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Thread: Taliban Prisoner Swap Frees U.S. Soldier Held Nearly 5 Years

  1. #21
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    Default Re: Taliban Prisoner Swap Frees U.S. Soldier Held Nearly 5 Years

    Obama committed an impeachable offense doing this trade without notifying congress and actively aiding and abetting the enemy! Take him out!
    "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
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    Default Re: Taliban Prisoner Swap Frees U.S. Soldier Held Nearly 5 Years

    Ryan.... the electorate IS America. The IDEA of America isn't what I'm upset with. It's the people in this country that elected that Marxist asshole who did this trade. I'd have left him there if I had any inkling he was a walk-off like that.

    His buddies are speaking out since yesterday. He walked off the base without his gun, and without permission, not on a mission.
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    Default Re: Taliban Prisoner Swap Frees U.S. Soldier Held Nearly 5 Years

    The father of a soldier who died searching for Bergdahl is saying that the son, before he died said some things about this being covered up. Apparently the Administration has KNOWN about this since DAY ONE and knew this fucker walked off like he did, getting some of his own unit killed looking for his lazy, lying ass.
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    Default Re: Taliban Prisoner Swap Frees U.S. Soldier Held Nearly 5 Years

    So...

    My original point still stands.... accusations should have been kept until the military recovered the guy. Then charges made, and a trial.

    APPARENTLY though, there has been something going on SINCE this guy walked off. And this administration KNEW IT.

    Therein lies the problem.

    This Administration, the OBAMA Administration, has been rife with scandals, lies, breaking the law, and now once more... he's broken the law.


    This is much, much bigger than a deserter.
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    Default Re: Taliban Prisoner Swap Frees U.S. Soldier Held Nearly 5 Years

    http://abcnews.go.com/International/obama-defends-deal-bergdahls-release/story?id=23970583

    Obama Speaks....video there.

    Obama Defends Deal for Bergdahl's Release


    WARSAW, June 3, 2014
    By ARLETTE SAENZ Arlette Saenz More from Arlette »

    Digital Journalist

    Follow @arlettesaenz




    via Good Morning America






    Obama Defends Deal To Release Bowe Bergdahl
    Next Video The Firestorm Over Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's Release


    Auto Start: On | Off




    For the first time since his Saturday speech in the Rose Garden, President Obama defended his administration's decision to secure the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, despite questions about his capture in Afghanistan.
    "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. True. Full stop," Obama said at a news conference at the Belweder Palace here this morning. "We don't condition that. That's what every mom and dad who sees a son or daughter sent over into war theater should expect from not just their commander in chief but the United States of America.
    "The United States has always had a pretty sacred rule. And that is we don't leave our men or women in uniform behind, and that dates back to the earliest days of our revolution," he said.

    The president said the administration had consulted Congress in the past about the possibility of a prisoner exchange in order for the Taliban to release Bergdahl. The administration has come under fire by lawmakers for not consulting Congress prior to the swap.


    Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban June 30, 2009, after, sources say, he walked away from his remote base, leaving his weapon behind. Taliban videos soon followed, showing the desperate young soldier pleading for freedom.


    That freedom came after nearly five years in captivity. The United States government agreed to a deal with the Taliban to release five prisoners held at the U.S. military facility in Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Bergdahl’s freedom.


    "We saw an opportunity. We were concerned about Sergeant Bergdahl's health. We had the cooperation of the Qataris to execute an exchange, and we seized that opportunity," Obama said. "The process was truncated because we wanted to make sure we did not miss that window."


    Obama acknowledged that the five Guantanamo detainees swapped for Bergdahl's release could pose a future threat to the country.


    "Is there a possibility of some of them trying to return to activities that are detrimental to us? Absolutely," he said. "I wouldn't be doing it if I thought it was contrary to American national security, and we have confidence that we will be in a position to go after them if in fact they are engaging in activities threaten our defenses."


    The president said the United States has not interrogated Bergdahl while he is recovering and undergoing tests after five years in captivity.
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    Default Re: Taliban Prisoner Swap Frees U.S. Soldier Held Nearly 5 Years

    The Truth Behind the Bowe Bergdahl POW Prisoner Swap

    By Kurt Eichenwald
    6/3/14 at 6:00 AM





    A still from a Taliban video shows Bowe Bergdahl Reuters






    Filed Under: World, Bowe Bergdahl, Afghanistan
    Commentary about the prisoner-swap negotiated between the United States and the Taliban of Afghanistan has already devolved into the type of bumper-sticker debate that emerges in the era of 140-character analysis on Twitter. On one side, those who condemn the Obama administration for “negotiating with terrorists.” (28 characters.) On the other, those who praise it for making sure that “no soldier gets left behind on the battlefield.” (47 characters.)


    As usual, reality is more complex. There is some to praise, some to condemn and much to wrestle with in the exchange of five Taliban leaders detained at Guantanamo Bay for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, an American soldier held by the Taliban for five years. The truth is, anyone who believes this is a simple decision open to immediate criticism or celebration is probably driven by politics, and not knowledge of international or military affairs.


    The prisoner swap entails many legal, military and diplomatic issues—what is the Taliban? Does the American military still back the “no soldier left behind” doctrine? Is this deal different from others in the past? Does this instance constitute “negotiating with terrorists” or something more complex? Should peace talks with the Taliban be considered? And finally, who are the prisoners in this instance and does it matter what they did?


    Here, in many more than 140 characters, are the four big points at the heart of this case.


    1. Challenges From the War on Terror
    After 9/11, President George W. Bush made clear that the American response would entail something far different from what had ever been attempted in the past. “This will be a different kind of conflict against a different kind of enemy,” he said in a radio address on September 15, 2001. “This is a conflict without battlefields and or beachheads.”


    Among the issues that made the confrontation different was that this would be a war not against a foreign state, but against a faction of Afghan leaders—the Taliban—which was providing material support to the terrorist organization, Al-Qaeda.


    The Taliban controlled about 90 percent of the territory in Afghanistan and in 1996 proclaimed itself to be the ruling government and its founder, Mullah Mohammed Omar, as the country’s leader. It declared the country’s name to have been changed to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and established a network of shuras—or consultative bodies—which sought the participation of tribal leaders, military commanders and clerics. There was a Cabinet, a security service and a military; the Taliban also appointed governors and administrators of cities and towns. In other words, it had many of the features of a real government.


    Had the Taliban followed the rules that would have allowed it to be widely recognized as the government of Afghanistan by the international community, even following its overthrow by allied forces, it still would be an uncontroversial act to negotiate a prisoner exchange. But the Taliban did not take that path.


    Only three states—Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—recognized the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. The Taliban’s refusal to meet the requirements of its international agreements led other nations, including the United States, to refuse recognition. The United Nations Security Council demanded that the Taliban follow the dictates of numerous treaties by fighting terrorism and recognizing human rights, particularly for women. The United States proclaimed such a commitment would require the Taliban to turn over Osama bin Laden, the Al-Qaeda leader. The Taliban not only failed to comply but did not surrender him even after the 9/11 attacks. Counterterrorism experts in government declared there was scarcely a difference between the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, as each infused the other with members.


    Yet still, the determination that the two groups were the same under international law was far from absolute. In a memorandum prepared in January 2002, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell wrestled with the distinction between members of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban when it came to applying the terms of the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war. On the first part of that issue—could Al-Qaeda be seen as qualifying for prisoner of war status?—Powell was absolute: no. Members of that group were solely terrorists, a criminal element with no lawful connection to the rules of the international community. On the other hand, he wrote, the status of the Taliban was much more complex, and their potential designation as prisoners of war would have to be determined on a case by case basis. This stemmed from the different roles of the two groups: Al-Qaeda, whatever its role inside Afghanistan, could not be deemed a legitimate government.


