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No man left behind
May 31, 2014 5:17 PM   Subscribe


 
We missed an opportunity. We should have traded ALL the Guantanamo prisoners for Bergdahl, and closed the place.
posted by LarryC at 5:23 PM on May 31, 2014 [49 favorites]


He should go into politics.
posted by svenni at 5:37 PM on May 31, 2014 [9 favorites]


We missed an opportunity. We should have traded ALL the Guantanamo prisoners for Bergdahl, and closed the place.

For truth.

LarryC, YOU should go into politics!
posted by BlueHorse at 6:03 PM on May 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


The thing about declaring a War on Terror is that if you're going to have a war, you have to eventually negotiate or fight it for the rest of your existence, which means, in this case, you have to negotiate with terrorists.

Of course, this is unacceptable to some:

GOP lawmakers say administration broke law with prisoner swap

Unless, of course, this is just some assholes taking a delicate international situation and being craven political assholes about it. It might be that too. *clicks link, sees lawmakers involved* Yeah, probably is.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:17 PM on May 31, 2014 [9 favorites]


Unless, of course, this is just some assholes taking a delicate international situation and being craven political assholes about it.

Y'know, it's possible to have an honest disagreement with this action. It sets a bad precedent.
posted by codswallop at 6:23 PM on May 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


GOP lawmakers say administration broke law with prisoner swap

Which, well, technically, he did. The law says he has to inform Congress ahead of time, among other things. His signing statement at the time was "uhm, sure, you can pass this law, but it's can't bind my powers as commander-in-chief" and he does rather have a point, given that it's a military facility, he should be able to release whoever he likes.
posted by BungaDunga at 6:24 PM on May 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


and he does rather have a point, given that it's a military facility,

That's hardly sufficient reasoning.

"The Congress shall have power... To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;"

posted by Jahaza at 6:28 PM on May 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


President Bush long ago claimed an extraordinarily broad executive privilege in carrying out hostilities against terrorists -- even going so far as to effectively suspend habeas corpus and declare his intention to assassinate US citizens who he -- and he alone -- felt were "threats" to national security. Without any legal oversight whatsoever. We also know that the executive branch has (probably for decades) been monitoring American phone calls and emails, also illegally. president Bush, specifically, had continually snubbed congressional efforts to curtail these powers.

President Obama is almost certainly breaking the law, but the law itself is becoming fundamentally irrelevant in modern America.
posted by Avenger at 6:35 PM on May 31, 2014 [25 favorites]


“Our terrorist adversaries now have a strong incentive to capture Americans..."

They didn't before? Oh, wait that was a strong incentive to kill Americans.
posted by edgeways at 6:49 PM on May 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


As the previous post pointed out, this guy deserted to go join the Taliban when he was captured. So the administration sent back five for-sure terrorists to go kill more innocents so we could get back a guy who wanted to join them. This seems like an extraordinarily stupid move even without the (frankly hypocritical) protestations over legality.
posted by dirigibleman at 6:54 PM on May 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


At least now nobody can claim that Obama would really like to release the innocent captives in Guantanamo, although his hands are tied. If he can release "significant Taliban leaders", he can release people who have never had charges brought against them and will never be tried.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:55 PM on May 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


It sets a bad precedent

For it to set a precedent, good or bad, it would have to be unprecedented. Which it is not.
posted by yoink at 6:56 PM on May 31, 2014 [6 favorites]


I wouldn't put a lot of money on any of those released prisoners surviving their time in Qatar.
posted by Etrigan at 7:02 PM on May 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


Y'know, it's possible to have an honest disagreement with this action. It sets a bad precedent.

That precedent was set a long time ago, and most recently and clearly re-set by Reagan in Iran/Contra and before when he almost certainly negotiated with Iran over the release of the hostages.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:16 PM on May 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


I'd be curious to hear what he had to say about the motivations for walking off base that night.
posted by arcticseal at 7:18 PM on May 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


Conor Friedersdorf:
Guantanamo: A Perverse Incentive to Keep Troops in Afghanistan
Delaying the end of this war makes it easier to avoid releasing prisoners of it.

posted by Joe in Australia at 7:34 PM on May 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Wikileaks reports of relevant US actions and surveillance reports on the day of Bergdahl's captrure.
posted by bigZLiLk at 7:42 PM on May 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'll wait for the book. Too much unknown yet.
posted by stbalbach at 8:24 PM on May 31, 2014


Bowe is my wife's cousin so I am very happy that this happened in time for the giant family reunion this summer now please get back to your bitchy sniping about Obama.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:50 PM on May 31, 2014 [41 favorites]


Based on the wikileaks link above, that may have been about the most undignified kidnapping of all time:

WE WERE ATTACKING THE POST HE WAS SITTING TAKING EXPLETIVE HE HAD NO GUN WITH HIM. HE WAS TAKING EXPLETIVE, HE HAS NOT CLEANED HIS BUTT YET.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:04 PM on May 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


That precedent was set a long time ago, and most recently and clearly re-set by Reagan in Iran/Contra and before when he almost certainly negotiated with Iran over the release of the hostages.

