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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

You keep our Deserter, we'll keep your Terrorists

As a teacher of mathematics, I have often (at least with more advanced/motivated students) pressed my students to understand the "why" of a proposition ("postulate" or "theorem" in mathematical terms). With the recent trade of five Taliban detainees held at Guant├ínamo Bay for American (I use the term loosely), Army Sgt., and accused deserter, Bowe Bergdahl, many Americans--at least those who don't swoon at the mention of "Obama"--are asking themselves "Why?" Why, especially with the midterm elections looming, would Obama o.k. the deal for a soldier who left his military outpost in Paktika Province, Afghanistan leaving a note behind that detailed his lack of support for the American mission and his desire to start a new life?

It's not just that this deal went down, but also the fanfare that the Obama administration put on announcing the deal. President Obama hailed Bergdahl's release saying that bringing home "our prisoners of war" is a "profound obligation within our military." Susan Rice, seemingly again out on another fools errand for the Obama administration, went on the Sunday talk shows declaring that Bergdahl served "with honor and distinction." Rice added that "Sergeant Bergdahl wasn’t simply a hostage; he was an American prisoner of war captured on the battlefield."

Soldiers who actually served with Bergdahl contradict both Obama and Rice. According to the New York Times:

“Yes, I’m angry,” Joshua Cornelison, a former medic in Sergeant Bergdahl’s platoon, said in an interview on Monday arranged by Republican strategists. “Everything that we did in those days was to advance the search for Bergdahl. If we were doing some mission and there was a reliable report that Bergdahl was somewhere, our orders were that we were to quit that mission and follow that report.”

Sergeant Bergdahl slipped away from his outpost, the former senior officer said, possibly on foot but more likely hiding in a contractor’s vehicle. “He didn’t walk out the gate through a checkpoint, and there was no evidence he breached the perimeter wire and left that way,” the ex-officer said.

It was not until the 9 a.m. roll call on June 30 that the 29 soldiers of Second Platoon, Blackfoot Company, learned he was gone.

“I was woken up by my platoon leader,” said Mr. Cornelison, who had gone to sleep just three hours before after serving watch from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. “Hey Doc,” his platoon leader said. “Have you seen Bergdahl?”

Platoon members said Sergeant Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, was known as bookish and filled with romantic notions that some found odd.

“He wouldn’t drink beer or eat barbecue and hang out with the other 20-year-olds,” Cody Full, another member of Sergeant Bergdahl’s platoon, said in an interview on Monday also arranged by Republican strategists. “He was always in his bunk. He ordered Rosetta Stone for all the languages there, learning Dari and Arabic and Pashto.”


Mr. Full, then a specialist in the platoon, said he and other platoon members grew increasingly bitter at the time they were spending looking for Sergeant Bergdahl. “He had sent all his belongings home — his computer, personal items,” said Mr. Full, now 25. He said Sergeant Bergdahl used to gaze at the mountains around them and say he wondered if he could get to China from there. Other platoon members said that Sergeant Bergdahl wrote Jason Bourne-type novels in which he inserted himself as the lead character.

The anger toward Sergeant Bergdahl increased exponentially after Sept. 4, when they learned that two members of Third Platoon, which routinely went on tandem missions with Second Platoon and who they believed were also searching for Sergeant Bergdahl, had been killed in an ambush. Pfc. Matthew Martinek and Lt. Darryn Andrews, both of them friends of Mr. Cornelison, died in the ambush.

Is this just another example of the incompetence of this administration, or, like the war on fossil fuels, the war on the unborn, and the war on marriage, is the Bergdahl deal the result of perverse liberal ideology? Hopefully good conservatives will get us to the answers.

Copyright 2014, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World


  1. Trevor, I think you need to explore the possibility that this is the convenient conservative solution to a constitutional problem (and geneva convention problem) that stipulates the USA must either release these people or try them for their crimes. It was made more than clear by conservatives that they felt trial was a politically bad idea due to the possibility that the American public might discover details of operation and policy that would prove to be wildly unpopular. If this became the case, someone (or some party) would be blamed.

    So how to get rid of these people without killing them, giving them trials, or simply releasing them? Yea, this analysis makes the prisoner swap look very desirable even if conservatives are doing their best to make the public think they were against it.

    What Americans will never know is whether these Taliban prisoners end up meeting an unexpected but politically quiet end in Qatar. We used to call that extraordinary rendition when we did it to indirectly torture prisoners. I'm not sure if the word applies if we choose to do it for the purpose of political expediency, but that possibility should be evaluated.

  2. Interesting theory Kiev, though I would not consider anything Obama was behind as a "conservative solution." Hopefully the truth will come out.

  3. I think it's disgraceful that Obama traded five dangerous terrorists to get a deserter back. I heard what the father said at the White House, and he's obviously quite familiar with Muslim ways. I won't be a bit surprised if we find that this was Obama's way of advancing the terrorists' agenda.

  4. The father was certainly at least a strange one. It's little wonder that their son would be a confused young man. I imagine he did not grow up hearing the Truth very often.

    As bad as Obama is, I don't think he's for "advancing the terrorists' agenda."