June 5 , 2014 Updates of note....
The note - fact or fiction ?
Caving to the Taliban excuses ....
Cover-up? Bergdahl, the last American hostage from the Iraq or Afghanistan wars, was released this weekend in a prisoner exchange that saw five Guantanamo terrorism suspects freed. Meanwhile, some of the soldiers who served with Bergdahl say they were made to sign a highly unusual non disclosure agreement covering his disappearance
The note - fact or fiction ?
Former Special Ops officer: Report issued within 24 hours after Bergdahl disappeared said he left a note
POSTED AT 7:21 PM ON JUNE 5, 2014 BY ALLAHPUNDIT
I know I’ve been droning on about the note all day but I need to flag this, as it’s the first time someone’s gone on record on camera about it. Let me recap why this is important. Three days ago, the New York Times cited a “former senior military officer” for the claim that Bergdahl had left a note behind in his tent the night he disappeared saying “he had become disillusioned with the Army, did not support the American mission in Afghanistan and was leaving to start a new life.” Pretty strong evidence of desertion; in fact, it’s the only hard evidence of Bergdahl’s motives that allegedly exists. The same day, Fox News reported that two unnamed former members of Bergdahl’s unit also claim that he left a note, and that the note suggested not only desertion but an intent to renounce his citizenship. All of this came as a shock to Saxby Chambliss, the ranking GOP member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, who had read the classified file on Bergdahl and saw nothing in there about a note.
That’s when things started to get weird.
I asked Jake Tapper, who’s interviewed multiple members of Bergdahl’s unit, how many of them have mentioned a note. Answer:
The military’s classified 35-page report on Bergdahl’s disappearance also says nothing about a note. The Times was surprised by that and went back to its original source, the “former senior military officer,” to ask what gives. Here’s what he told them:
Asked about what appeared to be a disconnect, the retired officer insisted that he remembered reading a field report discussing the existence of such a letter in the early days of the search and was unable to explain why it is not mentioned in the final investigative report.
Did the letter mysteriously disappear or did it never exist at all? Before you answer, watch Newsmax’s interview with retired Special Ops Maj. Rusty Bradley, who helped search for Bergdahl, below; the key bit comes at around 5:45. Like the Times’s source, he claims that a report issued within 24 hours of Bergdahl’s disappearance mentioned a note. (Actually, Bradley fits the basic description of the Times’s source. Is he their source?) The fog of war could, I guess, explain an early factual error, but … how would that error have been made, exactly? I would think that when a soldier first goes missing, the men around him would give him every benefit of the doubt in assuming there’s an innocent reason for his disappearance. He could have been injured or collapsed somewhere on base; he could have been captured by jihadis. He could be in terrible danger. If there are suspicions that early in the process that he disappeared for malignant reasons, I’d guess there’s probably a good reason.
But then, where’s the note? And why is the White House telling Congress it doesn’t exist?
Caving to the Taliban excuses ....
Report: U.S. caved on Taliban’s Gitmo demands, didn’t demand more hostages
POSTED AT 5:21 PM ON JUNE 5, 2014 BY ALLAHPUNDIT
We offered them some prisoners at Bagram. They demanded the Taliban Five. The White House caved. Then, per WaPo, the White House proposed handing over only two of the five uprfront, with the other three to follow later. No dice, said the Taliban. All five go free or we walk. So all five went free.
But we did get them to agree to a nifty one-year travel ban in Qatar, so put that on a plaque for Obama’s office wall.
My favorite line in the WaPo piece, incidentally, is this one: “There were concerns, officials said, that notifying Congress would lead to public disclosure of the operation or new political roadblocks that administration officials say could have killed the exchange and potentially imperiled Bergdahl.” Breaking federal law to avoid “political roadblocks” is as perfect a distillation of Obama’s second term as you can get.
When the talks began as part of what U.S. officials hoped would be a broader Afghan peace effort, U.S. envoys were forbidden to offer any detainees held in the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as part of a trade for Bergdahl. According to people familiar with the process,negotiators were allowed to include only Taliban fighters held at the detention center at Bagram air base, outside Kabul…The Taliban countered with a list of six senior Taliban officials being held at Guantanamo Bay. The list included the five Taliban commanders released as part of the Bergdahl agreement, as well as a sixth who died during the talks, which stretched from February 2011 until June 2012…U.S. negotiators proposed that Bergdahl be released at the same time two of the five Guantanamo detainees would be sent from the prison to Qatar, where they would face a travel ban to any destination outside the country. The three remaining detainees would be released three months later.The Taliban wanted all five to be released at the same time as Bergdahl, with the stipulation that once in Qatar, they would be permitted to travel to Saudi Arabia for the annual pilgrimage to Mecca and to Europe, if necessary, for medical care. U.S. negotiators rejected those conditions.