That's the most recent and clear precedent you got? Damn. Most of us weren't even alive then. You should try harder.
posted by Slap Factory at 9:13 PM on May 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


That precedent was set a long time ago, and most recently and clearly re-set by Reagan in Iran/Contra and before when he almost certainly negotiated with Iran over the release of the hostages.

That's the most recent and clear precedent you got? Damn. Most of us weren't even alive then. You should try harder.


Forget it Slap, it's Metafiltertown.
posted by codswallop at 9:20 PM on May 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Slap Factory: "That's the most recent and clear precedent you got? Damn. Most of us weren't even alive then. "

Wait - most of us were born after 1985/86? I may need to request that you remove yourself from my lawn, young person.
posted by nightwood at 9:24 PM on May 31, 2014 [28 favorites]


I do apologize for the "joined the Taliban" allegation, which apparently is a rumor started by anonymous dipshit Digg patriot types. I'm glad shakespeherian's family will have a happy reunion.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:59 PM on May 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


In some of those videos of him gorging on traditional fare, he can be seen eating with his left hand. If he had converted to Islam and was hanging out with fundies he'd definitely be chided for using his left hand to eat.

Unless, of course, that was just a clever ruse to deflect suspicion and the upcoming family reunion is in fact an Al Qaeda planning meeting.
posted by planetesimal at 10:46 PM on May 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm blown away that I eat up Homeland like it's my job and I've never even heard of this guy until now. And his father isn't sure he speaks English anymore? And of all the people to cover him in 2010, Michael Hastings? What a strangely twisted mess.
posted by phaedon at 12:32 AM on June 1, 2014


He's home.
He's alive.
Everything else is irrelevant.
posted by Pudhoho at 12:37 AM on June 1, 2014


Oh yeah, if Obama broke the law: issue him a speeding ticket or try and impeach him.

Cheap punks.
posted by Pudhoho at 12:41 AM on June 1, 2014


So the administration sent back five for-sure terrorists to go kill more innocents so we could get back a guy who wanted to join them. This seems like an extraordinarily stupid move even without the (frankly hypocritical) protestations over legality.

Leaving an American soldier behind in Afghanistan as a prisoner of war because we're confused or angry about how he came to be in Taliban hands is abhorrent. If he deserted or committed any wrongdoing, the military can deal with that when he's safely back in the US.

"Leave no man behind" doesn't come with a "unless he's a shitty person" clause.
posted by lullaby at 12:49 AM on June 1, 2014 [19 favorites]


Some people are pissed off by this but it seems like just good policy if you are going to have a war. Otherwise you disincetivise the taking of prisoners and what "Support the Troops" campaigner is going to get behind that.
posted by Mitheral at 1:50 AM on June 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


The thing about declaring a War on Terror is that if you're going to have a war, you have to eventually negotiate or fight it for the rest of your existence, which means, in this case, you have to negotiate with terrorists.

Of course, this is unacceptable to some:

GOP lawmakers say administration broke law with prisoner swap


Trade prisoners with remnants of regieme we went to war with? Treason! Sell arms to a country which wants to go to war with us? GREATEST PRESIDENT EVER.

Also, the law in question is most certainly unconstitutional.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:34 AM on June 1, 2014 [8 favorites]


So the administration sent back five for-sure terrorists to go kill more innocents so we could get back a guy who wanted to join them. This seems like an extraordinarily stupid move even without the (frankly hypocritical) protestations over legality.

The Taliban were the government of Afghanistan before we made war on them and knocked them out. This is a simple prisoner exchange.

Plus Israel who is super-against terrorists does it all the time!
posted by Ironmouth at 5:36 AM on June 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


Y'know, it's possible to have an honest disagreement with this action.

But that's not what is happening here. These are people who react to the President saying it's daylight by putting black cloth over the windows so they can accuse him of lying.
posted by localroger at 5:46 AM on June 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


Wait - most of us were born after 1985/86?

According to the 2010 survey, the average Mefite is 33. I can't find a figure for median age, though, and in a population distribution, median ages are usually somewhat lower than average ages. I guess it's possible, though I think unlikely, that the majority of Mefites actually were born after the Iran/Contra scandal.

Not that "it happened before I was born, therefore it is uninteresting and historically insignificant" is ever going to be a particularly compelling argument.
posted by yoink at 5:53 AM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


True story: the USA leaned on Israel to release Palestinian prisoners during the most recent peace talks. These were pretty bad guys, murderers and multiple murderers, the idea being that releasing them (these ones in particular) would provide a real incentive to keep the Palestinians at the peace table. There was a lot of public opposition, but the Israeli government view was that they didn't have any choice. So they did it.

