Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Russia vs US Statesmanship..... June 4 , 2014 -- Consider how Putin handles a presser ( not just Ukraine but a wide range of topics ) and then just look at the self goal clusterfark the WH created with Bergdahl and how that's been handled ......Then just pray to the God of your choosing for the US .......

How to handle a press conference - Putin's approach ...

Vladimir Putin faced a barrage of tricky questions in France from the media ahead of his meeting with world leaders at the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings. Here are his best replies on key issues: Ukraine, Crimea and relations with the US.

On Ukraine, its sovereignty and Russian troops:

The ongoing crisis in Ukraine has been occupying the center of international attention since the end of last year. While the coup-appointed government in Kiev is carrying out a military crackdown on the southeast of the country, the US said that Russian troops are allegedly involved in the crisis and they have proof of that.
What about proof? Why don’t they show it?” Putin told French media.
“The entire world remembers the US Secretary of State demonstrating the evidence of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, waving around some test tube with washing powder in the UN Security Council. Eventually, the US troops invaded Iraq, Saddam Hussein was hanged and later it turned out there had never been any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. You know – it’s one thing to say things and another to actually have evidence.
“After the anti-constitutional coup in Kiev in February, the first thing the new authorities tried to do was to deprive the ethnic minorities of the right to use their native language. This caused great concern among the people living in eastern Ukraine.”
“I wouldn’t call them either pro-Russian or pro-Ukrainian. They are people who have certain rights, political, humanitarian rights, and they must have a chance to exercise those rights.”

“When [the coup] happened some people accepted this regime and were happy about it while other people, say, in eastern and southern Ukraine just won’t accept it."

On Crimea, its referendum and historical ties to Russia:

After Crimea voted in its March referendum to join Russia, the West voiced concerns that the people in the region voted at gunpoint.
Russian troops were in Crimea under the international treaty on the deployment of the Russian military base. It’s true that Russian troops helped Crimeans hold a referendum 1) on their independence and 2) on their desire to join the Russian Federation. No one can prevent these people from exercising a right that is stipulated in Article 1 of the UN Charter, the right of nations to self-determination.
“We conducted an exclusively diplomatic and peaceful dialogue – I want to stress this – with our partners in Europe and the United States. In response to our attempts to hold such a dialogue and to negotiate an acceptable solution, they supported the anti-constitutional state coup in Ukraine, and following that we could not be sure that Ukraine would not become part of the North Atlantic military bloc. In that situation, we could not allow a historical part of the Russian territory with a predominantly ethnic Russian population to be incorporated into an international military alliance, especially because Crimeans wanted to be part of Russia.
One journalist asked the president whether he wants to recreate the old borders of the Soviet Union.
We want to use modern policies to improve our competitive advantage, including economic integration. This is what we are doing in the post-Soviet space within the Customs Union and now also within the Eurasian Union.

On US relations and its aggressive foreign policies:

“Speaking of US policy, it’s clear that the United States is pursuing the most aggressive and toughest policy to defend its own interests – at least, this is how the American leaders see it – and they do it persistently."
“There are basically no Russian troops abroad while US troops are everywhere. There are US military bases everywhere around the world and they are always involved in the fates of other countries, even though they are thousands of kilometers away from US borders.”
“So it is ironic that our US partners accuse us of breaching some of these rules,” Putin said, apparently referring to Hillary’s Clinton’s statement on Russia’s foreign policy in Eastern Europe, comparing it with Hitler’s in the 1930s.
“When people push boundaries too far, it’s not because they are strong but because they are weak. But maybe weakness is not the worst quality for a woman.”

On Russia, defense, sovereignty, and opposition parties:

Amid the tensions concerning the latest $1.6 billion military deal that France will supply Russia with two Mistral helicopter carriers, Putin said he hopes the two countries will continue to develop their ties.