    By making this distinction—a position ultimately adopted by Bush—then the United States would be preserving its ability to credibly declare captured American soldiers to be prisoners of war. The recommendation, Powell wrote, “maintains POW status for U.S. forces…and generally supports the U.S. objective of ensuring its forces are accorded protection under the [Geneva] Conventions.”


    So, the American government believes that its actions have given it the legitimate right to claim that its soldiers captured by the Taliban, as Bergdahl was, to be prisoners of war. Prisoner exchanges are negotiated on an ad hoc basis in wartime, but the most familiar context of deals struck between governments is not available in the Afghan war. Without allowing for negotiations with the Taliban, all captured American forces would immediately be sent down a legal black hole under which no means exists—other than the commitment of more soldiers in what might prove to be a fruitless rescue attempt—for their rescue. (The fact that six soldiers had already died in efforts to find Bergdahl does, however, raise the question of how many American servicemen have to lose their lives because of legal complexities created by this nature of warfare.)


    2. Does the Military Have to Adopt New Policies?
    United States Army personnel are expected to live under the standards established by what is known as the Soldier’s Creed, a collection of 13 sentences that are considered so significant that they are required knowledge for any soldier seeking a promotion to sergeant or above. When the words are recited—which is often—soldiers stand at attention in honor of its meaning. Unlike other oaths, this one can be affirmed by both officers and enlisted men alike.


    In this context, one sentence is important: “I will never leave a fallen comrade.”


    This has been consistently applied to war, and is a concept expected to be followed by every level of military leadership, including the commander in chief. This is why, even after Staff Sergeant Keith Matt Maupin was believed to have been killed sometime after his capture in Baghdad, soldiers continued putting their lives at risk while searching for him; his remains were eventually discovered after four years.


    The concept of bringing home American soldiers is deemed so important that the military maintains a unit known as the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, which is charged with identifying the remains of missing soldiers and getting them back to the United States.


    Throughout American history, there have been two means of honoring that commitment by and to the military: armed rescue and negotiations. But does that no longer apply in modern war? In other words, should soldiers be instructed that, because the wars undertaken since 9/11 are not being fought against traditional nation-states, they can only be saved if captured as POWs as part of an armed rescue? Some politicians are already saying they would have used military force to save Bergdahl, but that is quite a naïve commitment. After all, Bergdahl did not have a GPS device attached to him, and the military’s efforts at finding him in the past had failed. The trail had gone cold. What, exactly, could the military have done that hadn’t already been tried?


    There is no question that, by insisting that the United States should never negotiate with a particular type of enemy holding American soldiers, the government would be abandoning the commitment implied by the Soldier’s Creed. That is certainly an option—in other words, that the “not leave a fallen comrade” standard be rewritten to adapt to modern times—but soldiers should not be deceived into believing that the blanket commitment reflects American policy.


    3. Does History Offer Lessons?
    During the Bush administration, lawyers developing policies related to dealings with the Taliban often referred back to the late 18th century and the Barbary pirates of North Africa. These criminal groups were not governments, although when they captured merchant ships and successfully obtained ransoms, the booty and the vessels were often turned over to rulers in Algeria, Tripoli, Morocco and Tunis.


    After achieving independence, the United States assumed responsibilities for protecting its own ships from the pirates, a duty that had previously been handled by the British and, in some circumstances, the French. In 1784, Congress appropriated about $80,000 as a tribute to the Barbary nations, in the hopes that this would protect American ships. But the following years, Algerians captured two American vessels and demanded a $60,000 ransom. Thomas Jefferson, then the ambassador to France, vehemently opposed paying, but the American government launched into negotiations for ransom with the Barbary nations that were engaged in this form of terrorism. Indeed, in 1795 alone, the United States paid in excess of $1 million in cash and assets to free sailors captured by pirates.


    When Jefferson took over the presidency, he refused to pay any more, a decision that ultimately led to war with the Barbary states. Eventually, during Jefferson’s term, a treaty ended the conflict—but it included a $60,000 payment to the ruler of Algiers for each American held hostage.


    The lesson here? Even the country’s founders wrestled with the conflict of refusing to negotiate with criminals—or those nations that protect the criminals—and standing by American sailors. Some in government fought negotiations as bad policy that encouraged continued criminal acts, others demanded that the country act to save its men and, ultimately, talks took place and some of the Barbary states obtained the cash they demanded.


    This is the circumstance in American history that is closest to that presented by the war in Afghanistan, and demonstrates that there simply are no easy answers. Absolutism can conflict with other American values, and how that is addressed presents no simple answers.


    Other countries have faced the same conflict and often have adopted the strategy of negotiating. For example, the British denied prisoner of war status to colonists captured during the American Revolution. But still, the two sides negotiated many prisoner exchanges, even for American captives that the British had designated as traitors.


    The same has held true for Israel. In 2011, the Jewish nation reached a negotiated agreement with Hamas—a group designated as a terrorist organization—to release 1,027 prisoners, including many terrorists, in exchange for a single Israeli soldier. The deal constituted the largest prisoner exchange ever agreed to by Israel.


    The lesson? The Obama administration is far from the first government—be it American or foreign—to have decided to negotiate with individuals it does not recognize as constituting legitimate rulers, or even with groups identified as terrorists. While that doesn’t provide absolute justification for doing so, it does underscore that these decisions have, throughout history, proven to be more complex than the absolutists choose to believe.


    4. The Specifics in the Bergdahl Case
    While Bergdahl himself remains a controversial figure—some critics contend he was a deserter—that is irrelevant to the issues at hand. The United States will not grant the enemy the right to seize and imprison its soldiers on suspicion, and punishment for improper acts—if any—are the responsibility of the American military.


    There is no question, though, that the five people released from Guantanamo in exchange for Bergdahl—Mohammed Fazl, Mohammed Nabi, Abdul Haq Wasiq, Mullah Norullah Nori, and Khairullah Khairkhwa—are bad guys. First though: None have been identified as Al-Qaeda members. Rather, in what some may see as hairsplitting, they were part of the Taliban. This is an important distinction based on the analysis in the first section of this piece.


    Each man played a governance role within the Taliban. Fazl, for example, was its deputy minister of defense; Nabi, the former chief of Taliban security in Qalat; Wasiq, the former deputy minister of intelligence; Nori, the senior commander in Mazar-i-Sharif; and Khairkhwa, Taliban governor of Herat Province. In other words, these men weren’t simply arbitrary terrorists who had set off IEDs or blew up bridges.


    However, several of them, according to American intelligence, are vicious murderers. For example, according to a 2008 memorandum prepared for the Commander of the U.S. Southern Command, Fazl has been “implicated in the murder of thousands of Shiites in northern Afghanistan during the Taliban reign. When asked about the murders, [Fazl]…did not express any regret and stated that they did what they needed to do to establish their ideal state.” American intelligence also believes that Fazl was involved in the 1998 killing of Iranian diplomats in Afghanistan. Wasiq and Nori, according to American intelligence records, are also deeply implicated in mass slaughters as well as torture.


