June 1, 2014

Obama trades 5 Taliban detainees for 1 American soldier... and directly violates a federal statute that requires informing Congress in advance.

"The law requires the defense secretary to notify relevant congressional committees at least 30 days before making any transfers of prisoners, to explain the reason and to provide assurances that those released would not be in a position to reengage in activities that could threaten the United States or its interests."

On Obama's side, the argument is that the statute is unconstitutional, a congressional encroachment on presidential power. There's no way to undo the exchange, and acting in secrecy, without informing Congress, is an exercise of the very power that the President says the statute violates. Taking this action embodies an argument that this power does and should rest with the President. Is there anything that can be done now to press the opposing argument? We can criticize the President, as we always already do. The only other alternative I see is to impeach the President.

Go ahead. He's daring you. Perhaps part of his motivation for the prisoner trade was a predicted political boost as the President's opponents are distracted into seeming to complain about the return of a hero and tripping all over themselves as they posture about impeachment.

ADDED: Proofreading, Meade reads the post title and says: "What does that remind you of? Iran-Contra."

AND: I had a second update that I accidentally deleted. This is an attempt to reconstruct it. What I'd said was that the 5 Taliban leaders might be more useful to America on the loose than in detention, quite aside from concerns about closing or minimizing Guantanamo, because if they are out and about, we can conduct surveillance on them and, if they do anything that the President finds threatening, he can use his drones to kill them, according to his drone program. Since they know that, they may avoid doing anything, and if they reconnect with other terrorists, they may create even better targets for the drone program. That is, there are levels of wisdom and deviousness here that we can't know.

141 comments:

The Drill SGT said...

"about the return of a hero"

There are a lot of questions about how and where he was captured. None of them make him out a hero.

He made statements while in captivity that hurt US efforts. While I understand that, because most prisoners break under torture/abuse, the term hero should be reserved for those who don't

Welcome back Bowe. But prepared for a long debriefing. Given the political environment and the Administration's desire for a hero, I doubt he'll be punished regardless, but expect questions...

Ebbers Palomino I said...

If I were Bill Moyers, I'd start wondering if Obama intends to ignore the 22nd Amendment.

Sure, there will be griping, Ted Cruz will complain, but nothing will be done, we may have a permanent unitary executive.

The Drill SGT said...

As for the law in question, it forbid such a swap until the WH pressed for a relaxation of the requirement to it's current form, then the WH violated the law.

The result is to make US nationals less safe overseas in the Mid-East and Africa. NGOs and Aid workers are the target. Getting soldiers alone is tougher, but in Bergdahl's case, apparently not impossible if you find a gullible one...

Hector said...

Isn't the president's argument akin to nullification, which is an idea quite popular on the right.

I also read somewhere that the other argument being advanced is that we are not technically at war so it's all kosher.

Diogenes of Sinope said...

A terrible decision for so many reasons.

Hagar said...

The MSM is already referring to Dahlberg as a POW, so he will be a hero, regardless, though he actually was a hostage held by a criminal conspiracy.
This is an election year.

traditionalguy said...

King Obama reigns. The Republic of 1987 is over.


richard mcenroe said...

Obama could have done this at any point since Bowe was captured. Just as he could have closed Gitmo. Just as he could have pulled out of Afghanistan. The Dems' poll numbers just haven't been bad enough til now to make him give a rat's.

Abdul Abulbul Amir said...

We won't know where they are. This is not a TV show.

The Drill SGT said...

5 Taliban leaders on the loose could be more valuable to us than 5 Taliban leaders detained

no

Michael K said...

It is so emblematic of Obama to release five serious terrorist leaders in return for one deserter. He even promoted him to sergeant.

We are so screwed.

Ann Althouse said...

"There are a lot of questions about how and where he was captured. None of them make him out a hero."

I used the word "hero" precisely to highlight the nature of the response to the complaints, and anything disparaging to this man, like what you're saying, will redound against Obama's opponents.

khesanh0802 said...

I think that Obama is correct that the act being referred to is an unconstitutional impingement on his executive power. Some politicians, regardless of party, will never learn when to shut up.

The emotional response is "good, we got him back". I'll go with that and warm up the drones.

As the Drill Sgt says the use of the term "hero" is inappropriate. It has been overused to the point that it is has become meaningless. It is now used even if the soldier was an office pogue who got no further in- country than the PX at Bagram Air Base. Bergdahl is/was simply a prisoner of war.

Ann Althouse said...

"We won't know where they are. This is not a TV show."

1. How do you know?

2. How do they know?

The Drill SGT said...

anything disparaging to this man, like what you're saying, will redound against Obama's opponents.

The talk and complaints have their source in the Army, won't be squelched by political fears and are not created by the GOP.

Ann Althouse said...

My questions above related to "We won't know where they are," not to "This is not a TV show"...

But I could imagine TV show about this being a TV show (a la "The Truman Show").

Bruce Hayden said...

We debated a lot about the limits of Executive power when waging war, when the NSA under Bush was intercepting and recording (but probably not listening to) "international" without getting FISA warrants first. The test apparently being from Justice Jackson's concurrence in Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer (See also Bitlaw and Lawnix). (From Wikipedia) Jackson divided Presidential authority vis-à-vis Congress into three categories (in descending order of legitimacy):
- Cases in which the President was acting with express or implied authority from Congress
- Cases in which Congress had thus far been silent
- Cases in which the President was defying congressional orders (the "third category")


Both of these cases involve the third category, where the President defied Congressional intent or orders. In the NSA case, I argued that this was necessitated by major changes in technology since FISA was first enacted somewhere around 30 years earlier, and the cumbersome warrant requirement for even intercepting the calls written in a time of land lines was greatly outmoded in an era of burner cell phones. Also, members of both parties in both Houses of Congress had been explicitly kept in the loop.

Still, the general consensus on the left side of the legal debate was that President Bush was a war criminal, or at least should be impeached, for this gross violation of law. I wonder how they will defend this.

From the non-legal side of the debate, on the one hand, we have the soldier back who had been a POW for so long. But, the guys released are apparently very dangerous, and this comes after the President's unilateral actions to ignore specific language in ACA/ObamaCare (and, arguably, probably early next week, in the EPA ruling on CO2). Plus, the Administration has seemingly sought to minimize the appearance that al Qaeda remains a strong force in the Middle East, as they seem to have consistently have downplayed their power, while giving al Qaeda allies moral and physical support. Bush was actively fighting a war at the time. Can the same be said for Obama? And, that is the place where the President's Executive power is at its greatest.

ndspinelli said...

