By Ari Lieberman
Three years ago, Susan Rice, Obama’s obsequious national security advisor and the one who infamously blamed the Libyan consulate outrage on a YouTube video, noted on ABC News that Bowe Bergdahl “served the United States with honor and distinction,” and further stated that Bergdahl “wasn’t simply a hostage; he was an American prisoner of war captured on the battlefield.” Three years later, Rice was forced to choke on her words. Her absurd comments represented the zenith of mendacity, and for an administration primarily known for deceitfulness, spin and echo chambers, that’s saying something.
On Monday, Bergdahl pleaded guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. The latter charge could mean life behind bars for the deserter while the former carries a five-year term. Bergdahl deserted his post in June 2009 sparking frantic search and rescue efforts to retrieve him. He was later captured by the Taliban. Some within the military, citing a surge of more accurate targeting of U.S. soldiers following his capture, believe that he provided the enemy with information on U.S. Army troop movements.
Bergdahl’s pre-sentencing trial date begins on October 23. Three service members who were wounded by hostile fire while searching for him will likely testify. Two of those wounded sustained permanent life-altering injuries. Navy SEAL Jimmy Hatch now walks with permanent limp thanks to a Taliban bullet to the leg. Hatch’s comrade, Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Mark Allen, wasn’t so “lucky.” He took a bullet to the head while searching for the deserter and is now permanently confined to a wheelchair and unable to talk.
Rice’s skewed characterization of Bergdahl’s military service record wasn’t simply drivel spewed by someone speaking out of abject ignorance. Rather, her comments were a sad reflection of her ex-boss’s convoluted mindset where things such as morality, decency and integrity played second fiddle to ideologically-driven, political expediency. Obama had always wished to close the Guantanamo facility and the Bergdahl exchange was an expedient way for him to dump five hard-core terrorist detainees.
But the exchange, which carried a hefty price tag of nearly $1 million, courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer, left the administration facing two potential powder kegs with severe legal, political and security implications. Obama and his sycophants, including Rice and Ben Rhodes, therefore embarked on a campaign of deceit aimed at garnering sympathy for Bergdahl.
The release of the detainees without giving Congress adequate notice violated the law and posed a legal hurdle for the administration. Under the National Defense Authorization Act, a law passed by Congress and signed by Obama, the administration was required to provide notice to four Senate and four House committees at least 30 days prior to the release of Taliban detainees from Guantánamo. But notice was only given by phone on the actual day of the exchange, which occurred on May 31, 2014. Consequently, the chief counsel for the Government Accountability Office determined that the Pentagon had illegally spent the money used to facilitate the prisoner exchange.
As he had done countless times before (and after), Obama dismissed this legal transgression saying that he had consulted with the Justice Department beforehand and was assured that the manner in which the prisoner exchange occurred was perfectly legal. In other words, Obama consulted his echo chamber, which provided him with the necessary political cover. A similar scenario was to unfold two years later when the Obama administration paid the Iranian regime protection money and provided it with $1.7 billion as ransom in exchange for the release of four American hostages unlawfully imprisoned by the Islamic Republic.
The Bergdahl scandal caused a second and perhaps more serious problem for the administration. The Five terrorists released for Bergdahl, the so-called Taliban Five, were among Guantanamo’s most notorious terrorists. They were religious zealots and hard core murderers and there was a better than 50 percent chance that they would resume their death trade.
Obama’s sycophantic supporters tried to fool the public into believing that the recidivist rate among released Guantanamo detainees was low. The figure of 5 percent was casually tossed about but that figure was nothing but a skewed fabrication and the percentage was alarmingly higher. In fact, in March 2015, reports surfaced that at least three members of the Taliban Five were attempting to communicate or otherwise reconnect with known terrorist networks.
One need not be an intelligence expert to understand that radical Muslim terrorists, steeped in loathing of the West will revert to their old ways at the very first opportunity. Moreover, the Taliban Five were not only imbibed with hatred, they possessed skills of the terror trade, bomb-making and otherwise, that made them manifestly more dangerous and indispensable to Taliban and Al-Qaida terror networks.
All this did not matter to Obama and his acolytes. What was of paramount importance was that Guantanamo had five less detainees and that the administration secured the release of an American soldier who ostensibly served his country with “honor and distinction.” The Bowe Bergdahl fiasco adds to a laundry list of lies that the Obama administration peddled to the American people through their well-oiled echo chambers. Sadly, they will never have to account for their maleficence but we can take solace in the fact that under the Trump administration, Bergdahl will get his comeuppance.