Drone Medal, which he thought would have been cool.

            (fixed)

      3. Dear air force,

        What beach were you on at D-Day?

        1. The Air Force didn’t exist on D-Day fuckwit, but you know that. The United States Army Air Forces did exist however, and they lost 65,164 aircraft, and their crews from December 1941 to August 1945.

          Anyway, we all know that if you had been alive during D-Day, you would have been living in your mother’s basement.

          1. Anus E. Mouse,

            That’s exactly correct, anal lips. In fact it was the 8th Army Air Force that was running bombing raids out of England from 1942 to the end of the war.

            If you were not so fucking ass stupid you could see that my response to air force was sarcastic, but since you are, you didn’t catch that did you?

            You have a nice weekend you piece of shit. By the way fart breath, my Dad was an Army Officer in World War II. Where were you shit for brains?

            GO FUCK YOURSELF!!!

            1. OTRTM, judging from your juvenile insults like “fart breath” and “ass chunk”, I might believe that your great-grandfather served in WWII, but your dad….no. Your dad is probably sitting in a bar half-drunk, contemplating suicide over the fact that his son, you, turned out to be such a loser.

      4. Dear air force,

        What beach were you on at D-Day?

        1. How about you? Aren’t you a veteran?

      5. “Does she even realize how much that cheapens my own military service, and that of millions of others?”

        She, and Progressives generally, have nothing but contempt for those who join the military.

        “If a young fellow has an option of having a decent career or joining the Army to fight in Iraq, you can bet your life that he would not be in Iraq . . . [T]hose who have the least opportunities . . . find themselves in the military.”

        Charlie Rangel, Fox News Sunday, November 2006

        1. Charlie was only talking about Dominicans.

  4. I really destroyed Richman and Turcille over this issue yesterday. But I have to give credit here. This is a very reasonable and well written article that makes good points, even though I don’t totally agree with all of them.

    The bottom line here is that Bergdahl and what kind of a soldier he was or wasn’t or if he was or was not a collaborator is just a side show. The real issues, as Matt points out, is should we be trading for American hostages, what do we plan to do with the people being held at GUITMO, and regardless of what you think about that, what are we going to do about the Presidnet continually ignoring the law.

    1. Matt is largely a voice in the wilderness on this one. The bulk of the discussion has centered on Team, with the Obama dogwashers in full bunker mode with a heavy emphasis on #2 – arguing points that no one is making.

      When the subject of your photo op is headed to a court-martial, maybe the Rose Garden is not the right setting. Unless A) you had no idea of the backstory which makes you epically stupid or B) you knew and went with FYTW, which makes you evil.

    2. “We” are not going to do anything “about the President continually ignoring the law”, because “we” have no power to do anything about it. The Republicans have the power, but they are not going to do anything about it, because their only true option is impeachment, and they are smart enough to realize that any attempt at impeachment would be gleefully distorted into a partisan attack by the major media. This would cost them the 2014 midterm elections, in which they are currently expected to make huge gains, taking the senate while keeping control of the house; as well as endangering their hopes of winning the presidency in 2016. Although considering their piss poor record in the last few presidential elections, and their almost obsessive need to nominate the absolute worst candidate they can find for president, it is quite possible that they will once again blow the presidential election, and perhaps they should just go ahead and impeach after they take control of the senate. (whew, those are some long sentences).

  5. Very well written article Matt. But still, prison camps are fine according to you as long as pot is legalized? You (and ALL libertarians) need to grow up. 😉

    1. I characterize myself as a libertarian, but COMPLETELY agree. The “modern” libertarian movement is being championed by spoiled children, none of whom understand defense, and who focus-on infantile, inane issues like legalizing marijuana, gay marriage, and free borders as core issues while the country goes to *(%$@

      1. He was clearly being sarcastic. And legalizing marijuana is pretty important, as one of the reasons the country is going to shit is the war on drugs.

        1. This is one of the libertarian goals I have issue with. While I truly believe that every individual should have the right to ingest whatever they please, I also truly believe that I shouldn’t have to pay to support drug-addled morons who spend the day playing Call of Duty in their mother’s smoke-filled basement.

          1. Did you just fart Anus E. Mouse? Quit posting these bowel movements in print.

            Have a nice weekend, ass chunk.

  6. You missed a few issues:

    1) The White Houses portrayal of the swap as some sort of victory, and it’s attempt to play it for optics shows they have no grasp of the gravity of releasing FIVE senior Taliban commanders. They didn’t have a single damn thing to say about any reluctance to let these people go, so I can only assume they didn’t have any.

    2) Bad negotiating! I have no idea how much time they spent negotiating, since they aren’t telling us. So I have no idea if they even bothered negotiating over this. What were the Taliban’s original demands? Why couldn’t you get them down to ONE or TWO people, instead of FIVE?

    3) The utterly idiotic attempt to spin the lack of congressional notification as a response to Taliban threats to kill the hostage.
    Yeah, that’s what terrorists DO! The taliban threatened to shoot him if the deal leaked? Oh, well then, I suppose you must do what they say, Mr. President. Perhaps this explains your inability to get a better deal than a five for one swap.

