Obama's Bergdahl Swap Puts Americans in Danger for Photo Op
Did Barack Obama flout federal law, and free dangerous, committed enemies of this country for a PR stunt?
The White House now admits that it failed to notify Congress before freeing five Taliban leaders from Gitmo in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's release. Those five jihadists will soon be loose to once again plot and execute attacks on America and Americans.
Obama administration officials claim they had to bypass congressional oversight and rush a deal because of concerns about Bergdahl's health and "a window of opportunity." That window, and the hurried nature of events, was almost certainly Barack Obama's current trip to Europe.
It's impossible at this point for outsiders to ascertain the status of Bergdahl's health. But questions about the Obama administration's description of his ill health quickly arose from those who should know, such as Senator (R-Georgia) Saxby Chambliss. "There’s no indication of that other than what the president says, and I don’t believe a thing this president says now."
The facility where Bergdahl is being treated reports that his condition is stable. As to the specific treatment administered to Bergdahl, the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center would only say it "includes attention to dietary and nutrition needs after almost five years in captivity."
(We'll refrain from commenting that, for nutrition issues, maybe Michelle Obama would be better qualified to supervise Bergdahl's recovery. Or that Bergdahl should hope that he receives better treatment than soldiers who served honorably--perhaps even were wounded searching for him--from the Obama administration's VA. More on the VA later.)
The benign information from the hospital, and serious doubt about the source of more ominous references to Bergdahl's health (i.e. Obama), begs a closer look at the administration's second excuse, the "window of opportunity."
Bergdahl has been in Taliban custody for five years. What was so pressing that the Obama administration, not only couldn't give Congress the 30 day notice required for releasing prisoners from Gitmo, but--because the deal was finalized on the weekend--that the handover had to take place so quickly that Congress could only be notified after the fact?
The VA scandal was hemorraghing Obama faster than a vet on one of his administration's secret waiting lists. And, unlike the many other scandals that have swirled around this White House, this one had drawn the ire of even some of his supporters. Or at least the ones up for reelection.
What better way to take the heat off, especially with veterans' groups, than to bring home one of our boys?
Or so went the thinking.
Do I have proof? No, unless the hurried nature of the final negotiations and quick release is sheer coincidence. Or that it's coincidence that Bergdahl's parents just happened to be in Washington, not at home in Idaho, as Obama made the announcement of the deal to free their son, an event perfectly orchestrated for Obama to wrap his comforting arms around them.
It's also coincidence, no doubt, that Bergdahl was freed and transferred to Landstuhl just as Obama departed for another tour of Europe. His first stop is Poland, followed by Belgium and France. Landstuhl is adjacent to Ramstein Air Base, providing Obama with an opportunity for a quick stop for another photo op on his way from Poland to Belgium. They'd barely have to divert his private plane, uh, Air Force One in order to get video of Obama with the newly-released captive.
Focus would shift from veterans dying because of Obama's neglect to Obama's concern that no soldier be left behind.
Or so went the thinking.
Most likely it won't play out that way.
What Obama and his handlers hadn't counted on was the rapid, and seemingly righteous, outrage over Bergdahl's release by those who served with him. Obama may have been blindsided--overconfident, knowing that those soldiers had been forced to sign non-disclosure agreements which barred them from speaking out about details of Bergdahl's "capture." Now, given the controversies swirling about Bergdahl's release, Obama likely will fly right over Ramstein and Landstuhl.
But the "window of opportunity" that caused Obama to hurriedly release five deadly enemies of this country, potentially endangering the lives of countless Americans, was a window of opportunity for Obama. It was a PR stunt, designed to draw attention away from VA scandal.
PR is the one thing Obama has generally pulled off well. Now, it seems he's failing even at that.
William Tate is an award-winning former journalist