Wife of soldier wounded searching for Bergdahl speaks out
POSTED AT 2:01 PM ON JUNE 8, 2014 BY JAZZ SHAW
The Bergdahl story continues to go from bad to very bad to really bad to worse. I first saw this story being written about by Rick Moran at PJ Media today. The wife of one of the soldiers who was grievously injured while searching for Bergdahl in Afghanistan has taken to social media to protest the handling of this story.
The wife of a disabled Afghanistan veteran who was injured while searching for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has posted a scathing message against him this week, adding a personal account to the rising protests against the negotiations with the Taliban that lead to Bergdahl’s freedom.In a message she posted via Facebook, Shannon Allen, wife of Sgt. 1st Class Mark Allen, wrote ‘Meet my husband, injuries directly brought to you by the actions of this traitor. He can’t give an account of what went down, because he can no longer speak. Now, which guy is a “hero” again?!? Sick.’
While it’s only one component of the many things which are wrong with this story, the fine grain details of the real lives involved aren’t really making the rounds of all the media coverage I’m seeing. Moran sums up the issue with this:
Bergdahl’s family gets an invite to the White House to appear at a Rose Garden press avail with the president. What did Mrs. Allen and the other family members of those who fell looking for Bergdahl get?They are non-people. They have been disappeared because their presence is inconvenient and unwanted. They don’t play into the narrative the White House would like the American people to believe; Sgt. Bergdahl served with honor and distinction; he’s a confused victim of circumstance who was near death when President Obama swooped in and rescued him. The price was high, but hey! We don’t leave anyone behind so shut up and sit down.Meanwhile, the families quietly grieve over their loss — a loss not incurred as a result of combat that advanced America’s war effort, but in an attempt to bring one, wayward soldier home who may have deserted his post and thrown in with the enemy.The juxtaposition of Bergdahl and those who fell looking for him is painful. It reminds us that life isn’t fair, the good die young, and any other timeworn cliche that actually makes sense. Bergdahl for Allen? Bergdahl for any of the other soldiers who fell? The scales don’t balance and we are angry.
Unfortunately, this is not likely to be the last such story we’ll hear, and these are just the ghosts being summoned up from the past. Given the attitudes of the five trading pieces, there is no way of gauging how many more stories are to come in the future. The President seems to have pulled a piece out of the bottom of the Jenga stack and it’s going to take a long time to finish falling down.
Uh oh: Feinstein says she’s seen no evidence that Taliban would have killed Bergdahl had deal leaked
POSTED AT 3:21 PM ON JUNE 6, 2014 BY ALLAHPUNDIT
Not sure how else to read this except as Feinstein accusing the White House of lying flat-out about its reasons for keeping Congress in the dark before the swap.
When asked whether there was a “credible threat” on Bergdahl’s life if word had gotten out, the California Democrat responded: “No, I don’t think there was a credible threat, but I don’t know. I have no information that there was.”Feinstein’s comments, part of an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Political Capital with Al Hunt airing Friday evening, put her at odds with White House officials. At a briefing Wednesday, administration officials told lawmakers that they couldn’t give Congress advance notice on the Bergdahl deal because the Taliban vowed to kill him if any details about the prisoner exchange came out.
Just to make sure we’re all on the same page here, Feinstein’s no random member of Congress. She’s the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, routinely privy to all sorts of tightly held info that the White House shares with her and other committee members in the name of keeping the legislature apprised of threats. Nor is this the first time a member of the Intel Committee has claimed that information about Bergdahl was withheld from them. Saxby Chambliss says it was news to him to read in the New York Times that Bergdahl may (or may not) have left a note before he disappeared. That info wasn’t in his classified file.
Two possibilities here. One: It’s all true — the Taliban was set to kill Bergdahl if anyone blabbed — but the White House couldn’t share that info with Feinstein because she’s got a big mouth and would have spilled the beans. Any evidence to support that theory? Actually, yeah.
[A]t least in Feinstein’s case, the administration may have had a reason to keep her out of the loop. In March 2012 with Josh Rogin—then with Foreign Policy magazine—Feinstein accidentally acknowledged the negotiations, appearing to disclose classified information about a potential Bergdahl deal (Rogin also reported that the White House briefed eight senators, including Feinstein, on a potential deal in Jan. 2012).
They kept Congress in the dark about a potential Bergdahl exchange ever since. Even if it’s true that Feinstein was careless with information previously, though, that’s no defense to the White House breaking the law in refusing to notify Congress. They could have simply huddled with her, impressed upon her how high the stakes were — “you talk, he dies” — and then trusted her to be quiet. She’s known all sorts of things that she hasn’t disclosed. There’s no reason to think she couldn’t have been trusted to keep this a secret too, provided they gave her some reason to believe Bergdahl would be in jeopardy if she said anything. Why didn’t they? Or is this all a big lie and the Taliban never intended to kill him over a leak?
