In an interview with Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl's attorney on Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer worried that the former Taliban captive and possible deserter was being unfairly investigated by the military [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]:
There was so much fanfare after his release. The President met in the Rose Garden with Sergeant Bergdahl's parents. Top military officials were quoted as saying they didn't think he would face any major punishment. And then the criticism started and then the controversy started. Now there's a full-fledged investigation. Do you think the military is succumbing to public pressure on this?
Editor's Note: This was sent to the publishing syndicate as a two-parter. We have combined both parts into this one column post.
I have four colossal disagreements with how President Barack Obama cut the deal for the prisoner swap of five senior Taliban leaders for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl; the former, the White House itself admits, could "absolutely" rejoin terrorist cells.
Sure, I have far more than four issues with how it all went down — for example, the absolute avoidance and disregard of constitutional submission and congressional consent. But this administration seems to have little regard for proper protocol with anything, so I'm going to focus here on a few different angles of argument.
The New York Times has sunk, yet again, to a new low. Only this time, they may have created an even bigger conundrum for President Obama.
In a clear and desperate attempt to whitewash Obama's ill-fated swap of what is increasingly appearing to be an army deserter for five unrepentant deadly dangerous terror leaders (two of whom have been named war criminals by the United Nations) for a U.S. soldier, The Times has gone into overdrive, now seemingly blaming those with whom Bowe Bergdahl served for his apparent desertion.
Both Time and the Wall Street Journal have reported that Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier released by his Afghan captors in exchange for five hardened Gitmo terrorists — or, in the alternative universe of the Los Angeles Times, five guys aged 43 to 47 who "are pretty old now" — will not contact his parents (WSJ's headline says he "has declined to speak to his family").
That news broke several hours after Fox News's Juan Williams appeared on Chris Wallace's Fox News Sunday and compared Bowe Bergdahl to the biblical prodigal son. The analogy didn't even work at that point, as RedState poster Aaron Gardner explained this morning. Video of Williams's wacky whine follows the jump:
Ever notice that liberals possess a childlike faith in the magical powers of negotiating? This is perhaps best embodied by Bill Clinton, a man who conveys the distinct impression of believing he can talk his way out of anything.
Liberal radio host Thom Hartmann shares that faith, as exhibited on his radio show last week when he joined the chorus of praise on the left for the Obama administration springing American prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban held at Guantanamo Bay. (Audio after the jump)
This morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski discussed the Bergdahl controversy with their panel of guests. Julie Pace of the Associated Press told the panel that the president remains “defiant” in his decision of how his administration brought back Sergeant Bergdahl. Joe Scarborough called the president “extraordinarily tone-deaf.”
Last week, Scarborough shared a heated exchange with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd when discussing the behavior of Berdahl’s father. This morning, however, the panel discussed their confusion with the way the president and his staff have handled the backlash from the Bergdahl swap.
Often, the climactic question-and-answer round of beauty pageants is a recipe for loaded questions (take Perez Hilton) or uneducated answers. On Sunday night’s Miss USA broadcast, The Right Scoop points out that Miss Louisiana, Brittany Guidry, was put on the spot about the Obama administration’s swap of Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban terrorists.
Like a politician, Guidry said she was glad Bergdahl came home, but we should not “subject ourselves” to terrorist demands. The crowd went wild there in Baton Rouge (video below):
On Thursday, the editorial board at the New York Times, reacting to the growing firestorm over the release of five hardened terrorists from Gitmo in return for the Army's Bowe Bergdahl, went after Bergdahl's "army unit’s lack of security and discipline." It then incredibly claimed that a classified army report described in a separate Times dispatch that day suggested that those alleged conditions were "as much to blame for the disappearance" of Bergdahl as ... well, the sloppy editorial didn't specifically say.
On Sunday, two Times reporters continued the offensive against Bowe Bergdahl's platoon and its members, apparently wanting readers to believe that the unit's occasionally "raggedy" attire and alleged poor leadership somehow explain Bergdahl's "disappearance."
Conservative columnist Peggy Noonan had some tough words for the Obama Administration following its decision to release five Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.
Appearing on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday, June 8, Noonan argued “I would be sleeping better if I had a sense that the administration had a real plan as opposed to a desperate dumping.” [See video below.]
