Obama’s illegal Afghanistan prisoner exchange
The first thing to know about President Obama’s exchange of five extremely dangerous prisoners from Guantanamo Bay for captive Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is also the least important fact in the lawless reign of Barack Obama: it was blatantly illegal. So blatant, in fact, that even the Obama White House cheerfully admits it was a violation of the law, without even bothering to offer a little spin or legal static. From the Washington Post:
Lawmakers were not notified of the Guantanamo detainees’ transfer until after it occurred.
The law requires the defense secretary to notify relevant congressional committees at least 30 days before making any transfers of prisoners, to explain the reason and to provide assurances that those released would not be in a position to reengage in activities that could threaten the United States or its interests.
Before the current law was enacted at the end of last year, the conditions were even more stringent. However, the administration and some Democrats had pressed for them to be loosened, in part to give them more flexibility to negotiate for Bergdahl’s release.
A senior administration official, agreeing to speak on the condition of anonymity to explain the timing of the congressional notification, acknowledged that the law was not followed. When he signed the law last year, Obama issued a signing statement contending that the notification requirement was an unconstitutional infringement on his powers as commander in chief and that he therefore could override it.
“Due to a near-term opportunity to save Sergeant Bergdahl’s life, we moved as quickly as possible,” the official said. “The administration determined that given these unique and exigent circumstances, such a transfer should go forward notwithstanding the notice requirement.”
This is, of course, absolute and total nonsense. Absolutely nothing about this deal’s timing prevented the White House from obeying the law. Negotiations have been in progress since 2012. The White House simply chose to ignore the law, because King Barack I does not “obey” laws – obedience is for the Little People. Following this particular law would have allowed Republicans to ask tough questions about the deal, and we couldn’t have that. King Barack will occasionally talk about how much he loves and respects the law, but when push comes to shove, he does what he wants, and dares what remains of the dying American constitutional order to stop him.
He knows nobody is going to stop him – he won’t be impeached for ignoring the legal requirements detailed above, and won’t even be criticized in particularly strong terms for his lawbreaking. Obama’s setting a media bear trap for Republicans, knowing full well that his good friends in the media cannot wait to write the umpteenth version of their favorite narrative of the past six years, Republican Overreach. We’ll be told that the only possible reactions to this story are uncritical applause for everything the Administration did to secure Bergdahl’s release… or wishing that he’d been left in Afghanistan to rot. Either you give President Obama a standing ovation, or you hate the troops.
Obama’s legion of Pajama Boys are dying to rush into Mom’s basement, fire up their blogging software, and excoriate Republicans as treasonous hypocrites for daring to push back on a deal that brought an American soldier home. If said Republicans actually proposed to do something about it, every story currently killing Democrats in the polls would be swept from the front pages at a stroke. “REPUBLICANS SEEK TO IMPEACH PRESIDENT FOR DEAL THAT BROUGHT AMERICAN SOLDIER HOME AFTER FIVE YEARS IN CAPTIVITY.”
A White House official gave the New York Post a taste of how badly they want to see that headline, responding to questions about the strange circumstances of Sgt. Bergdahl’s capture by snarling, “Frankly, we don’t give a s**t why he left [his post]. He’s an American soldier. We want to bring him home.” They’re salivating at the thought of their political opponents giving this incompetent, self-absorbed Administration a chance to act like it’s packed with two-fisted super-patriots.
But there are indeed questions to be asked about Sgt. Bergdahl’s capture, as the New York Post explains:
The search for Bergdahl began soon after he went missing on June 30, 2009, in the same rugged wilds of southeastern Afghanistan where NFL player-turned-Army Ranger Pat Tillman was killed.
Bergdahl’s mysterious disappearance from the small military outpost there and the subsequent revelation that he was in enemy hands prompted questions that still linger.
Soon after the capture, Taliban commander Mulvi Sangeen claimed a drunken Bergdahl was snatched while he stumbled to his car in the Yousaf Khel district of Paktika.
The US military called that a lie, and in one of the videos taken during his captivity, Bergdahl himself said he was captured while lagging behind a patrol.
But in the weeks before his capture, Bergdahl had made murky statements that suggested he was gravitating away from the soldiers in his unit and toward desertion, a member of his platoon told Rolling Stone.
“He spent more time with the Afghans than he did with his platoon,” former Spc. Jason Fry told the magazine in 2012.