    1. 3) The utterly idiotic attempt to spin the lack of congressional notification as a response to Taliban threats to kill the hostage.

      Yeah. The whole point of a hostage is that it gives you leverage in negotiations. Kill the hostage, kill your leverage. If the Taliban wanted some of their guys back, why would they kill their only bargaining chip? Of course, the White House may have fallen for a Taliban threat because they seem to think and react on a fifth grade level.

    2. How about letting the Taliban choose the five people they wanted? What leverage did the Taliban have here? They could threaten to kill Bergdalh but so what? We lose soldiers all of the time in Afghanistan and Bergdahl’s life is no more valuable than any of the others. Moreover, if they had killed Bergdahl, what leverage would they have had then? They were not going to kill Bergdahl. So why do such a bad deal now?

      There are only two reasons I can see, both equally appalling. One is that the White House was desperate to get the VA scandal off the front page and therefore was willing to do anything to get Bergdalh released. So our enemies now have leverage over the President and by extension the nation based on the President’s domestic political needs and fuck ups. Isn’t that great?

      The second is that Obama just wants to release everyone at GUITMO and lacks the honesty to admit as much and is looking for any excuse to do so and saw this as one way to start. We have a law that says he can’t do that but he apparently intends to do it any way. If Obama does that, we could have a real Constitutional crisis on our hands. The country at large is not going to stand by and watch him do that. And if the country doesn’t, the Democrats in Congress, or at least a good number of them won’t either. What a fucking mess that is going to be.

      1. Are you auditioning for the Alex Jones show?

        1. The need to fix your code. You are making statements that don’t even have the right code words relating to the topic again.

          This thread is about Bergdahl not Alex Jones who ever he is.

          1. Jones is one of you:

            Jones has been the center of many controversies, including his controversial statements about gun control in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.[8] He has accused the U.S. government of being involved in the Oklahoma City bombing,[9] the September 11 attacks,[10] the filming of fake Moon landings to hide NASA’s secret technology[11] and the killing of “thousands of astronauts”.[12] He believes that government and big business have colluded to create a New World Order through “manufactured economic crises, sophisticated surveillance tech and?above all?inside-job terror attacks that fuel exploitable hysteria”.[13] Jones describes himself as a libertarian and a conservative.

            Wikipedia

            1. Need to get new buzz words. Those don’t fit this topic.

              1. You’re a nutty conspiracy theorist, John.

                1. You’re a self-hating southern bigot from Georgia, Buttplug.

            2. by your own words, you’re “one of you” as well, Mr Pure Libertarian. Do you and Alex get together often to share thoughts at the meetings?

              1. True libertarians collaborate with nazis. Just ask PB!

              2. says somebody from west GA

      2. How about letting the Taliban choose the five people they wanted?

        Precisely. WTF?
        Did you even TRY to negotiate them down?

        Or did they just threaten to kill him and you fucking caved immediately. Cause it looks a lot like you fucking caved.

        Especially given that you are actually using threats to kill the hostage as an EXCUSE.

        Not only are they bahaving like abject cowards, but they actually think the American people will APPROVE of it!

        1. Not only are they bahaving like abject cowards, but they actually think the American people will APPROVE of it!

          they largely count on the WH steno pool to do the heavy lifting for them, to couch this as some sort of diplomatic coup and to ignore any of the messy stuff that requires, you know, thinking and analyzing and perhaps even questioning Obama. And it’s not like they are totally wrong in that approach given the dissembling that the WH dogwashing committee has put out.

        2. I’ve got five bucks that come December we find out that they never threatened shit. Just like we mysteriously found out that Benghazi wasn’t actually about a fucking youtube video after the last election.

          Funny how that works.

        3. The initial reporting was that the White House had proposed versions of this deal several times, only to have it killed by the military. I believe the money quote in the article was that the guys at the White House and State Department thought the military should “suck it up and salute”.

    3. On point number two, I would love to be the guy who sells all these Obama officials there cars. Bet they lay 20% over MSRP at model year liquidation.

  7. This exact swap had been public knowledge for over two years. The idea that Congress was “kept in the dark” is just more ODS.

    Or better – Swiftboat-by-association.

      1. Here, CNN may 2012:

        Out of “frustration with how slowly the process has evolved,” on May 9th the Bergdahls revealed that Bowe had been the subject of a failed deal involving the transfer of five Taliban prisoners from the U.S. military prison at Guant?namo.

        http://startingpoint.blogs.cnn…..e-radical/

        I always bring the facts.

        Always.

        1. I didn’t ask about CNN, I asked if I said the name “Bowe Bergdahl” to you in 2012 if you would have known of whom I was speaking?

          1. Most days Shreek is lucky to know his own name. So, no, he wouldn’t have known who Bergdahl was.

            1. He knows what Obo’s ass tastes like and he knows his daddy can’t stand the sight of the little piece of shit.

            1. So it’s a bit bold to call it “public knowledge”, though I admit that with the flood of 24/7 news so many things get lost in all the noise.

