Obama and Bergdahl
Sometimes You Have To Break the Rule and Do the Right Thing
June 1, 2014
“WASHINGTON (AP) — Five years a captive from the Afghanistan war, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is back in American hands, freed for five Guantanamo terrorism detainees in a swap stirring sharp debate in Washington over whether the United States of America should have negotiated with the Taliban over prisoners.”
President Obama did not strictly follow the law that requires him to get congressional approval before concluding a prisoner-of-war exchange.
The assumption in our model of government is that “we the people” through our representatives in Washington get to vote on whether to approve such exchanges. This makes sense.
In the sharp debate let us keep in mind the call to “Justice” as contained in the first line of our Constitution. We are asking: Was justice served in the matter of President Obama’s choice to approve of this prisoner swap without formal congressional approval?
A fact: It is a matter of record that members of Congress were aware that this negotiation was happening, as was our puppet government in Afghanistan. So in that sense we the people were informed of what was happening, and neither our representatives, nor the press made much of it. Obama negotiated with our enemy with the awareness of our Congress or at least those members in Congress who were paying attention to this issue. As far as I know not one objection was raised in Congress. The mainstream press remained quiet about it.
Comment: That there are those who now use this exchange for political gain is a measure of treachery, pure political scam! And that the presses … keeping it quiet so the negotiations could go forward …sometimes things have to be done without the glare of the camera … a sign of a responsible press. I trust a free press would not have been quiet if such “betrayal” of justice was really at stake.
Another fact: Apparently Sgt. Bowe’s state of health, body, mind and spirit, was in question. And, our government from the get go made it very clear that if he was not well treated as a POW, there would be “all hell to pay”. So the other side had some skin in this game.
Fact three: The circumstance of Sgt. Bowe’s Bergdahl's capture is clouded by the apparent fact that, disillusioned with the war, he in essence gave himself up to the enemy. Is he a saint, hero or traitor? Or, all three depending on perspective? This all has to be sorted out.
The big question: Is it not the right thing to bring home our only prisoner of war in a decade or more of war? Not a bad record; has there ever been a war with so few POWs?
Background: It is the United States’ foreign-policy position that we are moving our large footprint out of Afghanistan by the end of 2016. A contingency force will be left behind to prevent civil war … the torturing; the raping of civilians makes this kind of war particularly “dirty”. Have we not seen enough of this kind of war already?
It is our policy of war not to leave anyone on the battlefield. The release of this prisoner will mean that winding down our presence in that theater of war can proceed without that hindrance.
The Taliban were split regarding this exchange (they too have their “hawks”), and they feared the release itself was a trap. Timing was everything. If the exchange went badly, Sgt. Bowe the first to die!
Conclusion: I believe that anyone of us, if president, having let Congress know of this negotiation and given that no serious objections are raised, would consider it a duty of office to bring Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl home.
Am I wrong? Sometimes breaking the rules is the right thing to do, and surely this instance is an example of that. In this manner President Obama acted on behalf of us and did the just thing.