With Secretary Shinseki gone and the latest rounds of “BENGHAZI! BENGHAZI!” not gaining any traction, what could the GOP and their fanatical masters possibly use for the next “scandal”?
There is the matter of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. In 2009 he (allegedly) walked off his post in Afghanistan and was captured by the Taliban. He has been held as a prisoner of war ever since, well, until last weekend when he was freed after our government traded five Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay for him.
Everyone in America is rejoicing: we got our soldier back … well, not everyone.
This is the funny part: on Facebook I “Like” several conservative pages — just to see and hear what the other side is thinking. For the past five years my newsfeed has contained at least two memes a day from those pages begging us not to forget Bergdahl and to pressure our government to get him back. It’s been unrelenting. Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire even made public Her Letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagle, urging the DoD get the missing soldier home.
My family members and friends who have similar views to those conservative pages have circulated those memes as well and honestly, there were days when five or more would be in the newsfeed. Even though it was alleged Bergdahl abandoned his post and walked into the countryside unarmed.
In these five years I’ve never “shared” those memes on Facebook. It seemed like Bergdahl screwed up and I wanted to hear the whole story.
After nearly five years the Obama Administration did live up to the “leave no man or woman behind” credo of the Army and Marine Corps. To do so they traded five prisoners for this one prisoner of war. Well, that’s good because he gets to come home.
Okay, this is the real funny part: Now, those same conservative Facebook pages, and the websites they represent, are blasting President Obama for negotiating for Bergdahl’s return and they are going after Bergdahl’s parents and claiming the Army sergeant is guilty of some serious charges. All based on heresay. They aren’t waiting for the Army to do an investigation, let alone mete out it’s own disciplinary action of any is required. Bergdahl has been convicted by very vocal members of the media.
These conservatives weren’t making those arguments before Bergdahl was released, but now they are because the Black Guy in the White House made a prisoner swap with our enemy, the Taliban. Instead of going in, rootin’ and a tootin’, blasting up the place.
As if the U.S. has never had a prisoner exchange before, as if a U.S. president has never negotiated with terrorists before … oh yeah, remember those hostages in Lebanon during the 1980’s? Who was the president that violated a half dozen laws to negotiate their return, even selling weapons to Iran? Who was the White House emissary who flew to Iran with a Bible signed by the sitting president and cake as a gesture to the Iranians that the U.S. was acting in good faith? Who was the Marine Corps Colonel that dishonored his uniform when he lied about his role in exchanging a ransom for hostages while testifying before Congress?
Ronald Reagan was the president and Robert McFarlane was the emissary. And Ollie North, that crooked-jawed asshole was the man who brought shame to the Marine Corps by taking an oath before Congress to tell the truth and then lied.
It gets even better: because he was given blanket immunity for his testimony Ollie was spared going to prison for his actions and if that isn’t enough … the duplicitous little prick even had the temerity to brag about lying to Congress and getting away with it. All, as he said, to protect his president.
And then there’s the part where they took the proceeds from the illegal arms sales to Iran to fund terrorist death squads in Central America. Yep, we as a nation sold arms to a state sponsor of terror (Iran) and funded a terrorist organization that killed thousands of people (the Anti-Sandinistas). And President Reagan didn’t spend a second behind bars; he didn’t even have to face a Congressional hearing let alone an impeachment trial.
In this day and age presidents don’t get impeached for collaborating with terrorists and state sponsors of terrorists. No, impeachment is for presidents that lie about getting blowjobs in the White House.
And there was that thing in Iraq called “The Surge.” Our top military leaders in CentCom (Central Command) reached out to the insurgents that were fighting against our troops in Iraq and negotiated a deal with them to stop the fighting between the U.S. troops and insurgents and turn their combined attention to fighting Al Qaeda.
As it turns out the negotiating with the terrorists in Iraq wasn’t even part of the surge, it was a plan put into motion a year earlier.
At any rate, the previous president negotiated with our enemy to change the outcome of a war … a strategy that didn’t really change anything except turn our enemies into allies. Which, when you think about it, is ironically appropriate since Saddam Hussein, the now dead former ruler of Iraq, was once our ally when he started a war against Iran 20 years earlier.
Who can forget former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein while Iraq was using chemical weapons on the battlefield? While Iraq was our ally and we were giving them logistics support to wage that war against Iran using chemical weapons.
And the ultimate irony of that — no, let’s call it what it really is: hypocrisy — Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) was one of the key arguments Donald Rumsfeld and the rest of the Neocons used to justify starting the Iraq War in March 2003. When Saddam was our ally the WMD was okay, but once we turned on him WMD wasn’t cool any more.
- Just for the record: it’s my firm belief WMD are never cool and Saddam Hussein was a brutal, blood-thirsty tyrant … but he did nothing to warrant the U.S. going in and toppling his regime and physically destroying that country in the process.
But I digress. This is about the curious case of U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl and the circumstances of his release.
First of all: how did Bergdahl achieve the rank of Sergeant if he was such a bad guy?
President Obama released five Taliban leaders to Qatar, where they will stay for a year, in exchange for this one U.S. soldier held in captivity for five years.
The righties would have us believe these are the five deadliest people on the planet. No doubt, being upper echelon members of the Taliban makes them dangerous individuals, but the righties seem to think this is the worst thing that could ever happen to the U.S.
To be sure, when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan — their country — these five individuals fought against our troops, directly and indirectly, until they were captured — but they weren’t part of the terror organization that planned and carried out the attacks of September 11, 2001.
That makes them prisoners of war, not … whatever bullshit status our country used to hold them other prisoners in Guantanamo Bay without due process, without charging them with any crimes, — without an end date for their release.
