Sunday, June 1, 2014

POW or Deserter? American President or Muslim Traitor?

It has long been the foreign policy of the United States that she never negotiate with terrorists.  Period.  The reasons are obvious.  Such negotiations would embolden further acts to kidnap Americans overseas and reward their abductors.  We can see just how well negotiating with criminals has worked with the Somali pirates.  They've actually turned piracy and the kidnapping of a Captain and crew into a viable business model.  Once you negotiate with an aggressor, once you have "set a price" on the lives of your citizens, there's no going back without a great deal of strife and bloodshed.  And, the price keeps going up until you are forced into saying "Enough!" and then the strife and bloodshed ensues, anyway.  In the long run, it's a lose-lose situation.

The country is all abuzz today about the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the only prisoner of war taken by the Taliban during the Afghanistan war.  His release was obtained by the Obama administration's agreement to the release of 5 high-level Al-Qaida affiliated Taliban prisoners held at Gitmo.  These are not simple guerrilla fighters taken on the battle field.  These are some of the most dangerous enemy combatants held.  To release them back (to Qatar, of all places!) is to insure their return to the business of terrorism against the United States.  There have been several reports documenting the recidivism rate of release detainees.  With these five, it's not supposition but a guarantee.  Qatar promises to hold them for at least one year, after which, they'll be under "travel restriction".  Whatever that means.

Let's break this story down into it's parts.  What did we get? and what did we give up?

What we got was the return of a POW.  Let's examine the circumstances of his "capture".  There seem to have been several irregularities.  This report is from dated July 20th, 2009, shortly after the Sgt. was reported missing/captured:

"On July 2, two U.S. officials told the AP the soldier had “just walked off” his base with three Afghans after his shift. He had no body armor or weapon and they said they had no explanation for why he left. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.
On July 6, the Taliban claimed on their Web site that five days earlier “a drunken American soldier had come out of his garrison” and was captured by mujahadeen.
In the video, Pfc. Bergdahl said he was lagging behind a patrol when he was captured."

