LOS ANGELES, June 4, 2014 — Less than 24 hours after President Obama announced a deal to free U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, the positive coverage of that news was swamped by negatives.
Obama freed five high-ranking radical Islamist terrorists in exchange for Bergdahl: The U.S. government negotiated with terrorists.
The administration then repeated an error that got them in trouble on Benghazi: They sent Susan Rice, the last person they should let appear on a Sunday television show, back on television. She and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel claimed that the Obama Administration did not negotiate with terrorists, but with the government of Qatar as an intermediary. That claim is a legal fiction: Obama negotiated with terrorists.
To make matters worse, the negotiation was a surrender: The Taliban set its demands, and Obama met them. The people who sheltered al-Qaeda in the aftermath of 9/11 got five of their killers back.
On top of all that, the deal described as five terrorists for one American hero may be much less than that: Revelations by members of Bergdahl’s platoon suggest that the young hero may be a traitor. The evidence suggests that Bergdahl is at least a deserter, possibly a collaborator.
A military inquiry will look at whether Bergdahl broke the law. Did his Commander-in-Chief also break the law?
Obama signed a law requiring a president to notify Congress 30 days before releasing or transferring detainees from Guantanamo. Congress was not notified about the Bergdahl deal, an apparently clear violation of the law.
The administration position is that the law contains exemptions to the rule, as many laws do. Obama has claimed that Bergdahl’s health was rapidly declining, and that the deal was necessary to save his life.
This puts Obama and Republicans in a bind. Obama may be the president who repeatedly cries wolf, but in this situation the wolves may have been real. Republicans know that Obama lies often and easily, but they also believe in a strong presidential prerogative in such situations. Handicapping a future Republican president from taking decisive action in a situation like this one is not a politically conservative position.
The Obama Administration is adept at hiding behind a wall of silence. Getting to the truth about four dead Americans in Beghazi has proven difficult since the administration has kept the survivors on lockdown and unavailable for answering questions. This time the United States military ordered secrecy from the members of Bergdahl’s platoon. Some of those soldiers are now claiming that Bergdahl deserted his post, and that for five years they were ordered not to publicly say so.
Who gave that order? Obama is the Commander-in-Chief. Did he give this order, or did a military subordinate? If it was a subordinate, then was Obama, as seems so often the case, kept in the dark? Did he only learn about it, as has become the cliche, “in the morning newspaper”? Obama must demand answers and, to use his other favorite cliche, hold somebody accountable.
If Obama did not know Bergdahl left his post voluntarily, or did not know why, how did he not know? The Attorney General apparently keeps his boss in the dark; have his uniformed generals taken to doing the same? if Obama did know, how could he in good conscience make such a vile deal? How could he risk future terrorist attacks by releasing Jihadists?
If ever a scandal deserved hearings, this is it. Obama negotiated with terrorists, turning Americans everywhere, military and civilian, into potential bargaining chips. Americans need to know why.
This scandal will not go away. If ever the phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors” could be applied, negotiating with terrorists — behind the back of Congress and over the objections of the intelligence community, no less — would qualify. Doing so in possible violation of a law Obama himself signed deserves a criminal inquiry. This should be handled by an impartial prosecutor, not left with Attorney General Eric Holder, who enforces laws selectively and quashes legitimate investigations.
This is not “nothing.” This is not a “partisan witch hunt.” This is, to quote Vice President Joe Biden, a “big f-in deal.” If ever a White House scandal demanded answers to clear-eyed, non-partisan questions, this is it. Questions of law, secrecy, national security, and the powers of a commander-in-chief are all bound together in a way that should concern every American, liberal and conservative, Republican and Democrat.
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