Second possibility: This is all a big lie and the Taliban never intended to kill him over a leak.You already know the arguments on this one if you read Ed’s post yesterday. It simply makes no sense to believe the Taliban would have cared much if anyone leaked. For one thing, the prospect of a Bergdahl/Taliban swap has been reported in papers like the NYT for at least two years. The Taliban themselves chattered about it to the AP last year. Plus, if you think about it, having the deal leak in advance would only enhance the propaganda victory for them. If news of an impending swap had broken a week earlier, American media had erupted over it, and then a battered Obama had bowed to the Taliban and done the deal anyway, it would have been a supreme humiliation. The only reason to think the Taliban was skittish about leaks was because they were afraid that news breaking in advance would cow Obama into scuttling the deal — but in that case, with Obama’s course of action uncertain, why would they have gone ahead and killed Bergdahl before O had made a final decision? It may be that they told the White House that they’d kill BB if Obama backed out at the last minute, but that’s not the same as saying they’d kill him if it leaked. And it’s certainly no justification for O to withhold notice from Congress.
Feinstein’s not the only big-name Democrat causing trouble for the administration about Bergdahl today, either. Remember that the next time Obama dismisses this as a phony scandal cooked up by Republican psycho-partisans. Exit question via Guy Benson: Remember when Jay Carney said that Bergdahl was a “prisoner,” not a “hostage”? How can that be true if the White House’s story is correct, that the Taliban were ready to murder him in captivity if the deal leaked? Legitimate armies don’t threaten to kill POWs; they hold them until the end of hostilities and then release them to the enemy. The word for a group that would slaughter a prisoner over a scuttled exchange is something different. It starts with a “T,” I believe.
Rice: 30 day notification requirement was too long, so … we ignored it altogether
POSTED AT 12:01 PM ON JUNE 6, 2014 BY ED MORRISSEY
Of all the missteps made by the Obama administration in the swap of five high-ranking Taliban officials (including two wanted by the UN for mass murders) for Bowe Bergdahl, the two worst were ignoring the law requiring Congressional notification … and sending Susan Rice to a Sunday talk show. By that time, questions had already begun percolating about Bergdahl’s record, which is why George Stephanopoulos challenged Rice about the trade in the context of that record, and Rice inexplicably responded that Bergdahl had been “captured on the battlefield” and had served with “honor and distinction,” two claims that fell apart quickly, and made it appear that the White House had set up a false narrative in order to justify the trade. That prompted Bergdahl’s former unit members to speak out, and the White House has been on defense ever since.
CNN’s Jim Acosta caught up with Rice in Normandy earlier today, and asked her to, er, clarify her earlier remarks. Rice claimed that she meant that Bergdahl’s enlistment was honorable and distinctive, or something:
President Barack Obama’s national security adviser said Friday that her full-throated praise ofArmy Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was appropriate given the former Taliban prisoner’s willingness to go to war for his country — despite questions about whether or not he deserted his Army colleagues.Susan Rice, who on Sunday said Bergdahl served the United States with “honor and distinction,” told CNN in an interview that she was speaking about the fact the Idaho native enlisted and went to Afghanistan in the service of his country.“I realize there has been lots of discussion and controversy around this,” Rice said. “But what I was referring to was the fact that this was a young man who volunteered to serve his country in uniform at a time of war. That, in and of itself, is a very honorable thing.”
Of course it is. That’s why Stephanopoulos didn’t frame his question in that context, because no one disputes that enlistment in the armed services is honorable in and of itself. Stephanopoulos framed the question thusly:
Q: There are a lot of questions about how he originally was captured, and whether or not he’d deserted and left his post. Is that going to be investigated, and if it’s found that he did indeed leave his post, will he be disciplined, or has he already paid the price?A: Certainly anybody who’s been held in those conditions, in captivity for five years, has paid an extraordinary price. But that is really not the point. The point is that he’s back. He is going to be safely reunited with his family. He served the United States with honor and distinction.
That is a non-sequitur walkback to a silly and careless claim, one that did a great deal of damage to the administration. One has to wonder what value Rice has as a national-security adviser when her top two contributions to the Obama administration has been to pour gasoline on a fire — and in this case, it’s all her fault.
She doesn’t get any better when trying to explain why the Obama administration never notified Congress. Despite getting two openings to confirm the latest spin that they ignored the law because of the supposed threat to Bergdahl if the deal went public, Rice instead says that the 30-day notification was too long a time frame — so they just ignored it altogether:
We had reason to be concerned about his life, but we also had reason to be concerned that the 30-day period that would normally be honored was too long, that had we waited that long we may have well missed what General Dempsey has called “the last, best opportunity” to bring him back.