“Overall, our relations in this area are developing well, and we would like to continue strengthening them – in aviation, shipbuilding, and other sectors.”
“A policy of expansionism and conquest has no future in the modern world. We’re confident that Russia can and should be a partner with its traditional allies, in the broad sense, now and also in the future.”“Any country that becomes a member of a military alliance gives away some of its sovereignty to a supranational body. For Russia, this would be unacceptable. As for other countries, it has nothing to do with us. They have to decide such matters for themselves."
"And there’s another example: Fran├žois Mitterrand, who spoke of European confederation, with Russia as its member. I think this opportunity still exists and we will have it in the future.”
Speaking about internal policies Putin said that Russia is a common democratic state and its “current regime is not connected to any particular person”

“The overwhelming majority of Russian citizens tend to rely on their traditions, their history and, if I may say so, their traditional values. I see this as the foundation and a factor of stability in the Russian state, but none of this is associated with the President as an individual. Moreover, it should be remembered that we only started introducing standard democratic institutions recently. They are still in the process of evolving.”

“Some of our opponents say there are unacceptable restrictions. What kind of restrictions do we have? For example, we have banned the promotion of suicide, drugs and pedophilia. These are our restrictions. What’s wrong with that?”

“In the United States, since we talked about it, homosexuality is illegal in some states. We impose no criminal liability whatsoever. We banned only promoting homosexuality among minors. It is our right to protect our children and we will do it.”

And let's see how it's done in the US ...

It’s come to this: White House aides now accusing Bergdahl’s squad of “swift-boating” him


Via the Weekly Standard. “Swift-boating,” as you may recall, is when critics tell the truth about someone’s military service when the truth is unhelpful to Democrats. Consider this the beginning of phase three of the Bergdahl fallout. Phase one was when soldiers from Bergdahl’s unit caught the White House off-guard by publicly accusing him of desertion. Team O probably thought the combination of nondisclosure agreements that they were forced to sign and the prospect of retaliation if they made life hard for the Pentagon would keep them quiet. That was the key misjudgment from which everything else over the past three days has flowed.
Phase two was the White House desperately searching for someone, anyone, from Bergdahl’s unit who’d stand up in front of the media and vouch for his character. That’s happening entirely out of public view, but rest assured, it’s happening. The fact that they’ve come up with nothing so far speaks volumes about how uniform opinion is within Bergdahl’s old squad about him and his motives. If Team O could produce just one witness willing to face the cameras and argue that Bergdahl was a good soldier who was probably taken against his will, it’d plant enough doubt in casual observers’ minds that this whole thing might be reduced to a he said/she said matter for many — even though there are at least six veterans already who’ve come forward to support the desertion theory. But they can’t find anyone to do it. It’s been a complete barrage of anti-Bergdahl witnesses on cable news since Monday morning. The State Department is so bereft of third-party support that they were forced last night to tell reporters to trust Bergdahl himself over his squad mates, as if a repatriated deserter wouldn’t have an incentive to lie about why he went missing upon his return.
So now, phase three: Start discrediting the soldiers who’ve accused him. It’ll have to be done subtly and tactfully. If they go dumpster-diving on these guys for things like substance-abuse problems or financial trouble, the nastiness of it might backfire on the White House and make their Bergdahl problem even worse. Babbling about “swift-boating” is a good way to get the ball rolling, at least among liberals who are grasping for ways to defend Obama and have come up empty thus far. “Swift-boating” implies that the vets who’ve accused Bergdahl have some political motivation in doing so; it’s of a piece with that BuzzFeed story yesterday hyperventilating about Republican Ric Grenell helping Bergdahl’s comrades get in touch with media outlets. The point is to suggest that this is some sort of dirty trick, maybe even invented whole cloth by nefarious conservatives to wound the president, rather than a bunch of guys who’ve spent five years boiling inside because their friends got killed on patrol searching for Bergdahl finally choosing to come clean. To protect a guy who allegedly served dishonorably, the White House and the left now have no choice but to go after the honorable ones.

Any predictions on what the next bit of oppo is, or who the target will be? I think Evan Buetow’s interview with Tapper yesterday was the most damaging to the White House so far. Hope you don’t have any unpaid parking tickets, buddy.

