PFC Bergdahl Is No 'Hero'
Obama's Enduring Freedom 'Poster Child'
On 31 May, Barack Hussein Obama announced that he had exchanged five of the most dangerous Taliban detainees at Guantanamo Bay for the return of an America-hating Army deserter, “Sergeant” Bowe Bergdahl, who has been held (or, as many military forward operators say, “hosted”) by the Taliban-Haqqani network for five years. This trade is yet another Obama political charade, this one to divert attention from his VA “death panel” scandal and his highly politicized Memorial Day and West Point commencement remarks, which were panned from Left to Right.
Remarkably, Obama and his deluded handlers believed this appalling exchange would be a checkmark in the Democrat Party’s political plus column. So certain were they that in late 2013, when the CIA had developed a plan to pay off Pakistani officials connected to the Taliban in order to gain release of Bergdahl, the Obama administration advised the CIA to put that plan on hold because the administration had another “deal” in the works. Of course, the price of Obama’s swap deal was much higher than anything proposed by the CIA. Eventually, when it is determined that some of those terrorists have returned to the killing fields – and that time will come – their victims, particularly any American or allied deaths, will be hung around Obama’s neck.
I offer three strenuous objections to this odious political charade.
First, Obama violated the legal requirement that the Executive Branch give Congress 30 days notice on any negotiated release of a Gitmo prisoner. Obama claimed his executive prerogative superseded the requirement, and claimed his “signing statement” at the time this requirement was made part of the 2013 Defense Authorization Act, was his bypass authority.
However, recall if you will that Obama claimed in his first presidential campaign, “I will obey the Constitution of United States. We’re not going to use signing statements as a way of doing an end run around Congress.” And a year ago, his spokesman Jay Carney proclaimed, “We have long said we would not make any decisions about the transfer of any detainees without consulting with Congress and without doing so in accordance with US law.”
Of course, such BIG Lies are Obama’s trademark.
Even Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee protested: “I think our views were clearly transmitted both to the president and Secretary Clinton so it comes with some surprise and dismay that the transfers went ahead with no consultation, totally not following the law. … The concerns are bipartisan. I strongly believe the law should have been followed, and I very much regretted that was not the case.”
Knowing that his plan would be DOA if he complied with congressional notification requirements, Obama claims that he had to act immediately because of concern for Bergdahls physical health. However, in this Afghan video of Bergdahl’s release, he appears to be in decent health.
My second objection is much more grievous.
Obama also violated a long-standing policy of not negotiating swaps with terrorists (at least publicly), thereby setting a very dangerous precedent now painting a dollar sign on the back of any American, military or civilian, who can be kidnapped by an Islamist group. Additionally, he spit on the graves of those who gave their lives to capture the “Taliban Five,” and those who died attempting to recover Bergdahl after he deserted in 2009.
The “Taliban Five” are Mullah Mohammad Fazl (Taliban army chief of staff), Mullah Norullah Noori (senior Taliban military commander), Abdul Haq Wasiq (Taliban deputy minister of intelligence), Khairullah Khairkhwa (Taliban governor of the Herat province and former interior minister) and Mohammed Nabi (senior Taliban figure and security official). In a rare video statement, their Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, called the exchange a “great victory.”
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) protested that these Taliban are “the hardest of the hard core. These are the highest high-risk people.” In fact, two are under indictment by the UN as “war criminals.” (For some perspective on the Taliban, read “Lone Survivor,” Marcus Luttrell’s account of SEAL Team 10’s Operation Redwing.)
In a joint statement, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) and the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, James Inhofe (R-OK), said, “Trading five senior Taliban leaders from detention in Guantanamo Bay for Bergdahl’s release [has given] our terrorist adversaries a strong incentive to capture Americans. That incentive will put our forces in Afghanistan and around the world at even greater risk.” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) said, “You’ve sent a message to every Al Qaeda group in the world … that there is value in that hostage … that they didn’t have before.”
Let’s do the math. If Bergdahl is worth five of the most dangerous Taliban terrorists, then what would an American soldier, who had served our nation “with distinction and honor,” be worth? And as U.S. forces withdraw from Afghanistan, their Gitmo exchange ransom becomes much higher.
Even Obama conceded this month, “Is there the possibility of some of them trying to return to activities that are detrimental to us? Absolutely.” Notably, Hillary Clinton downplayed the threat declaring, “These five guys are not a threat to the United States.”
