I’m glad that Bowe Bergdahl is coming home. There is nothing wrong with the principle that we move heaven and earth to bring all our people home.
That principle didn’t hold in Benghazi, obviously, but I like the idea that it would hold in Afghanistan.
Except there are problems with the deal our president cut to bring Bowe Bergdahl home.
Like, for example, the fact that we traded five hardened Taliban battle commanders in Gitmo for a sergeant who it appears walked off his post without his weapon and actively sought out the enemy to turn himself over to them.
And like the fact that our president had Bergdahl’s father, who seems to have converted to Islam and thanked Allah, rather than his government, for his son’s release, and who is sending out tweets calling for all Guantanamo prisoners to be released and for America to stop killing Afghan children.
And like the fact that this deal was done without the consent of Congress, in violation of federal law.
And like the fact that Susan Rice was on Sunday shows – again – saying that Bergdahl served with “honor and distinction.” Let’s understand that Bergdahl walked off his post, turned himself over to the enemy and got five of his fellow troopers killed when the Taliban ambushed them as they went looking for him.
“We were at OP Mest, Paktika Province, Afghanistan. It was a small outpost where B Co 1-501st INF (Airbone) ran operations out of, just an Infantry platoon and ANA counterparts there. The place was an Afghan graveyard. Bergdahl had been acting a little strange, telling people he wanted to “walk the earth” and kept a little journal talking about how he was meant for better things. No one thought anything about it. He was a little “out there”. Next morning he’s gone. We search everywhere, and can’t find him. He left his weapon, his kit, and other sensitive items. He only took some water, a compass and a knife. We find some afghan kids shortly after who saw an american walking north asking about where the taliban are. We get hits on our voice intercepter that Taliban has him, and we were close. We come to realize that the kid deserted his post, snuck out of camp and sought out Taliban… to join them. We were in a defensive position at OP Mest, where your focus is to keep people out. He knew where the blind spots were to slip out and that’s what he did. It was supposed to be a 4-day mission but turned into several months of active searching. Everyone was spun up to find this guy. News outlets all over the country were putting out false information. It was hard to see, especially when we knew the truth about what happened and we lost good men trying to find him. PFC Matthew Michael Martinek, Staff Sgt. Kurt Robert Curtiss, SSG Clayton Bowen, PFC Morris Walker, SSG Michael Murphrey, 2LT Darryn Andrews, were all KIA from our unit who died looking for Bergdahl. Many others from various units were wounded or killed while actively looking for Bergdahl. Fighting Increased. IEDs and enemy ambushes increased. The Taliban knew that we were looking for him in high numbers and our movements were predictable. Because of Bergdahl, more men were out in danger, and more attacks on friendly camps and positions were conducted while we were out looking for him. His actions impacted the region more than anyone wants to admit. There is also no way to know what he told the Taliban: Our movements, locations, tactics, weak points on vehicles and other things for the enemy to exploit are just a few possibilities. The Government knows full well that he deserted. It looks bad and is a good propaganda piece for the Taliban. They refuse to acknowledge it. Hell they even promoted him to Sergeant which makes me sick. I feel for his family who only want their son/brother back. They don’t know the truth, or refuse to acknowledge it as well. What he did affected his family and his whole town back home, who don’t know the truth. Either way what matters is that good men died because of him. He has been lying on all those Taliban videos about everything since his “capture”. If he ever returns, he should be tried under the UCMJ for being a deserter and judged for what he did. Bergdahl is not a hero, he is not a soldier or an Infantryman. He failed his brothers. Now, sons and daughters are growing up without their fathers who died for him and he will have to face that truth someday.”
Then there’s the fact that Bowe Bergdahl apparently instructed the Taliban on how to use cell phones as detonators for IED’s.
It’s not a problem that the Obama administration brought him home. It is a problem that we paid the practical equivalent of the Taliban Joint Chiefs of Staff to bring him home. Particularly given the circumstances of his capture.
And it’s a problem that our president can’t seem to do a single thing without legal, constitutional or long-term geopolitical hazards associated with it.
All of it is a problem. But when your country is in a steep decline brought about by disinterested and conflicted leadership – to put it charitably – problems are your stock in trade.
At least Bergdahl is home, and at least we can now extract his story. We know it will involve his disillusionment and his desertion; how much willing or unwilling collaboration with the enemy it also involved we’ll likely discover. That won’t be worth the return of five of the enemy’s top people, or the new incentive they’ll have to snatch Americans as bargaining chips, but it’s what we have.