              It’s almost as if by design…

        2. “I always bring the facts.”

          At least 8% of them

        3. Palin’s Buttplug|6.6.14 @ 11:22AM|#
          ‘I always bring my stench’

    1. The fact that they were negotiating for his release was not a secret (and is shameful in its own right).

      The fact that they were going to release 5 of the most dangerous denizens of Gitmo, well, that was a pretty big effing surprise, I believe.

    2. “This exact swap had been public knowledge for over two years.”

      Indeed, but the reason it never went through is that everyone with a fucking brain advised against it. Nobody actually thought that the Dali Bama and his dem/prog minions would be so fucking stupid as to actually go through with such idiocy.

      1. And, they passed a law requiring advanced notification of Congress if they were that stupid.

        Turns out that those in the Congress were the stupid ones, thinking that the Emperor was bound by their puny laws.

  8. Good write-up, Matt. I agree that Gitmo should be closed, but would also like some solution for those who are truly dangerous that is not simply “release them into the wild”.

    1. How about a military trial, and if found guilty of being an enemy of the US, life imprisonment in Leavenworth?

      1. That’s the best idea I’ve heard so far, though I’m not sure if it differs too much in practice from keeping them at GITMO sans “enhanced interrogation”.

      2. We have had a whole set up to do just that for going on ten years now. They just keep fucking around and not running the trials. They ran one trial for Bin Ladin’s chauffeur and the guy got time served. So you can’t claim they are Kangaroo courts.

        They should have tried all of those people years ago and either let them go or convicted them and given them sentences. Keeping them there forever in legal limbo was completely stupid and unnecessary and the result initially of John Yoo and a few other Bush people’s complete ignorance of the law of war and then later Obama’s complete fecklessness and dishonesty.

        1. John Yoo is an evil man.

      3. SCOTUS knocked down the original tribunals, but gave a road map and the go-ahead for properly run tribunals.

        Obama started by insisting that they be tried as civilian criminals in NY courts, and when that a well-deserved death, just reverted to indefinite detention.

        And now, releasing the worst of the worst in the worst possible way.

        So, I agree: try them.

        Where I disagree is what to do with the ones that are convicted. I think firing squad, myself. These are military tribunals of war criminals, after all. Shoot ’em and feed ’em to the pigs.

        1. If they were given a fair trial their torture confessions would be thrown out.

          1. They weren’t being interrogated to build a case against themselves. They were interrogated to get actionable intel.

            I suspect you could quickly and easily throw together a trial on a charge or three, rather than stupidly trying to convict them of every single thing they’ve ever done.

            Just try them on a couple of solid, cleanly sourced offenses. Just enough to either get the death penalty or clarify what their role really was.

            1. I dunno. The guys you picked up in Afghanistan as members of the Taliban leadership are guilty of fighting a war in their own country against invaders from the US. It would be pretty hard to claim that killing Americans in a war zone in Afghanistan during a war against America would violate American law.

              Even the Al-Qaeda guys that didn’t have direct involvement with 9/11 would be pretty tough to convict of violating US law if they never came to the US and never participated in any direct action against the US. I don’t think you can claim membership in a larger group that violated US law as a violation of US law.

              I think POW is the correct designation. As such, they are pretty well screwed, since there is no state to negotiate a cessation of hostilities with. The choice is pretty much “indefinite detention” or “screw it, let’s give them a pass”.

              1. ” dunno. The guys you picked up in Afghanistan as members of the Taliban leadership are guilty of fighting a war in their own country against invaders from the US”

                They’re also guilty of war crimes for the extermination of hundreds-of-thousands of Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks, and anyone else not Pashtun or devout muslim, and they’re guilty of harboring a trans-national terrorist organization. The first was good enough for a rope at Nuremberg.

        2. Firing squad is more humane then dragging them around town by their guts. So, yeah firing squad.

        3. You only shoot soldiers and spies. You don’t shoot war criminals. You hang them. They are considered unworthy of a firing squad.

          And the SCOTUS was dead wrong in shooting down the original tribunals. There is a long history of tribunals in both international and US law. By SCOTUS’ ruling, the Nuremberg trials were illegal.

          Not every trial has to look like US district court. Indeed, until the passage of the UCMJ in the 1950s, military courts martial of US soldiers didn’t look anything like that.

          These clowns are not US citizens and are not on US soil. We owe them due process and fairness consistent with international law, not with every nuance of US constitutional criminal procedure.

          1. You don’t shoot war criminals. You hang them.

            I’m willing to compromise on this point.

            But not on the feeding them to the pigs.

            1. I agree with that.

          2. Good points. But I’m still torn about this. Most of these guys come from places where a “court” is the three oldest uncles in the tribe. And I still think the US should be “the shining city on the hill” and should offer even foreign nationals the rights afforded in the Constitution.

            It’s pretty much a clusterfuck, huh?