- The Sixth Amendment: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
- Piss on the Bill of Rights … except for the Second Amendment. That one is sacrosanct.
The righties would also like us to believe Bergdahl cooperated with the Taliban and that several of his fellow soldiers died trying to find him. No direct evidence any soldiers were killed or injured while looking for Bergdahl. There’s no evidence enemy activity in Afghanistan increased as a result of Bergdahl’s capture. This is just wild speculation by the GOP to whip up anti-Obama hatred. It doesn’t matter whether or not Bergdahl is a real person or not, or what the circumstances are regarding his capture, for the right, Bergdahl is just the latest club for pounding on President Obama.
But going after Bergdahl and President Obama wasn’t enough, the extremists on the right are attacking Sgt. Bergdahl’s parents, in particular Bob Bergdahl, Bowe’s father. Brian Kilmeade of Fox News claims the elder Bergdahl was tweeting “anti-American” messages, like, ”I’m working to free all the Gitmo prisoners. God will repay the death of every Afghan child.”
Okay … but I’m still trying to figure out how that is “anti-American.” Kilmeade and other Fox News personalities take Bob Bergdahl to task for learning the language of his son’s captors and for growing a long beard as a show of solidarity for his son.
Okay, hold on a minute here — you mean growing a long beard makes a person look like a Muslim and therefore “anti-American”?
Bill O’Reilly said, after being called out for claiming the elder Bergdahl looked Muslim, “The reason I said Robert Bergdahl looks like a Muslim, is that he looks like a Muslim.”
This begs the questions: 1) What does a Muslim look like? And 2) What’s wrong with looking like a Muslim? Is this to imply there’s something wrong with being a Muslim?
Brian Kilmeade’s diatribe against Robert Bergdahl, went like this: “I mean, he (Robert Bergdahl) says he was growing his beard because his son was in captivity. Well, your son’s out now. So if you really don’t — no longer look like a member of the Taliban, you don’t have to look like a member of the Taliban. Are you out of razors?”
Makes me want to ask the rhetorical question: when the Fox News folks were fawning all over the Robertson Family (of Duck Dynasty fame), did they warn those men that their beards made them look like Muslims?
Who can forget Phil, Willie and Jase, the bearded impresarios of Duck Dynasty? Do they know they look Muslim and therefore (in Kilmeade’s eyes) un-American?
Marcus Luttrell, the former Navy SEAL behind the book and movie Lone Survivor told Anderson Cooper, “I know from experience, when I went missing, what my family went through; my mother and my father … it’s got to be the most painful thing any parent can experience. To drop down on them (Bergdahl’s parents) the way a lot of people have is probably a little outside the box.”
Of Bowe Bergdahl, Luttrell said, “Heaven help that kid if he’s not a deserter, because he’s branded forever.”
Retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan when Bergdahl went missing suggested the trade for Bergdahl was okay, “We don’t leave Americans behind. That’s unequivocal.”
McChrystal told Yahoo News we shouldn’t judge Bergdahl until all the facts are in; let the Army do its investigation and deliver the appropriate verdict and penalty, if one is warranted.
It’s good to see Bergdahl back. He recently told reporters that while he was a prisoner he was tortured and held in a cage. No one should go through that and for decades our country could say we don’t treat our prisoners that way. But now we hold prisoners without charges, without trials, denying them access to legal defense, indefinitely — just like the despotic regimes we criticize for their human rights violations.
Michael Hastings wrote the best account of the Bowe Bergdahl story two years ago for Rolling Stone Magazine. It will tell you a lot about Bergdahl himself, complimentary and critical, as well as those soldiers that served with him — equally complimentary and critical.
Let the Army figure out his crimes, if there are any. In the military, being stupid can be a crime: in the Marine Corps it’s a “crime” if a mustache hair out of place — no lie. Ten days of limited restriction for that.
The platoon commander comes down the row, closely inspecting each Marine from head to toe and asks the Gunny (Gunnery Sergeant), “Gunny, does it look like his mustache is hanging down over his upper lip?”
“Ten days restriction and make sure it gets entered.”
The good warrant officer wanted to make sure it was noted in my service record so that when promotion time came around it would be considered.
There are far more serious acts of stupidity that result in disciplinary action, like leaving your weapon unattended or unsecured. Doesn’t sound like much, but the military has a thing about weapons going missing and turning up in the wrong hands.
If Bowe Bergdahl is guilty of nothing more than being stupid, whatever that stupid thing might be, the Army will get its pound of flesh from him — they always do.
The rest of America just lighten up. We don’t leave our fellow Americans behind.
Tim Forkes started as a writer on a small alternative college newspaper in Milwaukee called the Crazy Shepherd. Writing about entertainment issues, he had the opportunity to speak with many people in show business, from the very famous to the people struggling to find an audience. In 1992 Tim moved to San Diego, CA and pursued other interests, but remained a freelance writer. Upon arrival in Southern California he was struck by how the business of government and business was so intertwined, far more so than he had witnessed in Wisconsin. His interest in entertainment began to wane and the business of politics took its place. He had always been interested in politics, his mother had been a Democratic Party official in Milwaukee, WI, so he sat down to dinner with many of Wisconsin’s greatest political names of the 20th Century: William Proxmire and Clem Zablocki chief among them. As a Marine Corps veteran, Tim has a great interest in veteran affairs, primarily as they relate to the men and women serving and their families. As far as Tim is concerned, the military-industrial complex has enough support. How the men and women who serve are treated is reprehensible, while in the military and especially once they become veterans. Tim would like to help change that reality.