by Evan Myers | staff writer
President Obama has once again become the target of major criticism by members of Congress and the media alike for a controversial “prisoner trade,” where he released five high ranking Taliban officials being held in Guantanamo Bay Prison in exchange for the freedom of U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who had been captured and held captive in a Taliban camp in Afghanistan for nearly five years.
Americans had mixed reactions from this news; some of President Obama’s supporters have defended this recent foreign policy snafu, claiming that while releasing five mass murderers with American blood on their hands right back into the world might not be an ideal solution, the president should nonetheless be praised for taking whatever measures necessary to bring an American soldier back home. Obviously his critics were quick to point out not only the tremendous mistake it was to negotiate with an international terrorist syndicate in the first place, but also to question the nature of Sergeant Bergdahl’s capture. The truth has begun to come out, and the truth is not pretty.
Many of the president’s supporters were predictably quick to defend his controversial decision and immediately began lauding Sergeant Bergdahl as a hero, with U.S. National Security advisor Susan Rice even going so far to say in a live interview with CNN that Bergdahl served his country “with honor and distinction.” On the other side of the spectrum, conservative news sources uncovered evidence through further investigation that Bergdahl was no ordinary prisoner of war, and that he in fact deserted his post while he was still on active duty. With the American media as heavily divided as it is, discerning the truth amidst political bias and agendas in a story like this is nigh impossible unless you can hear the facts straight from a more direct source; so it is logical to assume that the best information can be learned from the people who were actually there. In this case, such information can be observed by listening to Sergeant Evan Buetow, Bergdahl’s former team leader.
According to Buetow, throughout their tour in Afghanistan, Sergeant Berdahl was recorded as questioning the motives of the United States and his mission orders in conversation amongst his fellow soldiers. While those things are by no means condemning on their own, it certainly adds suspicion when observing the events that followed: In 2009, Bergdahl abandoned his comrades and walked off base while he was on guard duty. For the next several months, his platoon’s mission changed entirely, finding Sergeant Bergdahl became his platoon’s number one priority.
Months later, Sergeant Buetow was monitoring radio and cell phone communications and intercepted some disturbing news amongst the chatter: “The American is in Yahya Khel [a village two miles away] He’s looking for someone who speaks English so he can talk to the Taliban.” Further reconnaissance confirmed that the American spotted in Yahya Khel was indeed Sergeant Bergdahl.
Clearly there is much more to the story than Bergdahl being a simple prisoner of war. In Afghanistan, any American attempting to contact the Taliban typically either intends to aid the enemy or end up dead; a soldier in an U.S. military uniform does not actively seek out the Taliban to try and sell them tupperware or Girl Scout cookies.In the following months that Bergdahl’s platoon spent searching for him, six American soldiers were killed in unusually precise IED attacks and ambushes; explosives were detonating directly beneath U.S. vehicles as they drove by. According to Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers, this particular information is particularly unsettling, because they knew that the missing soldier had knowledge of their convoy routes, tactics, and other related intelligence. While there is no hard proof confirming that Bergdahl in any way aided the enemy in these particular attacks, the circumstances raise a plethora of questions about his involvement.
Further investigation into the situation adds suspicion; Fox News recently uncovered documents with evidence suggesting that Bergdahl had numerous privelages while he was held in captivity. Despite being mistreated as if he were an animal at first, the documents read that after a certain amount of time of being held prisoner, Bergdahl reportedly was permitted to carry a weapon while on the premises of the camp. Now I personally do not have much experience with hostage taking, but I am fairly certain that not giving them a loaded gun is, like, rule #1.
Bergdahl’s team leader Sergeant Buetow has gone on record and stated firmly: “Bergdahl is a deserter, and he’s not a hero. He needs to answer for what he did.” This accusation, along with corroboration among other members of Bergdahl’s platoon, need to be handled with the upmost respect. If the intelligence that has been gathered is remotely true, President Obama has released FIVE mass murderers from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for ONE soldier, nay, deserter. A Defense Department official offered the analogy of us handing five captured 4-star generals of the Taliban back to them; one deserter who has heavy evidence stacked against him heavily implying that he is a traitor to the United States of America. One of the Taliban Five, Noorullah Noori, has already pledged that he will go to Afghanistan and continue to fight Americans, shortly after being released by the U.S. government. Well, that went well.
The facts are this: the President of the United States negotiated the release of international terrorists without consulting Congress, upsetting folks all across the political spectrum, even liberal democrats like California Senator Feinstein. In doing so the president broke national law, and theoretically should be facing ten years to life in prison.
The saddest part of this story in history, however, is that the Obama administration will not face serious consequences for this illegal prisoner swap. These crimes are easily severe enough to be impeachable, considering that America once impeached a president for sleeping with an intern. However, no matter how heinous the crimes committed, Congress will never be able to follow through with an impeachment trial because the Republican Party has become the party that cried wolf. The president can do no right in the eyes of the GOP, and they are rapidly losing credibility as they continue to criticize Obama for every move he makes, from making a U.S. Marine hold an umbrella for him during a speech to pointing out typos on his twitter feed. This loss of respect is frankly tragic, for the true sins of this administration–the IRS Scandal, the failure of Fast and Furious, the AP Phone scandal, NSA illegal surveillance, the VA healthcare scandal, the Benghazi cover up, and now the Bergdahl trade–are all being swept under the rug or labeled as “phony scandals.” All of this crime, all of these disgraces occurred under the Obama administration while the American people sat and watched it happen.
I pray that Sergeant Bergdahl will answer for what he’s done, and I will pray to keep faith in the power of the American people. Stay safe, stay awake.