            1. I think the US should be fair and ensure that we are not convicting and punishing innocent people.

              The reason why trying these guys in District Court is so hard is that the rules of evidence make it hard. How do you bring in witnesses from Afghanistan or authenticate some radio conversation the NSA picked up?

              Just because you can’t meet the requirements of the federal rules, doesn’t mean a fair tribunal can’t look at the evidence and make the right decision and do justice.

              Again, I go back to the Nuremberg trials. Those rules are still good law. They should have been adopted whole sale and these people should have been triad very quickly after they were captured. The reason why they were not is because the Bush people were morons who believed the liberal bullshit about international law requiring more than that. They thought international law made it impossible to try these guys so their solution was to just declare them outside of the law. Not only was their opinion of international law wrong, their solution of declaring them outside the law preposterous.

              1. Thanks for the insights John. You’ve really helped me understand and process these issues.

              2. Nuremberg happened after the war was over. The terror war is not over. And will not be over for a long period of time.
                Keep holding them. Or kill them.

                1. Doesn’t matter Suicidy. The rules apply at all times. Suppose we hadn’t dropped the bomb and the war with Japan had continued in to 1946. That wouldn’t have stopped us from trying the Japanese war criminals we had captured in the Philippines or the German ones. War crimes are still war crimes and subject to prosecution by tribunal even if the war isn’t yet over.

                  1. Then sentence them to death through tribunals.

                    1. Works for me suicidy.

                  2. I agree with John. Read up on the Hostages Trials (2nd Nuremberg Trials) held under US military code of justice by Justice Jackson, of the German generals of the south who had partisan hostages shot. During the retreat north, the German units were harried by partisans who did not wear uniforms and who hid among civilians, subjecting them to harsh reprisals. Some partisans were shot as hostages or spies. This was ruled as justified by laws of war and need for military cohesion. The guilty findings were related to the point the Germans did not follow independent military tribunals, a point Bush lawyers implemented at Gitmo. Definitely these detainees were judged illegal enemy combatant not POWs and so war criminals that should face trial for violations of laws of war as well as murder under municipal criminal law. The US did not ratify Protocol I of the Third Geneva Convention and unless Obama submits it and the Senate ratifies it, US law is to treat detainees under military justice as above. The President cannot interfere with this military justice procedure any more than trade the Boston marathon bomber. That should be the point, not the 30-day notification.

        4. Feed em to pigs and then shoot them.

    2. I’m ok with closing it. But only if the detainees are executed.

  9. Not only are they bahaving like abject cowards, but they actually think the American people will APPROVE of it!

    Shelter in Place, motherfucker.

    AmericaStrong!

  10. “The White House spin on this release has been ham-handed and shameful.”

    This could aptly describe quite a few of their ventures over the half decade or so.

  11. Bowe is getting more publicity now than he will ever get for the rest of his life. By this time next year (if not a lot sooner), most Americans won’t even remember his name, much less what he did. He is nothing but a propaganda pawn.

    Of course someone might come out with a book about him so they can make a wad of money from his experience. Actually, if the guy went over to the Taliban, he is stupid. He could have gotten out of the Army in a lot easier way (and honorably without stain) by simply failing his Army Physical Fitness Test.

    With that said, does anyone remember the name of the female Soldier who went to prison for torturing Iraqi prisoners? I sure as hell don’t remember her name. I would have to look it up. Nor can I even spell the name of the f***ing prison where all that happened.

    1. Lynndie England, Abu Ghraib

      1. But how many people (right now) could tell me (or anyone) that without first looking it up? Which is what you probably did, so you could let me know.
        On that note, how many people really give a flying fuck what this previously unknown Soldier did or did not do? I’m talking about the long run.

        1. I did multiple (11) combat deployments between Iraq and Afghanistan, and it was my job to know what was going on.

          Most Americans are blithering fucking idiots and couldn’t point out Washington D.C. on a map if their lives depended on it. I don’t expect them to remember shit.

          I can however, tell you unequivocally that the majority of people who have served, or are serving in Afghanistan know that Bergdhal deserted, that people died looking for him, and that their CinC just traded five really dangerous people for a cowardly deserter, and in the process made the World more dangerous for Americans, all for a fucking photo op, and I can guarantee you that they won’t forget that.

          In time, the truth will come out. Few people will care, but some will. Even more will care when Americans are kidnapped off the streets of El Paso and held for ransom, and the public finds out that we knew the exact details of Bergdhal’s desertion and collaboration and STILL made this stupid, dangerous trade, all for a fucking photo op.

          1. Another reason why people like Obama should be on a blacklist, or in prison. Not in any position of power. Just more proof that McCarthy had it fight when dealing the Marxists, who we now call progressives.

            1. Blacklist…you fucking racist!

              /dem-derp

            2. Suicidy,

              You really do need to consider suicide as an option so I can mark your file DSAF – Did Society A Favor.

              See you around the web asshole. Maybe you can start a McCarthyite website.