After Israel released the first batch the USA State Department pitched a fit. It turned out that one of the prisoners had been convicted for killing a US citizen ...
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:57 AM on June 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


A Taliban statement on Saturday announced the release “with great happiness” and said the men would live with their families in Qatar.

I wonder if their attitude toward the US has improved after a decade of torture and deprivation and if it would be different if they had been treated with respect and decency instead.
posted by TedW at 5:58 AM on June 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


After Israel released the first batch the USA State Department pitched a fit.
Marie Harf, deputy spokesperson for the State Department, told The Daily Beast Thursday, “The State Department conveyed the administration’s concerns regarding the release of this prisoner to the government of Israel, while recognizing the victim was a dual national of Israel and the United States.”

Harf said the Israeli side “acknowledged our views, but it was ultimately their decision to determine which prisoners to release. This is a very difficult situation for all involved, and further highlights the importance of making these negotiations successful.”
"Pitched a fit"? Really? What would you have said if the State Department had gone beyond expressing "concern" and expressed, say, "disappointment" or "displeasure"? That they became catatonic with rage and swore eternal enmity to Israel on the blood of their ancestors?
posted by yoink at 6:18 AM on June 1, 2014 [4 favorites]


But that's not what is happening here. These are people who react to the President saying it's daylight by putting black cloth over the windows so they can accuse him of lying.

Stopped clock, yaddada yaddada.

I mean, I'm in favor of getting Bergdahl back, and I'm glad it happened, and I acknowledge that shitty things sometimes have to happen on the opposite side of the see-saw from good things. But Obama did pretty much ignore the law to do this, and there are plenty of people on the other side of the aisle (more in the blogosphere than the Congressphere, tho) who would be spouting the exact same things if Bush had done it.

That's not an indictment of either side, it's just a weary acknowledgment that shit's fucked up, yo.
posted by Etrigan at 7:22 AM on June 1, 2014


Are people unaware that prisoner of war exchanges have pretty much gone on in most long wars since the beginning of time? The only reason this is controversial is because we're politically not calling the other side soldiers because terrorists sounds scarier.
posted by corb at 7:33 AM on June 1, 2014 [8 favorites]


As the previous post pointed out, this guy deserted to go join the Taliban when he was captured. So the administration sent back five for-sure terrorists to go kill more innocents so we could get back a guy who wanted to join them.

Allegedly deserted. As far as I know he's not faced a court martial or even been convicted in abstentia. There hasn't even been a finding of fact on this case.

Were these alleged terrorists? Or did they actually get a trial?
posted by cjorgensen at 7:38 AM on June 1, 2014 [4 favorites]


""Pitched a fit"? Really? What would you have said if the State Department had gone beyond expressing "concern" and expressed, say, "disappointment" or "displeasure"? "
posted by yoink

Politics is all about the art of diplomacy, and saying what you want to say without actually saying it, so in political terms, expressing concern and displeasure is pretty much tantamount to throwing a fit, which you cannot actually do no matter how angry the situation may make you.
posted by marienbad at 7:42 AM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


because we're politically not calling the other side soldiers because terrorists sounds scarier.

And because insisting on labels like terrorist and enemy combatant appears to allow you to ignore both the constitution and international law.

That doing so turns out to be counterproductive over the long term is not entirely surprising, of course, including things like making it harder to get a US soldier home.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:48 AM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


expressing concern and displeasure

They didn't "express displeasure." I offered the word "displeasure" as an example of stronger diplomatic language that they could have used. For the State Department to say "we are concerned, but it's obviously their right to do what they want to do" is about the lowest possible level of official response imaginable short of saying nothing whatsoever. "Pitched a fit" is an hilariously exaggerated description.
posted by yoink at 8:04 AM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


because we're politically not calling the other side soldiers because terrorists sounds scarier.

And because insisting on labels like terrorist and enemy combatant appears to allow you to ignore both the constitution and international law.


And thirdly because there actually are both legal and commonly accepted definitions of "soldier," including fighting for an acknowledged state, wearing a uniform and other legal niceties that the other side generally does not adhere to.

That doesn't mean they don't deserve most of the protections afforded by the increasingly outdated Geneva etc. Conventions, but it's not just because of some mustache-twisting villains at the Pentagon.
posted by Etrigan at 8:23 AM on June 1, 2014 [6 favorites]


And because insisting on labels like terrorist and enemy combatant appears to allow you to ignore both the constitution and international law.

You get labeled things like "terrorist" and "enemy combatant" based on things like whether or not you wear a uniform, which is not just a technical difference, it's a measure of whether or not you're engaging in legitimate combat or using civilians for camouflage and human shielding. It's not a distinction the Bush administration decided to invent recently; it's been the law in various forms for centuries.