Obama: The US never leaves a man behind


Barack Obama may be in Warsaw as part of a European tour, but in a real sense he’s stuck in Washington. At a joint press conference after a state meeting in Poland, Obama got questioned about the deal that exchanged Bowe Bergdahl for five high-ranking Taliban detainees, including two wanted by the UN for crimes against humanity. Obama mainly avoided discussing the detainees, although he insisted that he was “confident” that the US could prevent them from being a threat to American security in the future.
Instead, Obama defended the action by focusing on Bergdahl, perhaps learning a lesson from Susan Rice’s jaw-dropping appearance on Sunday. Regardless of the quality of Bergdahl’s service, Obama argued, the US does not leave men and women behind. “We do not condition that” pledge to their families, and said Bergdahl’s case would be evaluated at the appropriate time:
As President Barack Obama starts his third overseas trip in less than three months, he finds himself once again peppered with questions about his foreign policy, even as he attempts to cement his own legacy on the world stage.
Obama landed Tuesday in Poland, his first stop, on a mission to reassure nervous allies in Eastern Europe after Russia’s incursion into Ukraine.
His three-nation journey comes as Republicans have unleashed a new line of attack questioning his judgment in exchanging five Taliban prisoners held at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for the return of a former prisoner of war, Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
At a news conference in Warsaw, Obama defended the decision.
“We don’t leave men and women in uniform behind,” the President said.
Obama added, “We don’t condition that.” That’s the argument to which the White House should have stuck all along. It’s true, and it’s compelling — although it doesn’t exactly address the other side of that question, which is why it took all five of the Taliban’s wish-list detainees to make the trade. Nor does it really address how badly this hurts American security, considering that two years ago these same men were considered unreleasable by the Obama administration because of their danger to the US and others.
Obama tried defending his snub of Congress with much less success:
His administration had previously consulted with Congress on the possibility of a prisoner exchange for Bergdahl, Obama said, but had to move quickly because of concerns over Bergdahl’s health and to not miss a window of opportunity.
Really? Obama was in the Rose Garden on Saturday announcing this deal, but Congress didn’t get their official notification until yesterday. As I ask in my column for The Week, if Obama and the White House didn’t have time to inform Congress, how exactly did they find the time to get Bergdahl’s parents to Washington DC from Idaho on Saturday to participate in the Rose Garden speech?
Even by Monday, the White House had not bothered to notify the chair of the House Armed Services Committee of the release of the five Taliban figures and the security arrangements to keep them from rejoining the fight in Afghanistan, despite a pledge made last year that Congress would be consulted on any release. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel argued that “exigent circumstances” prevented the White House from notifying Congress — but those same circumstances somehow didn’t keep Obama from getting the Bergdahls into the Rose Garden from Idaho.
The White House’s nonchalance about the five Taliban detainees also had people scratching their heads. Press Secretary Jay Carney tried arguing that they presented no threat to the U.S., but two of them have been charged with mass murder by the United Nations, and the Taliban celebrated their release as a “big victory” over the U.S. One detainee, Khairullah Khairkwa, was a confidante of Osama bin Laden, while Abdul Haq Wasiq served as deputy intelligence minister to the Taliban.
The deceptions didn’t stop there, either:
Susan Rice, who infamously fronted the false narrative on the Benghazi attack, appeared on ABC’s This Week and arguably did it again. When George Stephanopoulos pressed her on the lopsided trade in the context of his apparent desertion, Rice instead insisted that Berghdahl had “served the United States with honor and distinction.”
That came as news to the men who served with Bergdahl and had attempted to find him after he walked away from the base. Multiple members of his unitwent public after the announcement, despite the non-disclosure agreements, to denounce Bergdahl as a deserter. One set of parents who had been told that their son died while attempting to capture a high-ranking Taliban commander instead discovered that he had been killed trying to find Bergdahl.
Even worse, James Rosen at Fox News reported that Bergdahl’s disappearance became the subject of an investigation by U.S. intelligence, which produced a “major classified file” on the questions of desertion — or perhaps even collaboration.
It’s difficult to credit Obama for any argument when he and his team at the White House keep destroying their own credibility. They seem intent on undermining themselves even when the truth would work better for them.

