• Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl Just Told Us How to Close Gitmo (But Obama Won’t Do It)

    June 4, 2014

    Tags: , , , ,
    Posted in: Embassy/State, Military

    Every media person knows to ensure maximum coverage for a story you put it out at the beginning of the week. That gives pundits five days on the job to comment and amplify it. Conversely, if you are compelled to release information that you’d like to not get that kind of play, dumping it on a Sunday is as good as anything else.

    So when you’re the president and you’ve just made another of those tough calls (bin Laden raid!) that risked American lives, in this case, to bring “one of our own” home from a foreign battlefield, it’s kind of odd that the news comes out as it did recently about the “rescue” of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl from years of Taliban captivity. Where are the tense you-are-there photos of Obama in the Situation Room like with bin Laden? The info-graphics of the high-tech gear our brave Special Forces used in the op? The leaked stories about how agonizing it all was for the president?

    It was almost as if Obama was ashamed of what he did. Likely, he is. And it’s all because of Guantanamo.

    Bowe Bergdahl and the Taliban

    It remains very unclear how Bowe Bergdahl ended up with the Taliban. There are clear suggestions that he willfully left his own unit. Without surprise, Fox News has the inside story from “senior Pentagon officials” laying out that case. Some soldiers in his former unit straight-out called him a deserter who aided the enemy and put American lives in danger. Maybe yes, maybe no, but definitely not the issue.

    One way or another, the United States owes its service members the ride home. They may face military court, or simply return to their lives, but leaving anyone behind is not right. But questions over Bergdahl’s motivations and actions are not what embarrases Obama.

    Back to Guantanamo

    The process that led to Bowe Bergdahl’s heading home is where we need to focus, and it points right back at the scab of Guantanamo.

    Since Day One of his presidency, and often repeated over the last six years, Obama said he wants to close Guantanamo. He should. Gitmo is an ugly stain, an off-shore penal colony where America daily commits violations of international standards once done only by its scummiest enemies. Gitmo’s existence is a powerful recruiting tool for bad guys everywhere, living proof that what they say about America is true. One only need look at the limited pictures available, or read the dribs and drabs of information that come out. Guantanamo proves we are our own worst enemy, and theirs.

    So close it already. Wait– Obama says he’d love to, but for a couple of problems. The two primary ones, the president has often said, are that some/many/a few of the people held there are hardened terrorists. They can’t be released without some assurance they will not return to the battlefield, and that’s damned hard to find.

    The second thing Obama just can’t get around is Congress, whom he keeps saying has tied his hands on this.

    Bad Boys: What’re You Gonna Do?

    The thing is that all those “reasons” were tossed aside pretty casually this weekend to get Bowe Bergdahl home. Five Taliban prisoners at Gitmo, among the worst of the worst (the U.S. government previously called one of them “one of the most significant former Taliban leaders detained”), suddenly got approved for a flight out. Those hard-to-find assurances that the baddies would not return to the fight were rubber-stamped by the Emir of Qatar. The ever-supportive Susan Rice piped up with the details: “…The Taliban prisoners [are] being monitored and kept in a secure way in Qatar.” The assurances include a one-year travel ban out of Qatar. Right. So that’s sorted.

    Obama added “The Qatari government has given us assurances that it will put in place measures to protect our national security.” The assurances are apparently recorded in a memorandum of understanding between the U.S. and Qatar, a copy of which Obama declined to release.

    There was not even much discussion over releasing the five. The process for getting there was rushed, according to U.S. intelligence officials. This time around there was no formal intelligence assessment for example of the risks posed by releasing the Taliban commanders. While some intelligence analysts looked at the issue, no community-wide intelligence assessment was produced.

    And About That Congress Thing

    As for Congress tying his hands, Obama was referring to statutory restrictions on the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay. The statutes say the Secretary of Defense must determine that a transfer is in the interest of national security, that steps have been taken to substantially mitigate a future threat by a released detainee, and require the secretary notify Congress 30 days before any transfer.

    Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel stated unambiguously he did not notify Congress. At all. Just didn’t.

    Administration officials explained when Obama signed the bill containing the latest version of the Gitmo transfer restrictions into law, he issued a signing statement claiming that he could lawfully override them under his executive powers. Signing statements were made popular during the Bush-Cheney years, and are essentially a fuzzy addendum that even though the president is signing a bill into law to avoid a veto fight, he just may not follow the actual law he just signed if he does not wish to.

    Another “administration official” added the circumstances of a fast-moving exchange deal made it appropriate to act outside the statutory framework for transfers, even though that statutory framework for transfers does not provide for any such circumstances.

