You knew this was going to happen. You just didn’t know which “low-level rogue” member of the Administration would be the first to drop heavy rhetorical ordnance on the troops who served with Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. It turns out to be Brandon Friedman, deputy assistant secretary of public affairs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, who is a military veteran himself. You can bet everyone in this Administration with a military resume is being quietly felt out by Obama’s political team to see how far they might be willing to go, in order to protect His Majesty’s rapidly disintegrating political narrative.
One of the striking things about the Bergdahl affair is that literally no one is willing to back up the Administration’s narrative, peddled by Benghazi fabulist Susan Rice on the Sunday shows, that Bergdahl was a war hero captured on the field of battle. Not one person with first-hand knowledge of Bergdahl’s disappearance has stepped forward to buttress this story. The mind reels at the incentives provided to any soldier willing to do so, but so far, no takers. On the contrary, even though they were forced to sign non-disclosure agreements and ordered to either keep quiet or spread disinformation, numerous members of the unit have come forward to testify that Bergdahl deserted his post. At least two of them, Sgt. Evan Beutow and Spc. Josh Fuller, have been willing to go on the record with well-founded suspicions that Bergdahl actively collaborated with the Taliban.
Solution for the Obama Administration? Portray these men as liars and political tools (“swift boaters,” as White House aides called them yesterday.) And when that didn’t work, hostilities were escalated by Friedman, who speculated that the entire platoon, other than Bergdahl, was composed of “psychopaths.”
In a series of Wednesday evening Tweets collected by the Washington Free Beacon and combined here into a single paragraph, Friedman said:
Here’s the thing about Bergdahl and the Jump-to-Conclusions mats: What if his platoon was long on psychopaths and short on leadership? What if he grew disillusioned with what he saw, didn’t trust his leadership, and walked off? Legal? No. Worthy of sympathy? Maybe. If that were the case, the soldiers in his platoon would have all the more reason to smear him publicly now. Given other examples, it’s not out of the realm of possibility – and more reason to withhold judgment until after an investigation. I’m not a fan of such speculation, but this story could not be more unbalanced – with so many premature calls of “traitor.”
So there you have it, folks: if you’re serving in the military, and you don’t like the way your unit is being run, it’s cool to abandon your post and wander off. That makes you at least potentially worthy of sympathy. I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to a military man or women who took such an expansive view of desertion before, but maybe the ones I talked to were all psychopaths. (If the reader is a veteran, and reading the above words from Friedman caused you to damage your computer in some way, I apologize for my role in transmitting his Really Deep Thoughts on sympathetic desertion to you.)
You don’t suppose a good time to thoroughly investigate Bergdahl’s conduct might have been before trading five high-ranking Taliban commanders for him, do you? If Bergdahl was filing complaints against the rest of his unit, you don’t suppose the Pentagon would have that paperwork, and the Administration would have seen that it found its way to the media by now, instead of sending some nobody from the bowels of HUD to slander the troops on Twitter?
How about the Afghan villagers who told the Washington Post about Bergdahl wandering in what might have been a drug-addled haze past their homes, looking to hook up with the Taliban? I’ll bet they were all “psychopaths,” too. I’ll bet that whole village is just like the one Kurt Thomas ran into in “Gymkata,” filled with hatchet- and scythe-wielding crazies. The Afghans say Bergdahl was in a funk when he stumbled through town, but this is what actually happened:
And when Sgt. Bergdahl emailed his parents to whine that only “conceited brown-nosing s**t bags” get ahead in the U.S. Army, and “the title of U.S. soldier is just the lie of fools,” it was actually an elaborate code that translated to “HELP ME, I’M SURROUNDED BY PSYCHOPATHS.” All that stuff about America being a “horror?” He was probably hypnotized into writing that by his psycho squadmates. Crazy people can look deep into your eyes and make you do terrible things, like when Hannibal Lecter talked Multiple Migs into swallowing his own tongue.
The problem for these Obama drones is that the story is developing so quickly that yesterday’s talking points go stale before the sun rises in the morning. And the wave of revelations universally supports the idea of Bergdahl as a deserter, or worse. There hasn’t been a single item of breaking news that backed up the Administration narrative. And it’s not just coming from Bergdahl’s squadmates. James Rosen of Fox News told Bill O’Reilly on Wednesday night that the intelligence community has been investigating Bergdahl’s disappearance for quite some time, and they don’t like what they found. From a transcript at the Daily Caller:
???Alright, now why would ??? you say the intelligence, I assume that???s defense intelligence, the CIA, all those people ??? why would they bother investigating a sergeant who was taken captive???? O???Reilly asked. ???I mean, why would they spend those resources????