Bergdahl Uproar Has WH in Damage Control Mode

By Alexis Simendinger - June 4, 2014
What could be more uplifting? Amid a national uproar over veterans’ health care, President Obama would surprise Americans and the steadfast parents of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl by celebrating a soldier’s negotiated rescue from the Taliban’s clutches after five long years.
As the Afghanistan War lumbered to what Obama vowed last week would be a “responsible” end, the last American POW from that conflict would come home.
That was the script, but the rest of the story sent the White House scrambling into its third day of damage control Tuesday. Obama found himself spending part of his day defending his decisions even though he was traveling in Poland. Back home, the president’s chief of staff, Denis McDonough, and deputy national security adviser, Tony Blinken, went to Capitol Hill seeking to quiet accusations that the president ignored statutory instructions to alert Congress in advance about such prisoner swaps. Lawmakers urged investigatory hearings.
Behind the scenes, White House staff members hastened to marshal support from advocacy groups and military representatives, including a statement from Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and another from Secretary of the Army John McHugh. The president’s communications team unearthed earlier, contrasting statements from some GOP lawmakers as a way to use partisan politics as an explanation for the blowback.
The price of retrieving Bergdahl via U.S. Army Special Forces was one-for-five, meaning the administration agreed to trade five terror suspects selected by the Taliban from the prison at Guantanamo Bay in exchange for the adventure-loving Army volunteer from a small town in Idaho.
It was not without risks, known risks.
In fact, the commander-in-chief, who vowed in 2008 to close Gitmo, knew that in 2011 and 2012, when talks with the Taliban wobbled before breaking off, that some lawmakers objected to the administration’s efforts, arguing against negotiations with Taliban extremists, and warning that Gitmo prisoners, if released, would work anew to kill Americans and U.S. allies.
At the White House, where the president shared his lectern Saturday with Bergdahl’s parents (who happened to be in Washington on a previously planned trip and did not know until hours before that their son was safe), Obama was familiar with Bob and Jani’s go-anywhere/stop-at-nothing efforts to secure their son’s release, officials acknowledged.
Bob Bergdahl, among many of his other public efforts on behalf of his son, supported a citizen petition that attracted 9,239 signatures calling for the U.S. rescue of Bowe. It had been sent to the White House.
But by Tuesday nearly 13,000 irate citizens had signed another petition posted to the White House website calling for the administration to “punish Bowe Bergdahl for being AWOL/desertion during Operation Enduring Freedom.”
Obama was familiar, too, with the Defense Department’s examination of reports dating to the time of Bergdahl’s capture that he had deserted his unit or was AWOL shortly before he was taken prisoner, setting off a search and rescue mission that resulted in the deaths of six fellow soldiers.
The president also privately knew for almost a week that a prisoner swap with the Taliban was tantalizingly close to being concluded, administration officials said. Obama and his team opted not to alert lawmakers, or President Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan, because they feared leaks would scuttle talks that relied on the government of Qatar as the middleman. And if that happened, they worried that the release would slip away, perhaps for good.
During a week in which Obama hailed an end to U.S. combat in Afghanistan, defended the contours of his foreign policies during a West Point commencement address, and accepted the resignation of his Veterans Affairs secretary, four-star Gen. Eric Shinseki, the president imagined that the rescue of an American POW would be cheered, rather than condemned, especially by active-duty military and veterans.
But the trade-offs, motives, and peculiar White House communications invited scrutiny of Sgt. Bergdahl’s service record, of the politics of his bearded father, of the adage that Americans “leave no soldier behind,” and the conventional wisdom that the United States refuses to negotiate with terrorists because doing so encourages future seizures of personnel.
Dempsey and other administration officials conceded that a full examination of Bergdahl’s service record in Afghanistan and his capture are pending, and could result in potential punitive action by the Defense Department. That possibility, they argued, is entirely separate from the merits of securing his release and return to the United States. Bergdahl, 28, is expected to recover for an unspecified period of time at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.
Meanwhile, lawmakers lost no time in questioning the administration’s actions, arguing that by law their assent was required before detainees are transferred from the Guantanamo detainee facility in Cuba. White House aides apologized Tuesday for the tardy notifications on Capitol Hill, explaining to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, that offering Congress a 30-day advance notification had been impossible.
The president’s team believes notification requirements in law do not constitutionally bind Obama’s decisions as commander-in-chief, and do not require the president to obtain Congress’s express approval.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Blinken, joined by other members of the national security team, explained the “unique circumstance” of Bergdahl’s release to lawmakers.
An NSC official would not comment directly to describe Blinken’s conversations, but told RCP that following Bergdahl’s release Saturday, officials from the White House, State and Defense departments, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence were in “close touch” with members of Congress and their staffs, and would continue those discussions.
Appearing on MSNBC Tuesday while standing on the White House lawn, Blinken said the administration remained confident that Qatar would keep “a tight check on the activities and the movements” of the five Afghan prisoners who were flown there from Cuba. “We have the assurances we need from the government of Qatar,” he said, deflecting a question about Qatar’s record of supporting terror groups such as Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. “We’ll be watching very carefully,” he added.
That won’t be enough for Republican lawmakers, who want hearings on the matter, backed by House Speaker John Boehner. In a statement, the speaker said the administration consulted him and key congressional chairmen in late 2011 and January 2012 about the possibility of a prisoner exchange. But reactions were negative, and lawmakers expected the administration to consult them anew, should an opening present itself again to retrieve the Army sergeant, Boehner said.
The speaker said the White House opted not to consult lawmakers in recent days because “the administration knew it faced serious and sober bipartisan concern and opposition.”
At the prospect of new GOP-chaired hearings and a military decision about Bergdahl’s service performance in Afghanistan at a later date, administration officials patiently defended Obama’s intentions -- despite their weariness after a seemingly endless spring of rolling domestic messes. But they also invented scorched-earth, straw-man arguments in which they maintained that administration critics would have preferred that Bergdahl “rot” in a Taliban prison. Privately, they vented that saving a soldier who might not be a saint, in exchange for five prisoners perceived as evil since 9/11, was more of a public relations challenge than they’d bargained for.
“I wouldn't be doing it if I thought that it was contrary to American national security,” the president told reporters Tuesday. His comments came during a news conference in Warsaw at the start of a week in which he’ll mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion at Normandy, where 9,387 Americans remain buried.
“We saw an opportunity. We were concerned about Sergeant Bergdahl's health,” he added. “We had the cooperation of the Qataris to execute an exchange and we seized that opportunity. And the process was truncated because we wanted to make sure that we did not miss that window.”
No matter how Bergdahl served his country in Afghanistan, volunteering to wear the U.S. uniform means his country could not forsake him, administration officials said. “Regardless of the circumstances, whatever those circumstances may turn out to be, we still get an American soldier back if he's held in captivity,” Obama said. “Period. Full stop.”

