What are your thoughts on the whole Bowe Bergdahl trade-off? Do you think that President Obama just made history with this whole thing? He broke one cardinal rule - no negotiating with terrorists. He stands behind the rule that we leave no person behind. I think that trading 5 people for one (could-be deserter) was a bad choice. I think it will be talked about for years, making history.
Did Obama Just Make History?
Posted 05 June 2014 - 07:03 PM
Are you saying that he's made history because there's never been an exchange of prisoners of war? You might want to look that up. More on this below.
There are no laws that restrict the President from "negotiating with terrorists" and Dick Cheney and other fans of Unitary Executive theory would insist that "neither Congress nor the federal courts can tell the President what to do or how to do it, particularly regarding national security matters."
The Israelis who are probably the strictest government in world history in holding to a "no negotiating with terrorists" still has a long record of doing so.
The Taliban are actually not even under the terms we generally use a "terrorist" organization as they have not acted against any other parties outside of their own claimed sphere of influence including Afghanistan where they ruled "legitimately" (recognized by many other nations) as well as northwestern Pakistan where the Pakistani government has given them what amounts to local autonomy.
George W. Bush released hundreds of prisoners from Guantanamo as well as those who underwent secret CIA renditions (the latter of whom did not even have restrictions on where they went, as is being enforced by the Qatari government in this case).
The Taliban detainees were likely to have had to have been released as part of the final agreement with Afghanistan regarding our withdrawal as they were all Afghan citizens (even though they are to be detained in Qatar for 1 year), and were not charged with any crimes whatsoever (except for being, as Cheney likes to say "really bad guys").
There was a clause in the last Defense Authorization that required Obama to give 30-days notice of release of Guantanamo prisoners, and quite a few politicians complained on both sides of the aisle, but consider that the exchange has been under discussion for months (saw a tape today of John McCain saying he would approve the proposed swap of 5 prisoners "if the details were appropriate" back in February), and in the final agreement, the Taliban apparently demanded that any leak of the information prior to the swap would result in Bergdahl being killed: the White House provided a classified briefing for a selection of Congresscritters yesterday, and nonetheless several of them were blabbing that classified information in front of TV cameras within 15 minutes.
The first segment of tonight's Rachel Maddow show talks about the fact that the basic details--including who would be swapped for Bergdahl--have actually been public information since late 2011. That makes claims that Congress "wasn't notified" pretty hollow.
As to whether he was a deserter or not, that is still an open question: he may be, but consider these points:
- Military leaders (notably Gen. Stanley McChrystal who is no friend of Obama's since he fired him) have been uniform in saying "We bring back all our troops, if they did something wrong we will prosecute them, but we will always bring them home when we can."
- The article that included interviews with men from his unit (which were "arranged by Republican strategists) certainly make it sound that they didn't like him from the get go: this guy who liked art and ballet was criticized because "He wouldn't drink beer or eat barbecue and hang out with the other 20-year-olds..." It's still speculation, but having heard those kinds of statements before in my own experience, it sounds like the cool kids thought he was weird and probably bullied him like crazy.
- Claims that 6 soldiers died looking for him are at the very best a stretch of the facts. That's certainly inflammatory though: real red meat.
- The folks screaming the loudest about how criminal Obama's actions were, prior to this week were screaming about how criminal Obama was for doing nothing to rescue this poor P.O.W. They're all frantically scrubbing their web sites and Twitter feeds (including many Congresscritters).
So no, the outrage is incredible, and if you listen to the right-wing media there is now constant talk about Impeachment, which is certifiably insane. I personally don't think signing statements are a good thing, but the details of the "law" that Obama "broke" could easily be determined to be unconstitutional with or without the signing statement. And it's kind of funny that the legitimacy of signing statements is one of those laws that seemingly "only applies to Democrats."
If we say the Geneva Convention is obsolete, then what do others who have our soldiers say?
Posted 06 June 2014 - 07:31 AM
The polarisation of American Society as evidenced, yet again, by this unseemly and unjustifiable attack from the right is a source of great sadness to those non-Americans who have had a long running affection for the US.
- Buffy likes this
Posted 07 June 2014 - 08:46 AM
You certainly gave me something to think about Buffy. I'm not a right-wing and I can't wait to see how this unfolds. I can't wait to hear what Bowe actually has to say about the whole thing. Did he really just walk off, did he really just go into a village and ask to speak to someone who knew English? Did he really want to talk with the Taliban members and if so why? This was all before he was "caught". Something just smells fishy to me about the whole situation.
This is a bit different than Bush releasing prisoners - Bowe was traded for prisoners. I can see trading one for one but this seems a bit extreme.
Posted 31 July 2014 - 08:36 AM
I agree with Buffy, not only is this not the first time, but we seem to have this theory that "the U.S. doesn't negotiate with terrorists", when indeed this has happened all throughout history. Personally, I think that Obama had a target on his back as soon as he took office. I distinctly remember thinking that the poor guy has zero chances of living up to the hype when he was elected.