          2. In time, the truth will come out. Few people will care, but some will. Even more will care when Americans are kidnapped off the streets of El Paso and held for ransom, and the public finds out that we knew the exact details of Bergdhal’s desertion and collaboration and STILL made this stupid, dangerous trade, all for a fucking photo op.

            ^^THIS^^

          3. Anus E. Mouse

            Take your medications and shut the fuck up you paranoid asshole! After that, get a brain transplant.

            Have a nice weekend fuck face.

            1. So you get your question answered in a fairly respectful manner and you choose childish insult over acting like an adult.

              Bravo.

    2. Who knows – maybe in 40 years he will be US Secretary of State!

  12. Great piece Matt. Definitely makes up for the Richman and Tucille pieces which were head-scratchingly tone deaf to be posted on this site.

    President Not My Fault clearly wants to shut down Gitmo but he doesn’t have the balls to come out and say “hey, I have to let some of these degenerates go free to do that”, so instead he uses this swap to test the waters for future actions.

    I’m curious to see what he ends up doing with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. If he lets that dirtbag walk there will be a much more furious backlash.

    1. I pretty sure letting KSM go would put both New York and New Jersey and maybe Connecticut into play as swing states. Even the most brain dead New York Prog gets all patriotic and emotional about 9-11. If Obama let KSM go, the political fallout would be unimaginable.

      I can’t believe he would do that but nothing surprises me anymore.

      1. Holder wanted to try him in Federal court in NY, but surprisingly enough New Yorkers were not thrilled about housing the mastermind behind 9/11 in their state. It literally took an act of Congress to prevent this from happening, and Obama still whined about it.

        I’m with you, nothing he does surprises me anymore.

        1. I don’t get that attitude.

          You should treat it as a prize and an honor to be allowed to imprison the asshole that attacked you.

          Keeping someone in prison isn’t an act of charity.

          They could have a viewing room and allow 9-11 victims to com and observe him in his cell for their entertainment. (Just kidding).

          1. As I remember NYers didn’t want the trial there because they knew it was going to turn NYC into a military camp security wise. They didn’t want the virtual shutdown it would require to prevent bombs going off during the trial.

            It kinda of reminds me of when Obama tried to move the detainees out of Gitmo into federal prisons in Democrat states and the democrat leaders didn’t want that. They wanted the detainees out of Gitmo but not in their backyard.

            In other words it was a noble thing to empty Gitmo until it required them to participate.

    2. “Great piece Matt. Definitely makes up for the Richman and Tucille pieces…”

      Nothing makes up for having Richman on this site.

    3. KSM will have a “heart attack” in prison before they let him go.

  13. One point Matt (and y’all can correct me if I’m wrong):

    The Code of The United States Fighting Force that you mentioned pertains to POW’s. If Bergdahl was never listed as a POW, then leaving him behind wouldn’t technically be in violation of that right?

    1. Now there is a distinction without a difference if I ever saw one.

      1. Big difference. If I choose to leave, choose to, and you didn’t come to get me, I wasn’t ‘left’ behind. I asked not to be taken back. If there was a note, and he said he was going to make a new life for himself then he did. Leaving him behind is not such a big deal.

        During the handoff it was reported one of his captors told him ‘don’t come back, you won’t make it out alive if you do’. Think about that. Don’t come back? If I’m kidnapped and as I’m released my kidnapper says that to me, I would be incredulous. Of course I’m not coming back! I was kidnapped. However, if I chose once to go there, someone might say, in essence, ‘don’t choose again to come here, it is too dangerous for you’.

  14. Thanks for a good article Matt.

    But here is the point. Everything is going to be shook out about this whole affair. Bergdahl will have an investigation on him and maybe even a court martial. If the President did anything illegal that too will have its day.

    What was shameful was the instantaneous piling on in the media, including here at Reason from Nick, who immediately posted the allegations about Bergdahl. The fact is that everyone was previously looking for a way to get this soldier released…his past actions were never held up as a reason to tread carefully, or to debate what we gave up. Even McCain agreed a couple of months ago for an exchange of prisoners. The fact that he, or you Matt, would have proceeded differently is meaningless. Neither of you are the man the majority of Americans elected to be Commander in Chief. He made a decision to protect one of the soldiers who he commands.

    Consider the alternative…that the President did not agree to an exchange and Bergdahl died while in captivity after overtures were made from the Taliban for an exchange. Nick Gillespie would have been screaming.

    So have at it now…investigate the President and Bergdahl. It was shameful that so many could not wait until the soldier was safe at home to engage in politics.

    1. The thing is that the debate is not really over whether Bergdhal was a deserter. People are miffed because the price seems to be too high.

      I paid no attention to this issue at all until I took a list of the five guys they traded for him. And then I was shocked.

      Look, I’m all in favor of bringing back every man, and I’m even in favor of getting back a deserter. But even if Bergdhal did serve with honor and distinction, you don’t let five of the worst guys in Guantanamo go scot free for one soldier.

      1. Fair enough.

        But remember that in this case we had a Commander in Chief along with the entire military establishment making a decision about who these 5 were that got released, and they felt it was a proper exchange.