    A funny thing is that just five days ago, Hagel was asked about the release of some other prisoners out of Guantanamo. Uruguay had agreed to accept them, but Hagel was not sure:

    Hagel said he was taking his time in reaching a decision about six detainees Obama had discussed with Uruguayan President Jose Mujica, as well as other detainees, in order to be sure that releasing them was the responsible thing to do. “I’ll be making some decisions on those specific individuals here fairly soon,” he told reporters.

    Hagel said the U.S. Congress had assigned him the responsibility of notifying it of a decision to release detainees.

    “My name goes on that document. That’s a big responsibility,” he said. “I have a system that I have developed, put in place, to look at every element, first of all complying with the law, risks, mitigation of risk. Does it hit the thresholds of the legalities required? Can I ensure compliance with all those requirements? There is a risk in everything… I suspect I will never get a 100-percent deal.”

    What a difference a few days can make, right Chuck Hagel?

    Close Guantanamo

    It is time. The Bowe Bergdahl episode proved that Obama can close Guantanamo, and he can do it quickly. Assurances of America’s safety, even from nasty Taliban leaders, require just a stroke of a pen from characters like the Emir of Qatar. Hands tied by Congress? Obama just went ahead anyway and is sitting back watching Congress fume. That whole business about not negotiating with terrorists? Um, not anymore. The fact that Bergdahl was held in ally Pakistan for five years, just like they harbored bin Laden? Whatever. People the U.S. captures are not POWs under the Geneva Conventions but we still do prisoner swaps? It’s complicated. Swapping prisoners 5 for 1? No problem.

    There is nothing stopping Obama from closing Guantanamo now except Obama.

    Mr. President, how about this? There are now some 143 human beings still being held in Guantanamo. Next prisoner swap that comes up, why not trade 143 for 1 and kill two birds with one stone?




    BONUS: Susan Rice told CNN, when asked whether this meant that the United States could no longer claim that it does not negotiate with terrorists, that she “wouldn’t put it that way.”

    Rice also opined that Bergdahl “served with distinction,” despite significant evidence to the contrary.

    “We didn’t negotiate with terrorists,” Hagel said in an interview on NBC. Since the negotiations were handled mostly by Qatar, the United States did not negotiate directly with the Taliban. The administration’s announcement of Bergdahl’s release said only that negotiations began several weeks ago through the government of Qatar, and there was no indication of any direct contact between the United States and the Taliban.


    BONUS BONUS: Chuck Hagel, I’ve met you, and we all know your personal story. When you were a Senator, you and your staff went out of the way to do the right thing. I saw it. You had balls. So how do you live with yourself nowadays?



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  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...

      1

      “Susan Rice told CNN, when asked whether this meant that the United States could no longer claim that it does not negotiate with terrorists, that she “wouldn’t put it that way.” Rice also opined that Bergdahl “served with distinction,” despite significant evidence to the contrary.”

      Just like Rice-erroni II served with dis-stink-tion.

      06/4/14 12:09 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...

      2

      Thanks Rich, not to mention the Republicans have been woefully ‘misrepresenting’ the facts on this — the military has been engaged in ‘discussions’ with the Taliban even during the Bush-Cheney admin. Google is their friend

      Fox has been out front with malevolent reporting in the past on Bergdahl, omitting important details.

      Where is the proof this guy walked off the base? In a video made under duress, he could have said he went awol as there could be propaganda value in that for the other side. Instead, Bergdahl said he lagged behind on patrol and was captured. The media needs to do a better job than requoting Fox News

      In the end, it doesnt matter. The US is supposed to search for it’s missing but the sad fact seems to be the process here fell behind for all the wrong reasons. It’s not the first time is it? Someone can correct me if this is wrong, but the highest number of missing soldiers is from World War II

      06/4/14 3:13 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...

      3

      The NY Times addresses one of the controversies arising:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/04/world/middleeast/can-gi-be-tied-to-6-lost-lives-facts-are-murky.html?hp

      One of the commenters cites a Rolling Stones article about Bergdahl’s unit. Would anyone have a link to that?

      06/4/14 3:24 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      4

      You f-cking Americans make me dizzy with all of your – now obsolete – fussing about arcane details of an American rule of law that no longer exists…

      ..EXCEPT for THIS very practical, non-dizzy suggestion Peter made:

      “The Bowe Bergdahl episode proved that Obama can close Guantanamo, and he can do it quickly….There is nothing stopping Obama from closing Guantanamo now except Obama. …Mr. President, how about this? There are now some 143 human beings still being held in Guantanamo. Next prisoner swap that comes up, why not trade 143 for 1 and kill two birds with one stone?”

