A Bad Deal Plays Out
Just as President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton knew the night of the Benghazi terrorist attack on September 11, 2012, that the attack on our diplomatic mission there was a preplanned terrorist attack, it has now become known that President Obama knew in real time that Bowe Bergdahl in fact was a deserter who abandoned his post in the Afghanistan war zone.
Bergdahl walked away from his comrades and his military responsibilities in June 2009 after he finished his guard shift at an outpost in Southeastern Afghanistan’s Paktika Province. And his fellow soldiers knew at the time Bowe Bergdahl was a deserter
“I was pissed off then and I am even more so now with everything going on,” said former Sergeant Matt Vierkant, a member of Bergdahl’s platoon when he went missing on June 30, 2009. “Bowe Bergdahl deserted during a time of war and his fellow Americans lost their lives searching for him.”
In a recent interview with Fox News’ Martha Macallum, retired Army general and former Afghan commander Stanley McChrystal said he knew almost immediately that Bergdahl had “intentionally” deserted his post about a month after McChrystal’s appointment as Afghan commander was announced in in May 2009:
“And my initial understanding, based upon the reportings I got, that he had walked off intentionally,” McChrystal said, adding that he was not sure whether Bergdahl left with the intent of being picked up by the Taliban or simply “walked off.”
That was indeed the impression of all of Bowe Begdahl’s squad mates, three of whom say they relayed their opinion that Bergdahl had deserted them and his post in time of war to former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen when he visited Afghanistan in December 2009, just six months after Bergdehal abandoned his post.
Vierkant and two other colleagues, Evan Buetow and Cody Full, were part of Mulen’s security detail during his visit when Mullen, in a question and answer session with soldiers, said they could ask him anything they wanted:
'So Matt asked him, you know Bergdahl deserted, what's going on with that? And Admiral Mullen said, 'Yes, we know all the circumstances surrounding Bergdahl walking away from the OP (outpost,)and we're still working on getting him back, figuring out where he is and kind of figuring out that whole situation.'
Mullen, Vierkant says, was not taken aback and did not object to the characterization by Bergdahl’s colleagues that he was a deserter:
“I don't remember him being taken aback by it at all, you know, he knew what was going on, he answered not confidently but he didn't have to think about it, he didn't want to give us some political answer,” Buetow explained. “He just gave us an answer.”
Asked if there was any ambiguity based on the conversation, Vierkant said no. "Without a doubt, he (Mullen) knew he (Bergdahl) deserted or, you know, was suspected of desertion. There was no doubt in my mind that he fully understood what Bergdahl did."
So you have the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and our commander in Afghanistan knowing that Bergdahl was a deserter long before former U.N. Ambassador and current National Security adviser Susan Rice claimed that Bowe Bergdahl had “served with distinction.”
They knew long before President Obama welcomed and commiserated with Bowe Bergdahl’s parents in the Rose Garden on May 31, 2014. It would be stretching credulity to beyond the breaking point to believe President Obama did not know when it was announced we were trading five top Taliban commanders, soon to be free to return to the terrorist battlefield, for Bergdahl.
Even if Bergdahl was not a deserter, the trade would have been a bad deal. As Investor’s Business Daily noted in an editorial charging “Obama Gave Material Assistance To OurTaliban Enemy”:
The Taliban is considered a non-state terrorist group to which Obama has returned five of the worst terrorists held at Guantanamo. They are not foot soldiers and this exchange was not at the end of a war, when prisoner swaps often happen. They are four-star general equivalents who will return to the battlefield to target and kill Americans again. If that's not material assistance, what is?
That Obama would endanger American security for a dubious photo-op and help empty a Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention facility he had pledged to close is beyond the pale. Now the Taliban “dream team” currently biding their time in Qatar under the deal for Bergdahl will soon to be free to return to the terrorist battlefield under the terms of the terrorist exchange for Bergdahl. While in Qatar, reports indicate they have been in contact with their terrorist brethren.
So in the end, we got nothing of value in a bad deal that has put us all in jeopardy: That they will return to the battlefield to kill again, as other former Gitmo detainees have, is a given. But when you're committed to leaving Afghanistan and closing Gitmo, this is a twofer.
One question we have is: How many Americans lost their lives in the pursuit and capture of these jihadists? How many Afghan and American deaths were they responsible for? How many more will die as the result of their release and their likely return to the battlefield?
Mission accomplished, Mr. President?
Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.