Read the Military Times Facebook page. It has first hand accounts from men who served w/ this guy. He was caught drinking w/ local Afghans and disciplined for it. The night he was "captured" Bergdahl left the compound to smoke hashish w/ Afghan locals. Soldiers were killed trying to find this shitbird. You will see comments from comrades saying he should return to the US as an inmate @ Ft. Leavenworth.

betamax3000 said...

Commenting on the Wrong Post Drunk Guy says:

Sure, I'm a little drunk, but that doesn't mean I don't have a point to make. I understand what it's like to live with weeping sores, never healing, never, it wears on you. I've tried creams, ointments, medicated gauze but they don't work, the sores are still there, itching and weeping, they weep viscous fluid. The sores itch like crazy and I try not to scratch them but I get drunk and when I am drunk I always end up scratching them and then my fingers smell funny so I have to wash my hands over and over and over, it's like I can never get them clean: I am suffering, you people that heal don't know what it's like, continually oozing like your own body doesn't like you, and I think it is wrong for you to comment on things you really don't know about.

ndspinelli said...

Correction: Army Times Facebook page.

Gahrie said...

1) The former Gitmo detainees are supposed to remain in (Qatar?) prison for at least a year I believe.

2) President Obama has proven long ago that laws are for Republicans and little people.

3) There is literally nothing President Obama can do that will get him impeached.

4) What's next...giving Alaska back to the Russians?

5) I used to think people were parinoid when they brought up the 22nd Amendment....now I am not so sure.......

Jim said...

I hope they chipped all five while they were in Gitmo.

SGT Ted said...

Hey, he's got a phone and a pen.

I hear that trumps all laws, according to Democrats. So, no big deal here. Just business as usual.

Tom Gallagher said...

Obama: Terrorism remains our primary threat, but invading every country that harbors terrorist networks is naïve and unsustainable.

What will the Obama "hammer" doctrine smash next?

Patrick said...

Hey, maybe they installed some GPS locating devices on them. Bammm!

betamax3000 said...

Commenting on the Wrong Post Drunk Guy says:

Sure, I'm a little drunk, but that doesn't mean I don't have a point to make. I once stole a pair of girl's panties from the dryer at the laundromat, I admit it, I was drunk and when I woke up I had those panties on my pillow, I'm not sure what happened. They were little and yellow with tiny white flowers and they smelled laundry fresh, not like I made a point to smell them, I'm not a creep, I just happened to smell them because they were right there by my face on the pillow. And it's not like I could return them, that would make me look like some kind of pervert, so now I have them and they haunt me, they haunt me with what happens when I'm drunk. I wish I could tell the girl that I am sorry about her panties, maybe they were her favorite pair that made her feel beautiful when she wore them. I have a conscience, and I think it is wrong for you to comment on things you really don't know about.

jacksonjay said...


Based on the drone logic, we should release ALL of the "too dangerous to release" terrorist and then drone them!

Gitmo closed!
Lotsa terrorist killed!
Win! Win!

Obama! Obama! Obama! Obama!

Ann Althouse said...

We have targeted terrorists with drones, and we found them.

President-Mom-Jeans said...

So we negotiate with terrorists now, lovely.

Fuck B. Hussein and his muslim terrorist pals.

MathMom said...

The comments at This Ain't Hell are damning, if they are to be believed.

If they are, Obama released not five, but six Taliban. He left his post searching for Taliban, to join them, and good soldiers died looking for him.

As an aside, Bowe's father's beard looks to me like the mutawaeen in Saudi Arabia, generally Shia. I don't think this family is Methodist, y'know?

chuck said...

Given the drone program, these men...

Ah, the old killed while attempting escape dodge. We will see...

David said...

The decision to make the trade strikes me as bad policy; setting a pretty high price for captured Americans.

Having said that, the statute strikes me as clearly unconstitutional, not only on separation of powers/anti-delegation grounds, but also on treating Congressional committees as if they had some Constitutional role separate from Congress as a whole (which I suppose is an anti-delegation argument, although a different anti-delegation argument from the first one).

Ann Althouse said...

"Hey, maybe they installed some GPS locating devices on them. Bammm!"

I assume it was like that thing that Arnold Schwarzenegger extracted through his nose in "Total Recall."

Anyway, it works if they just think we did.

Strategist Jack said...

Sounds to me like a good trade... one knucklehead American for 5 high value terrorist commanders who will be lucky to survive their first 30 days of "freedom".

Bob Boyd said...

check this out.

https://twitter.com/CodyFNfootball

from soldier who was serving with Bergdahl when he went missing.

AllenS said...

Ann Althouse said...
We have targeted terrorists with drones, and we found them.

We've killed a lot more innocent civilians who just happened to be in the area when the drone strike occurred taking out a terrorist. We've also killed nothing but innocent civilians when using drone strikes without the killing of any terrorists.

mtrobertsattorney said...

I guess if Obama has the power to declare a law unconstitutional, then all is well.

grackle said...

First, the reason, as I see it, for the deal with the terrorists:

Obama, never perceived as a plausible Commander-in-Chief, needed to prop up his military credibility, especially now that the VA scandal is nipping at his heels. There's a perception, which could be very damaging to the Democrats in the up-coming mid-terms, that Obama, the leader of the Democrats, has disdain toward veterans and the military in general.

This, coupled with the historical perception of the Democrats being soft on military matters, could lose the senate majority the Democrats enjoy at this time. Once the senate is gone the nation would be treated, right on up to the 2016 presidential election, to the spectacle of Obama's veto of bill after bill that has been heretofore tabled by Harry Reid. The optics would certainly be damaging, perhaps fatal.

Thus, the deal with the terrorists: one "captured" American soldier for five hardened terrorists. This is to show the public Obama's "empathy" toward the military.

There's the question about the freed American soldier's credibility. He apparently abandoned his post, left the relative safety of his base and strolled willingly into the Taliban's control. This looks very much like it could have been desertion. We cannot know for sure how he was treated by his "captors" but the videos I've seen that were made while he was a "captive" show me a well-fed, healthy adult male in his prime, apparently none the worse for wear.