Of course, Feinstein and the rest of the Democrat pack are seeking political asylum from the political fallout from Obama’s profoundly dangerous folly. They know that any terrorist act even loosely linked to the Taliban Five, or any American kidnapped for a Gitmo ransom, will be hung around Obama’s neck, and by extension, all his Demo congressional supporters. This extension is irrevocable because Obama will make no apology for this “deal” – delusional case studies of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, are certain that they are the final arbiter of all wisdom, and don’t apologize.
So, what did we get in return for the Taliban Five? That would be my third objection.
Bowe Bergdahl, son of Idaho “flower children” Bob and Jani Bergdahl, was a pampered kid, whose major achievements were obtaining his GED and excelling at the Sun Valley Ballet School. He strongly identified with the exploits of Bear Grylls, a former British Special Forces operator and the star of the television series Man vs. Wild. Bergdahl had a Walter Mitty sense of reality, even attempting to join the French Foreign Legion – but was rejected. For reasons clearly not associated with a “patriotic love of country,” Bergdahl joined the Army.
The mainstream media reports on Bergdahl mostly parrot this assessment from the editors of The Wall Street Journal: “The return of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl from the clutches of the Taliban is cause for relief for his family and all Americans.” That’s a fair assessment on the first count, but in the opinion of most who knew Bergdahl and the circumstances in Afghanistan, the only “relief” will come once he is tried as a deserter, an enemy sympathizer, and, some say, a traitor.
Unfortunately, virtually all media sources and commentators are referring to Bergdahl as “Sergeant,” as did the WSJ editors. They should cease and desist, because there are serious questions about his promotion from PFC to Sergeant after his alleged desertion.
When and how was PFC Bergdahl promoted to Sergeant?
Gearing up for the 2012 presidential election, Obama’s handlers estimated that they would firm up his peacenik and military family support if he could arrange the return of PFC Bergdahl. In 2011 Obama’s campaign first proposed to exchange the Taliban Five for Bergdahl, even though DoD communications in 2010 clearly indicated he was a deserter.
However, it is not clear how the Army officially classified Bergdahl. Based on all accounts from those in Bergdahl’s infantry company, his status should have been AWL (Absent Without Leave). But his status could have been MISCAP (Missing in Action and Captured). If Bergdahl was classified as captured (POW), he would have received rank promotions due.
On 17 June 2011, Bergdahl was promoted to Sergeant, in absentia. While the Army knew that he deserted and was in the custody of the Taliban, it is fair to assume there was political pressure from the Obama administration to classify him as something other than AWL, lest Bergdahl’s value as Obama political campaign fodder, would be diminished. While Bergdahl has yet to be convicted as a deserter, and he should be afforded due process of law, if convicted, he will lose that rank. At this point, I stand with those who served with him, and refuse to afford him the honor of being called “Sergeant.”
When Congressional Republicans discovered Obama’s proposed Gitmo exchange for Bergdahl, they stopped the political charade and negotiated an agreement with the administration establishing a legal requirement to notify Congress 30 days in advance of any future Gitmo prisoner release. Of course, Obama disregarded that requirement last week to complete this ludicrous exchange. (It is an ugly irony that Obama signed off on the Bergdahl “deal” in a back room at the USMA, just moments before his commencement address to West Point Cadets.)
Headlines in The Washington Post and The New York Times allude to “mixed reactions” about Bergdahl’s release. But there are no mixed reactions among those whom he betrayed when he deserted his combat post.
In the last 48 hours, I have spoken with Army officers and enlisted personnel, men whom I know personally, and who were or remain forward operators in Afghanistan. Rather than offer armchair analysis on Bergdahl, I defer to the assessment of one officer and one enlisted shooter, whose thoughts reflect the consensus. (Warning: strong language.)
“Bergdahl was in my company – Blackfoot Company, 1-501st Airborne infantry regiment. It is the universal opinion of all of us, that he deserted our unit – walked right off the OP. I lost two close friends killed in action while looking for this piece of shit. Four others died in subsequent missions in connection with Bergdahl. Unlike this POS, we endured the deployments and the ops, embraced the suck and served honorably – and this deserter was promoted to Sergeant, while we left theater as PFCs? It is a soldier’s duty to survive, evade, resist and escape (SERE), and to give the enemy hell while you’re in captivity. Bergdahl was compliant with the enemy. He deserted his brothers and his country. He is not only a deserter, but in fact, he is a traitor. He is no hero. I have known genuine heroes and to suggest he is among them offends their honor. Let me repeat: BERGDAHL IS NO HERO!”
And on the matter of exchanging terrorists for this “POS,” another writes, “The blood on these terrorists' hands, and the countless man hours of intel, surveillance and costly fighting that went into their capture, negates any justification for this exchange. And releasing enemy combatants effectively negates our purpose for fighting, and is horribly demoralizing. Releasing enemies of the United States in exchange for a deserter? This band of ruthless thugs just negotiated a strategic defeat of the United States without any cost.”
