Reports are flying around the president's unilateral transfer of “the last American POW” in the Afghan War for 5 dangerous Gitmo prisoners.
Here are 11 stories that will give you a sense of the controversy and questions swirling around this news:
1. President Obama Almost Certainly Broke the Law
President Obama did not consult Congress when making the transfer of 5 Taliban commanders at Gitmo for Bowe Bergdahl.
The Washington Post raises questions about whether the president violated the law regarding terrorism policy:
Congressional Republicans and others focused on a series of concerns that are likely to reverberate in coming days: whether the deal breached U.S. policy forbidding negotiations with terrorists, whether sufficient safeguards were in place to ensure that the released Taliban prisoners do no further harm to the United States and whether Congress was informed about the prisoner trade, as required by law.
2. The 5 Taliban Commanders Released Were Among the Most Dangerous at Gitmo
Numerous publications note that these detained terrorists were among the worst at the facility. The Daily Beast gets to the point:
The five Guantanamo detainees released by the Obama administration in exchange for America’s last prisoner of war in Afghanistan, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, are bad guys. They are top Taliban commanders the group has tried to free for more than a decade.
According to a 2008 Pentagon dossier on Guantanamo Bay inmates, all five men released were considered to be a high risk to launch attacks against the United States and its allies if they were liberated.
3. Soldiers Who Served with Bergdahl are Making Claims He Was a Deserter
CNN's Jake Tapper reports that soldiers who served with Bergdahl are calling him a “deserter,” not a “hero”:
“I was pissed off then and I am even more so now with everything going on,” said former Sgt. Matt Vierkant, a member of Bergdahl's platoon when he went missing on June 30, 2009. “Bowe Bergdahl deserted during a time of war and his fellow Americans lost their lives searching for him.”
Vierkant said Bergdahl needs to not only acknowledge his actions publicly but face a military trial for desertion under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
4. Soldiers Who Served with Bergdahl Signed Non-Disclosure Agreements Not to Reveal What Happened
Again, from CNN's Jake Tapper:
Many of Bergdahl's fellow troops — from the seven or so who knew him best in his squad, to the larger group that comprised the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division — told CNN that they signed nondisclosure agreements agreeing to never share any information about Bergdahl's disappearance and the efforts to recapture him.
Some were willing to dismiss that document in hopes that the truth would come out about a soldier who they now fear is being hailed as a hero, while the men who lost their lives looking for him are ignored.
5. Bergdahl Reportedly Split Camp with Just a Few Survival Items
According to first-hand accounts from soldiers in his platoon, Bergdahl, while on guard duty, shed his weapons and walked off the observation post with nothing more than a compass, a knife, water, a digital camera, and a diary.
6. Soldier Who Claims to Have Served with Bergdahl Says He Mailed His Valuables Back Mid-Tour
As reported by IJReview contributor Soopermexican, a soldier claims Bergdahl mailed back his valuables mid-tour. Going by the moniker of @CodyFNFootball, he claims about Bergdahl:
“Why would someone pack all of there [sic] belongings and send them home in the middle of a 12 month deployment? Hmmmm.”
In addition, the soldier claims that Bergdahl bought an AK-47, a highly unusual choice for a U.S. soldier.
7. Six U.S. Soldiers Killed in Manhunt to Find the AWOL Soldier
As reported via Gateway Pundit:
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.
7. Bergdahl Reportedly Made Anti-American Statements
“I am ashamed to be an American. And the title of US soldier is just the lie of fools,” he concluded. “I am sorry for everything. The horror that is America is disgusting.”
8. The Highly Unusual Behavior of Bowe Bergdahl
Also corresponding with the story reported earlier here, Bergdahl dreamed about joining the French foreign legion, had an interest in fighting warlords in Darfur in Sudan, and also said he had a desire to become a mercenary.
9. Father Praises Allah; Has Pro-Islamic Tweets on Timeline
Regardless of what one thinks about Islam, it is quite a coincidence that Bowe's father Robert Bergdahl's Twitter account has pro-Islamic statements, along with tweets critical of Gitmo detainment.
At the press conference with President Obama announcing his son's release, Robert Bergdahl said “Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim” —which means “In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Compassionate.”
10. Robert Bergdahl Deletes Extremely Suspicious Tweet
As reported by IJReview contributor Soopermexican earlier, this is what Robert Bergdahl by all appearances deleted from his timeline:
11. CIA Station Chief in Kabul is “Outed” by the White House One Week Before Transfer
If numerous military members knew something was awry with the story about Bergdahl's apparent capture by the Taliban, what would the CIA station chief in Kabul know? As the Washington Post reported:
The CIA’s top officer in Kabul was exposed Saturday by the White House when his name was inadvertently included on a list provided to news organizations of senior U.S. officials participating in President Obama’s surprise visit with U.S. troops.
The White House recognized the mistake and quickly issued a revised list that did not include the individual, who had been identified on the initial release as the “Chief of Station” in Kabul, a designation used by the CIA for its highest-ranking spy in a country.
It is debatable that this uneven exchange serves the U.S.' long-term national security interests, since it encourages our enemies around the world to take more American military members hostage.
Such reports also throw into question the claim that Bergdahl was a “hero” who was “captured on the battlefield,” and there are issues surrounding this exchange that are far from settled.