        614 prisoners have been released from Gitmo to date, 88 of them since Obama became President. Do you know how many of them returned to the battlefield already? Some say as much as 30%. Its a risk we have lived with since dropping people in Gitmo.

        1. Nobody in the Military wanted to trade those five for Bergdhal. Everyone in the Military advised against it because they all understood that it would encourage the further kidnapping of US Military Personnel. The known fact that Bergdhal is a deserter had little bearing on that consensus, because after all, we knew he was a deserter within 48 hours and STILL spared no effort to find him.

          1. So the Taliban was being easy on American soldiers before?

            1. The Taliban and other Anti-coalition militia have concentrated on hit and run tactics intended to inflict casualties. They will now change their TTP’s to focus on isolating and capturing individuals or small groups. I guarantee it.

              1. ^This is key.

                I’m in Afghanistan. I wouldn’t say that we’re all terrified but there is a much more tangible level of concern about getting kidnapped. We used to walk between here and ISAF/the Embassy with relatively little concern. Not now.

                This has changed the complexion of the fight here. No doubt about it.

                1. We used to drive from Kabul to Bagram and back on the Russian Highway with two or three guys in a Hilux, and nothing but an MBITR and personal weapons. I don’t think I’d do that now.

        2. As I understand it, the Taliban named the five people they wanted. And Obama gave them to them.

      2. No self respecting armed forces member would want to be repatriated this way. Just the thought of how much blood will be force onto one’s hands in the future is horrifying.

    2. Still with this? The administration’s initial position about his honorable service isn’t “playing politics”? How can you say that with a straight face when Susan Rice as already walked those comments back, indicating she was only talking about his enlistment and deployment, not his potential desertion.

      There has been a DoD investigation and the administration had to know and understand this information was out there and what the consequences would be of making this deal. The accusations were in Rolling Stone in 2012, why weren’t you enraged at all of the “piling on” then?

      The President made a decision, he can defend it without having to basically make up Bowe Bergdahl’s military backstory to better suit a press release and Susan Rice’s Sunday morning performances.

      1. That’s right. Everyone knew there were questions about Bergdahl’s disappearance since it happened. And all during this time the discussion has only been “How do we get this soldier released?” It never has been that the his disappearance was some kind of mitigating factor in the terms. Why weren’t you and Nick Gillespie questioning what the terms were going to be when Bergdahl was to eventually be released? That has been open news since last year. Here’s why…you didn’t care.

        1. So reporting facts as reported by Rolling Stone and the opinions of fellow service members is unfairly judging Bergdahl and Obama, but ignoring that information exists is completely justified? Why don’t we have to wait until after the investigation is complete and the military justice system has decided what kind of soldier he actually was before we say he served with honor and distinction?

          And for the record, I don’t care what his record is, I’m glad they brought him home and will be glad they brought him home even if he is found guilty of desertion.

  15. “Prison Camps are fine according to @mleewelch as long as pot is legalized.”

    These assholes somehow excuse Obama for ‘not closing Guantanamo’ because of the Evil Congress Laws!?! and GOP Obstructshunz?, but when he arbitrarily breaks these laws and hands over prisoners to Terrorist in highly publicized exchange in contravention of the national policy to NOT (openly) NEGOTIATE WITH TERRORISMS, then “you cant complain! What? You support *prison camps*?”

    It is an argument that can only make sense in the mind of a warped individual to whom Objective Reality is easily contorted by political necessity.

    Same goes for these fucktards who suddenly start wrapping themselves in the flag and go all Indignant = ‘How DARE you disparage the intergity of Teh Troopses! Obama Loves The Troopers! WHY NOT YOU, HATER??!”

    Its so flimsy and contrived that I’m embarrassed *for them*.

    1. I generally like Scott Horton and agree with most things he says, but sometimes shit comes out of his mouth that really makes me wonder wtf is his thought process.

    2. GILMORE,

      Very imaginative. The word “fucktards” that is. Very innovative on your part. Bravo for you.

      1. I aspire to something as witty as “RePOOPlicans” someday

  16. No one is saying that we should have left Bowe Bergdahl behind.

    Really? No one? If the price is too high to get him out, then he stays. Desertion lowers the willingness to pay a high price considerably.

  17. Matt, thanks for a good article on the Bergdahl affair.

  18. Again, do you have the right to freedom of movement?

    What is a military contract? It promises the signer NOTHING, and it is (basically) a contract to be a “slave” of sorts. Oh yes, they will claim you have “rights” but those can be taken away at any time for any reason and therefore aren’t rights.

    What is the punishment for violating a military contract? They threaten to re-enslave or kill you… Let’s ignore the killing part for simplicity’s sake. So it is a contract to enslave you and if you violate it then they enslave you again.

    What were the “ancient” slave contracts? Well, they were usually used to pay off debts, the rich dude paid off your debts and you’d work for him for whatever amount of time. If you failed to fulfill your contract, then he could demand his money back. (This is simplified and incomplete, yes.)