In past eras it was common to just summarily execute anyone fighting without a uniform on, in part because it creates an incentive to destroy the civilian population. It's not an unreasonable rule.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:22 AM on June 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


It seems he CHOSE to endanger himself by walking off base by himself after denouncing America in an email. (I didn't see where he went to "join the Taliban".) Of course, MAYBE they floated that story to help keep him alive.
If not, he had to know the possible consequences of that action. So while rescuing him as a hostage of the enemy would be fine, I'm not happy about exchanging him (except that it helps us move towards closing Guantanamo, and hopefully the high-level guys have a capsule of something incapacitating that will time-release in a few weeks).
posted by whatgorilla at 10:50 AM on June 1, 2014


In Michael Hasting's 2012 article "America's Last Prisoner of War" it is claimed that we were negotiating with the Taliban as early as 2011 to swap five prisoners for Bowe. So it's likely that when Obama made the NDAA signing statement this process was already underway.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:53 AM on June 1, 2014


So in the last couple weeks, I've seen Republicans question the loyalties of Tammy Duckworth (no, seriously, Tammy Duckworth!) because she's going on the eleventy-billionth Benghazi hearing committee. I've seen an "open letter" from a Republican congressman questioning the loyalties of veterans' service orgs that didn't call for Shinseki's resignation. And now this.

I think maybe after the last election, the Republican party got the message that it's a bad idea to make rape victims into a political punching bag. This year's punching bag: Veterans! Because that will work out so much better!
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:55 AM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Bob Bergdahl is on TV right now; that man has a mighty fine beard!
posted by Justinian at 12:20 PM on June 1, 2014


This isn't just a very astute trade -- which compares favorably to Israel's 2011 trade of 1027 prisoners for one man -- it's also a very strategic one.

From Wikipedia:
"Throughout the fall of 2011 and the winter of 2012 the United States conducted peace negotiations with the Taliban, and widely leaked was that a key sticking point was the ongoing detention of Fazl and four other senior Taliban, Norullah Noori, Khirullah Khairkhwa, Abdul Haq Wasiq and Mohammed Nabi. Negotiations hinged around sending the five men directly to Doha, Qatar, where they would be allowed to set up an official office for the Taliban."

And of course, the five prisoners being swapped are these five, who, as a result, are not only freed from Guantanamo, but put into a position where they are unlikely to be much of a threat. Hell, they may not even be trusted enough to be used as combatants again, as their own people might be suspicious of their loyalty, whether they are being monitored and tracked, etc.

So, basically, this gets rid of the last obstacles for comprehensive peace negotiations, which might be helpful, if we ever want to withdraw all our troops from Afghanistan.

It also means that the Taliban no longer can make excuses for not negotiating. If they fail to do so after this, and keep blowing up innocent people -- which, let's face it, is most of what they do -- the US and the Afghan government can basically say, "Look, we did everything they asked for, and they betrayed their word, killing innocent civilians." ... which is essentially what happened in Yemen that shifted public opinion sharply against Al Qaeda, leading to major government successes against them and widespread support for a leader who campaigned enthusiastically for their eradication.

No matter how you slice it, the US will get the best of this deal. And this is exactly the kind of agreement that a POTUS should be able to use their executive powers to make a reality.
posted by markkraft at 12:25 PM on June 1, 2014 [3 favorites]




"In its majestic equality, international law encourages rich and poor citizens around the world alike to designate themselves an official combatant for a nation and government they choose to call home and defend, adorn themselves in uniforms that clearly identify them for symmetric and gentlemanly battlefield engagements, and engage the world's most powerful governments head-on in order to enjoy the dignity of being recognized as soldiers."

-- No one ever, especially not the people who got the 1776 ball rolling.
posted by aydeejones at 8:51 PM on June 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


Or to avoid reversing the polarity:

"In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor combatants alike to fight without uniform, use asymmetric and guerilla warfare tactics, and use violence and fear against civilians to implement political agendas."
posted by aydeejones at 8:53 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]




I don't think they'll want to court martial a guy after they traded 5 high value POWs for him, the optics wouldn't be good.
posted by Justinian at 10:10 PM on June 1, 2014




I wonder if the desertion aspect has something to do with why his parents aren't being allowed to see him yet?

This is such an odd story.

Also, I have a relative who was thinking of going back to the Middle East to do work as a military contractor because of a lucrative offer. He said yesterday he would probably say no because of these five dudes being released, and it was hard not to roll my eyes. I have a hard time believing it will be significantly more dangerous now than it was last time he went just because these five guys are out. But maybe I'm wrong. I get not wanting to go back, but he watches a lot of Fox News and it consistently make him afraid of all the wrong things.
posted by emjaybee at 7:26 AM on June 2, 2014


He said yesterday he would probably say no because of these five dudes being released,

No offense to you as it's your relative, but it sounds like the job will be going to a better-informed candidate.
posted by aught at 8:17 AM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


Let it not be said crazies like Allen West aren't going to craze over this.
posted by corb at 12:23 PM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


Republicans never met a line they didn't want to cross at 200 mph in a NASCAR.
posted by dirigibleman at 1:07 PM on June 2, 2014






Wow, the Repubs. are really digging in on this one - even with all the 'deserter' stuff I would have thought that the "bring our boys home" angle would be the larger factor.

