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Bowe Bergdahl Tag

Soldiers who served with Bowe Bergdahl were in the news a lot this week offering their opinions on the situation and most of them are clearly not happy with Bergdahl being portrayed as a hero. For the sin of interfering with the preferred narrative, these men have been accused of swift-boating Bergdahl and were even called psychopaths by a member of the Obama administration. Megyn Kelly interviewed six of these men on her FOX News program Thursday night. Here's a segment. See more at FOX News. Ben Domenech keeps the Bergdahl issue in perspective with a piece at The Federalist:

I recently reported on the plight of former US Marine Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi, who has been languishing in a Mexican jail while authorities hold him on assorted weapons charges for the 3 guns he was carrying in his vehicle. The backlash against the release of 5 Taliban terrorists from Gitmo in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has dramatically increased dissatisfaction with how President Obama is performing. Combining elements of these new items together, one Texas gun store owner proposes a prisoner swap that should be much more satisfying (see Featured Image): Meanwhile, William A. Thien, the Commander-in-Chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, has written directly to Obama in an effort to free Tahmooressi:

The NY Times ran an editorial on June 5, The Rush to Demonize Sgt. Bergdahl, excoriating Republicans for hypocrisy as to condemnation of the exchange of 5 top Taliban Gitmo detainees for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. There are many all-too-typical Times sleights of hand, such as referring to Bergdahl as:
... a free-spirited young man who asked many questions but gave no indication of being a deserter, let alone the turncoat that Mr. Obama’s opponents are now trying to create.
In condemning a rush to judgment as to Bergdahl by critics, The Times Editors rush to an alternative judgment. More important, the centerpiece of the Editorial, with which it begins, is a quote from John McCain (emphasis added):
Four months ago, Senator John McCain said he would support the exchange of five hard-core Taliban leaders for the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. “I would support,” he told CNN. “Obviously I’d have to know the details, but I would support ways of bringing him home and if exchange was one of them I think that would be something I think we should seriously consider.”
NY Times Rush to Demonize Sgt Bergdahl 6-6-2014 9 30 am I've underlined the words "Obviously I’d have to know the details" because those words were not in the original versions of the Editorial.  Rather, it was a late correction which significantly scales back the notion that McCain previously supported this exchange deal. I've tracked the changes in the Editorial through a very useful service, NewsDiff.  The NewsDiff archive history page for the Times Editorial reflects that the Editorial originally had a less aggressive title, and also did not include the part of McCain's quote I've highlighted.  In omitting that language from the quote, the Times made it seem as if McCain supported the same deal that Obama struck.  That supposed support was the foundation for the Editorial, but when the foundation shifted, the Times made like nothing changed. Here's the edit history of the intro paragraph via NewsDiff:

There's a growing sense that, at least for now, the Bergdahl/Taliban exchange and its fallout has the left spooked. Maybe Obama will wriggle out of this mess, too, either by way of the same tricks that have extricated him from so-called "scandals" such as Benghazi, or by distracting us in some new and horrific way. Or maybe there will be a hurricane somewhere that can provide a serendipitous photo-op to impress those Americans who have political attention-deficit disorder. But at the moment this story, probably more than any other incident of Obama's presidency, is one that makes him look bad. It appears to simultaneously expose his disregard for the safety of America and Americans, his sympathy for fundamentalist Islamist governments, his failure to do his homework, his drive towards greater executive power, his disregard for Congress (including some members of both parties) and the law itself, his mendacity, and the stupidity and collaboration of his advisors in all of the above. I may have left something out, but you get the idea. The military men and women who served with Bergdahl and on whom Obama counted to keep their mouths shut are (unlike the diplomats in Benghazi) speaking up and telling what they know. The NY Times and Time and other organs that normally can be counted on to carry Obama's water are spilling it all over the place. That leaves lonely folk such as TNR's Brian Beutler and Esquire's Charles P. Pierce doing their level best to convince the world that it's only vile Republicans complaining about the swap, and that their carping is motivated by petty politics and a cold attitude towards the suffering of prisoners of war.

The Taliban have released a video of Bowe Bergdahl being released to U.S. Special Forces soldiers who arrived by helicopter. Five high ranking Taliban members were released from Gitmo in exchange. The release of the video is part of the Taliban victory lap: (full propaganda video here) Statements from Bergdahl's fellow soldiers about the circumstances of his departure from his base are very troubling, as are the Obama administration's ridiculous refusal to acknowledge the issues. There are heroes in this video. The Special Forces soldiers who risked their lives landing into what could have been a trap, in order to rescue someone who may turn out to be a deserter who caused the deaths of other Americans searching for him. The image of these Special Forces soldiers reminds me of men like Johnny "Mike" Spann, a CIA officer who was the first American killed in the Afghan war during a prisoner uprising.  We have written of Mike Spann several times before, Remembering Johnny “Mike” Spann:
The story of this small band of men has been told, but not told enough. Spann was killed during the Battle of Qala-i-Jangi when Taliban prisoners gained access to weapons and attacked.

Since the news broke over the weekend regarding the recovery of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for five detainees held at the Guantánamo Bay detention facility, there have been mixed reactions from the public.  Many are obviously very critical of the decision to exchange what are now known to be some pretty bad guys. But there is also much discussion about the circumstances surrounding Bergdahl’s initial disappearance, much of which has been unconfirmed and unclear over the years. News reports are now surfacing that offer accounts from soldiers who claim to have served with Bergdahl. From CNN:
The sense of pride expressed by officials of the Obama administration at the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is not shared by many of those who served with him, veterans and soldiers who call him a deserter whose "selfish act" ended up costing the lives of better men. "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."

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?