As for the question of impeachment: The GOP needs to outlaw the word. If the word is uttered by the unwise it should immediately be officially repudiated by the GOP and conservative leaders. We already know that the Obama administration is lawless and extra-constitutional in its behavior so there's no need to beat that particular dead horse. Impeachment was not feasible before and it's not feasible now.

I used the word "hero" precisely to highlight the nature of the response to the complaints, and anything disparaging to this man, like what you're saying, will redound against Obama's opponents.

Maybe, maybe not. We'll see. I am curious to see what the soldier himself says to his military debriefers, what he publicly says about his "ordeal" and how he explains his "capture." Don't forget that this man is still in the army. He is not a civilian, yet. He is subject to military discipline and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. I saw his parents on TV. They look to be from a casting call for Portlandia, that gentle reminder of Progressive goofiness.

Strelnikov said...

"On Obama's side, the argument is that the statute is unconstitutional, a congressional encroachment on presidential power."

That's his position on everything. Therein lies tyranny.

n.n said...

Wouldn't inserting a foreign object into a human being's body without their consent amount to torture? There is really nothing positive about this progressive consolidation of power by the executive.

Big Mike said...

I don't think that the law is a wise one, because sometimes the window of opportunity will be less than the thirty days -- possibly less than 24 hours. Still, it is the law and in this case there seems to have been no bar to compliance with the law.

I'd like to think that Dumbocrats are worrying that Barack Obama is piling up precedents that a Republican administration could exploit in the future. But using "think" in the same sentence with the 21st century version of Jefferson's party is a bit of an oxymoron.

And as for your final paragraph, Althouse? You should have had more coffee before you wrote something quite that egregious.

Deirdre Mundy said...

At this point, impeaching Obama and ending up with Senator Biden would be a huge boon for the Democrats in the Senate. No way for opponents to tie them to the president if they're actively trying to get rid of him!

I think he is daring them to impeach him-- but, if he pushes hard enough that his own party turns on him, he'll be sorry.

Senators like having their guy in the White House, BUT they don't like feeling unimportant. The pushback is coming....

chrisnavin.com said...

I"m still worried about this whole 'if we just end the war and negotiate our work here is done peace idealism.'

I suspect Obama is trying to appear to have met his objectives of ending the war, and drawing down, so a little negotiation like this is all in a peace President's work.

Maybe the trip to Westpoint reminded him of his duties, or he just wants to angle for the next election and have a Bin Laden redux moment.

Either way it's good to get someone home, but at what cost?

The Taliban in Afghanistan are brutal, Islamic purist warlords, as in Pakistan where they operate in gov't uncontrolled territory. Their regime harbored Bin Laden and top Al Qaeda leaders for years, and the Haqqani network is quite supportive of the pan Arab global terrorist types among them.

They pillage, kill innocent people, run opium etc.. They can't govern, really, and they are brutal and 1/2 Islamist terror types themselves.

They come into an area and kill a few locals, take control, kidnap if necessary and go from there with guerilla fighting to take as much territory as they can.

The fundamental logic of why we're there hasn't changed despite the length of the war and the impossibilities of the situation.

AfPak isn't going to be changing all that much and 'nation-building' is a mirage.

Terrorism is still clearly our biggest threat, and a constant war of intelligence, drone strikes, SpecOps, and larger military operations is at work to keep it happening elsewhere, and not here.

No, we didn't cause it, and we probably can't entirely end it either.

Yes, our actions have consequences, in many understood and unforeseen ways.

This is going to be going on for a while.

I can't figure out who Obama thinks his base and audience really are, and how many of his guiding ideals and rhetoric can be aligned with good decision making....and reality.

It's catching up with him and the rest of us as well.


The Crack Emcee said...

"The only other alternative I see is to impeach the President.

Go ahead. He's daring you."


BWAAAAA-HAHAHAHAHAAHAAA!!!!!

betamax3000 said...

Commenting on the Wrong Post Drunk Guy says:

Sure, I'm a little drunk, but that doesn't mean I don't have a point to make. I admit it: when I use the restroom in public places I don't flush the toilet if I defecate. I don't know why i do this, I don't mean to cause anyone trouble, but it is a habit I cannot break, like counting to ten before touching a door knob. Maybe it is a way of telling the world that I exist, that I breathe and eat and live and defecate just like anyone else, I will prove it to you, there is evidence, right there. I am not proud of this behavior, I am a sanitary person, I wash my hands, over and over and over sometimes. I try not to watch who is the next person to use that restroom but sometimes I can't help it, I don't make eye contact, I have respect for people's privacy. I know this is not really a proper way to act in public places, but I think it is wrong for you to comment on things you really don't know about.

Hagar said...

No. Obama still thinks he can have peace with the medievalists if he just speaks to them in a reasonable tone.

And no, we are not going to know "where they are" for very long.

betamax3000 said...

Commenting on the Wrong Post Drunk Guy says:

Sure, I'm a little drunk, but that doesn't mean I don't have a point to make. The blonde cheerleader at the bus stop gave me an erection, I have no problem stating that, it is a fact, it is biology: pretty females with exposed thighs cause biological things to happen to men, it's the way we are. And sometimes an erection is uncomfortable in your clothing, sometimes you need to rearrange things to avoid discomfort, and I was in considerable discomfort, I had to rearrange things, but I was NOT masturbating like she told the Police. It's just that the rearranging caused me to ejaculate, that's all, and of course people like to pretend that these things don't happen, but they do, I was just rearranging. I think it is wrong for you to comment on things you really don't know about.

Krumhorn said...

I wish I could tell the girl that I am sorry about her panties, maybe they were her favorite pair that made her feel beautiful when she wore them. I have a conscience, and I think it is wrong for you to comment on things you really don't know about.

I had thought for sure that this would have been an opportunity to describe for us how those favorite panties had whispered past the inside of her creamy thighs.

...but then, that might qualify as commenting on things I really don't know about.

In any event, let's be grateful that there weren't any 'amber stains' to sniff.

- Krumhorn

jr565 said...

In defense of this president liberals have bent themselves into such pretzels they can never unwind themselves. Which will be great for republicans.
Because we can meet every talking point uttered with a tit for tat 'where were you when Obama did it. Hypocrite!" OR, why was this talkning point used under Bush, not under Obana and again under the next republican president. Is it a real talking point are you just partisan and using this tragedy for politics? Hypocrite"
Start memorizing the notes conservatives.