Apparently, the “moderate Taliban” whom the White House is counting on to broker a phony fig-leaf “peace deal” as we leave Afghanistan concluded they couldn’t sell a swap for Bergdahl to “hardline Taliban” unless the Taliban Five were part of the deal. So the White House stood down and — eventually — scrapped its demand that the prisoners come from Bagram. Any theories, by the way, on why Obama would have been initially reluctant to free Taliban bigwigs at Gitmo circa 2011-12 but is willing to do so now? Was there anything he stood to lose at that time by doing so that he doesn’t stand to lose today? I can think of something.
If you’re going to free five dangerous Gitmo prisoners and take a massive political hit, logically you’d want to get as much as you can for them to soften the blow. And yet:
The Department of Defense was putting together a plan to include Caitlan Coleman of York , Pa., her baby who was born in captivity and her Canadian husband, Joshua Boyle, in any deal to free Bergdahl, said Joe Kasper, chief of staff to Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., who sits on the House Armed Services Committee…“The DoD was looking at this in the whole of scope of things, to deal with these people as well,” Kasper said. “Instead of five for one, why not five for five?”In a June 2 letter to President Obama, Hunter said the Defense Department plan, which Hunter said did not have time to materialize before negotiations headed by the State Department gained Bergdahl’s release, did not include a prisoner exchange.
Coleman’s been missing since 2012. Why was it left to Defense to float a (too-late) package to bring her back with Bergdahl? Or maybe I’m missing the point here. Maybe, if this really is all about finding political cover to release dangerous prisoners from Gitmo and ultimately close the prison, it’s better to have Coleman still out there so that other Taliban degenerates can be traded for her separately. She’s an even more sympathetic figure than Bergdahl, having given birth in captivity, so O might be thinking he can get away with repatriating more of the worst of the worst in exchange for her. Note to the Taliban: Ask for Khaled Sheikh Mohammed as part of this one. The answer may surprise you!
Here’s Chuck Todd cutting to the heart of this lame lame-duck diplomatic offensive.and...
Latest excuse for not following law: The devil made us do it; Update: Taliban proposed deal in June 2013 AP interview
POSTED AT 1:21 PM ON JUNE 5, 2014 BY ED MORRISSEY
If Democrats worried about the incompetence of the White House in the Taliban swap, they should be in full-fledged panic attack after the latest attempt by the Obama administration to spin their violation of the law. Statute signed by Obama required 30 days’ notice to Congress before releasing anyone from Guantanamo Bay’s detention center, let alone the five worst non-AQ Taliban figures being held. The AP issued a “breaking” report five days after the deal was announced with no notification at all that the White House was told by the Taliban not to tell anyone, or they would kill Bowe Bergdahl:
First, let’s parse this on its merits. By Saturday, we had Bergdahl back, and the Taliban had … five of the worst mass murderers and terrorist leaders back in the open. By Sunday, at least, people were already pointing out that the White House had violated the law with this release, and the two intel committee chairs didn’t even get their calls until Monday night. It took five days to go public with this and let everyone know that the White House had agreed to that condition?
And if this is true, it means that Obama allowed the Taliban to dictate whether the US follows the rule of law or not. It also flies in the face of a long tradition of Congressional leadership acting with care in covert situations when the lives of men and women serving abroad are at stake. That’s even more insulting to Congress than the initial arrogance shown after the complaints about their failure to notify them.
But let’s face it — this is sheer nonsense, and everyone knows it. Bergdahl was kept alive for five years because he had value as a trading chit to the Taliban. Why would they kill him on the cusp of getting exactly what they wanted, just because it leaked to the press? They’d possibly have had some internal resistance, but after five years of negotiating with Bergdahl, no one would have been surprised by a deal.
As Rep. Justin Amash says, this just doesn’t add up:
And as our friend Morgen Richmond pointed out on Twitter, the AP itself reported six weeks ago that the Taliban was agitating to make a deal:
Critics of the U.S. government’s nearly five-year effort to seek the release of the only American soldier held captive in Afghanistan claim the work suffers from disorganization and poor communication among numerous federal agencies involved, leaving his captors unclear which U.S. officials have the authority to make a deal.The shrinking U.S. military footprint in Afghanistan has refocused attention on efforts to bring home Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, who has been held by the Taliban since June 30, 2009.About two dozen officials at the State and Defense departments, the military’s U.S. Central Command, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Special Operations Command, the CIA and FBI are working the case — most of them doing it alongside their other duties, a defense official said.Bergdahl’s captors are anxious to release him, according to a defense official and a military officer, who both spoke to The Associated Press only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case publicly.“Elements in all echelons — from the top of the Taliban down to the folks holding Bergdahl — are reaching out to make a deal,” the defense official said.
