It is with sad and undisguised disgust that I watch the collective conservative freak out of the release of SGT Bowe Berghdahl, the only prisoner of war held by the Taliban. In the early morning of June 30, 2009, Berghdal went missing from his unit’s small outpost in Mest, a restive area in Paktia province. Within several hours, radio chatter from the Taliban indicated that they’d captured the soldier.
He spent the next five years in captivity, growing gaunt in the numerous propaganda videos that the Taliban trickled out to the press. On numerous occasions, they publicly threatened him with execution. Many Afghans and some Westerners in similar positions had been tortured, decapitated, or shot to death.
This passed weekend he was released by his captors in exchange for 5 prisoners being held in the concentration camp prison in Guantanamo Bay. And then the hounds of hell came rushing loose from the caves of the Glibertarian Kingdom.
And who was leading the way? Princess Dumbass of the Northwoods and The Town Hall Harlotherself. She is pretty much setting a record for hysterical posts screaming about the man, which is a lot considering that this little specimen of female self loathing is always hysterical about something. But in this case-she has her well oiled plagiarism machine working till all hours of the night.
Over on Facebook or any of the normal blogs its no better either. The ranting is especially virulent. It runs along a consistent set of themes:
1) Obama negotiated with terrorists.Which is an interesting whine considering it simply makes him well, President, and is doing the same thing that Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and George W. Bush did.
2) Second, he released some bad guys. People say he should not have done that. However, as the Christian Science Monitor points out-they were going to have to be released soon anyway:
But dealing with people you find odious – your enemies – is how most wars end. And with the US set for full withdrawal from Afghanistan at the end of 2016, the prospect of a crushing defeat for the Taliban is pretty much nil. Getting POWs back, whatever the circumstances of their capture, a crucial goal.
Did Obama just swap five dangerous “terrorists” for Bergdahl, as Sen. Cruz alleges? It depends on your definition of “terrorism.”
Four of the five men released into Qatar’s custody, where they are supposed to remain for at least a year before being allowed to return home, were indeed senior members of the Taliban movement. The Taliban have been seeking the release of the five in exchange for Bergdahl since 2011, and there had been fitful progress in that regard, with Qatar acting as a mediator, since at least 2013.
Outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai has sought in recent years to find a reconciliation deal with the Taliban, and the release of the “Guantanamo Five” has been a part of those efforts.
Boo fucking who. The guy is home and that is the main thing.
3) And of course, now we come to the real turd in the punchbowl-the guy is alleged to be a deserter. Soonergrunt over at Balloon Juice addresses this in a quite logical fashion:
I don’t know if SGT Bergdahl voluntarily walked off his camp and surrendered to the enemy or not. Just because a few fellow Soldiers in his unit say that doesn’t make it so. The most powerful communication system in an Infantry company is what we used to call “S-5–rumor control.” I’ve never been in a unit that wasn’t essentially a knitting circle with automatic weapons. Young Soldiers, for whom boredom is an almost constant companion (punctuated by moments of sheer terror) can give the most catty junior high school girls’ clique a run for their money. That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily wrong, but I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in it without some corroboration. So I’ll hold off judgment on that. It’s also been brought up that he supposedly sent some emails to one or more people expressing doubts about US military actions. So did I. So have a lot of guys who then went out and did the very best they could do for their buddies and their country. It’s irrelevant anyway.
We’re getting out of Afghanistan, and the treaties to which this nation has repeatedly pledged itself require that we release Prisoners of War and repatriate them home. Taliban are distinct from Al Qaeda in this respect because Taliban could be considered the government forces of Afghanistan (whether legitimate, loved, respected, or not) while AQ isn’t anything but a bunch of thugs under international law. So this idea that we gave up valuable prisoners for one guy and that makes it a bad deal is bullshit on its face. We were going to release them. We were REQUIRED to release them under international law that we largely wrote. Whatever intelligence value they had was long since wrung out of them, in some cases literally. One of them had laid down his arms and pledged to work with the new government of Afghanistan prior to the Pakistani government taking him prisoner more as a propaganda tool and removing a potential political problem than anything else, I am given to understand. So we got something we wanted for doing something now that we would have done in a few months for nothing anyway. That’s not exactly brilliant poker, but it was pretty well played.
We don’t leave our people behind. That’s an Army value. The people ranting about this whole thing either don’t understand or don’t care about that simple concept. Whatever SGT Bergdahl may have done or not done, we don’t leave our people behind. If it hasn’t already, the Army will shortly start a 15-6 investigation, so called in reference to the Army Regulation that describes such things. You’ve probably heard the term “Board of Inquiry.” They are essentially the same thing. When the Army has concluded what the circumstances of SGT Bergdahl’s capture and captivity were, then they’ll make some decisions, but I’ll just note for the record that US POWs have rarely been punished for their actions or inactions while in enemy hands. Many, many of the POWs in Viet Nam, including John McCain signed documents created by their captors confessing to war crimes and indicting their fellow POWs and the US. Former CW4 Michael Durant, taken prisoner by a Somali warlord after being shot down in the battle of Mogadishu (Blackhawk Down) made problematic statements to a TV camera that were subsequently shown around the world. None of these men were ever subjected to disciplinary action upon repatriation to my knowledge.
So I’m glad that SGT Bergdahl will be reunited with his family, at long last.
David Graham over at the Atlantic points out much the same thing-pointing out too, that Obama made clear that he was not going to be bound by a stupid Congressional obstacle if it conflicted with his powers as Commander in Chief. So much for the “he broke the law argument”.
Obviously, there is going to be an investigation. The Army will make a decision one way or another. And it will have to weight all the factors including what he suffered in captivity. And somehow it will have to prove its case in court if it has one. Personally, I think all this public outrage is doing the defense attorney’s job for him-it will make it impossible to prosecute, even if the Army did want to.
Clearly, however, the collective stupidity shown by all the usual suspects makes me wonder about how screwed up the land of my birth is becoming. Everyone needs to chill the f*ck out and remember this little tidbit of advice.
If how #BoweBergdahl disappeared is true, this will not be the 1st time men have died trying to rescue someone who did something dumb. (3)
— Andrew Exum (@abumuqawama) June 1, 2014