The seething anger at seeing the Obama administration being raked over the coals by critics of the Bowe Bergdahl exchange of five hardened terrorists for a soldier who left his post, including many Democrats and most prominently his fellow unit members, was apparently too much for the editorial board at the New York Times. On Thursday, they let loose with a poorly sourced and hastily drafted editorial originally entitled "The Politics of the Bergdahl Case." Tim Graham at NewsBusters alluded to this editorial on Friday in covering fake conservative David Brooks's completely predictable defense of President Obama's decision.
Several revisions later — five in all, tracked by an impressive site called NewsDiffs.org — there is a more pointed title ("The Rush to Demonize Sgt. Bergdahl"). The Times has also had to make two corrections, including an important qualification to a statement made by Arizona Senator John McCain which negated the Times's attempt to go after him (of course, the Times pretended that it didn't). The editorial went on to outrageously impugn the motives, integrity and basic decency of Bergdahl's comrades in Afghanistan and sympathizers who have had the unmitigated gall to help them tell their story to the press.
Mark Jacobson may have set a new standard for dumb defenses of the Bergdahl deal. Appearing on MSNBC's Up With Steve Kornacki today, scholar and Afghanistan veteran Jacobson suggested that opposition to the Bergdahl deal arises out of the soldier's religion and politics. He made a mind-boggling analogy: "My parents freaked out when I went to Afghanistan both times. If I had been captured. Do I want someone to say this nice Jewish kid over in Afghanistan, a little bit liberal, not really sure if we're going to go get him? Absolutely not."
What?? If a soldier, whatever his religion or politics, had served, to quote Susan Rice, with "honor and distinction," and a deal to retrieve him were on the table that wouldn't seriously jeopardize our national security interests, can anyone conceive that we wouldn't make it? The objections to the Bergdahl deal arise out of the very high national security price exacted in exchange for someone who seemingly was at best AWOL, if not a deserter. Giving the lie to Jacobson's lunacy was fellow panelist Jack Jacobs, who objected to the Bergdahl deal. Jacobs, by the way, grew up a nice Jewish kid in NYC, and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his service in Vietnam. (Video below.)
Los Angeles Times reporter Shashank Bengali clearly put a great deal of energy and time into trying to persuade readers on Thursday that the five Gitmo terrorists released in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl "may not live up to (that) description."
It only took a day for Bengali's work to be discredited. The person he seemed to believe would be among the least likely to become a threat — after all, he was supposedly just a "civilian official" — "pledged to return to fight Americans in Afghanistan." Geez, couldn't Noorullah Noori at least have allowed a decent interval before telling the truth? Don't you just hate it when one of the guys you're trying to whitewash almost immediately turns around and makes you look like a complete fool?
Watch your backsides, conservatives, because your vituperative, ill-considered criticism of both Bowe Bergdahl and the deal that freed him from the Taliban may come back to bite you.
That was the main message from Brian Beutler in his Thursday post on the New Republic's website. Beutler argued that the compulsively anti-Obama right's inclination to believe that "a massive scandal must be lying just below the surface" of the prisoner swap "precipitated a deluge of ugly actions and pronouncements" from many conservative leaders, including "a bunch of unseemly innuendo" about Bergdahl himself.
Brian Williams glossed over the V.A. scandal during his interview of President Obama on Friday's NBC Nightly News. Williams did devote time to the ongoing controversy surrounding the release of senior Taliban leaders in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl – specifically the White House failing to inform Congress 30 days before the Islamists were let go from Guantanamo Bay, as required by federal law.
However, the anchor didn't mention that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid revealed that he was informed of the trade for Bergdahl on May 27, 2014 – a day before it actually happened. Williams also forwarded the President's own misleading claim about his grandfather's World War II service: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
Ten years ago this month, U.S. Marine Wassef Ali Hassoun disappeared from Camp Fallujah in Iraq. After a five-month military investigation, he was charged with desertion and theft, brought back to Virginia's Quantico Marine base and then transferred to North Carolina's Camp Lejeune for trial.
Yet, a full decade later, Hassoun is as free as a bird. The accused deserter's whereabouts are unknown. No trial ever began. No punishment ensued. And our leaders in Washington don't seem to be doing a thing about this.