So the Obama administration can leak to the press about how the Taliban want to make a deal, but Congress can’t be trusted to keep a deal secret? Is that how this works?
Update: Heck, even if the Taliban didn’t get the wire services, they could have read about the deal in the New York Times in 2012, as Allahpundit points out. It even came from the Bergdahls themselves:
The parents of the only American soldier held captive by Afghan insurgents have broken a yearlong silence about the status of their son, abruptly making public that he is a focus of secret negotiations between the Obama administration and the Taliban over a proposed prisoner exchange.The negotiations, currently stalled, involved a trade of five Taliban prisoners held at the American military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl of the Army, who is believed to be held by the militant Haqqani network in the tribal area of Pakistan’s northwest frontier, on the Afghan border. Sergeant Bergdahl was captured in Paktika Province in Afghanistan on June 30, 2009. His family has not heard from him in a year, since they saw him in a Taliban video, although they and the Pentagon believe that he is alive and well.The family’s decision to end its silence could free up the Obama administration to discuss the case publicly and reframe the debate in Washington about releasing the Taliban prisoners, which is seen as a crucial confidence-building measure in efforts to strike a political settlement with the Taliban. American officials believe that a peace deal would help ensure Afghanistan’s stability after 2014, when most American and NATO forces will have left the country. In the absence of a prisoner exchange agreement, those talks are “moribund,” one Western official said.
So the idea that the Taliban needed strict operational security or else is sheer nonsense. It’s yet another horribly incompetent attempt to get Obama out from under an avalanche of well-earned criticism for his ineptitude and arrogance.
Update: Twitter reader ConservativeLA made an interesting observation:
I wonder how Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) interprets this spin. Certainly seems to be a pretty good definition here.
Update: Yeah, it was the Taliban who wanted this deal kept secret – riiiiiiiiiiight:
The proposal to trade U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for the Taliban detainees was made by senior Taliban spokesman Shaheen Suhail in response to a question during a phone interview with The Associated Press from the militants’ newly opened political office in Doha, the capital of the Gulf nation of Qatar.The prisoner exchange is the first item on the Taliban’s agenda before even starting peace talks with the U.S., said Suhail, a top Taliban figure who served as first secretary at the Afghan Embassy in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad before the Taliban government’s ouster in 2001.“First has to be the release of detainees,” Suhail said Thursday when asked about Bergdahl. “Yes. It would be an exchange. Then step by step, we want to build bridges of confidence to go forward.”The Obama administration was noncommittal about the proposal, which it said it had expected the Taliban to make.“We’ve been very clear on our feelings about Sgt. Bergdahl and the need for him to be released,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. “We have not made a decision to … transfer any Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay, but we anticipate, as I’ve said, that the Taliban will all raise this issue.”
That was almost exactly a year ago, by the way.
Fox News: Bergdahl converted to Islam, declared jihad in 2010
POSTED AT 6:01 PM ON JUNE 5, 2014 BY ALLAHPUNDIT
So that’s what James Rosen meant on Hugh Hewitt’s show last night. If this is true, the “Eclipse Group,” an intel outfit run by a former CIA bigwig with an array of paid informants in Afghanistan, was receiving reports on Bergdahl starting shortly after he disappeared in 2009 through 2012. Circa 2010, Bergdahl had already tried to escape from the Taliban and was put in a “metal cage” as punishment. Fast-forward two years and he was allegedly a soldier for Allah. From an Eclipse report:
Conditions for Bergdahl have greatly relaxed since the time of the escape. Bergdahl has converted to Islam and now describes himself as a mujahid. Bergdahl enjoys a modicum of freedom, and engages in target practice with the local mujahedeen, firing AK47s. Bergdahl is even allowed to carry a loaded gun on occasion. Bergdahl plays soccer with his guards and bounds around the pitch like a mad man. He appears to be well and happy, and has a noticeable habit of laughing frequently and saying ‘Salaam’ repeatedly.
Obvious question: How can you prove that a “conversion” like this is sincere and not given under extreme duress? Remember, one of Fox News’s own employees was taken prisoner by jihadis a few years ago and fake-converted to Islam to save his own life. Sounds like Bergdahl resisted at first, even to the point of trying to escape (a claim corroborated by the Daily Beast), and then was gradually broken as his captivity endured. Rosen himself raises the possibility of “Stockholm Syndrome” in the story.
