“Every [White House] aide I’ve talked to said they expected there to be controversy involving the decision to release five members of the Taliban from Gitmo, and the fact that this would then escalate that debate, which has been simmering for a good five years, which is what to do with those detainees, how do you release them, where do you release them. They did not expect this backlash on Bergdahl himself. I’ve had a few aides describe it to me as, ‘we didn’t know that they were going to swift boat Bergdahl.’ And that’s a reference to that political fight back in 2004 over John Kerry’s military service, so there’s some fighting words there.”
That’s NBC correspondant Chuck Todd, describing the situation in the White House to Today’s Matt Lauer.
Republicans have (rightly) questioned President Obama, specifically his decision to ignore established law and order the release of the “Taliban Dream Team” from Gitmo without notifying Congress or providing a plan to ensure that these men will not be able to resume activities related to terrorism. This deal has been on the table for over two years, and so far no one has offered an official explanation of why it was suddenly rushed through.
But it has been veterans who have voluntarily stepped up to the plate to denounce Bergdahl. Story after story has now surfaced, and the overwhelming conclusion is that Bergdahl was a disillusioned misfit who willfully deserted his unit and sought to join Islamic militants. We have known his whereabouts for over four years and, according to unofficial reports, had already decided forgo any further attempts to extricate him from either the Taliban or Haqqani members who were watching him.
However, we used a significant amount of manpower and resources to search for Bergdahl shortly after he disappeared. This caused shortages in available backup and air cover in the area, which prompted the Taliban to attack an American ammunition dump near the town of Kamesh, which resulted in the deaths of 8 soldiers, with 22 more wounded. An additional 6 soldiers died while on patrols whose mission included tracking and retrieving Bergdahl.
Some veterans have claimed that they were told by military superiors to not talk about what they knew about Bergdahl. Although the Pentagon never officially classified him as a POW, he was listed as “missing/captured” and considered to be a hostage of militant Islamist forces in the area. Many who believe that Bergdahl is a deserter also believe that the Pentagon is lying when it refers to Bergdahl as anything except a traitor.
All of this has snowballed into a massive backlash by veterans against military leadership that is seen as dishonest, and a White House that is seen as incompetent, dismissive of the sacrifices made by those killed and wounded in Afghanistan, and sympathetic to radical Islamists.
Military leaders balked at the idea of a prisoner exchange and openly expressed their concerns to the White House. Obama Administration officials told them, effectively, to “suck it up and salute.”
It takes a special kind of ‘detatched’ and ‘stupid’ to not see that a huge backlash was coming in the wake of this very poorly thought-out plan. Apparently, our leaders in the White House are very, very special people.