    Nabi’s story is also troubling. According to American intelligence records, he worked closely with his brother-in-law, Malim Jan, also known as “the butcher of Khowst” because of his role in massacring some 300 people there. The records show that he was believed to have worked hand-in-hand with Al-Qaeda, and was considered a high risk who was likely to pose a threat to American interests. Khairkhwa appears to engender the least concern; he has not been connected by American intelligence to mass slaughters or torture, but seems to have primarily played roles in meetings between the Taliban and Iranian intelligence. Intelligence records also suggest that he may have been involved in Afghanistan’s illegal drug trade.


    So why these men? In fact, there appears to be far more at stake here than the return of Bergdahl, and this also may be part of a three-dimensional diplomatic chess game.

    Their future has been important in negotiations between the Afghan government, the United States and the Taliban in resolving the conflict. Peace talks took place in 2011 and 2012, and—not surprisingly—the future of the men considered to be top Taliban officials was a key sticking point. The question came down not to whether they would be released, but whether they could be transferred to Qatar. In 2012, one of the top aides to the government of Hamid Karzai obtained the five men’s agreement to be sent to Qatar, which a spokesman for the Afghan president said might boost the peace process.


    It is not surprising, then, that when the five Guantanamo detainees had been freed, they were released in Qatar, where they would remain under house arrest.
    It’s also not surprising that the whole affair has become a political football.
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    Default Re: Taliban Prisoner Swap Frees U.S. Soldier Held Nearly 5 Years

    Dempsey says they may pursue prosecution for desertion.










    Kevin Baron 6:08 AM ET

    Dempsey: Army ‘Will Not Look Away’ From Bergdahl Allegations


    Author

    Kevin Baron
    Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey pledged that the Army “will not look away from misconduct” in the case of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, while defending the United States’ effort to recover the soldier “from enemy captivity.”
    Dempsey’s statement is the strongest indication from any military or Obama administration official that Bergdahl may face punitive action by the military for allegedly walking off his eastern Afghanistan base in 2009, leading to his capture by the Taliban.


    With more and more troops and public voices led by conservative political leaders calling Bergdahl a deserter who subsequently cost American lives – and questioning the value of trading his life for five alleged Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo Bay for 12 years – Republican members of Congress quickly vowed to hold investigative hearings into the matter. Dempsey, the nation’s top military officer, issued a sternly worded answer to those critics on his Facebook page on Tuesday.


    “In response to those of you interested in my personal judgments about the recovery of SGT Bowe Bergdahl, the questions about this particular soldier’s conduct are separate from our effort to recover ANY U.S. service member in enemy captivity. This was likely the last, best opportunity to free him,” Dempsey wrote.


    “As for the circumstances of his capture, when he is able to provide them, we’ll learn the facts. Like any American, he is innocent until proven guilty. Our Army’s leaders will not look away from misconduct if it occurred. In the meantime, we will continue to care for him and his family. Finally, I want to thank those who for almost five years worked to find him, prepared to rescue him, and ultimately put themselves at risk to recover him.”


    Dempsey’s remarks, while promising to look into misconduct, are the latest by military and Obama administration officials who have tried to separate the alleged reasons Bergdahl may been captured and the U.S. military’s duty to care for all of its service members, including the responsibility to find and recover any missing or prisoners of war.


    Speaking in Warsaw, Poland, on Tuesday morning, Obama again defended the decision to rescue Bergdahl. “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. Full stop. We don’t condition that,” he said.


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    Default Re: Taliban Prisoner Swap Frees U.S. Soldier Held Nearly 5 Years

    Obama spins Americans over Bowe Bergdahl release, Taliban exchange

    By J.D. Gordon
    FoxNews.com












    President Obama has finally done it. The White House had been dropping hints for years, and this weekend our commander in chief made one of our nation’s most shocking wartime decisions. He agreed to allow the release of five top Taliban top leaders from Guantanamo in exchange for our lone prisoner-of-war, Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.


    After Saturday’s shocking prisoner swap Mr. Obama is now trying to convince Americans that this is all good news for our country.
    How many more Americans will die because of this illegal and ill-advised prisoner exchange?
    In a White House Rose Garden announcement on Saturday, Mr. Obama and Bergdahl’s parents, Bob and Jani, acted as if they were all describing America’s top war hero.

    While the president tapped into the natural American instinct to leave no soldier behind, when we scratch the surface of Saturday’s surprising news, his decision is even more flawed and dangerous than it is cynical.


    Why do I say that?


    First, Mr. Obama knowingly broke the law to release five of our highest-ranking enemies in return for then-Private First Class Bergdahl.


    Remember that Bergdahl mysteriously vanished from his post along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in 2009. Just days before his disappearance he allegedly emailed his parents writing that he was “ashamed even to be American,” and “the horror is that America is disgusting,” then sending his books and uniforms back home.

    Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member James Inhofe and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon released a joint statement Saturday noting that Mr. Obama was required by law to provide a 30-day notice to Congress before transferring any detainees, including specifics on threat mitigation measures.

    So what was the White House response?

    They admitted they broke the law. But they chalked it up to “unique and exigent circumstances.”



    Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel later claimed Bergdahl was in danger. Somehow he was more in danger than he had been since 2009. Seriously?

    Second, releasing the Taliban’s former Deputy Defense Minister, Deputy Intelligence Minister, two governors and another top terrorist puts American soldiers and civilians squarely in the cross-hairs of further mass casualty attacks.


    According to U.S. intelligence authorities, nearly one-third of released detainees are confirmed or suspected of having returned to terrorism.


    Yet Mr. Obama believes that these Taliban top brass are less likely to return to the fight?

    How many more Americans will die because of this illegal and ill-advised prisoner exchange?

    Third, the White House and military have a lot of explaining to do on Bergdahl’s disappearance and lopsided trade.


    In 1943, could anyone imagine FDR releasing five of Nazi Germany’s top leaders for a disgruntled soldier? Though it’s good news that Bergdahl has been freed, I believe this grossly uneven prisoner exchange will encourage Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists to seek out other U.S. military hostages. After Saturday’s swap, they are literally worth more than their weight in gold while in enemy hands.


    Fourth, while Mr. Obama has lectured Americans about human rights in the context of Guantanamo, how does he explain his latest actions to the tens of millions who have suffered under the Taliban’s barbaric repression?


    What’s his message for Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl shot in the head by the Taliban for daring to attend school? Or for countless women and girls who have had acid thrown in their faces in Afghanistan and Pakistan for get an education?


    From his haste to close Guantanamo in 2008 and his rush for the exits in Afghanistan in 2016, Mr. Obama is not only abandoning millions of women and girls like Malala, but he’s putting all Americans at grave risk for another 9/11-style attack on our nation.


    Americans should not be fooled by Obama’s sudden patriotic burst of support for the troops, referencing Bergdahl's release. Congress and the American people must hold Mr. Obama and his team accountable for their actions.


    J.D. Gordon is a retired Navy Commander who served as a Pentagon spokesman in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 2005-09. He serves as senior adviser to several Washington-based think tanks.
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    Default Re: Taliban Prisoner Swap Frees U.S. Soldier Held Nearly 5 Years

    Bowe Bergdahl’s Vanishing Before Capture Angered His Unit

    By ERIC SCHMITT, HELENE COOPER and CHARLIE SAVAGE


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


    That account, provided by a former senior military officer briefed on the investigation into the private’s disappearance, is part of a more complicated picture emerging of the capture of a soldier whose five years as a Taliban prisoner influenced high-level diplomatic negotiations, brought in foreign governments, and ended with him whisked away on a helicopter by American commandos.
    The release of Sergeant Bergdahl (he was promoted in captivity) has created political problems for the Obama administration, which is having to defend his exchange for five Taliban detainees held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, but it also presents delicate politics for Republicans who are attacking, through surrogates, America’s last known prisoner of war.
    Continue reading the main story Video Play Video|1:34

    Mixed Reaction to the Bergdahl Deal


    Prisoner swap or negotiations with terrorists? Questions arise after the freeing of five senior Taliban figures in exchange for the American soldier Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.