David said...

There are some decent arguments in favor of Obama's not notifying Congress in advance on this. He did note his view that the law was unconstitutional. There may have been substantial reasons not to publicize the discussion prior to the actual exchange.

But none of this explains why Obama did not get out in front on the notification issue. Argumentation 101 tells you that if there is potentially damaging news that affects you, it's better to get that news out yourself, with your own explanation, rather than sit and let someone else highlight it.

Obama absolutely should have addressed the issue of the statute when he announced the deal. Note the existence of the law, and state clearly why you feel justified in not following the law.

This is simple and basic PR, politics, lawyering, etc. Only a total dunderhead would not do it this way.

Dunderheads rule.

garage mahal said...

"What does that remind you of? Iran-Contra."

Except Reagan traded 1500 missiles instead of 5 Taliban.

David said...

Hector said...
Isn't the president's argument akin to nullification, which is an idea quite popular on the right.


The President swears to uphold the Constitution. Therefore the President can (and should) decline to enforce or comply with laws that he sincerely believes are unconstitutional.

Ditto with Congress. The Congressional procedure for some time has been to pass the law, and let the courts resolve issues of doubtful constitutionality. I have always thought this was not a proper way for Congress or individual Congresscritters to approach the matter.

You can question Obama's correctness or sincerity in not obeying this law. You can also criticize the fact that he does not act consistently. However, in my opinion, he is well within his authority in refusing to execute an unconstitutional law.

But he also owes the people an explanation of his reasons for doing so. His failure to be forthright and complete in justifying his actions is a huge failure of duty and leadership in a matter of this importance.

Ann Althouse said...

Gah! I accidentally deleted the second update. Believe me it was untentional.

Quaestor said...

Althouse wrote: 5 Taliban leaders on the loose could be more valuable to us than 5 Taliban leaders detained...

To which Abdul replied: We won't know where they are. This is not a TV show.

Althouse countered: 1) How do you know? 2) How do they know?

1) Althouse has made the counter-intuitive claim that terrorist chieftains at large are less dangerous to us than the same terrorist chieftains held captive. As Carl Sagan observed extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. Turning the question back on Abdul is just intellectual laziness.

2) How do they know? Immaterial. Whether the terrorist know when or if they are under surveillance by armed drones or satellites hasn't stopped them yet. For example six weeks ago a major conference of Al Qaeda affiliated jiadis met in southern Yemen, a place regularly patrolled by drones. 5000 terrorists met, conferred and paraded without fear of attack and got away with it. Perhaps you missed it.

The formerly detained Taliban leaders are under a "travel restriction" in Qatar. During that time they will be perfectly safe from drone attack. Qatar is an "ally" of sorts in this protracted war, but they won't stay on side if we violate their sovereignty with UCAVs. The ban lasts for one year. Assuming the Taliban mullahs adhere to the restrictions (which they won't, I predict they will all have all escaped from Qatar within six months from today) they will quickly vanish into various Muslim hellholes. How do I know? I surmise from the history of this war.

Will Richardson said...

Michael K -- "He even promoted him to sergeant."

POWs, while in captivity, are promoted as soon as they have the time in service required.

libertariansafetyguy said...

How long can the President of the United States lord over a drone kill list, deciding who to free and who to blame, before becoming numb to the gravity of every other decision?

betamax3000 said...

Commenting on the Wrong Post Drunk Guy says:

Sure, I'm a little drunk, but that doesn't mean I don't have a point to make. I admit it: when I use the restroom in public places I don't flush the toilet if I defecate. I don't know why i do this, I don't mean to cause anyone trouble, but it is a habit I cannot break, like counting to ten before touching a door knob. Maybe it is a way of telling the world that I exist, that I breathe and eat and live and defecate just like anyone else, I will prove it to you, there is evidence, right there. I am not proud of this behavior, I am a sanitary person, I wash my hands, over and over and over sometimes. I try not to watch who is the next person to use that restroom but sometimes I can't help it, I don't make eye contact, I have respect for people's privacy. I know this is not really a proper way to act in public places, but I think it is wrong for you to comment on things you really don't know about.

icepilot said...

Were I King, each of the 5 would be instrumented, and so made known after the quintuple, coordinated drone strike.

nono said...

Under Ar­ti­cle I, Sec­tion 8 - Pow­ers of Con­gress, of The United States Constitution we find this little sentence:

To de­clare War, grant Let­ters of Mar­que and Reprisal, and make Rules con­cern­ing Cap­tures on Land and Water

The law is constitutional.

Quaestor said...

We have targeted terrorists with drones, and we found them.

And we have failed to target terrorist with drones, and we have not found them. Glaring Counter-Example Number One

You're usually better than this, Althouse. Either your heart's not in it, or you're out of your depth on this subject.

Lyle said...

The other issue here it is just another thing that undermines our laws in the eyes of the people. Some laws are okay to break, others not so much.

Tim Windsor said...

Back in the day, Morrissey was famously celibate.

And, still, swooning young women would throw themselves at the stage, hoping to open him up.

Forget that those women were panting up the wrong tree. Point is, Morrissey managed to celebrate celibacy and even make it sexy.

William said...

The prisoner is flesh and blood. The actions of the released Taliban are speculative. There's no way you can look good criticizing this exchange. It very well may turn out to be a stupendously wrong decision, but it would be more politic to wait a few months before making such a critique.

Diogenes of Sinope said...

Current technology will allow these terrorists to support terror operations remotely. Staying in densely populated areas will stop US drone attacks since we fear civilian causalities.

MayBee said...

I'm trying to imagine what human rights laws and activists would have to say about chipping and bombing Released POWs.

Diogenes of Sinope said...

The value of US hostages has never been higher. What is there to stop terrorists from kidnapping US civilians?

pm317 said...

That is, there are levels of wisdom and deviousness here that we can't know.

The wisdom and deviousness of drone killing is approved by the liberals and 5 less in Gitmo makes it one step closer to closing it. If Obama kills them with one drone, it is not like torturing them -- they are dead, there is no torture. Obama should exchange all the little ones left (since the big 5 are already gone) there for some other swap and close Gitmo.

virgil xenophon said...