Additionally, Col. Allen West (USA, Ret.), a colleague who is no stranger to Army combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, echoes the concerns about Bergdahl’s status, noting, “It’s not the modus operandi for Islamic terrorists to detain American troops when captured.” And former Army spec ops commander Michael Waltz, who was in charge of search teams looking for the deserter, insists, “Bergdahl owes the mothers of soldiers who did not come home, answers.”
For his part, on June 27, 2009, Bergdahl, according to published reports of his last email to his family prior to deserting, 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. I have seen their ideas and I am ashamed to even be american [sic]. The horror of the self-righteous arrogance that they thrive in. It is all revolting. … I am ashamed to be an american [sic]. And the title of US soldier is just the lie of fools… I am sorry for everything here. The horror that is america [sic] is disgusting…” (That anti-American rant were it more literate, could have been scripted by Obama himself.)
Bob Bergdal responded to his son, “Obey your conscience.”
Three days later, Bergdahl deserted his post under cover of darkness, carrying with him a knife, a compass, a camera, a diary and some water. Shortly thereafter, he was “captured” by the Taliban, though the DoD never classified him as a POW. A few months later, Paktika Taliban commander Haji Nadeem reported that Bergdahl had converted to Islam, and, according to Afghan sources, was instructing Taliban units on American military tactics to assist their ambush capabilities.
At a Rose Garden celebration announcing the exchange, Obama lamented, “Sergeant Bergdahl has missed birthdays and holidays and the simple moments with family and friends which all of us take for granted.”
For the record, the six Americans who lost their lives in operations to recover this “POS” have also “missed birthdays and holidays and the simple moments with family and friends.” Their names are PFC Matthew Michael Martinek, Staff Sgt. Kurt Robert Curtiss, SSG Clayton Bowen, PFC Morris Walker, SSG Michael Chance Murphrey and 2LT Darryn Andrews.
Obama said, “We don’t leave men and women in uniform behind.” Well, no, we don’t – unless you are referring to those who have deserted their units.
And on the subject of abandoning “men and women in uniform,” tell that to the families of our dead in Benghazi, or all the veterans who died waiting on medical care from the VA.
To Bergdahl’s parents, Obama said, “Today, families across America share in the joy that I know you feel.”
Of Bergdahl’s alleged aiding and abetting the Taliban, his father remarked, “Please recognize we are on a mission … I’m so proud about how far you were willing to go to help the Afghan people.”
Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, claims, “He served the United States with honor and distinction.” That absurd statement holds even less water than her claims about the Benghazi murders resulting from a YouTube video. Rice is a lying moron.
Sgt. Evan Beutow, Bergdahl’s team leader, protests, “To say that he served with honor and dignity, that’s the exact opposite of what happened. It’s a slap in the face to everyone who honorably joined the Army, deployed, returned home, or deployed and died in combat. He’s no hero, he’s a deserter.”
Jay Carney claims, “Sgt. Bergdoll put on the uniform of United States voluntarily and went to war for the United States voluntarily.” And by all accounts, he is a voluptuary deserter. Carney is also a lying moron.
Bottom line, this not a case of a POW with “Stockholm Syndrome,” though clearly Bergdahl was and remains a pathetic and delusional individual. Thus, I have a level of compassion for him = but then I am not among those whose brothers in arms died looking for Bergdahl. And no matter, even if he was deep cover for the CIA in the Taliban, we should have paid the Pakistanis for his release rather than trade the Taliban Five.
By paying such a high price for Bergdahl, Obama has offended the honor of every Uniformed Patriot, especially the memory of those now departed.
But Obama is, first and foremost, interested in emptying Guantanamo.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey says that the Army “will not look away from misconduct,” but will they “look into misconduct”? For the record, Article 85 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice states, “Any person found guilty of desertion or attempt to desert shall be punished, if the offense is committed in time of war, by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct.” Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, welcomes you home, PFC Bergdahl.
Footnote: Now in full damage control mode, Obama says, “Regardless of the circumstances, whatever those circumstances may turn out to be, we still get an American soldier back if he’s held in captivity. Period.” (Ah, yes, when Obama declares a “period,” you know it’s the truth, as in “Keep your doctor. Period. Keep your health care plan. Period.”) It is time for a senior military officer to step forward and tender his resignation in objection to this this exchange (and all the other grievous insults Obama has bestowed upon our men and women in uniform), risking his pension and possibly UCMJ charges. Where are the generals?