    A military contract is nothing like that. First of all, there is no promise for pay (!). Second of all, the threat is not that the military takes back what was promised, but that they re-enslave you, as if they owned you before you signed the contract.

    Why are contracts important to libertarians? It’s my understanding that failure in a contract is seen as a form of theft, that you promised one thing for another thing. If you fail to do your part, and took theirs, then you are a thief. Fair enough. Then how, pray tell, do they claim your LIFE if you fail to serve them properly? Did you steal your life from them?

    (cont)

    1. No, the most they could claim is that you “stole” your pay from them, and they should demand it back. You cannot “own” a person in an absolute fashion, meaning the punishment for failing to be a slave is to be made a slave. The punishment for failing to be a slave MUST be something less than total enslavement.

      Comments welcome.

      1. “Comments welcome”

        For someone incapable of writing a single coherent sentence, you apparently needed a lot of them to still say absolutely nothing.

        Assuming you graduated from High School, you’re a living, breathing example of why public schools are a disaster.

        Also, this ‘freedom of movement’ thing you started with? There was a similarly insane person called “white indian” who used to babble about that a while back. You should look them up.

        1. Homeschooled. Summa cum laude in economics.

          Do you have the freedom to go where you like? If you don’t like “freedom of movement”, do you have the freedom to quit being a slave? Is that better.

          I don’t know why I respond to people who refuse to make an actual point…

    2. This also bring me back to a charge brought by a “libertarian”, that you must do the right thing, and that right thing includes following your contract.

      No, it often doesn’t. If your superior tells you to rape and murder civilians, then raping and murdering don’t magically become the “right” thing to do.

      You cannot sell your rights, and you cannot claim that you “were just following orders” (Nuremberg). You have the moral obligation to do the right thing even if that means you have to violate a contract you signed.

      1. Dude you’re a fucking moron. I’m guessing you didn’t complete your enlistment in the USMC.

        1. I’ve got a DD214 that proves you wrong.

          But you’d rather insult and conjecture rather than argue.

      2. Who signs a contract to rape and murder? If he did, it wouldn’t be legally binding. A contract to be enforceable must be legal.

        1. A fair question, it was (likely) an exaggeration. However, if you ask a lot of people who went to the ME, they will tell you they thought it was murder when they fired their 240Gs at a cars with families in them (under orders).

          But let’s say that they are just told to do a smaller evil, and something that violates NAP (theft of private property, like the property I stayed on while in Iraq). Does that make it right?

          A contract to be a “slave” (obey orders) is a contract to do whatever “lawful” orders they tell you, and it is most likely that if you disobey even the “unlawful” orders, you’re likely in a really bad way. Also, we know that “lawful” doesn’t mean “moral” or within the confines of NAP.

          The people who signed a contract in the German and Russian armies in WW2 signed a contract that included rape and murder (the eastern front was rife with that). Who does it? Those caught in patriotic fever and those with a gun to their head.

          1. “…and it is most likely that if you disobey even the “unlawful” orders, you’re likely in a really bad way.”

            Okay, you say you completely your hitch.

            Now, be honest, you’ve never fired a shot in anger, have you? Do you know how I know?

    3. What you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having read it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

      1. He does, and every day. Though I thought you’d actually argue rather than bring up that old insult.

  19. Slightly off topic, but with regard to Obama and his administration (particularly the inner circle) they remind me of the pinheads I dealt with while in college 25 years ago. Not bright, thought with their hearts and not their heads, but were firmly convinced in their own righteous causes and that they were always right. I naively thought that these fuckwits were in for a nasty surprise when they got out into the real world. Little did I suspect that they would be running things. If I’d known I’d probably jumped off a bridge and saved myself a whole lot of stress.

    In short, when things like this swap come up, and they’re simply handled with such clumsy stupidity, I just think of those folks back at college who put on boots way too big for themselves and looked foolish. But they’re the ones in charge of the economy, military, state department, etc etc etc. It’s like the dopes of the Residents Hall Federation, who couldn’t administrate what games you could check out from the front desk, or set door locking hours on the dorms, or cocked up the food service didn’t get the reality check they deserved, they got the country handed to them instead.

  20. “Just as you have a responsibility to your country under the Code of Conduct, the United States government has an equal responsibility?to keep faith with you and stand by you *as you fight for your country*.”

    Is the country equally supposed to keep faith with you as you *desert* your country?

    “Furthermore, the government will use every practical means to contact, support and gain release for you and for all other prisoners of war.”

    Which shows that Bergdahl should have known that other soldiers would be risking their lives to bring him back from his stroll to find a life he could feel warmer and fuzzier about.

    There is also the immediate risk he posed to other soldiers by abandoning his post.

  21. “This whole exercise is a reminder that you should never declare an open-ended war against a loosely defined non-country.”

    Should we have declared peace with Al Qaeda after 9/11? What’s your alternative, Matt?

  22. Gitmo is not some modern equivalent of a concentration camp, as confirmed by several reports and individuals who actually work there. Only a small amount of prisoners were actually subjected to water boarding.

