It has been a tough week for the Obama administration following the prisoner exchange that resulted in the release of Bowe Bergdahl. The more lawmakers and the general public learn about the details of the deal, the more it becomes apparent that on just about every issue the president and members of his administration have not been telling the truth from the beginning.
Among the first of the many criticisms to surface was related to the danger the Obama administration may have put Americans in at home and abroad when he unilaterally released the “Taliban Five,” as they have become known by. Since whispers in Washington first suggested the possible release of these five war criminals in exchange for Bergdahl, lawmakers made clear to the administration that these men could never be released or they would inevitably return to the battlefield.
Secretary of State John Kerry dismissively called that concern “baloney” on Sunday during an interview. But he already knew that he wasn’t telling the truth. Last week, a top intelligence official told lawmakers in a classified Senate briefing that at least four out of the five Taliban leaders released would return to the battlefield to kill Americans.
People’s Pundit Daily previously reported on the testimony in a Defense Department report from 2012 that concluded it was “incontrovertible” that Bowe Bergdahl had deserted his unit when he disappeared on June 30, 2009. We now know that this is unequivocally true, and frankly, no longer even debatable. Yet, Susan Rice initially told the American public that Bergdahl served with “honor and distinction” last week during another shameful Sunday show appearance.
That claim is just as false as the administration’s excuse for breaking the law that required the president give Congress a 30-day notice prior to releasing any prisoners from the Gitmo detention center at Guantanamo Bay. While in Europe for the G-7 meeting, President Obama said he would not apologize for the deal and that he had no time to notify Congress because they feared his physical condition was dire. But, again, that simply was not the truth.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital With Al Hunt,” which will air this weekend, that there was no “credible threat” against Bergdahl’s life that could have motivated the White House to keep its prisoner exchange plan a secret from Congress. House Speaker Boehner reenforced Fienstein’s claim, stating Obama’s claim “just isn’t true.”
Several doctors have now examined Bergdahl, and all have claimed they can say with a medical certainty that he was well nourished and in good health. Further, the “information” the administration cited was from a report dating back to January. If his physical condition was so dire, then why wait until June to press the deal?
The president’s job approval on foreign policy has fallen to an all-time low amid the controversy, which has followed a rash of never-ending foreign policy failures. The American public was initially skeptical of the exchange, disapproving of the deal by a slim margin in the days following the breaking news. But, as we first anticipated, public sentiment has grown even more negative as more of the scandalous details have become known. Now, a new USA Today/Pew Research poll shows 43 percent of Americans say it was wrong for Obama to make the deal, compared with just 34 percent who say it was the right thing to do.
Opposition is even stronger among veterans, who by a 68 -16 percent margin that Obama made the wrong decision.
“If he was a captured prisoner of war, we wouldn’t be having this discussion,” says Joe Davis, the director of public affairs for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. “He put his teammates in jeopardy, and you absolutely don’t do that in a combat zone.”
Veterans are worried about the precedent set by the transfer, Davis says. “We have a long history in this country of not negotiating with terrorists,” he says. “And we just did.”
Speaker Boehner echoed the concerns coming from the VFW.
“The fact is we have violated that policy and as a result, this made America less safe, here and all around the world. And we’re going to pay for it. There is not any doubt in my mind there are going to be costs … lost lives, associated with what came out of this.”
And the story might get even worse still.
Now, new reports suggest the Obama administration may have even paid a ransom for a certain deserter and likely traitor, in addition to granting the release of the Taliban Five. Best-selling author Brad Thor was the first to raise the question last week. But the Washington Free Beacon also spoke with a senior US intelligence official who characterized the possibility as likely. In fact, those who have experience dealing with the Haqqani network know that their motivation for kidnapping is monetary in nature. Only one member of the Taliban Five released from Gitmo was Haqqani, suggesting little incentive for them to accept the terms of the exchange.
Worth noting, one of the group’s top fundraisers — if not the top fundraiser — was killed in Pakistan late last year. According to U.S. intelligence officials, the Haqqani network was strapped for cash, and would have preferred to hold out for a ransom rather than trade Bergdahl for Gitmo detainees.
Of course, this would seem to be mere speculation. Except, U.S. intelligence officials closely involved with the Haqqani network told the Washington Free Beacon otherwise.
“The ransom plan was reportedly abandoned, but the intelligence official insisted that there is reason to believe that cash changed hands as part of the deal,” Lachlan Markay reported. And it gets worse.
“The Haqqanis could give a rat’s ass about prisoners,” the official said, referring to the Haqqani Network, a designated terrorist group in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the five Guantanamo Bay prisoners who were freed in exchange for Bergdahl’s release. “The people that are holding Bergdahl want[ed] cash and someone paid it to them,” he said. The theory relies in large measure on a distinction that has been lost in much of the press coverage of the Bergdahl deal.
A number of news reports on the circumstances surrounding the prisoner exchange have used “Haqqani” and “Taliban” interchangeably…Haqqani, he said, “benefits zero from the prisoner exchange. … Based on 10 years of working with those guys, the only thing that would make them move Bergdahl is money.” … “We just funded them for the next 10 years is my guess,” he said.
Meanwhile, a House panel on Tuesday suspiciously and overwhelmingly backed a measure prohibiting the use of U.S. funds for the transfer of detainees from the prison. The Appropriations Committee voted 33-13 on Tuesday for an amendment to the defense spending bill.
The amendment was sponsored by Republican Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey and backed by six Democrats. It would prohibit money for the foreign transfer of detainees. The full House debates the bill next week, while for the first time in his presidency, whispers of impeachment are being circulated around Capitol Hill. Despite countless scandals plaguing the administration, the release of Gitmo detainees has sparked outraged from lawmakers never before seen over the past nearly-six years.
President Obama has failed to carry out the two most-basic duties of a commander-in-chief, which is to protect American citizens by providing for their common national defense, and to faithfully execute the laws of the United States. That’s not just a sentiment growing among Republicans, but also among Democrats.
“Even I have had enough,” read one email shared by Ron Fournier of the National Journal. It was from “one of the most powerful Democrats in Washington,” he said. “Talented guy but no leader,” another email read, only this one was written by a Democratic lobbyist and former member of Congress. And the list goes on.
But one can’t help to think: Talented at what? If even the president’s allies are conceding he is not a good leader, then the only talent he must still have is his ability to lie to Congress and the American people about his dereliction of duty, yet somehow avoid being held responsible for his failures.