Wait, what? The administration could have notified Congress of this deal any time before the deal took place, and explained that it developed too fast to make the 30-day cutoff — which, if you parse Rice’s statement closely, she isn’t actually claiming anyway. If that’s the case, then give two weeks’ notice, or one week, or whatever the timeframe is, noting the exigent circumstances. They had enough lead time to make sure the Bergdahls showed up in the Rose Garden for the big speech and photo op on Saturday, but didn’t bother formally notifying the relevant Congressional leadership until that day or later — more than 48 hours later for Dianne Feinstein and Mike Rogers, who chair the intel committees.
So it wasn’t about Bergdahl’s declining health, or Taliban death threats, or a need for instantaneous exchange (which would be an impossibility anyway). Rice’s statement confirms that they didn’t notify Congress because they just didn’t much feel like it.
Why does the White House have her doing interviews?
Senior intel official suspects U.S. paid cash ransom for Bergdahl too
POSTED AT 6:41 PM ON JUNE 6, 2014 BY ALLAHPUNDIT
Can’t be true. Ransoms are paid for hostages, and Jay Carney assured me Bergdahl was a prisoner, not a hostage.
This isn’t out-of-left-field speculation. Fox News reported two days ago that a ransom for Bergdahl was on the table inside U.S. intelligence circles as recently as December. The key point to grasp here, writes Lachlan Markay, is that the Haqqani Network, which was holding Bergdahl, and the Taliban are two different outfits. The Taliban are true jihadis, bent on reconquering Afghanistan. The Haqqanis are more of an Afghan mafia, bent on enriching themselves. Both have killed lots of American soldiers but only the Haqqanis are a terrorist organization designed by the State Department. The Taliban should be designated, but if we do that and then keep pressing ahead with “peace talks” with them on our way out of the country, Obama will be accused of negotiating with terrorists. (Like he did here, in negotiating with the Haqqanis.) So, voila — the Taliban technically aren’t “terrorists.”
The important thing to understand is the oddness of trading four Taliban to the Haqqani Network. Why would they want the Taliban’s guys out of Gitmo instead of their own guys? Or, to put that differently, did they want these guys out of Gitmo at all?
“The Haqqanis could give a rat’s ass about prisoners,” the official said, referring to the Haqqani Network, a designated terrorist group in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the five Guantanamo Bay prisoners who were freed in exchange for Bergdahl’s release.“The people that are holding Bergdahl want[ed] cash and someone paid it to them,” he said…Only one of the freed terrorists, Nabi Omari, was part of the Haqqani Network. But the presence of other more senior Haqqani prisoners at Guantanamo has observers wondering whether the network’s goal in the exchange was actually the release of Gitmo prisoners.“One of these things doesn’t belong,” the intelligence official said. “If you were to put one of these [freed Taliban prisoners] with Haqqani in a room together, they’d beat the shit out of each other.”…Haqqani, he said, “benefits zero from the prisoner exchange. … Based on 10 years of working with those guys, the only thing that would make them move Bergdahl is money.”
“We just funded them for the next 10 years is my guess,” he told Markay, which explains why the White House might have wanted to frame this deal as a straight prisoner swap for a missing POW while omitting any details about a big payday.
But that doesn’t answer the key question — namely, if the Haqqanis didn’t care about prisoners and if they really didn’t care about Taliban prisoners specifically, how on earth did four Taliban bigwigs end up being part of the handover? If you believe that O’s prime motive in all this was unloading some weight from Gitmo in preparation for closing it, you already know the answer. If Markay’s source is right, it may be that the U.S. was more eager to include the Taliban Five (or four) in the deal than the Haqqanis were. Obama wanted them gone but he was afraid of the political backlash if he simply released them to Qatar’s custody having gotten nothing in return. So he constructed a deal for Bergdahl which he knew he could kinda sorta defend using the principle “leave no man behind.” Seeing that Obama was willing to free people from Gitmo as part of the deal, it could be that the Haqqanis asked for some of their own men back first but were rebuffed because those guys belong to a “terrorist organization,” which would be harder to defend than letting Taliban “POWs” go. So they accepted the Talban instead. And maybe, given their knack for ransoming, they got something on that end of the deal too: Imagine what the Taliban might have paid them to negotiate the release of degenerates like Mohammed Fazl on the Taliban’s behalf. All speculative, but all worth thinking about.
Exit quotation from Ben Domenech: “This is more about Barack Obama realizing he made a politically beneficial promise in 2008 without thinking it through than the government pursuing the national security interests of Americans.”
Odds and ends......