Taliban add coup de grace......

Taliban Release Video Of Bergdahl Exchange

Tyler Durden's picture

Whether or not Obama made a huge political gaffe by secretly arranging the Qatar-mediated exchange of Bowe Bergdahl, who some 16,000 Americanshave petitioned should be court-martialed for walking away from his post in 2009, for 5 Taliban leaders remains to be seen. To be sure republicans have jumped on the blunder and especially the hawks within the GOP are now "tag-teaming" the issues of Benghazi and Bergdahl with the intent of painting will Obama "as an appeaser, and a negotiator-with-terrorists" as The Nation reports. In any case, if Obama was hoping to use the Bergdahl exchange as a marker of successful foreign policy, he is suddenly caught flat-footed.
What won't help the president's case of promptly sweeping this latest scandal under the rug, is a clip such as this one, released earlier today by the Taliban showing the handover of the prisoner of war to US forces.
The video, as the WSJ reports, shows Sgt. Bergdahl with a shaved head and no eyebrows. He is wearing Afghan clothing, looking gaunt and dazed, rapidly blinking his eyes. In the footage, Sgt. Bergdahl sits in a white Taliban pickup truck in an open field, as a U.S. Black Hawk helicopter prepares to land.
In the video, an Afghan insurgent, his face hidden by a scarf, tells Sgt. Bergdahl menacingly in Pashto moments before the release: "Don't come back to Afghanistan. Next time we catch you, you won't leave here alive." Armed insurgents surrounding the pickup truck laugh as Sgt. Bergdahl bows his head, looking confused and scared.
"Long live the holy warriors of Afghanistan! Long live the great holy warrior and the leader of the believers, Mullah Mohammad Omar !" the insurgents chant, referring to the Taliban leader who has eluded U.S. capture since 2001.
The video released earlier today is shown below:

As the WSJ adds, the footage of Taliban leaders arriving in Qatar is in stark contrast to the images of Sgt. Bergdahl's release. In Qatar, the former Guantanamo detainees are seen in crisp, clean clothing, embracing Taliban officials on the side of a road and driving in a convoy of new SUVs, including a Porsche. Sgt. Bergdahl, in contrast, appears guarded and scared, his thin frame surrounded by heavily armed insurgents.
The released former Guantanamo detainees include the pre-2001 Taliban regime's deputy minister of intelligence, Mohammed Fazl, and deputy minister of defense, Abdul Haq Wasiq.

Who precisely did Afghanistan get in exchange for Bergdahl? The following 5 individuals: