Will Republicans Fail on the Bergdahl Affair?
It appears that many commentators are now agreed the Bergdahl deserted his post.
The gathering of additional information as to the circumstances of his desertion, if that is indeed what happened, is certainly critical.
Among other issues, there is also the matter of addressing President Obama’s failure to consult Congress in advance of his releasing five high-powered terrorists in exchange for what looks to have been a deserter.
Here is where it looks like Republicans may be about to drop the ball, although for perhaps not-so-obvious reasons.
There are by now plenty of MSM pieces offering cover to Obama on the grounds that Bergdahl’s medical status necessitated urgent action from Obama (click here for Grey Lady coverage).
First impressions are as critical with respect to the effects of media representations as they are in much of the rest of daily life. With the Bergdahl affair, we are still very much in the “first impression” stage, particularly since a great many questions remain unanswered.
There are at least two major reasons why Republicans need to immediately counteract MSM attempts to emphasize Bergdahl’s medical situation.
First, the nature of the issue is such that it inherently arouses sympathy in many, and therefore its disputation is just as politically risky as it is difficult contest in a low information environment. Thus, there is a danger that Republicans could get sucked into a relatively protracted back-and-forth that produces no discernible resolution other than to channel still-developing attitudes in Obama’s direction.
The second reason for counteracting medical emphases is even more important. The fact is that no matter what Bergdahl’s medical status is, there is powerful evidence that neither it, nor Bergdahl himself -- period, were ever of great concern to Obama. There is good evidence that Obama’s goal, and chief concern all along, was to start draining Guantanamo by releasing the Taliban Five, and Republicans should start hitting hard on going on offense with it now, before it is too late.
A June 4 Daily Mail caption is powerful indeed: “Obama ignored chances to rescue Bergdahl on the ground because he WANTED a terror trade to help close down Guantanamo Bay, claim Pentagon sources.”
The body of the article begins:
The Obama administration passed up multiple opportunities to rescue Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl because the president was dead-set on finding a reason to begin emptying Guantanamo Bay, Cuba according to a Pentagon official.
The Pentagon official then states that, after having had Obama reject “specific rescue-op scenarios”, “[w]hat we learned along the way was that the president wanted a diplomatic scenario that would establish a precedent for repatriating detainees from Gitmo.”
With respect to a second Pentagon official:
While military commanders wavered on the value of rescue plans, a second Pentagon source said Wednesday, they were advised by their chain of command that the White House was pushing hard for a prisoner swap, over the objections of the intelligence community.”
If what these Pentagon officials say is true, we can conclude that nearly everything of importance Obama has said so far about the Bergdahl affair is a malicious lie.
These sorts of consideration might well give new meaning to words such as those of an Obama administration official, Brandon Friedman, who had the gall to suggest that Bergdahl’s platoon was “long on psychopaths” -- apparently because Mr. Friedman disapproves of what members of Bergdahl’s team had so say in response to Susan Rice’s apparent lie that Bergdahl served with “honor and distinction.”
If what the two Pentagon officials have to say is true, I would suggest if Friedman is looking for psychopaths, he should check the Oval Office.
Furthermore, what the officials claim makes perfect sense. Almost immediately after Bergdahl’s release, it was both obvious and undeniable that Obama had five years to act, and did not. It was therefore very logical, and very simple, to conclude that Obama merely waited, and planned, in secret, for the “right” circumstances to do exactly what he ended up doing: release five terrorists, which is to say drain Gitmo.
If too many people knew that Bergdahl was a deserter, Obama, for obvious reasons, would have had tremendous difficulty selling the exchange of five terrorists for him. That’s why Obama silenced Bergdahl’s peers. It’s also why it was critical for him to rush matters through wthout consulting Congress; had Congress had time to consider it, it is pretty likely that Bergdahl’s desertion would have been spread all over the news before Obama’s could start draining Gitmo. The bogus health explanation, of course, provided ostensible “humanitarian” public cover for bypassing intelligence analyses as well as the failure to consult Congress.
Another very quick point: Bergdahl, whatever else he may be, is an individual.
Has Obama ever given any indication that he cares about any individuals other than himself? That alone comes close to demonstrating that Obama has never treated Bergdahl as anything other than a pawn, which makes Bergdahl’s post-Rose Garden photo-op, failed homecoming quintessentially, and very bitterly, ironic.
Dr. Jason Kissner is associate professor of criminology at California University, Fresno. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.