I am curious what the first polls are going to say. Sadly I think that will determine how long they try to drag this out.
posted by rosswald at 7:10 PM on June 2, 2014


Always Leave A Man Behind. RNC2014.
posted by stavrogin at 10:28 PM on June 2, 2014


Wow, the Repubs. are really digging in on this one - even with all the 'deserter' stuff I would have thought that the "bring our boys home" angle would be the larger factor.

Not just Republicans. MSNBC has been doing this as well.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:10 AM on June 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Jim Wright knocks one into the cheap seats.
When these capering lunatics stand in front of the nation, the world, and without a single shred of decency, without the tiniest modicum of self-conscious shame, without any apparent awareness of their own boundless hypocrisy, and loudly protest the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from the clutches of our sworn enemies, I have to say no more.

...

And Bergdahl has neither admitted his guilt nor proclaimed his innocence as yet. There’s been no Article 32 hearing, no trial, no court martial. The military and the intelligence agencies haven’t even begun his debriefing. All we know for certain is that an American soldier was taken captive by the enemy, held for years, and returned as part of a prisoner exchange. That’s it. That’s what we know. We don’t know what events led to his capture, not all of them, not yet. We don’t know the details of his captivity. We don’t know the particulars of his release beyond the broad details that have been published in the press.

Nevertheless, Bergdahl has been condemned by the popular media, by social networks, by pundits and politicians, not because they know more about the situation than you or I do, but solely because they hate the president. If Obama was behind Bergdahl’s release, then Bergdahl is a traitor, Q.E.D. because the president must never, ever, be allowed even the slightest acknowledgement of patriotism.

This condemnation isn’t about Bergdahl, it’s about Obama.

Certainly, some of Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers say he deserted. That he was disillusioned with the war, with America, that he left his guard post and walked away into the desert in some foolish and quixotic attempt to reach China. They say that men, good men, real heroes, died searching for Bergdahl after he disappeared.

And those soldiers, they’d probably know, wouldn’t they?

...

Last time I checked, the punishment specified for violation of UCMJ Article 85 (or Article 86 depending on Bergdahl’s intentions) isn’t to throw him to our enemies!

Ultimately, Bergdahl will have to face his accusers, and if the allegations of desertion are proven true then he will answer for the crime of desertion as specified under the Uniform Code of Military Justice – which technically could include the death penalty since the desertion is alleged to have occurred during time of war and in the face of the enemy. Far more likely, of course, if Bergdahl is convicted of desertion he’ll probably get little more than a bad conduct discharge and forfeiture of any benefits. It’s unlikely that he’d see prison time – and, really, how would that even be a punishment compared to what he’s already been through? Likely he won’t ever face a hearing and he’ll be administratively separated from the service at the Army’s earliest possible convenience.

But, and here’s the thing so pay attention, even if Bergdahl is tried and found guilty of desertion, even if he’s found guilty of treason as some would have it, he’ll go to prison – we won’t give him back to the Taliban.

There is no crime so great that leaving him in the hands of our enemies is the indicated punishment.

He was, he is, one of ours. Period.

posted by tonycpsu at 7:26 AM on June 3, 2014 [14 favorites]


It's a safe bet that all five of those Talibs are now pretty high up on the various kill lists that the CIA and JSOC maintain. Combine the US's spooky targeting technology with the fact that they have complete profiles (height, weight, gait, shadow, etc) on those released, they're basically all walking around with laser targets on their heads.
posted by planetesimal at 8:56 AM on June 3, 2014


(Not saying that the US is going to summarily execute any of them, but that they're no doubt being watched and will be targeted if they meet with other known actors.)
posted by planetesimal at 8:57 AM on June 3, 2014


Yeah. I think we should have brought him back and then court-martialed him, to make a point, but that's just me.
posted by corb at 8:58 AM on June 3, 2014


Brian Kilmeade compares Bergdahl father to Taliban. No word on what he thinks of the Duck Dynasty guys.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:04 AM on June 3, 2014


All those interviews slamming Bergdahl were set up by GOP operatives.