    Credit Pool photo by J.H. Owen

    The furious search for Sergeant Bergdahl, his critics say, led to the deaths of at least two soldiers and possibly six others in the area. Pentagon officials say those charges are unsubstantiated and are not supported by a review of a database of casualties in the Afghan war.


    “Yes, I’m angry,” Joshua Cornelison, a former medic in Sergeant Bergdahl’s platoon, said in an interview on Monday arranged by Republican strategists. “Everything that we did in those days was to advance the search for Bergdahl. If we were doing some mission and there was a reliable report that Bergdahl was somewhere, our orders were that we were to quit that mission and follow that report.”


    Sergeant Bergdahl slipped away from his outpost, the former senior officer said, possibly on foot but more likely hiding in a contractor’s vehicle. “He didn’t walk out the gate through a checkpoint, and there was no evidence he breached the perimeter wire and left that way,” the ex-officer said.


    It was not until the 9 a.m. roll call on June 30 that the 29 soldiers of Second Platoon, Blackfoot Company, learned he was gone.


    “I was woken up by my platoon leader,” said Mr. Cornelison, who had gone to sleep just three hours before after serving watch from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. “Hey Doc,” his platoon leader said. “Have you seen Bergdahl?”


    Platoon members said Sergeant Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, was known as bookish and filled with romantic notions that some found odd.


    “He wouldn’t drink beer or eat barbecue and hang out with the other 20-year-olds,” Cody Full, another member of Sergeant Bergdahl’s platoon, said in an interview on Monday also arranged by Republican strategists. “He was always in his bunk. He ordered Rosetta Stone for all the languages there, learning Dari and Arabic and Pashto.”

    The soldiers began a frantic search for Sergeant Bergdahl using Predator drones, Apache attack helicopters and military tracking dogs. The most intense search operation, leaked war reports show, wound down after eight days — well before the deaths of six soldiers on patrols in Paktika Province in late August and early September. But, complicating matters, some soldiers contend they were effectively searching for 90 days because of clear orders: If they heard rumors from locals that Sergeant Bergdahl might be nearby, they should patrol the area.


    Mr. Full, then a specialist in the platoon, said he and other platoon members grew increasingly bitter at the time they were spending looking for Sergeant Bergdahl. “He had sent all his belongings home — his computer, personal items,” said Mr. Full, now 25. He said Sergeant Bergdahl used to gaze at the mountains around them and say he wondered if he could get to China from there. Other platoon members said that Sergeant Bergdahl wrote Jason Bourne-type novels in which he inserted himself as the lead character.


    The anger toward Sergeant Bergdahl increased exponentially after Sept. 4, when they learned that two members of Third Platoon, which routinely went on tandem missions with Second Platoon and who they believed were also searching for Sergeant Bergdahl, had been killed in an ambush. Pfc. Matthew Martinek and Lt. Darryn Andrews, both of them friends of Mr. Cornelison, died in the ambush. A Defense Department official said it was unclear whether the two men were killed directly because of the search for Sergeant Bergdahl.


    Some soldiers have also contended that the Taliban, knowing the units were out searching extensively for Sergeant Bergdahl, chose July 4, 2009, to attack another combat outpost, which was nearly overrun and several soldiers were killed. But American military officers said they saw no evidence that the Taliban started the attack on the outpost because they thought everyone would be out searching for Sergeant Bergdahl.


    A second former senior military officer, who also was briefed on the Bergdahl investigation, said there was no direct evidence that diversion of surveillance aircraft or troops to search for Sergeant Bergdahl encouraged the Taliban attacks, or left other American troops vulnerable. “This was a dangerous region in Afghanistan in the middle of the ‘fighting season,’ ” the officer said in an email, adding that although the search “could have created some opportunities for the enemy,” it is “difficult to establish a direct cause and effect.”


    A review of the database of casualties in the Afghan war suggests that Sergeant Bergdahl’s critics appear to be blaming him for every American soldier killed in Paktika Province in the four-month period that followed his disappearance.


    Mr. Cornelison and Mr. Full both said they wanted to see Sergeant Bergdahl court-martialed as a deserter. “I’m not going to speak on the political, but I think that now that he’s back, he needs to be held accountable,” Mr. Full said.


    Mr. Cornelison echoed Mr. Full. “I won’t get into the politics, but now that he’s back he needs to be held 100 percent accountable,” he said. “For putting myself and 29 other people in my platoon in hell for 90 days.”


    Rear Adm. John F. Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said that there was a larger matter at play: The American military does not leave soldiers behind. “When you’re in the Navy, and you go overboard, it doesn’t matter if you were pushed, fell or jumped,” he said. “We’re going to turn the ship around and pick you up.”


    Eric Schmitt and Charlie Savage reported from Washington, and Helene Cooper from Brussels. Andrew W. Lehren contributed reporting from New York.
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    Default Re: Taliban Prisoner Swap Frees U.S. Soldier Held Nearly 5 Years

    If this is true, I was right on one account... the father would do anything to get his son back.

    Bowe Bergdahl’s Dad on Why He Grew That Beard





    Robert and Jani Bergdahl are shown in their home town of Hailey, Idaho, May 12, 2012. Christopher Morris—VII for TIME
    Robert Bergdahl's beard looked eerily reminiscent of the beards grown by his son's captors, and that was the point

    The sight of Bowe Bergdahl’s father standing by President Barack Obama in the White House Rose Garden Saturday might have come as a shock to viewers unfamiliar with his long bushy beard, reminiscent of the facial hair often grown by devotees of Islam, including his sons’ captors. His rudimentary knowledge of Pashto and Urdu, prevailing languages in Taliban strongholds, compounded the confusion.


    But as Robert Bergdahl explained to TIME in May 2012, he grew the beard out of a desire to better understand the world from which his son could not escape.
    Robert Bergdahl said he began growing the beard as soon as he received news of his son’s capture. He was on his usual UPS delivery route on July 1, 2009, when management radioed him back to headquarters. Two army officers delivered the devastating news, and according to friends, he resolved in that moment to do whatever he could to facilitate his son’s release. That included scouring websites and chat rooms for rumors about his son’s captors, teaching himself Pashto and Urdu and growing a long, eye-catching beard.

    A devout Presbyterian, Bergdahl was aware of the impression he made on local congregants. His former pastor told the Washington Post that Bergdahl occasionally explained to friends that he had not developed any sympathies for the Taliban, he only wanted to understand their worldview.


    Nonetheless, those attempts to understand the Taliban have occasionally shaded into acts and gestures that strike some critics as a little too close for comfort. Just recently, reports surfaced of a tweet deleted from Bob Bergdahl’s Twitter account that directly addressed a Taliban spokesman. “I am still working to free all Guantanamo prisoners,” it read. “God will repay for the death of every Afghan child, ameen.”