This was a cynical twofer for Obama: A bask-in-the-glory of a return of an American held hostage by the Taliban and the removal of a political thorn in his side in the form of the "worst-of-the worst" Taliban at Gitmo whose removal could not possibly have been justified any other way and whose presence prevented Obama from shutting Gitmo down. Could these freed Islamic terrorists do serious damage to Americans or American interests down the road? Who cares? Obama will be long out of office by then and on the links everyday in Hawaii..

(PS: The good sgt is on record as saying: "The us army is the biggest joke the world has to laugh at:; and that "he was ashamed to even be an American" ; and also "the horror that is America is disgusting." Further it has now been established he was disciplined for leaving unauthorized to go drink with Afghans and the nite he went AWOL he said he was going to smoke pot with the Afghans. Some "hero" eh?...and of course his Father has been fomenting treason by attempting to get all the Gitmo prisoners freed. His latest tweet (now deleted) says:"I am still working to free all Guantanamo prisoners.God will repay for the death of every Afghan child. Ameen.." He also addressed his son in both Arabic and Pashtun at the WH ceremony. Some patriotic family, eh?

chillblaine said...

The President would love it if the House initiated impeachment proceedings against him. They have already wargamed it. They know that since criticism against him is based on racism, an impeachment would be equivalent to a lynching.

LarsPorsena said...

This guy wandered away from his post five years ago. He's only a 'hero' to Code Pink and its ilk.

khesanh0802 said...

This from the Christian Science Monitor gives a pretty good run down of the issues surrounding Bergdahl's absence and "capture". If he did go AWOL he has probably paid a pretty good price for that. A Dishonorable Discharge will probably be his harshest punishment.

Incidentally, how did we learn, and become concerned, about his health now - after 5 years outside the wire?

Left Bank of the Charles said...

If the law was passed last year, did it apply to anyone other than Bergdahl?

Also, if the President's signing statement indicated he thought that provision unconstitutional, isn't that sufficient notification?

Unknown said...

Ok we can't criticize the GI (who may have deserted in a war zone) but how about his father?

@ABalkhi I am still working to free all Guantanamo prisoners. God will repay for the death of every Afghan child, ameen!—
Robert Bergdahl (@bobbergdahl) May 28, 2014

http://twitchy.com/2014/05/31/working-to-free-all-guantanamo-prisoners-tweet-from-account-of-released-soldiers-father-deleted/


We are fighting a war against a different culture, one that is happy with infiltration and information warfare. We need to wise up.

Alex said...

If Dubya had done this, liberals would be apoplectic and call for impeachment. The sheer hypocrisy is breath-taking.

Alex said...

Ann - I agree with your assessment of the situation. You don't have to like/hate the President to realize this is smart politically and the GOP would be very dumb to even make a peep about this.

David R. Graham said...

"We have targeted terrorists with drones, and we found them."

We?

Ern said...

That is, there are levels of wisdom and deviousness here that we can't know.

Have you seen anything at all about the Obama administration that suggests that wisdom or even intelligence? Deviousness, yes, but not, I think, intelligence, much less wisdom.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Ann,
They aren't that naive.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Gah! I accidentally deleted the second update. Believe me it was untentional.

It's been one of those days. Meade's proofreading of the title missed the disagreement in number between "statute" and "require".

PB Reader said...

Sure, any law the president disagrees with now is unconstitutional. he'll sure change his tune once he leaves office and a republican is in office.

Chef Mojo said...

This is making the rounds:

"From someone who was there: "We were at OP Mest, Paktika Province, Afghanistan. It was a small outpost where B Co 1-501st INF (Airbone) ran operations out of, just an Infantry platoon and ANA counterparts there. The place was an Afghan graveyard. Bergdahl had been acting a little strange, telling people he wanted to "walk the earth" and kept a little journal talking about how he was meant for better things. No one thought anything about it. He was a little “out there”. Next morning he's gone. We search everywhere, and can't find him. He left his weapon, his kit, and other sensitive items. He only took some water, a compass and a knife. We find some afghan kids shortly after who saw an american walking north asking about where the taliban are. We get hits on our voice intercepter that Taliban has him, and we were close. We come to realize that the kid deserted his post, snuck out of camp and sought out Taliban… to join them. We were in a defensive position at OP Mest, where your focus is to keep people out. He knew where the blind spots were to slip out and that's what he did. It was supposed to be a 4-day mission but turned into several months of active searching. Everyone was spun up to find this guy. News outlets all over the country were putting out false information. It was hard to see, especially when we knew the truth about what happened and we lost good men trying to find him. PFC Matthew Michael Martinek, Staff Sgt. Kurt Robert Curtiss, SSG Clayton Bowen, PFC Morris Walker, SSG Michael Murphrey, 2LT Darryn Andrews, were all KIA from our unit who died looking for Bergdahl. Many others from various units were wounded or killed while actively looking for Bergdahl. Fighting Increased. IEDs and enemy ambushes increased. The Taliban knew that we were looking for him in high numbers and our movements were predictable. Because of Bergdahl, more men were out in danger, and more attacks on friendly camps and positions were conducted while we were out looking for him. His actions impacted the region more than anyone wants to admit. There is also no way to know what he told the Taliban: Our movements, locations, tactics, weak points on vehicles and other things for the enemy to exploit are just a few possibilities. The Government knows full well that he deserted. It looks bad and is a good propaganda piece for the Taliban. They refuse to acknowledge it. Hell they even promoted him to Sergeant which makes me sick. I feel for his family who only want their son/brother back. They don’t know the truth, or refuse to acknowledge it as well. What he did affected his family and his whole town back home, who don’t know the truth. Either way what matters is that good men died because of him. He has been lying on all those Taliban videos about everything since his “capture”. If he ever returns, he should be tried under the UCMJ for being a deserter and judged for what he did. Bergdahl is not a hero, he is not a soldier or an Infantryman. He failed his brothers. Now, sons and daughters are growing up without their fathers who died looking for him and he will have to face that truth someday."

Stow the ticker tape.

paminwi said...

I hope they implanted the tracker chip in their teeth while we were giving them their top notch healthcare (bet no waiting list for those shitheads!)

Then, the GPS tracker will be able to find them and when shit is ready to rain down on them a little recording will come through their jawbone saying "get ready for your 72 virgins asshole"!

