Tag Archives: Bowe Bergdahl

Report: Obama Broke Law with Bergdahl-Taliban Swap

WASHINGTON— A new report by the House Armed Services Committee claims that the Obama administration broke the law during the process of releasing five Taliban prisoners in exchange for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in 2014.

The report also stated the administration should have notified Congress sooner, a finding also shared by a similar report by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office released last year.

“Our report finds that the Administration clearly broke the law in not notifying Congress of the transfer,” said Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. “Leading up to the transfer, DOD officials misled Congress as to the status of negotiations. Pentagon officials best positioned to assess the national security risks were left out of the process, which increases the chances of dangerous consequences from the transfer. It is irresponsible to put these terrorists that much closer to the battlefield to settle a campaign promise and unconscionable to mislead Congress in the process.”

“The president believes strongly in the principle of ensuring that anybody who puts on the military uniform of the United States is not somebody who is going to be left behind by the commander-in-chief,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said“There was a unique opportunity that was presented to safely recover Sgt. Bergdahl and that’s exactly what we did.”

The five Taliban members were being held in the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba prior to the exchange. Following the exchange, Sgt. Bergdahl was charged with desertion for the actions resulting in his capture by Taliban affiliates in June 2009.

The chairwoman of the Armed Services subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Re. Vicky Hartzle (R-Mo.), stated that “After rigorous investigation, there are still some unknowns. We still do not know if we negotiated for less than five detainees. We do not know how five was determined to be the ‘right’ number in this exchange. However, we now know to what extent this Administration is willing to go to achieve political goals.”

FOLLOW MICHAEL LOTFI ON Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn.

Sgt. Bergdahl to be questioned on his capture

After returning to duty just a few weeks ago, Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will start being questioning today in San Antonio, Texas,  by U.S. Army investigator Major General Kenneth Dahl.

The investigation surrounds the circumstances of Sgt Bergdahl’s capture in 2009, which resulted in his release in May in exchange for five Taliban detainees.

The BBC reports Sgt. Bergdahl has hired civilian lawyer Eugene Fidell, a Yale law professor, to aid in his defense.

Fidell has said Sgt. Bergdahl, who is currently not facing any charges, “will be as co-operative as possible with General Dahl.”  However, Fidell has declined to speculate as to what Sgt. Bergdahl will say to the investigating general.

Many people have surmised Sgt. Bergdahl intentionally left his post in 2009 which led to his capture by Taliban forces.  According to CNN, a fact-finding investigation held by the Army in the months after Sgt. Bergdahl’s capture, found he had “deliberately and of his own free-will,” left his outpost and fellow soldiers while on duty in Afghanistan.

Newsmax has also reported several members of Sgt. Bergdahl’s former unit have hinted Sgt. Bergdahl was either absent without leave or had abandoned his post in Afghanistan.

Military attorney Greg Rinckey, who has heard and handled similar cases to Sgt. Bergdahl’s, has stated the meeting between Sgt. Bergdahl and Gen. Dahl will not be adversarial, but rather informal.

“This … general is going to be talking to Sergeant Bergdahl, asking him several questions with his lawyer present,” Rinckey said according to Newsmax.  “It is really not an interrogation, it’s more of an interview.”

After the investigation of Sgt Bergdahl, Gen. Dahl will likely follow-up with fellow members of Sgt. Bergdahl’s unit and his superiors before making recommendations up the chain of command.  Depending on his findings, Gen. Dahl can either, according to NBC News, say he found no wrongdoing and recommend no further action on the case, or recommend a court-martial which could ultimately result in the death penalty.

Rinckey said, because of the questionable circumstances and general lack of clear insight of the case, he does not believe the death penalty would be considered if Sgt. Bergdahl were to face a court-martial.

President refuses to apologize for prisoner trade

As some lawmakers consider impeachment for President Obama over the trade of five Guantanamo Bay detainees for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the president has refused to apologize for his actions.

Controversy has surrounded the president’s decision to go ahead with the prisoner trade for various reasons.  One reason is the president sidestepped discussing the trade with Congress in an effort to reduce the prisoner population in Guantanamo Bay to force its closer, while others say the president gave too much in terms of hostage “value” for Sgt. Bergdahl.

The five Taliban soldiers traded for Sgt. Bergdahl have been reported to be high ranking individuals in the Taliban.  Rob Williams of the Senate Intelligence Committee said four of the people released are expected to resume attacks with the Taliban.

Johnathan Turley, a law professor from George Washington University, told CNN anchor Carol Costello Monday he did not think there was much debate whether or not President Obama had broken the law with the trade.  When asked if the White House had broken any laws, Turley responded, “They did… this is a long series of violations of federal law that the president’s been accused of.”

“We saw an opportunity and we seized it,” said President Obama to the BBC.  “As commander-in-chief I am responsible for those kids…and I make no apologies for that.”

The White House previously claimed they were moved to act towards negotiating the release of Sgt. Bergdahl after viewing a Taliban video showing the sergeant in “poor health and faltering over his words.”  This same video was shown in a private screening to skeptical lawmakers, but the showing failed to change their views of the event.

