The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Swapping a Deserter for Five War Criminals

I won't speculate as to why the president felt it was necessary to release five very nasty war criminals from Guantanamo in exchange for the release of an American soldier who deserted his post and his comrades. Sadly, there also seems to be fairly strong evidence that Sgt Bergdahl engaged in some level of collaboration with the enemy. As one wag observed, "We traded five grenades for one water pistol." There certainly doesn't appear to be any national security rational for this "deal," which will likely return these five nasties to active involvement in the conflict. If anything, our willingness to negotiate with these terrorists will only energize them to seek out high-value Americans and kidnap them knowing that they can expect to be rewarded.
The Five War Criminals

The Deserter
To my knowledge all of the president's senior military advisers were completely against the swap, which appears to have been supported only by his political team. The reasons offered by the White House, specious reasons which seem to dribble out anew every few hours, aren't very likely. For someone supposedly on death's door, Sgt Bergdahl appeared to be in reasonably good health. Even Senator Feinstein, a Democrat and chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, stated that she believed there was no "credible threat" against the life of Bergdahl. Not surprisingly national security advisor Susan Rice was intent on once again making a fool of herself on national tv by claiming that this deserter "served with honor and distinction." And then the president went public and attributed any opposition to the deal to politics, which I find especially odd since a growing number of his own party publicly oppose him on this. I suppose he's hoping that most of the public won't know this and will just accept whatever he and the mainstream media tell them. Unfortunately, he's probably right.

According to the Obama administration the five released Taliban commanders would be subject to “restrictions on their movement and activities." In other words the government of Qatar would keep a tight rein on these terrorists and ensure that they would not re-enter the conflict, for at least a year.  And then come the reports from Qatar. The released terrorists will have no restrictions on their movements within the Arab Emirate. Such a good deal!

But more disturbing than all this misinformation are the reports issuing from the administration that the sergeant's platoon-mates, who have come out strongly against him, are perhaps a group of undisciplined psychopaths. These accusations are absolutely despicable and are certainly unworthy of the commander in chief. As someone who wore the uniform of our nation for nearly 30 years, I just don't know what to make of it. I simply cannot conceive of a commander in chief who would do such a thing. 

Vice Admiral James Stockdale
I'll make one prediction: Sgt Bergdahl will not face a court martial. I base this opinion on the precedent set at the end of the war in Vietnam. In addition to the hundreds of unbelievably brave POWs, several of whom I knew personally,  there were a tiny handful who collaborated with their communist captors and accepted special treatment, including early release. When the other POWs were finally released, their senior officer, Vice Admiral James Stockdale, brought charges against those who had collaborated. Stockdale who earned the medal of honor for his heroism as a POW, was rebuffed by the Department of Defense. DOD decided not to prosecute, believing that doing so would only result in more division in a country already polarized because of the war. 

I can't believe that our current administration will act any differently.

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