???Well, with greatest proximity, because they were tasked with doing so,??? Rosen responded cagily. ???But my reporting on this is that there are many inside the intelligence community who harbor outstanding concerns not just that Sgt. Bergdahl may have been a deserter, but that he became an active collaborator with the enemy.???
The reporter reiterated information regarding Bergdahl???s emails, the packing up of his personal effects, his failure to take certain equipment with him before he left his post and ???anecdotal evidence??? from Taliban commanders ??? including how Bergdahl taught Islamist fighters how to reprogram a mobile phone into an IED.
???The last thing I will tell you is ??? I???m still working on this story, I???m talking to a broad range of sources in and out of the government, in and out of the military,??? Rosen explained. ???And all I will say is, there are many forms that active collaboration can take. I???m investigating claims that it could go as serious as you could imagine.???
I guess the intelligence community is full of psychopaths, too. Obama’s minions are going to have to smear a lot of people to protect their leader. Which is going to make this an increasingly divisive issue within the Democrat caucus, because those standing for election in 2014 – and, in the case of Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, 2016 – will grow uncomfortable with the increasingly vicious efforts to destroy everyone who either served with Bergdahl, or tried to rescue him.
Speaking of which, Dana Milbank of the Washington Post wrote a hyperventilating op-ed yesterday in which he revealed himself as the last person on Earth who didn’t know Hillary Clinton was now involved in this story, until I told him about it:
Now comes word that Hillary Rodham Clinton, blamed for Benghazi, was also behind Bergdahl???s swap, which occurred 16 months after she left office. The conservative publication Human Events reports that ???Benghazi Clinton has now become directly involved??? in the Bergdahl affair. How does Human Events know this? Well, because ???Jake Tapper of CNN wonders if Obama was briefing her,??? the outlet reported.
Voilà! Clinton is ???directly involved??? in the Taliban exchange ??? because Jake Tapper wondered about it. Actually, Tapper tells me, he wondered no such thing, and the human events link provides no evidence. But, by way of confirmation, Fox???s Catherine Herridge also found it ???noteworthy??? that Bergdahl???s release came just as the Benghazi excerpts from Clinton???s new book had come out.
He’s so upset he forgot to capitalize “Human Events” the second time. I must have forgotten the bit where I cited Catherine Herridge’s thoughts on Hillary Clinton’s book as “confirmation” for Clinton being part of the story, just as Jake Tapper must have forgotten this conversation he had with Hugh Hewitt on Tuesday, which I forgot to link in my post yesterday. Hey, it’s been a busy week. We’re all forgetting things.
HEWITT: Well, [Mrs. Clinton] is sitting down with Bret Baier and Greta Van Susteren, so I think she???ll get a fair shake from The Lead, too. I just wondered, do you think it would be a legitimate question to ask her about this deal, because she obviously had to have been involved in iterations one and two of this, right?
TAPPER: Yeah, definitely. First of all, I think there???s very little that should be off the table when interviewing a former secretary of State who by all accounts wants to be president of the United States, even if she hasn???t acknowledged or admitted or announced such a decision, or made such a decision. But certainly, I think that asking about this deal and the concerns people have about it, and the message it sends, is definitely fair. I???m sure she will be asked about it. A lot of excellent people interviewing here, I think Diane Sawyer, Robin Roberts, Cynthia McFadden, Chrstiane Amanpour, Bret Baier, Greta Van Susteren, I???m sure, a lot of tough reporters there. I???m sure she???ll get a lot of tough questions.
There’s no further need to speculate about whether Clinton was involved in the Bergdahl negotiation, because she’s become quite eager to make it clear that she was. From the Daily Beast:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was personally and intensely involved in the debate over swapping five Taliban commanders for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in 2011 and 2012. But she had severe reservations about the potential deal, and demanded stricter conditions for the release of the prisoners than what President Obama settled for last week.