Just a little day dreaming here!

Scott M said...

As has probably already been mentioned, it's the precedent this swap sets. I could care less about the byzantine machinations between Congress and the Executive on this one, but let's face facts. Rewards incentivize behavior. We just incentivized Al-Qaeda to nab more of our people.

ihasch said...

Obama is unimpeachable as the first black president. He knows the media is in the tank and he can get away with it because the Republicans wont do anything. It just happens to be that he is in this positions despite being completely incompetent.

Michael K said...

Obama will release the Blind Sheik before he leaves office. Maybe Clinton style the day he leaves office.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

When the President does it, it's not illegal.

Scott M said...

Hmm.

Not sure this has any bearing on the swap or not...

POW's Father: Democracy is a cult

Kirby Olson said...

Maybe Obama had microchips put into them so they can be tracked very easily, or exploded from within, if he feels like it.

The Advertising Guy said...

How is Bergdahl a hero? He deserted his unit and 6 soldiers died looking for him. Grunts despise Bergdahl.

Just contrast this with Benghazi where retired SEALS attempted to protect an ambassador and were deserted by the commander in chief.

Harold said...

"I used the word "hero" precisely to highlight the nature of the response to the complaints, and anything disparaging to this man, like what you're saying, will redound against Obama's opponents."

Don't think that is going to happen in this case. The father, that Obama appeared with, is a dirtbag anti-American sypathizer. MSM isn't going to be able to hide that. His comrades in arms aren't too keen on him- none will label him a hero. In fact, there will be an ever growing chorus for court martial. I've already heard rumblings from active duty family about that.

There won't be a single AD member happy about this swap, for it sets a precedent that endangers them. And us retired ones are none too happy about it either, since military service tends to run in families, it endangers our kin.

DirecTV Sucks said...

"Earlier Saturday, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called the release of Sgt. Bergdahl "a powerful reinforcement of our nation's commitment to leave no service member behind." Mr. Obama, he said, "rightly recognized our solemn obligation to take every possible measure to protect and defend the men and women who serve our nation."" - I read this in light of the recent VA scandal and find it laughable. Seems a political ploy to turn around their image and get the press talking about something else.

The Advertising Guy said...

How is Bergdahl a hero? He deserted his unit and 6 soldiers died looking for him. Grunts despise Bergdahl.

Just contrast this with Benghazi where retired SEALS attempted to protect an ambassador and were deserted by the commander in chief.

averagejoe said...

This guy was no hero, he was and is a deserter. His dirtbag father is looking like a Taliban himself, announces to the world that he sympathizes with our enemies, and hopes to get all Gitmo prisoners released. If anyone needs to be closely monitored, it's the Bergdahl family. Typical anti-American democrat party members with treasonous aspirations, just like our first muslim president. Impeach Obama Now!

Krumhorn said...

By appearance, his dad used to own a VW bus decorated with flowers and colorful swirls. Things are starting to come into focus.

-Krumhorn

PB Reader said...

If we gave them Obama, what would we get?

Ben said...

"That is, there are levels of wisdom and deviousness here that we can't know."

It might be possible to alleviate the screwup using the methods you mention, but no one intentionally lets prisoners go. He got played.

Job said...

You watch too much "24," Professor.

betamax3000 said...

Commenting on the Wrong Post Drunk Guy says:

Sure, I'm a little drunk, but that doesn't mean I don't have a point to make. The blonde cheerleader at the bus stop gave me an erection, I have no problem stating that, it is a fact, it is biology: pretty females with exposed thighs cause biological things to happen to men, it's the way we are. And sometimes an erection is uncomfortable in your clothing, sometimes you need to rearrange things to avoid discomfort, and I was in considerable discomfort, I had to rearrange things, but I was NOT masturbating like she told the Police. It's just that the rearranging caused me to ejaculate, that's all, and of course people like to pretend that these things don't happen, but they do, I was just rearranging. I think it is wrong for you to comment on things you really don't know about.

Bob Ellison said...

Meade is correct. Dumb law.

Tom said...

I'm glad someone else already pointed out that Bergdahl was official AWOL when he was captured. (Never mind that he was a fool for leaving the safety of his American FOB.) I am curious if the Army will press charges on him. Behind the scenes, a LOT of money and time was expended in trying to find and rescue him.

Æthelflæd said...

Apparently Bergdahl's father is a bit of a looney, and possibly a Muslim convert. Strange business.

Hammond X Gritzkofe said...

...and directly violates a federal statute that require informing Congress in advance.

Yes, well I understand when the Prez signed it into Law he did mention he did not consider himself obliged to abide by it. (Notwithstanding his Oath re. upholding the Laws of the United States, blah, blah, blah...)

So much for "Signing Statements."

Dammit! I keep telling you folks, if you don't like what they do with the power, then don't give 'em the power. If you think the Feral Gummit is too big, vote for folks who will cut it down. Choke off the money supply.

EDH said...

Go ahead. He's daring you. Perhaps part of his motivation for the prisoner trade was a predicted political boost as the President's opponents are distracted into seeming to complain about the return of a hero and tripping all over themselves as they posture about impeachment...

That is, there are levels of wisdom and deviousness here that we can't know.


Indeed. Congress should investigate the entire quid pro quo of Obama's deal with the Taliban.

My guess is he bought himself a "Decent Interval" in Afghamistan while selling-out both nations and the next president.

Big Mike said...

Over on CNN.com the story seems to be that this was a deal with a narrow window that had to be acted on right away or the window would close.

Still, it's a precedent for Republican presidents to follow.

BDNYC said...

This is indeed a very bizarre story. It doesn't help that his father has a beard, publicly speaks in Pashto or Arabic or whatever, and tweets strangely Taliban-ish propaganda.

Bergdahl apparently deserted because he was disgusted with America and its efforts in Afghanistan, and was quickly snatched up by the Taliban. He supposedly resisted his captors at some point, but who knows if that's true. He might have been a willing convert to their cause, thinking that's how he could best help Afghanistan's people. Maybe his mission was to be a bargaining chip to get the five Taliban prisoners home. Maybe he's been trained and will be awaiting further orders. Maybe the show Homeland has messed with my brain. Who knows.