Last night on FNC’s The Kelly File, host Megyn Kelly sat down in an exclusive interview with six soldiers who served with Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.
When Kelly asked them about accusations floating around that they’re just engaging in “swiftboating” and “playing politics” by speaking out, the men voiced their frustration. One soldier told her, “I don’t know how he [Bergdahl] felt about us, but we would all die for him and he left.”
In an interview with the Fox News host on Friday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer wondered if "President Bill O'Reilly" would have made the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner exchange with the Taliban. O'Reilly replied: "I would not make the deal....These are not prisoners of war, these Taliban guys, they're war criminals. We ran down last night the atrocities that the Taliban has committed over the past ten years, and it's horrifying." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Lauer followed up: "Do you think the administration either didn't see the reaction coming or misread the reaction?" O'Reilly responded: "It's such a mystery that they wouldn't know. First of all, President Obama knows what Bergdahl did because there's a classified report on the guy....They already know what he did, and it's not good."
On Friday's New Day on CNN, correspondent Jim Acosta showed a portion of a pre-recorded interview with Obama administration National Security Advisor Susan Rice in which Acosta pressed her to correct her assertion that former hostage Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl had served "with honor and distinction," in spite of reports that he deserted.
But the Obama advisor declined to find fault with her previous word choice as she dodged by arguing that Bergdahl should be considered "innocent until proven guilty."
The Obama administration has given a fresh explanation to justify its secret deal with the Taliban to exchange five Guantanamo Bay detainees for Bowe Bergdahl: the radical Islamists who held the Army sergeant would execute him if the terms of the exchange were made public before the handover was carried out.
Yet among the Big Three network evening newscasts tonight covering developments in the prisoner-swap saga, only NBC's Nightly News hammered home the point that the Obama White House's story has significantly changed and that without a sufficient explanation from White House aides. What's more, only NBC's Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski pointed out that the administration did give a heads up to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) prior to the deal going down -- which, logic dictates, unnecessarily risked a leak which could have endangered Sgt. Bergdahl's life [Listen to MP3 audio montage here; Video follows page break]:
On Thursday's New Day on CNN, during a discussion of President Obama's decision to release five high-risk Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for hostage Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, without even notifying Congress first, liberal CNN commentator Paul Begala took a gratuitous swipe at Republicans as he cracked that, "if Barack Obama cured cancer, the Republicans would attack him for putting oncologists out of work."
At about 8:30 a.m., after conservative commentator Cheri Jacobus gave her view of the Bergdahl prisoner trade, noting that Democrats have also been critical of the President, co-host Chris Cuomo turned to Begala and posed the question:
Appearing on Thursday's MSNBC Andrea Mitchell Reports, Bloomberg News reporter Jeanne Cummings asserted that the highly controversial Bowe Bergdahl prisoner exchange – which an overwhelming majority of Americans feel has endangered the lives of U.S. soldiers – would have no negative political impact on Democrats in November's midterm elections. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Asked if the deal with the Taliban would affect the elections, Cummings declared: "Generally, no. It's a bipartisan reaction....I don't think this is going to last very long unless Congress comes up with better arguments than, 'We really hated the Rose Garden ceremony.' That compared to bringing a soldier back, for the American public, I don't think they weight together."
In a fit of partisan pique, national Republican leaders like RNC chairman Reince Priebus are whipping up a "lynch mob" against Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl that threatens the soldier's right to due process.
That's the latest Obama-shielding spin hitting the airwaves on MSNBC courtesy of NationalMemo.com editor-in-chief Joe Conason, who made such a charge on the June 5 edition of The Reid Report towards the conclusion of a segment with host Joy Reid and Salon.com's Joan Walsh. The relevant transcript appears below the page break [Listen to MP3 audio here; Watch the video below the page break]:
UPDATE, 4:40 p.m.: Friedman has partially scrubbed his Twitter bio. His Tumblr bio linked in this post remains — for now.
Late last night, Brandon Friedman, the Obama administration’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, unleashed a furious five-tweet barrage attacking those who dare to question whether Bowe Bergdahl served "with honor and distinction" (National Security Advisor Susan Rice's words on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday).