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    Default Re: Taliban Prisoner Swap Frees U.S. Soldier Held Nearly 5 Years

    Video of the Taliban prisoners arriving in Qatar:

    Bowe Bergdahl Release Taliban Detainees Arrive In Qatar


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    Default Re: Taliban Prisoner Swap Frees U.S. Soldier Held Nearly 5 Years

    Hill leaders didn’t know of Bergdahl deal

    Boehner and McConnell learned of the deal on Saturday shortly before the news broke. | AP Photos




    By BURGESS EVERETT and JOHN BRESNAHAN | 6/3/14 12:04 PM EDT Updated: 6/3/14 7:35 PM EDT


    Three top leaders of the House and Senate were not informed by the White House ahead of time of the deal to release Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for five Taliban officials detained at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was the only congressional leader told in advance of the Obama administration’s controversial plans. He was informed on Friday, before Bergdahl’s release became public, he told reporters on Tuesday.

    Both House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said they were not told in advance by the Obama administration. A House GOP aide said the last time such an exchange was discussed with the speaker was in January 2012.

    Like her GOP counterparts, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was not told the exchange was happening until Saturday, an aide said.

    (Also on POLITICO: Criticism of Bergdahl deal mounts)

    Both the Democratic and Republican chairs of the chambers’ Intelligence and Armed Services committees said they were left in the dark.

    The White House was forced to apologize to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) for failing to notify her of its plans. Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken called Feinstein on Monday night to express regret for an “oversight” in not fully briefing Congress.

    Unlike Reid, Feinstein said she did not hear directly about the swap before the news broke and only learned “after the fact.”

    “It’s very disappointing that there was not a level of trust sufficient to justify alerting us,” she said. “The White House is pretty unilateral about what they want to do and when they want to do it … But I think the notification to us is important.”

    (Also on POLITICO: Rogers: 'A price' for U.S. soldiers)

    McConnell was notified Saturday morning after Bergdahl was already in American hands in Afghanistan, an aide said. According to a House GOP aide, Boehner was also told on Saturday morning, about 30 minutes before the news broke publicly.

    Administration officials plan to brief all senators on Wednesday on the issue.

    “In calls to Sen. Feinstein and Sen. [Saxby] Chambliss, the administration noted that we regretted we were not able to reach some members personally on Saturday,” said a senior administration official.

    The comments by House and Senate leaders were the first time senior lawmakers detailed their knowledge of the Bergdahl swap. And criticism of the administration was not limited to Republicans.

    While glad that Bergdahl was released by the Taliban, Boehner and other top Republicans feel the White House potentially violated statutory requirements to inform Congress 30 days before such an exchange occurs.


    (Also on POLITICO: 5 questions for the White House on Bowe Bergdahl)

    “More than two years ago, Members of Congress were briefed on the possibility of such an exchange, and the chairmen at the time and I raised serious questions to the administration,” Boehner said in a statement. “At the time, the administration deferred further engagement because the prospects of the exchange had diminished. The administration provided assurances, publicly reiterated by the White House in June 2013, that its engagement would resume if the prospects for an exchange became credible again.”

    House GOP aides said such a notification never took place, but Reid said that doesn’t mean he broke the law.

    “I’ve been told no, he did not violate the law,” he said.

    According to Republican aides, Boehner and Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) — then chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee — plus Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and the late Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.) — then the chairman of the Defense Appropriations subcommittee — were briefed by officials from the National Security Council, Pentagon, State Department, CIA and Director of National Intelligence on the possibility of peace talks in Afghanistan, with a swap for Berghdahl being seen as a “confidence builder” for such talks. The first meeting was held on Nov. 30, 2011.

    The Republicans objected to any such deal for Bergdahl, fearing it could lead to more kidnappings of U.S. soldiers and Marines in Afghanistan.

    Following President Barack Obama’s statements that Congress was indeed informed of the deal, confusion and a furor mounted on Capitol Hill over exactly who knew what and when. While mainly Republicans launched criticism at the White House for its handling of the swap, some Democrats complained that they were also left in the dark.
    In a brief interview early on Tuesday, Reid said the White House contacted him ahead of the swap — but not by much.

    “It must have been either the day before or the day of. I don’t remember for sure,” Reid said.

    Beyond Reid, members of Congress said they were ill-informed of the Obama administration’s secret negotiations with the Taliban through Qatar. Feinstein’s counterpart on the Intelligence Committee, Georgia Republican Chambliss, said it had been more than a year since he’d heard a peep about Bergdahl from the White House — so long he couldn’t remember the precise date.


    McCain’s successor on Armed Services, Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), said he’d “never” heard a word about Bergdahl since assuming the ranking member role on the panel in 2013.

    “I didn’t know anything about Bergdahl until you guys did,” he told reporters.

    The issue was to be hashed out by the Senate Intelligence Committee behind closed doors on Tuesday. A classified briefing on Bergdahl had been arranged for senators on Tuesday to pepper top administration intelligence officials about how the swap went down — and why Congress was left largely in the dark.

    “We’re going to continue to ask the right difficult questions of the White House, as to why they did what they did, why they had the authority for doing what they did,” Chambliss said.

    The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a similar briefing June 10 — though Republicans are pushing for an open hearing as well. House Armed Services Chairman McKeon has vowed to also hold hearings on the Bergdahl exchange.

    Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said Obama tipped off Congress in December when he signed the National Defense Authorization Act, which included the 30-day requirement. Levin said the White House didn’t notify him of the swap until Monday.

    “Signing statements can’t change the law, but what they did do in this case is notify Congress that the president had authority under the Constitution to move quickly in the area of detainees. He notified the Congress that he had that authority,” Levin said. He was not notified of the swap until Monday from the White House. “He put us on warning.”

    Reid declined to discuss how much the Obama administration had kept him in the loop.

    “Oh, I’m not going to talk about that,” the Nevada Democrat said.

    Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), a former chairman of the Intelligence Committee and now a senior member of the panel, complained about the lack of information from the White House.

    “I don’t like it when the White House says the Intelligence committees were briefed. Because we weren’t. Dianne wasn’t. I wasn’t,” he said. “Saxby wasn’t. [Richard] Burr [R-N.C.] wasn’t. And [Ron] Wyden [D-Ore.] wasn’t. And we are the five senior people. Even that I can live with, but when they say, ‘Oh yes, they were briefed.’ What they are referring to is 2011-2012 when I was still in grade school.”

    Typically party leaders and top intelligence members receive higher levels of briefings than rank-and-file members — but two sources familiar with the issue, one Democrat and one Republican, said the administration’s Bergdahl briefings had largely dried up by the start of 2012.

    “It was a conscious decision not to engage with Congress,” a Republican source said, recounting radio silence each time an inquiry was sent to the White House. That source described a sharp contrast with the White House’s disclosure on Bergdahl to the killing of Osama bin Laden, in which top members of Congress received regular outreach from the White House well in advance of U.S. actions.

    The Democratic source said the word on Bergdahl came shortly before Obama gave a statement in the Rose Garden regarding his release. The staffer said regular Hill briefings ceased about 30 months ago, which jibes with Rogers’ assertion on Tuesday that Congress had received no briefings on Bergdahl since 2011.

    There has been bipartisan concern for years about the proposed swaps of U.S. prisoners for senior Taliban figures, including comments by Feinstein to Foreign Policy in 2012 in which she expressed opposition to trading five Taliban members for one U.S. citizen.

    Chambliss said he was assured by the administration that he would receive advance notice of negotiations for the release of Taliban officials. Chambliss has long opposed the rumored trade of Guantánamo prisoners for Bergdahl, and said that he can’t “believe a thing this president says now.”