This is starting to look like a swiftboating.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:08 AM on June 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


And, of course, noted weapons wholesaler Oliver North seems to have had a sudden change of heart about Bergdahl.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:16 AM on June 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


"Get him back" was a swipe at the Obama administration, and "He's just a deserter" is a swipe at the Obama administration. Anyone who says different is selling something, and it's a fucking crime that service members are joining in this overtly political discussion.
posted by Etrigan at 9:26 AM on June 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Well, court-martialing is honestly a good idea for a lot of reasons : not least being that if he's guilty, he can get punished or have his sentence commuted for time served in Taliban captivity, but if he's innocent, he can be definitively declared so.
posted by corb at 9:47 AM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Court-martialing him is one thing. Crucifying him in the press is a much smellier kettle of fish.
posted by Etrigan at 9:52 AM on June 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Vox: 8 things you need to know to understand the Bowe Bergdahl controversy
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:21 AM on June 3, 2014


You know, that link raises a really interesting question - how much of Bergdahl's father's presentation is because he wanted his son freed? And after performing something for a certain length of years, can you even do it without it becoming part of you?
posted by corb at 10:26 AM on June 3, 2014


CNN: Bowe Bergdahl’s Dad on Why He Grew That Beard

This whole thing is pretty surreal
posted by rosswald at 10:47 AM on June 3, 2014


Tell me about it.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:25 AM on June 3, 2014


Man, there doesn't appear to be anybody willing to stand up for this guy. Chuck Todd is talking about it on MSNBC now. Apparently the administration knew there might be criticism but assumed that at least some of Bergdahl's fellow soldiers would stand up for the guy and have been caught flat footed because he is more or less being universally despised.
posted by Justinian at 1:07 PM on June 3, 2014


The Prodigal Soldier
posted by DynamiteToast at 1:27 PM on June 3, 2014




Yeah, prisoner exchange is absolutely standard. The Republicans would cry like babies either way; if it came out that the administration refused such a deal they would accuse Obama of sacrificing an American Soldier and being evil and blah blah blah.
posted by Justinian at 3:25 PM on June 3, 2014


Who even cares if his dad sucks? How is that even relevant except to people who are trying to concern-troll this into political hay?
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:01 PM on June 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


But then again we would not negotiate with terrorists when it came to freeing the girls in Nigeria

....and I will give great deference to the soldiers that were serving with this kid. At best, he has poor judgment and lack of maturity. At worst, he could be a traitor. Who knows at this point?
posted by OhSusannah at 4:36 PM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Mad Magazine comments!
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:41 PM on June 3, 2014


I deeply regret my first comment in this thread. What a fucking grotesque shitshow. 9/11 broke this country.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:25 PM on June 3, 2014


The Taliban released a video of Bergdahl's handover. The hug was probably more a quick pat down.
posted by planetesimal at 11:56 PM on June 3, 2014


Yeah one of the morning shows took huge efforts to point out that they were patting him down to "make sure he wasn't carrying a bomb."
This whole thing is great. We got back a soldier and the true colors of the "Patriots" are shining through.
posted by Big_B at 10:49 AM on June 4, 2014




At this point, we can just hope that people use discretion and not stage some nasty counter-rally for his homecoming celebration. Maybe all the people riled up about this can go find the parents of a kidnapped toddler to berate and insult that weekend instead!
posted by planetesimal at 11:41 AM on June 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


No.
Shame.
Whatsoever.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:41 AM on June 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


So the fact that strategists probably paid for by GOP super-PACs called many members of Bergdahl's platoon to try to find ones to speak negatively against him should call into question support of the current Republican party of anyone who cares to give a damn about the people serving in our military. This is the most disgusting turn of partisanship related to the military in a while -- and that is really saying something.

This is a very complex situation from a lot of perspectives, but that part is so unbelievably outrageous that I can't even process it fully. Like how does somebody defend that at all?
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:17 PM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oliver North, best known for selling arms to terrorists to secure the release of hostages, then using the proceeds to fund another set of terrorists, demands to know if Obama "financed a terrorist organization".
posted by dirigibleman at 5:54 PM on June 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


That just caused an aneurysm.
posted by planetesimal at 6:07 PM on June 4, 2014




@MattBinder was linked to in one of the above articles but deserves to be seen in detail. Some of these folks must have developed whip-lash they turned so quickly.
posted by beowulf573 at 8:22 PM on June 4, 2014


Oliver North, best known for selling arms to terrorists to secure the release of hostages, then using the proceeds to fund another set of terrorists, demands to know if Obama "financed a terrorist organization".

He's worried about violation of copyright, maybe?
posted by yoink at 9:26 PM on June 4, 2014


yoink: He's worried about violation of copyright, maybe?

Jon Stewart rips Oliver North: Are you mad that prisoner-trading has ‘gone mainstream’?
posted by tonycpsu at 10:40 PM on June 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Not even the ultra right Likud hawks in Israel would blink twice about swapping 5 prisoners for a returned soldier. For the only known American POW in Afghanistan, 5 returned Taliban is an absolute bargain.
posted by PenDevil at 5:49 AM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]




I like that one of those conservatives is Jazzy Vajazzled.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:17 AM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Greg Sargent: On Bowe Bergdahl, White House bets on GOP overreach

Looks like they're going to prove the WH right (again). And boy howdy, are they making it an easy bet.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:29 AM on June 5, 2014






So way upthread I mentioned that there's a big Bergdahl family reunion this summer that's been in planning like forever. (I am only tangentially related-- via marriage-- to the Bergdahl peeps.) Welp yesterday we had to make the reunion Facebook page private and closed because apparently strangers from all across the internet have been trying to join in the last week.

