Run Rabbit Run
Josh Gerstein at Politico restates an argument made earlier on this site. Bowe Bergdahl's return was only ever incidental to Obama's main objective: letting the Taliban go, or perhaps more acceptably stated, emptying Guantanamo. Gerstein writes:
President Barack Obama swore as far back as 2008 he’d close the U.S.-run prison for terror suspects at Guantánamo Bay.
Five and a half years later, he finally took a real risk to get that process moving.
The president defied Congress over the weekend, ignoring a 30-day notice rule required by law to greenlight the transfer to Qatar of five alleged members of the Taliban held at Guantánamo in exchange for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan.
It’s Obama’s most assertive move to shrink Guantánamo’s population since U.S. embassy bombings suspect Ahmed Ghailani was flown from the island prison to New York City under cover of darkness on June 9, 2009.
And it sends a clear message: As liberals and some conservatives have long urged, Obama is now willing to wield his executive powers to get the job done. ... The transfer of the five Taliban prisoners fulfilled — to an extent — a fantasy long held by Guantánamo closure advocates: that the president would take an important symbolic step toward closure by ignoring or overriding congressional restrictions piled on by lawmakers in recent years.
It was all about 'engaging' al-Qaeda, satisfying domestic left-wing constituencies, about making the sheiks happy. Bergdahl was the means to the end.
As for Bowe Bergdahl himself, it now seems clear that he is going to be thrown to the wolves. Under the bus, as it were. The Washington Post reports, "the nation’s top military officer said Tuesday the Army could still throw the book at Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the young soldier who walked away from his unit in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan and into five years of captivity by the Taliban."
Dempsey said he does not want to prejudge the outcome of any investigation or influence other commanders’ decisions. But he noted that U.S. military leaders “have been accused of looking away from misconduct” and said no one should assume they would do so in this case.
Perhaps he'll get what's coming -- whatever justice says that might be -- but in the ensuing commotion the bus driver will speed away.
That is a distinct departure from Susan Rice's assurance to George Stephanopoulos, uttered before rumors of his desertion -- and perhaps worse -- became widely public. On that occasion Rice said that Bergdahl "served the United States with honor and distinction." No doubt she made that assertion based on the "best available intelligence" and the "briefings provided to her at the time" which gave her the impression that Bowe was a hero. Rice invoked the "sacred obligation" to leave no one behind, a shrine at which the administration had not yet learned to worship when the Benghazi consulate was being overrun, but an omission that has since been rectified.
One wonders though why Warren Weinstein wasn't included in the deal. Weinstein, remember him? Well maybe Susan Rice doesn't either. Weinstein's family wrote two days ago to remind the administration about their grandfather.
"In the wake of this good news, we implore our government to redouble its effort to explore all possible avenues to free our father, husband, and grandfather, Warren Weinstein. He has now been held in Pakistan for more than 1000 days. He will be 73 years old this July and his health is failing—time is of the essence. Warren has dedicated his entire life to working on development and humanitarian aid projects that have improved the lives and livelihoods of countless people around the world. Like all families with loved ones held in captivity, we are desperate for his release before it's too late. We can only hope that our government will do everything in its power to bring him and all American hostages home."
Weinstein, 72, was kidnapped by al-Qaeda militants in Pakistan in 2011, just days before he was scheduled to leave Pakistan after serving for several years as country director for J.E. Austin & Associates, a US development firm. In a videotaped plea released by al-Qaeda on December 25, 2013, the last "proof of life" provided to the President, Secretary of State, the media and his family, Weinstein is seen urging the Obama administration to negotiate for his release.
You would have thought they'd throw him in in exchange for the Fantastic Taliban 5.
Bergdahl now occupies the same place that the Los Angeles YouTube video producer held in during the storm over Benghazi, the object who will hold the public's attention, the rabbit the press will chase while Obama goes about his business.
As for Bergdahl himself, "no date has been set for his return to the United States." The Stars and Stripes reports "as of Monday afternoon, Bergdahl had not yet reached the stage in the Army’s prisoner of war reintegration program in which he would be ready to speak to his family, officials said." And right on cue NBC tells its readers that Bergdahl "could face a long road to 'reintegration'".
How long? No dates are given but NBC spares no effort to suggest it may be a long, long time before anyone gets to ask Bowe Bergdahl any questions.
The military hasn't said yet how long Bergdahl will remain at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center as specialists work to help him with his "reintegration."
"An inherent and critical part of the reintegration process is the decompression period that has been established to maximize returnee health and welfare," hospital officials said in a statement. "The decompression process begins in earnest at LRMC."
That decompression process has many purposes, said Dr. Elspeth Ritchie, a retired Army colonel who oversaw the reintegration of Korean prisoners of war. A big part of it is to prepare the soldier for "the blast of media publicity," said Ritchie, who is currently the chief medical officer in the District of Columbia's department of behavioral health.
Perhaps the decompression has as one of its many purposes affording the administration time on how to "reintegrate" its narrative with the emerging facts. On how to smooth the rough edges. They are going to have a lot of people working on Bergdahl's skull.
The reintegration process involves hundreds of people, officials said, including not just medical professionals but attorneys, chaplains and public affairs specialists. There is no predetermined timeline for the process.
The next step for Bergdahl will be transfer to the San Antonio Medical Center in Texas, accompanied by at least one doctor and one psychologist trained in survival, escape, resistance and evasion.
SERE — or survival, escape, resistance and evasion — is a formal training that is given to pilots and others who are considered to be at risk for capture, Ritchie said. In Bergdahl's case, any of that will be given ex post facto.
It sounds like Bergdahl is getting more training coming out of the army than he got going in. You'd think they were preparing him to jump into Russia or something. But maybe that's not far off the mark. Sooner or later Bergdahl is going to face the dangerous mission of meeting the press. At least they're training him to run when they turn him loose in the howl-echoing forests, thronged with journalists, political operatives and attorneys.
Are you ready Bowe?
Recent items of interest by Belmont readers based on Amazon click-throughs.
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