    The White House has argued that the Bergdahl deal is legal under the Constitution — and Reid did not seem to share concerns over its legality on Tuesday.

    “I’m glad we brought one of ours home,” he said.

    Jake Sherman, Lauren French and Manu Raju contributed to this report.
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    Default Re: Taliban Prisoner Swap Frees U.S. Soldier Held Nearly 5 Years

    Report: Rescued Soldier Bowe Bergdahl Wrote a Shocking Note About His American Citizenship
    Jun. 3, 2014 1:31pm Zach Noble

    Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl wrote a note expressing a desire to renounce his American citizenship, according to Fox News.

    Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin reported Tuesday that members of Bergdahl’s unit said he left behind a note saying he felt disillusioned with the Army and wanted to renounce his citizenship before he was captured in 2009.

    Griffin reported that the note has not been made public, nor been provided to Fox, but is part of the body of evidence being examined in the classified investigation.

    There have been a number of questions surrounding the deal to release Bergdahl in exchange for five Guantanamo Bay detainees, including whether Bergdahl really got lost or was actively looking for the Taliban when he was captured.

    Great reporting from @JenGriffinFNC – new report: Berghdal left behind a note renouncing American citizenship…developing…

    — Jenna Lee (@Jennafnc) June 3, 2014

    Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said Tuesday the Army might still pursue an investigation that could lead to desertion charges against Bergdahl.

    Reactions to Bergdahl’s release have been mixed, as people in his hometown and across the country consider the bizarre details of his capture and recovery.
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    Default Re: Taliban Prisoner Swap Frees U.S. Soldier Held Nearly 5 Years

    War & Conflict
    Why Was the FBI Investigating Michael Hastings’ Reporting on Bowe Bergdahl?

    By Alice Speri

    Three years into the disappearance of Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan, Michael Hastings — the journalist whose reporting cost General Stanley McChrystal his job — wrote a Rolling Stone story on the missing soldier, a piece which the magazine called “the definitive first account of Bowe Bergdahl.”


    Hastings, who died in a car accident in Los Angeles in June 2013, had unparalleled access for that story.


    Last POW in Afghanistan has been freed. Read more here.
    He spoke to Bergdahl’s parents, who had by that time stopped talking to the press, following “subtle pressure” from the army, and he quoted from emails the young soldier had sent to them, documenting his growing disillusion with the war and the US military.


    Hastings also spoke to several unnamed men in Bergdahl’s unit — soldiers who, we now know, had to sign a strict nondisclosure agreement forbidding them from discussing the soldier’s disappearance and search with anyone — let alone one of the top investigative journalists in the country.
    'Michael and Matt both worked really, really hard on that story, and I know for a fact that they did it in a way that completely angered the US military and the US government.'
    But most controversially, Hastings’ piece revealed what has been the subject of much debate and vitriol over the last few days: That a disillusioned Bergdahl had actually abandoned his post and “walked away.”


    At the time of the story’s publication, the media had all but forgotten about Bergdahl — who was released on Saturday after five years in the hands of the Taliban, in exchange for five Guantanamo prisoners. And, with the exception of some initial chatter, Hastings’ piece, which paints a deeply unflattering picture of Bergdahl’s unit and its leadership, hardly had the impact of some of his other investigations.
    But someone did pay attention to it: the FBI.


    That, at least, is what was revealed in a heavily redacted document released by the agency following a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request — filed on the day of Hastings’ death — by investigative journalist Jason Leopold and Ryan Shapiro, an MIT doctoral student whom the Justice Department once called the “most prolific” requester of FOIA documents.


    ‘Superhero’ suing feds over Nelson Mandela’s 1962 arrest records. Read more here.
    The document, partially un-redacted after Leopold and Shapiro engaged in a lengthy legal battle with the FBI for failing to fulfill its FOIA obligations, singles out Hastings’ Rolling Stone piece — “America’s Last Prisoner of War” — as “controversial reporting.” It names Hastings and Matthew Farwell, a former soldier in Afghanistan and a contributing reporter to Hastings’ piece.
    'If this deployment is lame, I’m just going to walk off into the mountains of Pakistan.'
    The document also included an Associated Press report based on the Rolling Stone piece, and what it identifies as a “blog entry” penned by Gary Farwell, Matthew’s father — which actually appears to be a comment entry on the Idaho Statesman’s website.


    “The article reveals private email excerpts, from [redacted] to his parents. The excerpts include quotes about being ‘ashamed to even be American,’ and threats that, ‘If this deployment is lame, I’m just going to walk off into the mountains of Pakistan,’” the FBI file reads. “The Rolling Stone article ignited a media frenzy, speculating about the circumstances of [redacted] capture, and whether US resources and effort should continue to be expended for his recovery.”
    'I’m happy the FBI is reading Rolling Stone on the job.'
    The FBI file — as well as a Department of Justice document released in response to Leopold and Shapiro’s lawsuit — suggests that Hastings and Farwell’s reporting got swept up into an “international terrorist investigation” into Bergdahl’s disappearance.


    A spokesperson for the FBI told VICE News that the agency does not normally comment on pending investigations and that it lets FOIA documents “speak for themselves.” The investigation was still pending as of last month, Leopold said.


    According to the files — and a rare public statement by the FBI following Hastings’ death — Hastings was never directly under investigation by the agency, despite having pissed off a lot of people in very high places.


    White House defends prisoner swap to free American POW. Read more here.
    But it is not exactly clear why Hastings and Farwell’s “controversial” reporting made it into a criminal investigation that was already active before they even wrote the Rolling Stone story.
    'The FBI says Hastings was not a target of their investigation but his reporting was. How do you investigate someone's reporting without investigating them?'
    “Michael and Matt both worked really, really hard on that story, and I know for a fact that they did it in a way that completely angered the US military and the US government, and while other reporters were steering away from it, they were totally on it,” Leopold told VICE News. “The FBI was investigating this, whether they were investigating Michael or investigating the story, and there was a lot of fear around it, because they characterized the story as ‘controversial’ — whatever that means.”


    “Then the question became, why was the FBI looking at this, what were they looking at?” Leopold added. “The FBI says Hastings was not a target of their investigation but his reporting was. How do you investigate someone's reporting without investigating them?"
    Farwell declined to discuss the details of the file, but told VICE News, “I’m happy the FBI is reading Rolling Stone on the job.”

    He had not known that his name, and his father's, showed up in the FBI's files until Leopold pointed it out to him. Leopold told VICE News: "When I showed Matt these files he was like, oh my god, this is basically outlining my conversations."



    Entire paragraphs in the FBI documents remain redacted — leaving many questions about the scope of the investigation into the journalists’ work. But the un-redacted sections about Farwell characterize him as a 10th Mountain infantryman, who helped broker a meeting between Hastings and — presumably — some of the sources for the Rolling Stone story.
    Now that Bergdahl is free, the lid on Pandora’s box has been lifted.
    In his comment on the Idaho Statesman's site, also picked up in the FBI file, Farwell Senior comes to Bergdahl's defense after the Rolling Stone article sparked backlash against the soldier, of a similar sort that we are seeing today. He also credits his son for brokering Hastings’ meeting with the Bergdahls.



    “I’m going to excuse that young kid for his choice of words, but I’m not going to excuse the leadership of his outfit, nor the misguided policies of our government in Afghanistan and elsewhere which have put our young people in harms way without a clear vision of what they are doing,” Farwell, himself a retired Air Force officer, wrote then. “It’s my hope this Rolling Stone article helps the Bergdahl’s get their son back and helps expose some misguided policies and conduct far above the pay grade of this young disillusioned soldier.”