I do hope he's subjected to hours or days of intense questioning by military and intelligence types. A lie detector should be used.

I also hope for the best, and that Bergdahl was just a naive, scared kid who made a mistake and got captured, but was always hoping to get home. The truth about this story is clearly more bizarre and murkier than past POW cases, e.g., McCain in Vietnam.

Roughcoat said...

That is, there are levels of wisdom and deviousness here that we can't know.

Sure,sure. They always say that when things get hinky.

Like, if only Stalin knew!

A way of neutralizing dissent and disagreement.

Not buying it.

Mark said...

At first blush, the law does seem to violate the doctrine of separation of powers. (Whether the soldier in question was "worth" keeping five terrorists locked up is immaterial; he's a soldier held by enemies of the United States so ultimately the call was Obama's when he wanted to make it.)

If Republicans are smart they'll grit their teeth on this one and let it go. There are enough clear-cut, morally unambiguous instances of the Administrations to run against in the next few months. Ann is right that the Obama Administration would rather the fight be over this than over just about anything else.

The Drill SGT said...

Here is the NYP version of his departure:

One night, after finishing a guard-duty shift Bowe Bergdahl asked his team leader whether there would be a problem if he left camp with his rifle and night-vision goggles — to which the team leader replied “yes.”

Bergdahl then returned to his bunker, picked up a knife, water, his diary and a camera, and left camp, according to Rolling Stone.

The next morning, he was reported missing, and later that day, a drone and four fighter jets ­began to search for him.

DavidD said...

Hmmm. So what else can our esteemed Dear Leader since he doesn't ever have to worry about impeachment?

Iapetus said...

How this trade turns out in short-term domestic politics depends on what the military decides for the fate of Sgt. Bergdahl. If he receives an honorable discharge from the service, Obama will reap the benefit of having arranged to bring a POW soldier home. On the other hand, if Bergdahl is eventually brought up on charges of desertion in a general court martial, which would undoubtedly drag along through the election campaign of 2016, Hillary! will likely inherit the fall out over the release of the terrorists from Gitmo. Ergo, there will be no court martial, by order of the Commander in Chief, and the circumstances surrounding Bergdahl's "capture" by the Taliban will now be thoroughly obfuscated as have the circumstances of Ambassador Chris Stevens's death in Benghazi.

David R. Graham said...

Details on Bergdahl's AWOL:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10868673/Bowe-Bergdahl-a-darker-story-behind-the-release-of-Americas-last-prisoner-of-war.html

Ann, you are over-thinking this. Also, thinking like a civilian lawyer rather than like a UCMJ soldier. The guy is going to be feted, but he deserves Leavenworth. And prattling patty has negotiated with terrorists, accorded them the status of state-entities.

Sorun said...

I keep seeing internet ads saying Obama is giving homeowners a bailout. I'm pretty sure Obama can do anything he wants.

Carl said...

if they are out and about, we can conduct surveillance on them and, if they do anything that the President finds threatening, he can use his drones to kill them

Ah ha ha ha ha. Probably find Malaysian Airlines flight 370 while we're at it, too. And the secret North Pole HQ of Superman. Well worth it!

eric said...

I think it's human nature for us to continue on this path. With each change of party, the President will one up the last President in taking more power to himself.

We may occasionally have a "one step back" presidency, but if that does happen, we can almost guarantee the following president will take two steps forward.

MartyH said...

I heard that President Obama has promised to track these five terrorists as closely as he did the guns going to Mexico in Fast and Furious...

Sam L. said...

He deliberately violated a federal statute? And is anyone surprised?

madAsHell said...

Can we trade Obama?

cyrus83 said...

I think by this point it's pretty well established that there is no point to impeaching a Democrat president for violating federal statutes: Democrat senators will never vote for removal unless the crime is so outrageous that their own base would demand it, something such as making racist remarks while trying to seduce a White House staffer that were secretly taped.

The larger problem here is that Obama doesn't understand the consequences here of negotiating with terrorists. Having taken this path, Obama and his successor are suddenly going to find that they have a lot more terrorist negotiations to handle, since Obama's just demonstrated to terrorists that taking hostages will win them ransom payments - be it men, money, or otherwise.

Even if the intent is devious per the scenario Althouse proposes, the last thing the government should want to do is advertise the fact that it has traded 5 terrorists for one soldier! That puts a target on the back of every American abroad. For those concerned about due process, this also makes it much more likely that terrorists will just be shot or bombed - a ransom demand can't be made for a corpse.

Sabinal said...

All I know is O better pray hard that no attacks happen and be caused by the five he released. Do they really think they will stay in Qatar? No.

We are already seeing the establishment defend this stupid decision. They thought this would give them brownie points and save them in November. Nope. People think the same thing - you do not trade with terrorists, esp. the top five of AQ.

Also, no one will care about this by October. They will be asking three things (unless there is a terrorist attack by one of these ex-detainees):
how much is gas?
how much will my health insurance rise next year? and
do I still have a job?

If the answers are not in the positive the Republicans will have a good chance to dominate both houses.

Ironclad said...

Echoing ndspinelli's comment - I was at a family reunion today and 2 relatives that were in Afghanistan on language/intelligence units called Bergdahl a "dirtbag" several times based on the common scuttlebutt from the theater. The guy was considered a loser in his unit to start with, and apparently he either left his base to do hash with the locals or actually deserted. He had been disciplined for drinking with the locals earlier in his tour.

After seeing the dog and pony show by his parents at the White House, it's pretty obvious that there is a screw loose in the guys family. But hey, gotta distract from the bad economic news and the VA scandal.

Simon Danger said...

As Will Rogers once said, we can't all be heroes because someone has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.

PD Quig said...

You know those toothaches that the five Taliban had? The ones that were repaired by Army dentists who just happened to place GPS transmitters in their teeth? Wouldn't it be fun to see some Hellfire and damnation ensue? Yeah, we don't negotiate with terrorists: just let them go and then blow them up.

Kirk Parker said...

When I first saw the title, I thought it was an expose of the president's Fantasy Baseball doing.

Kirk Parker said...

"... for 5 Taliban detainees and a terrorist to be named later."

Kirk Parker said...

Meade, Bob Ellison, and Mark need to answer nono's point about Congress's Article I, Section 8 powers. (Althouse should chime in too, being after all professor of Constitutional Law.)