Amidst the controversy surrounding the president’s decision, Sgt. Bergdahl’s hometown has cancelled any upcoming celebrations to welcome the sergeant back home.

Organizers of the homecoming event in Hailey, Idaho told Al-Jazeera America they did not have the resources to manage the influx of supporters and protestors of Sgt. Bergdahl who would meet in the small town.

The local Police Chief talked with the Idaho Statesman about the groups meeting in Hailey for the cancelled event.  “I received one call today from a (veterans group in California) that wanted to bring up 2,000 protestors.”

Hailey has also received angry phone calls and hate mail over the celebrations.  The president of the Hailey Chamber of Commerce, Jane Drussel has said, “It’s like a modern-day lynching… The joy has all of a sudden become not so joyful.”

Taliban release video of prisoner handoff

A video released by the Taliban earlier shows the terrorist group and U.S. forces meeting for the handover of Sgt. Bergdahl in the Khost province in Afghanistan.

Video clip courtesy of Sky News via Youtube:

A Black Hawk helicopter lands in the middle of a field, and upon landing, the emaciated Sgt. Bergdahl is led by Taliban forces, carrying a white flag, to a meeting spot between the chopper and a white pickup truck.  The forces leading Sgt. Bergdahl out are just his escorts as the video shows other Taliban members in the area with RPGs, AKs and other assault weapons.

Once the two sides met in the middle, handshakes are exchanged, an oddity almost never before seen given many Americans views that their government “doesn’t negotiate with terrorists.”

After an initial pat down of Sgt. Bergdahl, the Black Hawk crew seem satisfied, they wave to the Taliban forces, and escort Sgt. Bergdahl to the chopper without further instance.

Narration by the Taliban can be heard over the course of the video describing how the Mujahideen in the area were told, according to CNN, “not to attack them.”  The narrator even describes how both sides agreed to send three member parties to meet each other for the handoff.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby made a statement to ABC News saying, “We have no reason to doubt the videos authenticity, but we are reviewing it.”

The video comes as many soldiers and civilians in America are calling for Sgt. Bergdahl to be brought up on charges of desertion, and the Joint Chiefs have said they will hold an investigation to find if these claims are valid.

Soldiers and civilians have claimed for a few years that Sgt. Bergdahl had deserted his post in Afghanistan and his being held in captivity was an unforeseen consequence.  These same people who make the claims say the the six soldiers who were killed in search attempts for the sergeant the following days should be Sgt. Bergdahl’s fault.

One former soldier, Nathan Bradley Bethea, wrote an article for the Daily Beast stating outright, “Bergdahl was a deserter, and soldiers from his own unit died trying to track him down.”

Bethea writes how Sgt. Bergdahl failed to appear for roll call the morning of his disappearance.  His fellow soldiers found his “rifle, helmet, body armor and web gear,” but mysteriously his compass was missing.

Some soldiers in Sgt. Bergdahl’s squad told CNN they had signed nondisclosure agreements saying they would not talk about what had happened the night of Sgt. Bergdahl’s disappearance.

Many cite the mysterious circumstances surrounding his disappearance as well as his growing discontent with the military as reasons for their desertion claims against Sgt. Bergdahl.  The same article from CNN references a Rolling Stone article from 2012 where Sgt. Bergdahl’s fellow infantrymen claim Bergdahl “no longer supported the U.S. effort in Afghanistan.”

The Huffington Post reports chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, said the Army will pursue an investigation into Sgt. Bergdahl’s disappearance, where the outcome could lead to desertion or other more severe charges against the former POW.

Freed in Swap, US POW Bowe Bergdahl Becomes Political Issue

This article was written by guest contributor Jason Ditz.

A surprising Saturday deal ended nearly five years of detention for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the only US prisoner of war in Afghanistan, in return for the release of five Guantanamo Bay detainees to Qatar.

Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban in 2009, and has been held since in various sites along the Afghan-Pakistan border. The deal under which he was released was proposed by the Taliban in 2013, involving the release of the five detainees.

The five detainees, interestingly enough, were going to be released unilaterally by the administration in 2012 as a “confidence-building” measure for peace talks. The releases were delayed when the talks collapsed, but it was the Taliban who first suggested they’d reciprocate with Bergdahl’s release in the deal.

The Sunday talk show circuit made it clear that Bergdahl’s release also meant his transition from a mostly-forgotten POW, rarely mentioned by officials, into a political football.

The prisoner exchange was immediately condemned by several GOP hawks as “negotiating with terrorists,” and the hawks were unanimous today in condemning Bergdahl’s release as a “dangerous precedent.”

The administration seems just as willing to play politics with the issue, insisting that finally securing Bergdahl’s release, after nearly five years in captivity and a year after the Taliban initially offered this swap, as proof of their support for the troops.

In many ways, Sgt. Bergdahl’s release was less about his release than about replacing the ouster of VA Secretary Eric Shiniseki with a shiny new topic for the Sunday circuit. Judging from all the officials lining up to make hay of the issue today, it was “mission accomplished.”



This article is from Antiwar.com.  A friend in need is a friend indeed – and we need your help to fight this brazen state repression. We’re fighting to restore constitutional government in America – but we need your tax-deductible donation to do it. Please, make your contribution today!”