Like, what the literal fuck.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:29 AM on June 5, 2014 [9 favorites]


Soldiers must be thrilled to know that should they be captured their release under a Republican administration will depend on the voting record of their parents. Keep that morale sky high!
posted by PenDevil at 11:58 AM on June 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


NYT: Bergdahl Walked Away Before, Military Report Says

Clearly leaving Bergdahl with the Taliban was not an option, but my pity for him has all but vanished.
posted by rosswald at 1:06 PM on June 5, 2014




rosswald: "NYT: Bergdahl Walked Away Before, Military Report Says

Clearly leaving Bergdahl with the Taliban was not an option, but my pity for him has all but vanished.
"

Did you read the article? Sounds like his previous adventures where to see a sunset or sunset and he returned, while in training, and then another apperently unreported instance of a "shorter unauthorized walk outside the concertina wire of his combat outpost ." Also the supposed letter saying he was leaving for good wasn't reported until very recently...

I'm not saying I'm okay with him leaving his post for a jaunt, but again things don't appear as clear cut as they are being portrayed by certain folks.
posted by Big_B at 6:40 AM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Clearly leaving Bergdahl with the Taliban was not an option, but my pity for him has all but vanished.

Um...what? Evidence that he almost certainly wasn't "deserting" but was just going for a short hike with every intention of returning makes you "lose all pity for him?" I mean, sure, you can say that he was an idiot to take the risk, but it pretty much explodes the GOP script that he was running off to "join the Taliban."

It's amazing what a torrent of completely unsupported BS the initial reporting on Bergdahl turns out to be. The whole "he left behind a letter saying he was deserting because he had become disillusioned with the war" stuff, the notion that the guys released from Gitmo were all hardened terrorists, the claim that soldiers died "while searching for Bergdahl" etc. etc. One by one pretty much every element of the GOP case has been exploded. What's shameful, though, is that major media outlets parroted these bogus talking points without doing any meaningful reporting to check them out.
posted by yoink at 8:04 AM on June 6, 2014 [7 favorites]


Okay. So if he took unauthorized walks outside, he's a shitbag who went AWOL (Absent Without Leave). It doesn't mean he's a deserter - and actually may in fact be a mitigating defense against desertion, which requires an intent never to return.

This would all be shown at the court martial, if they would just have it already.
posted by corb at 8:30 AM on June 6, 2014


Okay. So if he took unauthorized walks outside, he's a shitbag who went AWOL (Absent Without Leave

Yeah. I'm sure every single soldier who has ever taken a short, unauthorized jaunt off base with no intent to desert has been court-martialed in the past. Oh, and been seen as having thereby renounced all claim on any future help and support from their nation. Ay-yup.

Even in a well-run and well-disciplined unit (which, by all accounts, Bergdahl's was not), had he been caught sneaking back onto the base after going for a midnight hike (which appears to be all he had in mind) it's inconceivable that he'd have faced a court martial. He would have received some administrative punishment and the whole incident would be entirely unmemorable.
posted by yoink at 9:06 AM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Even in a well-run and well-disciplined unit (which, by all accounts, Bergdahl's was not), had he been caught sneaking back onto the base after going for a midnight hike (which appears to be all he had in mind) it's inconceivable that he'd have faced a court martial. He would have received some administrative punishment and the whole incident would be entirely unmemorable.

I'm not necessarily advocating a court-martial, but if I were to fire my sidearm into the air, I'd face administrative punishment; if I were to fire my sidearm into the air and it killed someone on the way down, I'd face court-martial. Effect -- completely independent of action or intent -- is absolutely a contributing factor to the level of punishment.
posted by Etrigan at 9:11 AM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Effect -- completely independent of action or intent -- is absolutely a contributing factor to the level of punishment.

Fair enough. My point, though, is not to say that it's entirely unreasonable to suggest a court martial, it is to say that it's entirely unreasonable to pretend that the action we know him to have undertaken is a profoundly morally shocking one which renders him beyond the pale (i.e., that he's a "shitbag" for doing what, but for the bad luck of being captured, would have barely raised anyone's eyebrows).
posted by yoink at 9:17 AM on June 6, 2014


I don't think you understand how little it takes to render someone a "shitbag" in the Army. "Shitbag" doesn't mean that you're a vile and contemptible human being, it means more like...you don't take soldiering and its rules and values very seriously.