    They get three halal meals a day delivered by non Jewish personnel. They get plenty of recreation time and access to legal representation in most cases.

    If you want to put an end to indefinite detentions, go ahead. But that’s not the same thing as closing down a facility that might serve useful in isolating radical individuals. They’re not uniformed combatants, so they won’t be always treated like purse snatches in Chicago.

    1. Also, I’m glad Matt Welch saved the reputation of the entire publication by writing this more nuanced opinion on this sordid matter. It was necessary after Sheldon Richman (more or less) implied that treason is fine and dandy if the war is unjust or the government is unaccountable.

      1. It was necessary after Nick Gillespie started the shallow journalism here by suggesting Bergdahl’s disappearance had anything to do with getting him released as a US soldier in enemy hands.

        1. I imagine that sentence made more sense in your head rather than typed out.

        2. Why shouldn’t it. If you desert you’re no longer a freaking soldier… you left.

  23. I would have been willing to trade up to but not more than a pair of boots to get Bergdahl back.

  24. I have to support Matt on his first point, that PFC Bergdahl might better have pursued status as a conscientious objector. (If he felt that way before enlistment, he should not have joined.) I was drafted in 1967 and appealed for that status. It was eventually granted, and I served two years alternative service in a hospital. But most persuasive was a letter to the draft board from my brother, a company commander about to go to Vietnam. He pointed out that if I was in his unit and under fire and did not fire back he would have to shoot me even though he was convinced I was sincere in my beliefs. Note that in the Rolling Stone article of 2012, Bergdahl’s parents stated they did not want special ops troops to try to rescue him, as they thought he might be killed, as US troops might consider him a deserter, traitor, and collaborator. (This goes far beyond CO status.) Hence the exchange.

  25. IMHO this hadn’t anything whatever to do with Sgt Bergdahl, who’s apparently a lunatic like the rest of his family, but everything to do with papering over the VA hospital scandal. As do the macaca’s comments at Omaha Beach today.

    1. Seems I promoted him. Might also mention that the Left has been riding Barack to close Guantanamo and it is more than likely that this was also a secret deal made with the Taliban for quite other purposes like Iran-Contra.

  26. Bowe Bergdahl was a JERK for slipping away from his base. His doing so forced his comrades to search for him (this was standard procedure and Bergdahl would have known it) and thereby to put their lives in danger. If Bergdahl wanted to protest against the war, he could have refused to participate in the war and stayed at the base. It would have been better for everyone involved if he did. Instead of being a captive of the Taliban, which did nothing to end the war, he could have worked to end the war by speaking out publicly.

  27. Be serious Barrack Hussien will continue to give as much American taxpayer funds to Muslims doesnt matter they be terrorist or not!! He is what he is plane an simple!

    You must understand Israel the Muslim can never live in peace with anyone including their own people!! How can you expect them to live in peace when total domination is all they know! And the only way they know is brutal beyond description!!

  28. I know this is a technicality and more torture of the English language but is the Taliban a terrorist group? I thought Al Quida was the terrorist group and the Taliban was a political party / religious movement that was allied with them. There is probably a lot of overlap between the two since we have been treating them as interchangable but I think a case can be made that there was no negotiations with terrorists, merely negotiations with a non-terrorist political enemy.

    1. Taliban are the native Afghans (mostly? Pasthun in the South of the country. Al Quada are Arabs, primarily from Saudi Arabia and Yemen. They needed a training location and the Taliban let them train on their turf. After 9/11, the Taliban leaders voted to turn Bin Ladin over to the US. In retrospect, we know he was protected by the Pakistani secret police (ISI) and that’s how he fled Afghanistan.

      The US military pays significant monies to the Taliban for convoy “protection”. The Pashtun do not like the US controlled government in Kabul. The root problem of Afghanistan was it was another case of the British drawing artificial borders after WW 2 combining people with different cultures, languages and histories. Break up the country and let the Pashtun join with their neighbor in Pakistsn to create a Pashtun nation, let the other ethnic groups rejoin their heritage and the problems go away. They might end up fighting each other – but they will not be focused on the current US military occupation.

  29. I respectfully disagree. Feeding muslims to pigs is an act of defilement according to their faith. No muslim wants to be defiled because that would assure them a place in hell. Death while killing infidels, as we all know, will result in the muslim put into paradise. I do not know of any muslim terrorist, regardless of how devout he is, is willing to die and then go to hell for the sake of Islam. I recommend the next terror attack made by muslim extremists should result in their being killed and buried with pigs. If this message is sent, I openly wonder how many more attacks by these fanatics will occur. Probably not many more.

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  31. OT: I learned a cool new emoticon thingy, I call it “shruggy”:

    ?\_(?)_/?

  32. Welch provides more evidence Obama is a pathetic liar, who was willing to say anything to get elected, then proceeded to renege on his promises for his own personal benefit, because no one is stopping him, and the MSM doesn’t have this fact on it’s healines day after day. But it’s hard to have this in their headlines, given Obama’s serial scandals, some of which were impulsively created to take a previous scandal off the headlines.

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