Actually, it’s tough to find anyone with knowledge of this case who seriously believes Bergdahl was grabbed after he lagged behind on a combat patrol. Many of the soldiers who served with him describe him as a deserter, express anger about the media treatment Bergdahl’s release is receiving, and hold him responsible for at least six American troops killed while searching for him. There was some interesting correspondence between Sgt. Bergdahl and his family right before he disappeared:
Bowe Bergdahl would detail his disillusionment with the Afghanistan campaign in an e-mail to his parents three days before he went missing.
“I am sorry for everything here,” he wrote. “These people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid.”
Bergdahl also complained about fellow soldiers. The battalion commander was a “conceited old fool,” he said, and the only “decent” sergeants, planning to leave the platoon “as soon as they can,” told the privates — Bergdahl then among them — “to do the same.”
“I am ashamed to be an American. And the title of US soldier is just the lie of fools,” he concluded. “I am sorry for everything. The horror that is America is disgusting.”
Bob Bergdahl responded in an e-mail: “OBEY YOUR CONSCIENCE!”
Robert Bergdahl posted a message on Twitter last Wednesday, which he subsequently deleted, that said: “I am still working to free all Guantanamo prisoners. God will repay for the death of every Afghan child, ameen!” The last word, “ameen,” is essentially the Muslim version of “Amen.” Not exactly what you want to hear coming from a man who goes on to appear next to the President of the United States in a Rose Garden ceremony.
The United States does indeed do business with terrorists now, a fact that is likely to result in plenty more kidnappings and hostage-takings, especially given the lopsided nature of the deal President Obama illegally struck. One can readily imagine terrorists across the world capering through little victory dances at the news a defeated America was willing to hand over five high-ranking “battle-hardened Taliban commanders,” as the Washington Post describes them, to get back one somewhat dubious prisoner:
One of the freed men was the head of the Taliban’s army. Another arranged for al-Qaeda trainers to visit Afghanistan. Another has been implicated by the United Nations for killing thousands of Shiite Muslims.
Although the five men have each been in prison for at least a decade, many believe they still have significant influence within the Taliban because of their contributions during the group’s formative years. The last time a high-level Taliban official was released from Guantanamo, in 2007, the detainee, Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir, returned to Afghanistan and took the reins as the organization’s director of military operations.
Like Zakir, the five detainees released Saturday and handed to the Qatari government had formal government jobs when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001. They will remain in Qatar for a year. Beyond that, it remains unclear whether they will be able to move to Pakistan or Afghanistan.
Would anyone like to take bets on how long these scumbags actually remain in Qatar? The faster they “mysteriously” reappear back in Afghanistan, the more complete the humiliation of Barack Obama will be. As the Post notes, these characters aren’t just battlefield commanders – they’re also significant figures in the Taliban governing structure, and will doubtless resume places of prominence when the Taliban retakes control of Afghanistan in a year or two. One of them was a co-founder of the Taliban movement, and served as their interior minister; two of them were involved in the prison riot that killed CIA operative Johnny Spann in 2001; another was the Taliban’s deputy chief of intelligence; and then there’s Mohammed Nabi Omari, a terrorist with a very extensive portfolio, who we’ll get back to in a moment. Recovering these power players from the penalty box is a huge Taliban victory.
Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, seems to get that, and is reportedly furious that the White House kept him in the dark on their little deal with the people who already have a nice location picked out for his unmarked grave. “[President Karzai] is now even more distrustful of U.S. intentions in the country,” a source in his palace told Reuters. “He is asking: How come the prisoner exchange worked out so well, when the Afghan peace process failed to make any significant progress?”
Karzai also made the interesting point that Obama’s third-party trade violated international law by bypassing the legitimate government of Afghanistan. His palace official said the boss wonders what other deals Obama might be negotiating behind his back. Just wait until one of the jokers (and I mean that in the Batman sense) Obama just released magically turns up in the Afghan theater and masterminds some bloody atrocity.
