So, we have Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl released in exchange for five of the most notorious Taliban held in Guantanamo, the place Obama keeps saying he wants to empty. This certainly helps to empty it.
The five men will now be held by Qatar, which has reassured us they’ll be in secure conditions but won’t say what those conditions are, except that they can’t travel out of the country for a year. Qatar is a Wahabi country, by the way, with a history of assisting Islamic movements worldwide.
Obama has been winding down the Afghan War, and one of his stalled goals in connection with that is negotiations with the Taliban. So it may be that the release of these particular prisoners wasn’t just a reluctant move in order to free Bergdahl, it may be more accurate to say that Bergdahl’s release was negotiated at this point in time in order to free the Taliban Five:
The official’s comments hinted that the deal is seen as potentially helping the Afghan government, which soon will have a new president, in efforts to end strife with the Taliban — a point seconded by Jonah Blank, a senior political scientist at the Santa Monica, California-based RAND Corporation.
“The Taliban prisoners released weren’t mere bargaining chips: It’s quite possible that, as influential figures, they’ll facilitate a broader negotiated settlement,” in Afghanistan, said Blank, a former staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Doesn’t sound as though the plan is to keep them locked up in Qatar, does it?
And then there’s the goal of the resumption of direct talks between the Taliban and the US:
In an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” from Bagram, Hagel said the prisoner trade could provide a window of opportunity for peace in Afghanistan.
“So maybe this will be a new opening that can produce an agreement,” he said, noting that the United States had engaged in talks with the Taliban in the past.
As for Bergdahl himself, his capture in Afghanistan involved some interesting circumstances:
Rolling Stone magazine quoted emails Bergdahl is said to have sent to his parents that suggest he was disillusioned with America’s mission in Afghanistan, had lost faith in the U.S. Army’s mission there and was considering desertion.
Bergdahl told his parents he was “ashamed to even be American.” Bergdahl, who mailed home boxes containing his uniform and books, also wrote: “The future is too good to waste on lies. And life is way too short to care for the damnation of others, as well as to spend it helping fools with their ideas that are wrong.”
Bowe Bergdahl would detail his disillusionment with the Afghanistan campaign in an e-mail to his parents three days before he went missing.
“I am sorry for everything here,” he wrote. “These people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid.”
Bergdahl also complained about fellow soldiers. The battalion commander was a “conceited old fool,” he said, and the only “decent” sergeants, planning to leave the platoon “as soon as they can,” told the privates — Bergdahl then among them — “to do the same.”
“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.”
Bob Bergdahl responded in an e-mail: “OBEY YOUR CONSCIENCE!”
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…
Last but hardly least, Obama did not comply with a law that requires he give Congress 30 days notice if releasing prisoners from Guantanamo. Here’s the reason, according to Susan Rice in an interview:
“We could not take any risk with … losing the opportunity to bring him back safely,” she said, adding the Department of Defense had consulted with the Department of Justice before making the decision.
“Given the acute urgency of the health condition of Sgt. Bergdahl, and given the President’s constitutional responsibilities, it was determined that it was necessary and appropriate not to adhere to the 30-day notification requirement, because it would have potentially meant that the opportunity to get Sgt. Bergdahl would have been lost.”
So, supposedly Bergdahl’s health was an urgent concern, after five years of it not being such an urgent concern. That of course is possible, but somehow I’m skeptical. Disregarding the law about informing Congress seems completely in line with the Obama administration’s notion that the law is for the little people or for Obama’s opponents, not for them. After all, who’s going to stop them? Eric Holder’s Department of Justice?
[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]DONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.