      …And THAT makes PERFECT sense, especially in terms of today’s American Empire in which the Elected Monarch (aka the President) has de facto and de jure unlimited personal powers.

      I mean, now that America really does have an Emperor whose powers far exceed those of ancient Roman tyrants like Caligula, well, wouldn’t it make sense for Emperor Obama at least to claim the GLORY of being the one who shut down Guantanamo?

      But evidently, Obama would prefer to enjoy all of the cruel powers of Julius Caesar, but without Julius Caesar’s personal courage or talents for war. Obama the puerile bully wants to enjoy being like THIS aspect of Caesar, without paying the personal price for it…

      …oh and so do most Americans! A nation of puerile bullies, who want to enjoy the brutal powers of ancient Romans without suffering for the privilege:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGYI1UHK5jM

      06/4/14 5:25 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      5

      The movie “Deliverance”, was prophetic about what America’s national character would become, and has now become.

      Every single American who has ever committed or collaborated with or assented to torture of any human being – based on the American belief that power is its own justification – deserves this, and will receive it sooner or later:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_55Lopyevy8

      06/4/14 5:54 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      6

      PS, but just to clarify: In my above comment, I was imagining what American torturers will deserve in Hell…

      …but that will be by God’s justice, not mine. So, in THIS world, I would never advocate torturing any torturers such as Obama, or any of their collaborators such as Jen Psaki…

      …no, in THIS world, I would only advocate shooting them in the back of the head. After a more fair trial than they ever gave their victims.

      06/4/14 6:05 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      7

      PPS, seriously:

      May our Lord Jesus Christ, in His mercy, spare the lunatic Barack Obama and Jen Psaki and Hillary and all of their kind, from being tortured in this world or the next.

      And so let them repent from their atrocious crimes against Human Nature.

      John the Baptist had it right. What he said 2,000 years ago, is what Obama and Hillary et al need to hear today. And no I’m not crazy, but THEY are! Seriously:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sM90zBhg0DQ

      06/4/14 6:18 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      8

      PPPS, oh, but WAIT! No, I was mistaken!

      The greatest prophet was NOT John the Baptist! The greatest prophet was NOT a man who was conventionally regarded as insane, who chose to live in poverty – dressed like a homeless bum and living in the desert where he ate raw insects and sucked honey out of a bee’s stinigng ass!…

      …NO! The greatest prophet is Hillary Clinton! Here:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTJYbCHHnA8

      06/4/14 6:33 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      9

      PPPPS, now more seriously, mutatis mutandis…

      …I’d bet my life’s fortune that Hillary Clinton can never match THIS! ;-):

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5WTpUNi5fs

      06/4/14 6:37 PM | Comment Link

    • jim hruska said...

      10

      WMW,
      It’s a long stretch that Qatar can protect our national security, or even, that 5 dudes can be a threat to us.
      It’s all smoke and mirrors.
      Since there is some spook stuff going on at WMW i also wonder if we didn’t release the 5 prisoners because we turned them and they’re now on the payroll, or at least 1 of them. It’s worth considering.
      jim hruska

      06/4/14 8:20 PM | Comment Link

    • Eric Hodgdon said...

      11

      Bowe Bergdahl is free to choose his path without worry. Governments are arbitrary entities as countries are what people are born into and do not choose. Freedom is Freedom but we all should know by now it’s a sham! Freedom is a one word oxymoron used to fill space on a page.

      As to Gitmo, well … we should obey our leaders, right? If our ruling elite says something, then it’s as though God speaks, right? Who are We to have a concern in these too complex issues. RIGHT?

      Sanity is still a rare thing.

      Cheers to all!

      06/5/14 4:05 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      12

      Wanna bet each of the five will be droned out of existence within a day of returning to their country?

      If the five were classified as anti-Karzai rebels instead of “terrorists”, then technically the US is still a virgin in the “We didn’t negotiate with terrorists…”

      As for the Army’s desire for not leaving Bergdahl behind, it is exceeded by its desire to put his ass in jail for desertion. Got to send a message, right?

      06/5/14 9:42 AM | Comment Link

    • Kate De Braose said...

      13

      Let’s not lose sight of the fact that the facilities at Guantanamo are there because they are a privately owned profit-making Business for
      their private army that brings in profits for armaments makers.
      So…
      Why are these private companies being allowed to make use of US Government powers??
      Plenty of citizens are wondering why somehow the Consent of the People has neither been sought nor given.

      06/11/14 4:55 PM | Comment Link

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