Responding to the evolving Taliban prisoner-swap story, Politico’s Roger Simon suggested on MSNBC’s NewsNation program that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers had faulty memories on the details of Bergdahl’s disappearance and that we should not “take as absolute legal fact five-year old memories from people who served with Bergdahl under circumstances of great stress.”
In further defending President Obama’s five-for-one prisoner swap, the liberal columnist insisted there would be “little public appetite” for the wheels of military justice to grind through an investigation and possible court martial for Bergdahl. Fortunately for viewers, host Tamron Hall also had NBC military analyst Barry McCaffrey on at the same time to offer his rebuttal. The former Clinton administration drug czar strongly beat back the notion that this had anything to do with the memories of his comrades [MP3 audio here; video below]:
Sunday's "NBC Nightly News" featured retired General Barry McCaffrey, NBC News military analyst and "one-time war critic," as he voiced his "surprising new assessment" that conditions in Iraq have improved "dramatically" since the surge. McCaffrey, former Drug Czar of the Clinton administration, remarked: "A year ago, I thought the thing was going over the edge of a cliff. That has changed dramatically in a very short period of time."
Anchor Lester Holt played up McCaffrey's history of being a war critic as he teased the December 23 show: "Reality Check: New progress in Iraq, and a surprising new assessment from a four-star general and one-time war critic, just back from Baghdad." (Transcript follows)
As the first anniversary of its grand declaration fast approaches, does NBC continue to believe that Iraq is in a state of civil war? Readers will recall that as we described here, Matt Lauer opened the Today show on November 27th, 2006 with these words:
Good morning. Civil war. A bloody weekend of sectarian clashes in Iraq and no sign it's letting up.
A bit later, Lauer portentously declared:
For months the White House rejected claims that the situation in Iraq has deteriorated into civil war. For the most part news organizations like NBC hesitated to characterize it as such. After careful consideration, NBC News has decided the change in terminology is warranted and what is going on in Iraq can now be characterized as civil war.
Willie Geist's genius as an observer of the political and pop-cultural scenes has been his ability to stay largely above the fray. But guest-hosting for Joe Scarborough on today's "Morning Joe," Geist let the curtain down enough to make clear his pessimism about the Iraq war and desire to have the US exit post-haste. At the same time, retired General Barry McCaffrey made no effort to hide his contempt for Barack Obama's foray into foreign policy regarding Pakistan.
Geist interviewed MSNBC commentator McCaffrey at 6:30 A.M. EDT this morning. McCaffrey at one point opined that he could envision the possibility of reconciliation between Iraqi Shias and Sunnis. Geist was not so sanguine.
MSNBC'S WILLIE GEIST: Could we possibly stay there long enough, though, to see a reconciliation between Sunni and Shia? We're talking years, possibly generations for that to change, aren't we?
Later, looking ahead to tonight's Dem debate, Geist's focus was on which candidate could extricate us from Iraq fastest.
GEIST: Which [candidate] gives you the best sense that they will help us end this war, get us out of there?