Gen. James Mattis, the former head of CENTCOM, says he may have received “bits and pieces” of Eclipse’s intelligence over the years but not any of their situation reports. He said he never saw any evidence that Bergdahl was a collaborator, though. Quote: “We had tactical units that were involved in the fight. We had SIGINT. Any collaborators who were on the other side and who came over to our side. We kept an eye on this. … There was never any evidence of collaboration.” Among the missing evidence is the propaganda video the Taliban normally could have and would have forced Bergdahl to make if it had an American soldier in its midst willing to declare jihad. Emphasis on “normally,” though: In Bergdahl’s case, since they were looking to swap him for Taliban prisoners from the very beginning, they may have decided to pass on the conversion video for fear that the U.S. wouldn’t make a deal for him once it went live.
Exit question: Did Bergdahl’s parents have any inkling of this? Maybe that would answer some of WaPo’s questions.
Update: Here’s a thought. If Rosen’s story is correct, maybe there is a conversion video — and the Taliban’s simply been holding it for release.
Bowe Bergdahl's platoon mates say officers made them sign non-disclosure agreement after he 'deserted his post in Afghanistan'
The soldiers in Bowe Bergdahl's platoon were made to sign a highly unusual non disclosure agreement covering his disappearance in an apparent attempt to cover-up what happened.
Two soldiers MailOnline has spoken to said that the letter was passed round by commanders to those close to Sgt Bergdahl, who was freed last week after five years of being held by the Taliban.
The ploy has backfired after a number of soldiers spoke out regardless in angry Facebook messages and media interviews.
But the irregular action by the military raises fresh and disturbing questions about attempts by the military to control the flow of information over the incident.
MailOnline has already disclosed how the family of one of the six soldiers who died searching for Sgt Bergdahl in Afghanistan were lied to about what happened to their son.
The parents of Second Lieutenant Darryl Andrews said that they were initially told told he was killed whilst hunting for a Taliban commander as part of a cover up that was ‘just like Benghazi’, a reference to the controversial 2012 assault of the US embassy in Libya which left four dead.
The deception even extended to Sgt Bergdahl's closest comrades who lied to their face after his funeral - and only now have come clean.
Sgt Bergdahl was 23 in June 2009 when he was captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
He was freed in exchange for five Taliban mujahideen being held in Guantanamo Bay in a prisoner swap condemned by Republicans who say that it is 'putting a price' on American soldiers and will lead to more kidnappings.
Secretive: President Barack Obama made Jani and Bob Bergdahl happy by rescuing their son but was the operation part of a highly suspect maneuvering by the military and White House?
Adding to the outrage is that Sgt Bergdahl has been branded a 'deserter' by his own comrades.
According to numerous former colleagues who have already spoken out, he left his post voluntarily and walked off in the middle of the night when he was supposed to be in guard duty.
In an interview with MailOnline, other soldiers said that their superiors appeared to want to hush the whole thing up with the NDA letters.
Sgt. Evan Buetow, who fought in Sgt Bergdahls’ platoon, said: 'I never signed it. I know there were a couple of soldiers who were closer to Sgt Bergdahl as friends.
‘I know a couple of them signed the official non disclosure letter. We did not have to sign an NDA for other missions’.
Others who have spoken out anonymously on the Facebook page ‘Boweisatraitor’ have also referred to such a letter.
Another soldier from Sgt Bergdahl’s unit who is still in the military told MailOnline: 'The non disclosure letters were handed round.
Something fishy: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (C) made press statements aboard a military aircraft but failed to notify Congress that five Guantanamo Bay detainees would be walking free. Now soldiers have come forward demanding to know why they were attempted to be hushed
‘Everyone signed them who was told to - they were just following orders.’
NDA letters are usually signed by soldiers who have security clearance or are working on sensitive missions.
The standard form is called SF312 and is known as a Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement and it prevents those who sign it from speaking about a specific event because it is in the interest of national security for them not to do so.
The developments came as President Obama is facing a growing backlash over the prisoner swap deal.
Republicans said they were ‘deeply concerned’ and claimed that the five mujahideen freed from Guantanamo Bay could rejoin the fight against the West.
Idyllic? This is the beautiful homestead of Bob and Jani Bergdahl in Hailey, Idaho. The Bergdahls hope Bowe will return here to a hero's welcome. But what were the circumstances of his release?
Sgt Bergdahl, who is now aged 28, is being treated at a US military hospital in Germany before he flies back home to a growing row and many unanswered questions about what actually happened to him.
On Monday, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon said that he planned to hold hearings on the matter and get to the bottom of what happened.
He added that he felt the President ‘broke the law’ because he did not consult Congress about the release of inmates of Guantanamo Bay, as he is obliged to do so under the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz, Texas, also said: ‘Now we make deals with terrorists. And the question going forward is, have we just put a price on other US soldiers?
‘What does this tell terrorists, that if you capture a US soldier, you can trade that soldier for five terrorists we’ve gone after?’