Hmmm. Three different versions of the same event.  Which to believe?  If the first version is true, he's a deserter, and the United States owes him nothing in the way of efforts to secure his release.
The second version is very hard to believe.  "a 'drunken American soldier'"?  Given the twin obstacles of military discipline at a front line installation, as well as the well documented American military's policy of no alcohol in Muslim countries, I find this very hard to believe.  If it is true, then it doesn't shine a very good light on the good Sgt. and his sense of discipline and duty.
The third version is perhaps the most difficult to believe.  In the words of retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters (again quoting from the piece at,  "PETERS: On that video, he is collaborating with the enemy. Under duress or not, that’s really not relevant. He’s making accusations about the behavior of the military in Afghanistan that are unfounded, saying there are no rules. He’s lying about how he was captured, saying he lagged behind a patrol.
Julie, I’ll tell you, any 11 Bravo infantryman will tell you, that’s not how it works. In a war zone, any soldier is aware of where all his buddies are. If it’s a night patrol, you’re sure of where the guy in front of you and behind you is. So we know this private is a liar. We’re not sure if he’s a deserter. But the media needs to hit the pause button and NOT portray this guy as a hero…"
So which version is the truth?  Is it some combination?  Who were the three Afghans he reportedly walked off the base with?  As reported on,  Rolling Stone magazine quoted emails Bergdahl is said to have sent to his parents that suggest he was disillusioned with America's mission in Afghanistan, had lost faith in the U.S. Army's mission there and was considering desertion.
Bergdahl told his parents he was "ashamed to even be American." Bergdahl, who mailed home boxes containing his uniform and books, also wrote: "The future is too good to waste on lies. And life is way too short to care for the damnation of others, as well as to spend it helping fools with their ideas that are wrong."
One further disturbing fact has come to light just today.  Sgt. Bergdahl's father, Bob, had posted, then deleted, a rather provocative tweet:  View image on Twitter
Not exactly what you would expect from a patriotic American parent proud of their serviceman son.
Then there's this post on Twitter of a report from someone who was there:
Embedded image permalink
Beginning to seem more and more like an AWOL who stumbled into being a POW and thus a convenient propaganda tool.  Of course, given his father's apparent anti-American views, there's always the possibility that the Sgt. went into the war zone with the intent to desert to the other side.
As for what we gave up:  Five extremely dangerous high-level Taliban terrorists with strong Al-Qaida connections.  From an article on
Mohammad Fazl, the former Taliban defense minister during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, chief of staff of the Taliban army, and commander of its 22nd Division. According to [the] U.S. Department of Defense, Fazl is believed to be an associate of Supreme Taliban Commander Mullah Omar and was “wanted by the UN for possible war crimes including the murder of thousands of Shiites.”
Mullah Norullah Noori, a former Taliban military commander and Taliban governor of two Afghan provinces, who led Taliban forces against U.S. and coalition troops and was also “wanted by the United Nations (UN) for possible war crimes including the murder of thousands of Shiite Muslims” 
Mohammed Nabi, another senior Taliban official with ties to al Qaeda, the Haqqani Network, Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin, and other anti-U.S., Taliban-allied groups, according to his Defense Dept. file, Nabi was involved in attacks against U.S. and coalition forces and facilitated smuggling routes for the Taliban and al Qaeda.
Khairullah Khairkhwa, a direct associate of Osama bin Laden and a senior Taliban military commander who also served as the Taliban’s minister of Interior and the governor of Herat.  He represented the Taliban at meetings with Iranian officials seeking to support actions against U.S. and coalition forces after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Abdul Haq Wasiq, the Taliban’s former deputy minister of intelligence, had direct connections to Taliban leadership and was “central to the Taliban’s efforts to form alliances with other Islamic fundamentalist groups” to fight against U.S. and coalition forces.
Just how big a potential threat do these five men represent to America, her interests around the region, and her citizens?  Impossible to say.  One thing is certain, these five men are not going to ride off into the sunset and retire to contemplate the error of their ways.  The government would be wise (I know, I know) to hold Sgt. Bergdahl for a thorough debriefing on both the particulars of his capture, his possible desertion and the details of the last 5 years spent with his Taliban captors.  If it is determined that he did voluntarily walk away from his post, in direct violation of his duty, the minimum penalty should be dishonorable discharge and loss of pension.  If it is determined that he acted to aid and abet the enemy, he should face court martial as a traitor, as defined by 18 US Code (sub-section) 2381-Treason.
The actions taken by President Barack Obama are nearly as troubling as the circumstances surrounding the capture of Sgt. Bergdahl.  Aside from his break from traditional American policy concerning negotiating with terrorists, there's the not-so-little matter of the apparent violation of American law.  Last year, Congress passed, and Obama signed into law, a revision of the rules regarding the potential release of prisioners at Gitmo.  In short, the law requires the administration (any administration) to  notify the relevant Congressional committees at least 30 days prior to the release of any detainees and to detail steps taken to prevent their eventual return to combat against American forces.
The administration's spokespeople acknowledge their failure to follow the letter of the law, claiming exigency as their excuse and pointing to a "signing statement" of Obama's at the time of his signing of the law that he believed the law an unconstitutional restriction of the powers of the Executive Branch and reserving the right to act without such notification if it was deemed necessary.  In other words, he agreed to follow the law just as long is it didn't prove too inconvenient.
This is the same Barack Obama and his supporters who decried the use of signing statements by George W. Bush.  The same Barack Obama and supporters who claimed outrage over supposed "torture" and mistreatment of detainees at Gitmo, while US service members were routinely denied basic and life-saving medical care at the VA for years (they're now blaming Bush for that, as well).
This is a direct quote from 18 US Code:
Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.
People have claimed that Obama has committed "high crimes and misdemeanors" in the past over his usurpation of Congressional legislative power, his administration's acts in contravention of Constitutional provision and his administration's refusal to submit to proper Congressional oversight.  Many of these same people also claim that Mr. Obama's true allegiance is to the Islamic faith he was raised with and that he is more than sympathetic to the views of Muslims extremists. I wonder where on the scale of "aid and comfort to the enemy" the release of 5 high value, "extremely dangerous" Taliban, Islamist, Al-Qaida affiliated terrorists would fall?