Each week the Watchers Council hosts a Forum, in addition to holding a weekly contest for best posts among its members. This week's Forum questions are "What's Your Take on The Bowe Bergdahl Situation? What Will The Outcome Be?" I have kindly been invited to respond. Update: The Council Forum is now up, and several people have weighed in with diverse opinions. Do head on over.
On the night of June 30, 2009, Army Spc. Bowe Bergdahl, then stationed in Afghanistan at Outpost Keating, left a note in his tent stating "he was leaving to start a new life." Bergdahl left his post and made his way into the surrounding countryside, committing a textbook act of desertion per the UCMJ. The Taliban soon made Bergdahl their prisoner.
In the immediate aftermath of his desertion, Bergdahl's battalion engaged in repeated efforts to find him in operations that claimed the lives of six soldiers. Moreover, Army Command made a decision that Outpost Keating, then slated for closure, should remain open as a base from which to search for Bergdahl. On October 3, 2009, the base was subjected to the one of the largest and bloodiest attacks of the Afghan War, in what has become known as the Battle of Kamdesh. The battle resulted in eight more American soldiers killed and twenty-seven wounded.
The Obama administration, at some point, began secret negotiations with the Taliban for the return of Bergdahl. In violation of U.S. law, the Obama administration agreed to a prisoner exchange with the Taliban without timely notifying Congress. Despite that, the Obama administration claiming general power to act under the Constitution, unilaterally authorized the deal. On May 31, 2014, Bergdahl was exchanged for five top Taliban commanders previously being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison facility.
In the wake of criticism, the Obama administration defended their deal, laughably claiming that Bergdahl was a soldier with a distinguished record of service. At least three of the five members of the Taliban Five seem poised to resume their efforts against American and Afghanistan interests. The U.S. military recently charged Bergdahl with desertion.
My take is that Bergdahl should be tried for desertion and, if found guilty, be jailed for life. I also believe that Obama's decision to trade for Bergdahl was part of a larger plan to close Gitmo, but that pushback in the wake of this trade will stop that. Obama, who has made an industry out of violating the Constitution and the laws of our nation, will suffer no penalty for this trade because Congress is too supine to force the issue. Most if not all of the Taliban Five will return to their positions in the Taliban to again plan the death and destruction of Americans.
At the Daily Caller, W. James Antle III opines on one other possible fallout:
The charges against Bowe Bergdahl are not merely embarrassing to the White House. They will further undermine the already shaky confidence in the Obama administration’s nuclear negotiations with Iran.
I don't see that. The Iran negotiations are orders of magnitude more important than the Bergdahl situation, which is little more than a flash in the pan in the grander scheme of things. Obama has already given the nation countless grounds to mistrust his judgment and veracity as regards the Iran negotiations. The administration's prevarications and poor judgment as regards Bergdahl are merely more straws on a camels back that is already broken. In the very near future, no one will remember this but as one more sad footnote in the history of the Obama administration. At least, that is, until new American deaths can be traced to the recently released members of the Taliban Five, as seems a certainty. Then the impotent howling will commence yet again.