    Now that Bergdahl is free, the lid on Pandora’s box has been lifted.


    “For five years, soldiers have been forced to stay silent about the disappearance and search for Bergdahl. Now we can talk about what really happened,” Nathan Bradley Bethea, who served in Bergdahl’s battalion, wrote in the Daily Beast on Monday. “I served in the same battalion in Afghanistan and participated in the attempts to retrieve him throughout the summer of 2009. After we redeployed, every member of my brigade combat team received an order that we were not allowed to discuss what happened to Bergdahl for fear of endangering him. He is safe, and now it is time to speak the truth.”


    "Bergdahl was a deserter, and soldiers from his own unit died trying to track him down," Bethea stated.



    Soldiers forced to silence for years have now taken their accounts — and anger — about the missing soldier’s ordeal to social media and the press. Republican strategists eager to turn Bergdahl into the next Benghazi have also jumped on the opportunity to offer critics of the young “deserter” up for interviews, as the New York Times noted today.
    'As for the circumstances of his capture, when he is able to provide them, we’ll learn the facts.'
    In the last few days, Bergdahl has been blamed with the deaths of “every American soldier killed in Paktika Province in the four-month period that followed his disappearance,” according to the Times — charges that the Pentagon dismissed as unsubstantiated. Today it was reported that the army will launch an inquiry into the circumstances of Bergdahl's disappearance and his personal conduct.


    "The questions about this particular soldier’s conduct are separate from our effort to recover ANY U.S. service member in enemy captivity," General Martin E. Dempsey said in a Facebook post today. "As for the circumstances of his capture, when he is able to provide them, we’ll learn the facts. Like any American, he is innocent until proven guilty. Our Army’s leaders will not look away from misconduct if it occurred."


    The Gitmo prisoner exchange puts deals above grim justice. Read more.
    A US Army investigation into Bergdahl's own conduct might appease or inflame his critics. But even before Bergdahl’s release, some soldiers were eager to talk.


    And while there is no suggestion — in the un-redacted bits of the FBI file on Hastings — that the agency was after any soldier who had taken his frustrations to the press, the fact that the FBI was looking into the reporters’ sources and methods raises at least the question.
    Now, everyone wants to talk about it. But Hastings’ ever “controversial” reporting got to it first.
    Follow Alice Speri on Twitter: @alicesperi
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    Default Re: Taliban Prisoner Swap Frees U.S. Soldier Held Nearly 5 Years

    Taliban video shows Bowe Bergdahl's release in Afghanistan

    By Holly Yan and Masoud Popalzai, CNN
    updated 8:54 AM EDT, Wed June 4, 2014

    Source: CNN







    STORY HIGHLIGHTS

    • The narration on the video says the transfer took place in Khost province
    • The video shows the minutes before Bergdahl is swooped away by a Black Hawk chopper
    • Taliban members shake hands with men from the Black Hawk
    • The Pentagon says it has no reason to doubt the video's authenticity




    Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Dressed in all white with a striped shawl across his shoulders, the gaunt-looking American looks up at the Black Hawk chopper circling overhead.
    Armed Taliban men stand around him, one with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher ready.
    When the chopper lands, the American is led there by two men, one carrying a white flag. He is given a patdown, loaded on to the helicopter and whisked away.
    A new video released by the Taliban showed the final moments of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's five years in captivity, just before he was handed over to the United States.
    The narration on the video says the transfer took place in Khost province, in eastern Afghanistan.
    Video released of Bergdahl's transfer
    Photos: Americans detained abroad


    Guantanamo detainees swapped


    Carney defends Bergdahl prisoner swap
    "We had a number of tribal elders with us ... in order to build trust between us and the other side," a voice in the video says.
    "We told them that we had warned all our Mujahideen fighters in Khost province and especially in Batai area not to attack them."
    The 17-minute video also showed an unusual sight: Taliban members shaking hands with men from the Black Hawk chopper.
    The Pentagon said early Wednesday it has no reason to doubt the video's authenticity.
    "But we are reviewing it," Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said.
    "Regardless, we know the transfer was peaceful and successful, and our focus remains on getting Sgt. Bergdahl the care he needs."
    Surrounded by Mujahideen
    At one point in the video, Taliban members start chanting, "Long live Mujahideen of Afghanistan, long live Mullah Omar, the leader of Taliban."
    Mujahideen refer to those who carry out jihad.
    The narrator's voice said armed fighters were stationed throughout the transfer area.
    "We waited in the area for around 10 minutes before the helicopters arrived, and there were 18 Mujahideen fighters with me in the area," the narrator said.
    Indeed, the video showed armed men perched high and low on nearby hillsides.
    "Our arrangement was that once the helicopters are on the ground, three people from the other side would get off the helicopter and three from our side, including the captive, would move toward the helicopter to hand him over."
    The video has few words in English, other than this message superimposed over Bergdahl:
    "Don'come back to afghanistan"
    Controversial swap
    Bergdahl was handed over to the United States in exchange for the release of five prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
    READ: The Gitmo detainees swapped for Bergdahl: Who are they?
    Both Democrats and Republicans have criticized the deal, including the fact that the Obama administration failed to notify Congress 30 days in advance, as required by law.
    The Obama administration justified the operation, citing Bergdahl's health and safety, which appeared to be in jeopardy.
    "The United States has always had a pretty sacred rule -- and that is, we don't leave our men or women in uniform behind," President Barack Obama said Tuesday.
    Clinton wanted a tougher deal with Taliban for Bergdahl, officials say
    Bergdahl will remain at a U.S. Army medical center in Germany until he completes treatment, a U.S. defense official there told CNN. After that, Bergdahl will return to the United States and go to a San Antonio military base, the official said.
    While some hail Bergdahl as a hero, some fellow soldiers said he was a deserter.
    At least six soldiers were killed searching for Bergdahl, according to soldiers involved in the operations to find him.
    As the chorus of criticism from some in Bergdahl's platoon grows louder, residents in his hometown of Hailey, Idaho, say their support of the soldier hasn't been shaken.
    "We're leaving the politics to everybody else. We're just glad to welcome Bowe back to us," family friend Stefanie O'Neill said. "We're going to let things play out when Bowe is able to tell his story."
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    Default Re: Taliban Prisoner Swap Frees U.S. Soldier Held Nearly 5 Years

    Timeline of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's life leading up to his capture by the Taliban
    Published June 03, 2014
    FoxNews.com


    FILE: A video released by the Taliban shows footage of Bowe Bergdahl.AP

    Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is returning home after five years in Taliban captivity. His release has sparked controversy, with some of his fellow soldiers and others claiming Bergdahl was a deserter from the U.S. military and lawmakers decrying the deal that led to his release.

    The following timeline of Bergdahl's life, including the events leading up to him joining the military and his capture by the Taliban, offer insight into the man who became America's last POW.

    March 28, 1986: Bowe Bergdahl is born in Sun Valley, Idaho to Robert and Jani Bergdahl.

    According to a 2012 New York Times report, by the time Bergdahl was in his early 20s, he had his high school equivalency diploma and was moving from job to job to save up for exotic wanderings.

    Friends describe him as quiet, thoughtful, well-read and athletic, a free spirit who thought nothing of riding his bicycle back and forth the dozen miles between Hailey, Idaho and Ketchum, Idaho.