To give you context, we also had a "shitbag" in our unit who refused to shine his boots.
posted by corb at 9:20 AM on June 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


No man shitbag left behind.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:52 AM on June 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


that he's a "shitbag" for doing what, but for the bad luck of being captured, would have barely raised anyone's eyebrows

He's a shitbag for doing something that actually got him captured. If he hadn't gotten captured it would have merely been dumb.

It's the difference between seeing how fast your car can go on the Interstate, and doing the same thing, coming around a curve, and causing a horrific, fiery wreck. Only in some very abstract moral calculus that is irrelevant to most people are those two situations the same. The person who actually causes harm due to their actions is going to be judged much more harshly.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:49 PM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's the difference between seeing how fast your car can go on the Interstate, and doing the same thing, coming around a curve, and causing a horrific, fiery wreck.

So, you will be explaining this to the folks pushing draconian DUI laws which apply even when you do not cause a horrific fiery wreck, I can assume?
posted by localroger at 1:23 PM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Here comes the polls - Reuters/Ipsos poll: Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl
posted by rosswald at 7:20 PM on June 6, 2014


And wow, them polls isn't front-loaded at all, not one little silo worth.
posted by localroger at 7:45 PM on June 6, 2014


So, you will be explaining this to the folks pushing draconian DUI laws which apply even when you do not cause a horrific fiery wreck, I can assume?

I'm pretty confident that the law is even more draconian if you cause a wreck while drunk than if you just get caught doing it. There's a whole separate discussion there, but I think the lowest possible repercussions you'll face are the ones where there's no harm; they tend to only go up from there.

From my time in the military I can tell you that going AWOL would get you in trouble, but going AWOL and, say, getting arrested while out on the town would be a different kettle of fish. In short, there's the punishment for the stupid error in judgment, and then there's the additional punishment for the results of the stupid error in judgment.

One might argue, I suppose, that this should not be the case: that the error in judgement should be punished as harshly as the maximum possible consequence that might result, in order to discourage the error from being made in the first place, and that to do anything else somehow legitimizes "well, it's [more] okay if you don't get caught." But effectiveness aside, I think that tends to run counter to how people actually perceive just punishment.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:17 AM on June 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well Kadin2048 in most jurisidictions nowadays as long as your horrific fiery wreck doesn't involve anyone else -- and in the OP case, Bergdahl didn't cause us to lose a battle or anything similar, and the tale of the guys "lost" looking for him also appears to be 100% bullshit -- the DUI is a much more serious offense than wrapping your car around a tree, precisely because of discouraging the error from being made in the first place.

And yes, this does run counter to how I perceive just punishment. But it's the way things are for $REASONS. Is the military too stupid to understand those same $REASONS or is it too lazy to aim for results insted of being reactive to common features of human nature?
posted by localroger at 7:08 AM on June 7, 2014


Is the military too stupid to understand those same $REASONS or is it too lazy to aim for results insted of being reactive to common features of human nature?

I'm sorry, which military are you slagging here? Because the U.S. military hasn't actually done anything against Bergdahl, you realize. Some people in it are going off the reservation, but the system hasn't put the hammer down on him at all, so maybe step back from the "stupid or just lazy" angle.
posted by Etrigan at 7:39 AM on June 7, 2014 [1 favorite]




This would all be shown at the court martial, if they would just have it already.

He hasn't even been reintroduced to his family yet, much less made aware of prejudgement of of the (Republican) 50% country who has apparently decided that he's guilty of treason and should have been left to die. Military psych protocol and the military justice system seems to move somewhat slower than the internet and FAUX News.
posted by T.D. Strange at 11:11 AM on June 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


Some of the arguments regarding Bergdahl seem to conflate "leaving one's post", "desertion," and being "AWOL."


In the normal order of general reprehensibility:

1. Leaving (deserting) one's post.
2. Desertion.
3. AWOL.

The gravity of the first example is tightly bound to the situation. If you are in a NDP out in the field, and you slip into town for a beer, or back to your sleeping bag for a nap, then you may have left your squad vulnerable to infiltration by an armed enemy. If you are merely on fire watch at the motor pool back in CONUS, your action would be less likely to result in casualties. Punishment would vary, but if your perimeter was overrun as a result, then, yeah, fuck you. To the max.

In the case of the second example, you became disenchanted with the military, so you left. Who cares? You will be given a nominal term of confinement, reduced to E-1, and kicked out of the service sans all the benefits other veterans are entitled to have.

In the case of the third example, you went downtown without a pass (or with a pass and you simply forgot to come back on time). You didn't really intend to stay gone forever, but you see, shit happens. This act, like #1, resides on a sliding scale of severity. Sometimes you'll get your wrist slapped, in other cases you'll get busted, or fined, or confined (either in barracks or a military brig), and perhaps thrown out of the service sans benefits.

Maybe Bergdahl's medical condition is a more appropriate topic? He was certainly AWOL, but the terms of his absence are not clear.
posted by mule98J at 11:10 AM on June 9, 2014 [2 favorites]




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