Was it the right thing to do?
Posted June 4, 2014on:
*It* being negotiating for and obtaining the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Naturally the gut reaction (and mine) is of course it was worth it to obtain the release of an American citizen and soldier being held against his will. After all, we do still have an office with the Dept. of Defense for Prisoners of War and Missing Personnel and Lordy knows we all still see the POW/MIA flag flying everywhere. So, I have to say that yes it was a good thing to get back one of our soldiers even having to release 5 detainees from Guantanamo. Much has been written about how terrible a swap this was and that there is every likelihood that these 5 members of the Taliban may go back to fighting. Fighting whom I wonder because we’re going to have our troops out of Afghanistan soon. Further, the five have to reside in Qatar for a year and while we may not have “chipped” them like we do our pets here, uh I have a feeling that keeping an eye on them is not going to be difficult for the U.S.
We are told the reason for trying to get Sgt Bergdahl out now was due to concern over his health and mental status. SecDef Hagel said that from information they obtained that Bergdahl’s health was “deteriorating” and that was partly the reason for not notifying Congress of the possible release of some of the detainess at Gitmo.
U.S. officials had intelligence suggesting Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s safety and health were in jeopardy, justifying a prisoner swap without the required congressional notification, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Sunday.
“We believed that the information we had, the intelligence we had, was such that Sgt. Bergdahl’s safety and health were in jeopardy,” Mr. Hagel said. “In particular his health was deteriorating. It was our judgment that if we could find an opening and move very quickly, we needed to get him out of there, essentially to save his life,” he added.
“The first focus is on his health and getting the medical attention he needs,” Mr. Hagel said.
Now the Congress Critters, including Dianne Feinstein and the Repubs got their feathers ruffled when they were not notified of the transfer from Gitmo, citing Obama’s signing of the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) which required the President to give Congress 30 days notice of any transfers. Saxby Chambliss R-Ga, (and soon to leave) said:
“The law says they are to give us 30 days’ notice. If the President thought that was unconstitutional or an invalid law, than he shouldn’t have signed the bill,” said Georgia’s Saxby Chambliss, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee. “He knew very well that he was required by law to give us 30 days’ notice and he didn’t do it.”
But not so fast said Benjamin Wittes of the Brookings Institution. He said that the law “put the administration ‘in a position to move detainees out of Guantanamo as long as it is willing to be politically accountable for the problems they create and as long as they don’t bring them to the United States.’.” To which a spokeswoman for the National Security Council replied that that was exactly what happened.
That is exactly what happened, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden argued Tuesday in a statement.
“Given the credible reports regarding the risk of grave harm to Sergeant Bergdahl and the rapidly unfolding events surrounding his recovery, it was lawful for the administration to proceed with the transfer notwithstanding the notice requirement” in the NDAA, Hayden said in a statement.
Further concerning the 30 day notification period, Hayden provided a legal statement saying “the Constitution requires Obama as President and commander in chief to protect the lives of Americans abroad and protect U.S. soldiers, responsibilities that in this case conflicted with the 30-day notification period for Congress.”
Then Hayden quoted from Obama’s “signing statement” (GASP!) when he signed the NDAA:
“The executive branch must have the flexibility, among other things, to act swiftly in conducting negotiations with foreign countries regarding the circumstances of detainee transfers,” Hayden quoted from Obama’s signing statement.
Now we all know who was the king of the signing statements:
George W. Bush used signing statements to challenge about 1,200 provisions of 172 laws he signed — twice as many as all his predecessors combined, Evans said.
I, of course, find it extremely amusing that Obama, using one of Dubya’s old tricks, cited his own signing statement as the basis for not giving the Congress a 30 day notice on the detainees.
Much as also been written about the fact that Bergdahl may have deserted his post, had spoken against the war ( a right he has btw) and that several other soldiers lost their lives searching for him. For now, let’s leave that to another post. After all with mb being gone to her villa in the south of France for vacay, Prolix, chat and I will be doing many posts during the next week or so. I’m tempted to provide air sickness bags for my future posts
;) Let’s say that I’ll take a look at the deserter and other questions in my Monday the 9th post. For now, let’s let Sgt Bergdahl heal at the hospital in Landstuhl, Germany and after at the military hospital in San Antonio. There will be time to look into these other questions later.
This is an open thread.
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