Friedman's tweets would already be headline news in the establishment press if an official in a Republican or conservative administration published what readers are about to see. He saved his strongest venom, couched in a question, for Bergdahl's fellow soldiers — apparently including the ones who died trying to retrieve him — after Bergdahl left his unit (HT Gateway Pundit via Hot Air):
Q. When it comes to the release of five of the worst of the worst Gitmo detainees, what does Eugene Robinson know that the Pentagon doesn't? A. That President Obama must be defended at all costs and in every circumstance.
How else to explain his mind-boggling claim on today's Morning Joe that the impact on the war of the release of five senior Taliban officials would likely be "negligible." Incredibly, Robinson was only willing to put "senior" in skeptical air quotes [see screengrab after jump]. The WaPo columnist's claim sparked controlled outrage from Joe Scarborough, and energetic disagreement even from former Obama car czar Steve Rattner. View the video after the jump.
Two of the leading lights of the lefty blogosphere weighed in Tuesday on the Bowe Bergdahl matter. Daily Kos founder and publisher Markos Moulitsas, who served a three-year stint in the Army just after graduating from high school, blasted the anti-Bergdahl rhetoric of bloodyhanded neoconservative "chickenhawks" who aren't ashamed to opine despite being "wrong about everything in the last decade."
Kos claimed that since the Afghan war "is now over," the five Taliban exchanged for Bergdahl had to be released anyway "under international law." From Moulitsas's post (emphasis added):
Death Penalty Month at anncoulter.com has already been interrupted by the psycho in Santa Barbara, and now it's being interrupted by the Buddhist in Bagram.
Keeping to the spirit of Death Penalty Month, let's review the execution of Pvt. Eddie Slovik. Slovik's offense: desertion in wartime. (See the tie-in?) Unlike Bowe Bergdahl, who deserted his unit, according to the accounts of his comrades, Slovik never actually deserted. He also didn't call America a "disgusting" country or say he was "ashamed to be an American." Slovik was just a chicken.
Once again, an MSNBC host is playing up the idea that “there must be something larger” to justify what, on its face, seems to be a disastrous prisoner swap in the Bowe Bergdahl-Taliban exchange.
On the June 4 edition of her Now program, host Alex Wagner, ever the apologist for the president, hoped that the trade for POW Bowe Bergdahl would open up broader war-ending negotiations with the Taliban [MP3 audio here; video below]:
Politico Magazine Deputy Editor Blake Hounshell has made a fool of himself yet again. Three months ago, Hounshell grudgingly and bitterly had to acknowledge that former Alaska Governor and former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin was right — and he was wrong — when she predicted in 2008 that Barack Obama's weakness might cause Russia's Vladimir Putin to calculate that he could invade Ukraine without suffering meaningful consequences. That's what happened in Crimea. Hounshell characterized Palin's contention at the time as "an extremely far-fetched scenario."
In late April, he tried to claim that no one "credible" or "authoritative" had shown that the White House had knowingly pushed a false Benghazi narrative — just as award-winning reporter Sharyl Attkisson was proving otherwise. Then in a tweet Monday evening, he petulantly questioned why everyone's so concerned about the five hardened Taliban terrorists freed from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl (HT Twitchy):
Five years ago, I publicly raised questions about Bowe Bergdahl's desertion from Blackfoot Company, 1-501 Infantry (Airborne), 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division.
A few weeks after his so-called "capture" in late June 2009, three conflicting accounts surfaced: U.S. officials told the Associated Press Bergdahl had "walked off" the base with three Afghans; the Taliban claimed on its website that "a drunken American soldier had come out of his garrison" and into their arms; and Bergdahl claimed in his Taliban "hostage video" that he had "lagged behind a patrol" before being captured. I asked on my blog: Were the AP's sources mistaken? Or is the disturbing first account the right one? What about the "three Afghans" Pfc. Bergdahl reportedly "just walked off" with after his shift? Who are they? What's going on?
Chuck Todd, NBC News Chief White House Correspondent, Political Director, and host of MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown, has been doing his best serving as White House stenographer as of late.
Appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Wednesday, June 4, Todd played up the White House’s justification for releasing five dangerous Taliban prisoners and argued “At some point you’ve got to do something with these folks. And these Taliban leaders they emphasize, have no American blood on their hands, at least as far as they know.” [See video below.]