The prisoner swap Barack Obama just arranged may be the stupidest decision to come out of the White House in the past six years.
But it’s even worse than that. It’s put every member of our armed forces at even greater risk. And by emboldening the terrorists who believe they are waging a holy war against us, it’s increased the danger that every citizen of this country could become the victim of a hijacking, a hostage-taking or another form of terrorist attack.
Brad Thor, a best-selling author with deep ties in military and intelligence circles, didn’t mince words when he described the effects of Obama’s actions. “The President has just put a target on the back of all Americans,” he warned in an appearance on Greta van Susteren’s FOX News show. Thor said that our diplomats and American civilians traveling abroad are now in even greater danger of being taken hostage than our military. “Every American should be terrified by that,” he said.
Needless to say, the Taliban view what has happened as a “great victory.” Taliban leader Mullah Omar declared, “We shall thank almighty for this great victory. The sacrifice of our Mujahedin have resulted in the release of our senior leaders from the hand of the enemy.”
In the face of a growing backlash against the prisoner exchange, guess what the Administration did? It sent Susan Rice, of Benghazi talking points fame, back on the Sunday morning talk shows. And once again, the lady told a whopper. Appearing on ABC News’ “This Week,” Rice said, “Sgt. Bergdahl wasn’t simply a hostage, he was an American prisoner of war, captured on the battlefield.”
Turns out that this is nowhere near the truth. Bergdahl wasn’t captured on the battlefield, he walked away from his post. Several of the men who were stationed with him say he was a deserter. The New York Times reports that he “left behind a note in his tent saying he had become disillusioned with the Army, did not support the American mission in Afghanistan and was leaving to start a new life.”
Doesn’t sound much like an American hero, does he? But wait, it gets worse. Prior to leaving his post, Bergdahl sent an email to his parents in which he said, “I am ashamed to be an American. And the title of US soldier is just the lie of fools. … The horror that is America is disgusting.”
Wow! Sure doesn’t sound like someone you’d want to risk your life rescuing, does it? But it turns out, that is exactly what our troops in the area were ordered to do. After Bergdahl walked away from his post in June 2009, the Army mounted several operations to try to find him. At least six soldiers were killed during those efforts.
Sgt. Matt Vierkant, one of the soldiers who served in Bergdahl’s platoon, was interviewed by CNN. His disgust and anger were obvious: “I was pissed off then and I am even more so now with everything going on,” he said. And he added, “Bowe Bergdahl deserted during a time of war and his fellow Americans lost their lives searching for him.” Vierkant says that he wants to see Bergdahl face a military trial for desertion under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Army 2nd Lt. Darryn Andrews was one of the soldiers killed while hunting for Bergdahl. He was shot to death in an ambush while on patrol in an area near where Bergdahl vanished. When she learned of the exchange that gained Bergdahl’s release, Andrews’ mother told Army Times:
“It gets really hurtful when I think, this guy was worth my son’s life? My son who was patriotic? Who was a true soldier? Who defended his country with his life? That guy was worth that? I don’t think so.”
Hard to disagree with her, isn’t it?
Bergdahl was a private first class when he disappeared five years ago. Since then, he was promoted to the rank of staff sergeant, because that is what would have happened had he remained on duty, re-enlisted and continued to serve honorably — three assumptions that now seem to be very questionable. Nevertheless, that is why he is referred to now as Sgt. Bergdahl, not Pfc. Bergdahl.
Faced with questions about Bergdahl’s actions, Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that Bergdahl will be disciplined if the Army finds any evidence of misconduct. “Our Army’s leaders will not look away from misconduct if it occurred,” Dempsey promised. But he added that Bergdahl must be regarded as innocent until he is proven guilty. And that in any case, the military will continue to care for him and his family, as of course it should.
Make no mistake about it, the five prisoners that Obama released are all serious bad guys. Two years ago, James Clapper, who was the Director of National Intelligence at the time, described all five terrorists as “too dangerous to release.” But things are apparently different now.
The United States has had a long-standing policy, respected by both Republican and Democrat Administrations, of never negotiating with terrorists. Obama has tossed that one on the scrap pile.
The President has said for years that he wants to close the U.S. Navy facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and transfer the terrorists who are being held there to prisons in this country. Back in 2009, the Senate voted 90-6 in opposition to the Obama plan.
Last year, Congress passed a law demanding that the White House notify Congress 30 days in advance of any plans to transfer any of the jihadists being held at Guantanamo. Obama signed the measure, but at the same time he issued a signing statement saying that that part of the law was probably unConstitutional and that he didn’t feel obligated to obey it.
This was a 180-degree switch from what candidate Obama said when he was first running for the Presidency. Back in 2007, he was quick to denounce his predecessor, George W. Bush, for issuing such disclaimers. And he promised, “We’re not going to use signing statements as a way of doing an end run around Congress.”
But as I said, that was then and this is now. Now, Obama needed to do something to get the Veterans Affairs scandal out of the headlines and off the front page. What better way to do it than to bring home an American prisoner of war?
A year ago, White House press secretary Jay Carney was asked about rumors of a possible prisoner swap using Guantanamo detainees. Here’s what he said on June 21, 2013: “As we have long said, however, we would not make any decisions about transfer of any detainees without consulting with Congress and without doing so in accordance with U.S. law.”
Guess what? Turns out that was another White House whopper.
In a classic example of too little, too late, the White House decided to call some key lawmakers this past Monday — two days after announcing the prisoner exchange — to apologize for the “oversight” in not notifying them sooner. Time will tell if this is enough to appease Senators Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), their parties’ leaders on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
By his actions, Obama has emboldened our enemies, discouraged our service members and increased the danger to every American citizen. Thor said he has put a target on the back of every one of us.
In saner times, this would be enough to start rumblings about impeachment. But, of course, we aren’t living in sane times. The Federal government has become one vast insane asylum — with the most dangerous inmates running the show.
Let’s hope there are still enough patriots left who want to make some big changes in this sorry situation. We’ll have a chance to do so this November.
Until next time, keep some powder dry.