Despite that the White House???s claim this week that the United States did not negotiate ???directly??? with the Taliban to secure the Bergdahl swap, the State Department, Defense Department, and White House officials did meet several times with Taliban leaders in 2011 and 2012 to discuss the deal. The negotiations, held in in Munich and Doha, fell apart in early 2012. But before they did, Clinton had a framework deal drawn up that was much tougher on the Taliban than what ultimately got done two years later.
Three former administration officials who were involved in the process told The Daily Beast that Clinton was worried about the ability to enforce the deal and disinclined to trust the Taliban or the Haqqani network in Pakistan, which held Bergdahl until this weekend. Clinton was so concerned, the former officials added, that she may not have even signed off if the negotiations had succeeded.
That’s what I mean about the old talking points going stale faster than Obama supporters can bang out editorials defending him. Poor Dana Milbank’s trying to make hay about the “Republican scandal machine” supposedly weaving Hillary Clinton into the story out of whole cloth… while Hillary’s camp is busy circulating stories that she was involved all along, and had “severe reservations” about what Obama was doing. (She managed to keep those severe reservations awfully quiet until this turned into a full-blown scandal, and it was time to run for cover.)
Besides, this whole negotiation began back when Clinton was Secretary of State. How could she not have been involved, and as her Party’s presumed candidate for president in 2016, wouldn’t it be extremely odd if her predecessor and former boss hadn’t kept her in the loop, right up until last week? This was supposed to be a very big deal, after all – a major event commemorated with a Rose Garden ceremony, not some tiny bit of business quietly dashed off on a Friday afternoon.
Vice President Joe Biden, meanwhile, has boldly declared himself “neutral” on the deal. If I were Barack Obama, I might be a little peeved about the way everyone on my team was positioning themselves for the post-me era, instead of offering vigorous support.
As to whether there are similarities between the Bergdahl affair and Benghazi, that’s always going to be in the eye of the beholder. There probably isn’t a White House memo stamped “Benghazi Strategy” with “Bengahzi” crossed out and “Bergdahl” penciled in. (Probably. You never know what the Freedom of Information act requests filed by watchdog groups might turn up.) But besides the presence of Susan Rice as a dispenser of demonstrably false talking points, you’ve got the same political over-riding of military and intelligence advice, the same remarkable lack of concern about the facts on the ground, the same focus on building a narrative instead of telling the truth… and pretty soon I suspect we’ll have the same cover-ups.
With several days of narrative shrapnel and smouldering talking-point wreckage surrounding us, some have begun to ask why Obama didn’t just tell the truth from the beginning. That’s obviously not in his nature, and I continue to suspect a big part of the reason he exaggerated so many details of the story – and broke the law to rush the deal through without notifying Congress – is that he wanted this to be a Sunday-show trap for Republicans. The deal had to look like a slam-dunk, answering such an obviously “sacred” (to use a word the President has grown fond of) that only ankle-biting Republican political hacks could raise any objections whatsoever. The full story of how Bergdahl left his post would have made that trap difficult to spring, with a large bipartisan swath of Americans wondering if trading five Taliban big shots for a deserter was such a great idea.
So while Team Obama draws up its latest enemies list and sends opposition research teams to investigate everyone Sgt. Bergdahl ever saluted, let me ask a question: what would the America of 2002 have said, if it knew the war in Afghanistan would end with the abject humiliation of five major Taliban operatives – war criminals and murderers – handed over in exchange for a soldier who wandered away from his post, prompting the deaths of several good men in search and rescue operations, and whose father marked the occasion of his release by reading Koran verses in Pashtu from the Rose Garden?
Update: HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Brandon Friedman apparently no longer wishes Twitter users to know that he is HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs. He might want to think about deleting the Chairman Mao quote from his Tumblr page, while he’s at it.
Update: The New York Times got hold of a classified military report that said Bergdahl “had wandered away from assigned areas before – both at a training range in California and at his remote outpost in Afghanistan – and then returned.” That poor “child” (as Barack Obama has taken to calling him) found psychopaths everywhere he went.
Update: NBC News quotes Taliban commanders claiming they found Bergdahl “walking alone, acting abnormally, and cursing his countrymen before they captured him in Afghanistan in 2009.” I guess that makes the Taliban commanders a bunch of psychopaths, too!
Well, okay, they are psychopaths. But it’s funny how everyone’s story lines up to counter the White House narrative. You have to discount a gigantic amount of information to think Bergdahl “served with distinction” and was “captured in battle,” as Susan Rice was dispatched to claim.