Quaestor said...

As the dust settles, and the peculiar details of Bowe Bergdahl's life and military career are filled in one thing jumps out as highly significant -- his father, Robert Bergdahl.

Bergdahl senior has made some very strange tweets lately, most of them deleted by now, which indicated a strong sympathy for the Taliban. According to The Telegraph Robert Bergdahl is a "tough backwoodsman" from Idaho who homeschooled his children... a backwoods Idahoan, what does that suggest?

San Francisco and the Bay Area became such a magnet for gays and counter-culture types in the Sixties and Seventies that the political culture there has become aberrant -- propositions that most decent Americans would find repellant are common assumptions in many quarters there. The weirdos who flocked to SF and stayed explain Nancy Pelosi's political longevity. But the Bay Area wasn't the only magnetic destination, because there was another counter-culture and another Mecca to attract it.

In just such a mass migration that ruined SF, the militia movement migrated to the remote fastness of the Northwest, chiefly Idaho. Some were the paranoid survivalist types who sought refuge from the coming apocalypse, but others were fully-fledged neo-Nazis -- people who refer to the Federal government as ZOG. These people tend to be very anti-Semitic -- no that's not quite correct -- they hate Jews. They hate Israel. Radical Islam is their ally against the Jews and their lackeys, the American ZOG. Hitler is their patron saint.

I strongly suspect Robert Bergdahl has clear ties to the most radical wing of the militia movement, and that Bowe Bergdahl's desertion to the Taliban is a direct consequence of his father's influence.

DANEgerus said...

Iran Contra? The difference then was that Reagan was on our side.

Largo said...

If just one of these five were turned, their release would be a boon fir intelligence. I would not want to mess it up my putting anybody in the loop that I could keep out of it. (Including congress.)

Just speculating. But as it was said earlier, there may be deep and devious games afoot.

Or I might just be reading too much LeCarre.

Diogenes of Sinope said...

Obama can do anything which doesn't get him impeached and convicted by the senate.....So in reality there are few restraints on illegal actions by Obama.

stlcdr said...

As already noted, this guy, from all independent and credible sources was in no way a hero.

What will happen, though, is that the Right media will put this forward, but the Left will ignore it. The Left will then make the Right reporting to be the story of yet more conspiracy and evidence of racism, and so on (blah fucking blah).

Secondly, the president cannot simply decide to do something that is currently against the law and/or part of the Constitution. But again, saying something is unconstitutional seems to be readily accepted by the left as a 'case closed' statement, when uttered by any left political figureheads.

Thirdly, drone strikes: this may well be a justification to use more drones, so that Obama can be seen in a more militaristic proactive role: unfortunately, drone strikes are a case of 'whatever you hit, call that your target'.

There will also be more development, which the Chinese are sure to be doing, in anti-drone systems. 'Shooting' at drones does not have the repercussions of shooting at manned aircraft (even though Saddam Hussein did it for many years). When the drones are shot down, the only response that can be is 'can we have our ball back, please.'

Bruce Allen said...

Welcome back Bowe. Your actions killed many of your fellow soldiers, you were promoted to Sgt. for your bravery by aiding the Taliban. You're a great guy Bowe, please hug the family of the six fellow soldiers who died looking for you. I look forward to you telling all the troops were maimed looking for you, thanks. I look at you with distain and I know you will never be charged with any crimes since the President is shielding you and trying to make you a hero so he can use you as political cover for his many scandals. I miss the America I grew up in, I think our future looks bleak.

wholelottasplainin' said...

nono said...

Under Ar­ti­cle I, Sec­tion 8 - Pow­ers of Con­gress, of The United States Constitution we find this little sentence:

To de­clare War, grant Let­ters of Mar­que and Reprisal, and make Rules con­cern­ing Cap­tures on Land and Water

The law is constitutional.

********

Have the Supremes held that "captures" includes prisoners (aka "captives") as well as property (such as enemy ships at sea)?

Can you cite any instances where Congress has actually made rules for battlefield treatment of captured prisoners, other than through ratification of treaties such as the Geneva Conventions?

Citations?

dnoto said...

5 terrorist for 1 soldier... are you kidding me?

They compromised the safety of the USA for 1 soldier.

Happy for the soldier and his family but this is wrong.

Matthew Sablan said...

To be fair: When did Obama first hear about this?

LoverBlogger said...

I advise everyone to read and judge for themselves what is really going on here:

http://www.redflagnews.com/headlines/very-suspicious-you-wont-believe-what-freed-pows-father-tweets-then-deletes

LoverBlogger said...

I advise everyone to read and judge for themselves what is really going on here:

http://www.redflagnews.com/headlines/very-suspicious-you-wont-believe-what-freed-pows-father-tweets-then-deletes

Thorley Winston said...

"The only other alternative I see is to impeach the President.”


I see a better alternative: when the next President is sworn in, his first action is to trade Obama for five captured U.S. servicemen.

hombre said...

"That is, there are levels of wisdom and deviousness here that we can't know."

It cannot be gainsaid that the Pres employs many levels of deviousness. "Wisdom?" Not so much.

hombre said...

If he did walk away, as his comrades assert, why do we assume he's a deserter rather than a defector?

Given his impending return, that distinction would seem to be an important one that will not be drawn by the politically corrupt Administration.

jr565 said...

The night before he left he asked his superior officer if it would cause problems if he left the base with his gun and equipment:

"Bowe approached his team leader not long after he got off guard duty and asked his superior a simple question: If I were to leave the base, would it cause problems if I took my sensitive equipment?

Yes, his team leader responded – if you took your rifle and night-vision goggles, that would cause problems.
Bowe returned to his barracks, a roughly built bunker of plywood and sandbags. He gathered up water, a knife, his digital camera and his diary. Then he slipped off the outpost."

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/americas-last-prisoner-of-war-20120607page=4#ixzz33WTG4sxx
Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook


The guy literally walks off base and then his buddies have to spend days and weeks finding him because he doesn't feel like being there and thinks he can somehow make it to Pakistan all by his lonesome.

And people died looking for him. he has blood on his hands.

John Cunningham said...

I am trying to visualize Ike trading Otto Frank, Adolf Eichmann, Jochen Peiper,Otto Weidinger, and Ernst Kaltenbrunner for a deserter held by the Germans. I can't see it.