    He did construction and yard work, was a house sitter and worked at a local shooting club. Through connections there he became a crew member on a large sailboat, which led to other crew jobs, including one through the Panama Canal. He traveled in Europe and rode his bicycle to California.

    He also worked on and off as a barista at Zaney’s, a coffee house and local gathering spot in Hailey.

    Around the same time he switched from fencing and martial arts to classes at the Sun Valley Ballet School, where he is remembered as a strong dancer who easily lifted the school’s ballerinas. Bergdahl was pulled in by ballet’s discipline and grace, said Sherry Horton, the artistic director of the school, but it was a move that prompted teasing from the Zaney’s staff.

    2008: Bergdahl enlists in the Army and undergoes 16 weeks of infantry school training in Fort Benning, Georgia.

    March 2009: Bergdahl's platoon arrives in Paktika, Afghanistan.

    June 30, 2009: Then-Pfc. Bergdahl is captured on June 30, 2009, by militants after leaving his U.S. base in Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan.

    July 1, 2009: Bergdahl is declared Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown (DUSTWUN) on July 1, 2009 and his status was changed to "Missing-Captured" on July 3, 2009.

    July 18, 2009: The Taliban releases an Internet video featuring Bergdahl, who says he was captured after lagging behind during a patrol.

    Dec. 25, 2009: Taliban releases video showing Bergdahl wearing sunglasses and a U.S. military-style uniform, including a military helmet.

    April 7, 2010: The Taliban posts a video featuring Bergdahl.

    In the video, Bergdahl is shown pleading to be sent home and saying the war in Afghanistan is not worth the violence and cost to lives.

    June 12, 2010: Bergdahl is promoted to specialist by the United States Army.

    June 12, 2011: Bergdahl is promoted to sergeant by the United States Army.

    May 10, 2012: Bergdahl’s parents give an exclusive interview with the New York Times.

    The soldier's parents make public the fact that he is a focus of secret negotiations between the Obama administration and the Taliban over a proposed prisoner exchange.

    June 6, 2013: Bergdahls receive a letter from their son.

    Bergdahl’s family announces that “through the International Committee of the Red Cross, we recently received a letter we’re confident was written to us by our son.”

    January 15, 2014: U.S. officials receive new video of Bergdahl.

    The officials said they believed the video was taken in the past month, indicating that Bergdahl was alive. The video shows a frail, shaky Bergdahl making a reference to the recent death of South African leader Nelson Mandela.

    May 31, 2014: Bowe Bergdahl is released by the Taliban.

    Bergdahl is freed in exchange for five Taliban prisoners held at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

    President Obama also gives statement in the White House Rose Garden, where he says the U.S.’ “top priority is making sure that Bowe gets the care and support that he needs and that he can be reunited with his family as soon as possible.”

    June 1, 2014: Bergdahl’s parents give a press conference.

    They thanked Americans for their support and added that their son faces a long recovery.

    Administration officials also defend the decision to release Bergdahl in exchange for the Taliban detainees.

    "We didn't negotiate with terrorists," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said, dismissing the suggestion that this swap could provide an incentive for future kidnappings of American soldiers. "In war, things are always dangerous and there are vulnerabilities... but our record, the United States of America, in dealing with terrorists and hunting down and finding terrorists, is pretty good."

    "Sergeant Bergdahl wasn't simply a hostage, he was an American prisoner of war captured on the battlefield," National Security Advisor Susan Rice added. "Regardless of who may be holding an American prisoner of war, we must do our best to bring him or her back."

    June 2, 2014: Controversy and questions continue to grow over Bergdahl’s past behavior and whether he was a “deserter."

    Cody Full and Gerald Sutton, men who served in Bergdahl's platoon, speak out in an interview with Megyn Kelly, saying there is no question Bergdahl deserted.

    They describe Bergdahl as an unequivocal deserter whose actions led to the deaths of other soldiers. Full said he heard Bergdahl “talking about the terrain extensively” and talking to the Afghan national police with a clear “agenda” in mind.

    “He did not serve the United States with honor. We all took an oath. He violated his oath when he deserted us and put other Americans in jeopardy,” Full said.

    Sutton said that he doesn’t want to see someone like Bergdahl “hailed as a hero” when he should be court-martialed. Kelly pointed out how President Obama emphasized the importance of leaving no one behind. Full agreed with that sentiment, but said Bergdahl needs to be held accountable for his actions anyway.

    June 3, 2014: President Obama defends the decision to release detainees for Bergdahl in a press conference in Poland.

    "Regardless of circumstances ... we still get an American prisoner back," Obama said. "Period, full stop -- we don't condition that.
    Libertatem Prius!


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  17. #37
    Super Moderator Malsua's Avatar
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    Default Re: Taliban Prisoner Swap Frees U.S. Soldier Held Nearly 5 Years

    "Regardless of circumstances ... we still get an American prisoner back," Obama said. "Period, full stop -- we don't condition that.
    Wow, finally finds his principles...on an American hating, traitorous deserter who should be nursed back to health so he can stand in front of a firing squad.
    "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
    -- Theodore Roosevelt


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    Default Re: Taliban Prisoner Swap Frees U.S. Soldier Held Nearly 5 Years

    Five years is all he will get. No firing squad.
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: Taliban Prisoner Swap Frees U.S. Soldier Held Nearly 5 Years

    Teaching the Taliban how to make explosives and exposing US Military weaknesses is aiding and abetting.
    "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
    -- Theodore Roosevelt


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    Default Re: Taliban Prisoner Swap Frees U.S. Soldier Held Nearly 5 Years

    Well.... You know, Obama is aiding and abetting, etc.

    It also depends on whether he actually DID those things.

    Desertion... probably 5 years in Leavenworth.

    UCMJ, Article 85:

    Desertion

    Desertion is an aggravated type of Unauthorized Absence (UA) or Absence Without Leave (AWOL). Military prosecutors charge desertion under UCMJ Article 85.

    Article 85 provides:

    Any member of the armed forces who:

    (1) without authority, goes or remains absent from his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to remain away therefrom permanently; or


    (2) quits his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to avoid hazardous duty or to shirk important service

    The charge of desertion is more aggravated if it is committed in time of war or to avoid hazardous service.

    The key to any desertion charge is the intent or mental state of the service member. Since it is usually difficult to prove what someone is actually thinking at any given time, prosecutors will look to circumstantial evidence to prove the intent to remain away permanently. Factors like destruction of uniforms or an identification card, changing a name or SSN, remarks of intent, failure of the member to turn himself in when he had the opportunity to do so, moving to foreign countries, and remaining absent for many years are the types of circumstantial evidence that can help to establish intent to remain away permanently.

    Almost always, the best course of action for a member in an unauthorized absence status is to return to military authority voluntarily for resolution of the situation. Very few people can live an entire lifetime in an unauthorized absence status without someday being forced to answer to authorities. It is particularly difficult today, with the advent of pervasive and interconnected databases that reflect unauthorized absence status.

    Most unauthorized absence cases are resolved administratively. However, a command always has the option of resolving more aggravated cases at court-martial. Many unauthorized absence cases have important extenuating and mitigating circumstances. When presented properly, by a competent military lawyer, such circumstances can reduce punishment or lead to a better characterization of discharge in the event of administrative discharge.




    Manual for Courts-Martial (2012)


    The last guy shot by firing squad was Private Eddie Slovik January 1945 for desertion. He was the ONLY person executed for desertion. All of the others were other crimes, uncluding rape, murder and other capital offenses.
    Libertatem Prius!


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