While it is almost universal for the media to describe this deal as a prisoner swap with the Taliban, the Washington Post article on the five released detainees very gingerly brushes past an important fact, about fifteen paragraphs in: Sgt. Bergdahl was not a prisoner of the Taliban. He was captured and held by the Haqqani terrorist network, a detail the Obama media seems oblivious to, since the White House hasn’t programmed them to discuss it via talking-points memo. It fell to bestselling techno-thriller author Brad Thor to handle that job for the “mainstream press,” in a must-read article at The Blaze:
It is important to note that the Haqqanis are not the same thing as the Afghan Taliban. The two are different groups. They each have their own distinct and separate leadership council, or “Shura” that they report to. The Haqqanis are heavily tied to both Al Qaeda (providing them safe passage and support) and the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence agency, also known as the ISI. The Haqqanis are a heavily criminal enterprise sowing and feeding off of the chaos in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region. Envision Al Qaeda crossed with the Sopranos and you begin to get the picture of what these thugs are like.
“Contrary to press reports, the Afghan Taliban – aka the Quetta Shura – never had their hands on Sgt. Bergdahl,” writes Thor. “He was always under the control of the Haqqani network.”
Which makes the content of this prisoner swap even more suspicious, because only one of the five released detainees, Mohammed Nabi Omari, had strong ties to the Haqqani network (and also to al-Qaeda.) Thor wonders if the White House is breaking the law not only to grab a front-page “Obama saves captive American all by himself” media coup, but to conceal other aspects of the deal, such as a cash payment to the money-obsessed Haqqanis that would enrage the American people:
If the Obama Administration did pay a ransom to the Haqqanis – through the Quetta Shura, the Pakistani ISI, or via a wealthy Middle Eastern Haqqani supporter acting as a middleman – the United States would have knowingly funded a terrorist organization. The United States would need a big fig leaf to hide that funding from the public and the Afghan Taliban/Quetta Shura would have gladly played along. They would have also made the United States pay through the nose for that cooperation. Judging by the list of terrorists the U.S. was forced to release, that’s one possible interpretation of what happened.
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s release raises many more questions than it answers. But will anyone in the mainstream media ask those questions? Will any of them discuss the recidivism rate of Gitmo detainees who, once released back into the wild, return to terrorism? How about the lives and limbs lost in the effort to capture those Gitmo detainees in the first place? What about the possibility that the Obama Administration may have directly funded a terrorist organization responsible for slaughtering American military personnel and countless innocent civilians?
Only time will tell. For now, one thing is clear – it is open season on American civilians and American military personnel around-the-world.
Where President Obama failed to close Gitmo, America’s enemies may just do it for him. All they need to do is kidnap enough Americans, and they’ll have the place cleaned out in no time.
The thing is, Gitmo will be closing soon enough, at least with respect to prisoners of the war in Afghanistan. President Obama made a fetish of subordinating American interests to international law in his speech to West Point cadets last week – he thinks “American exceptionalism” is defined by America’s exceptional willingness to respect and obey trans-national institutions – so the formal end of American involvement in the Afghan theater will bring the end of our legal authority to hold these incredibly dangerous prisoners.
All of Obama’s bluster to his easily-duped followers about his personal burning desire to close Gitmo is just hot air; the truth is that his intelligence advisors informed this inexperienced ideologue of a President early on that the characters incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay needed to stay there, for as long as possible. Possibilities to keep them are running out, so the White House decided to engineer a deal that would trade monsters it would have to release anyway for a quick jolt of poll-goosing favorable media coverage… a plan made when Team Obama didn’t even know it would soon be wallowing in the abysmal VA scandal.
The timing worked out great for them with respect to the VA story (which Obama’s political team will instruct the media to treat as an “old story” now, following the resignation of Secretary Eric Shinseki) but really they’ve always understood the importance of feeding favorable material into the constantly grinding news cycle, which is supervised by Big Media engineers who are always looking for a way to change the subject from stories damaging to the Obama White House. Heck, the media was willing to change the subject away from the VA story to swoon over the resignation of a mere White House spokesman, Jay Carney, on Friday. (Obama hugged him! SQUEE!)
If the questions swirling around the Bergdahl swap make it turn a bit sour, something else will be deployed to change the subject away from that. If the “Republicans overreach by criticizing Bergdahl rescue” narrative is a flop, “reporters” should stand by for possible new incoming White House talking points by Wednesday.
Update: Right on cue, the Taliban’s leader, Mullah Omar (remember him?) popped up to declare the Bergdahl ransom a “big victory” for his side, offering his “heartfelt congratulations to the entire Afghan Muslim nation.”