The PJ Tatler

Have You Heard the One About the Deserter and the Five Taliban Commanders?

Congress has and now, in its own impotent way, is stamping its tiny feet:

The court-martial proceeding for accused Army deserter Bowe Berghdal won’t begin until July, but the Republican Congress plans to put him back in the headlines much sooner by expanding investigations into the deal to swap him for five Taliban commanders imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The chairmen of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, Representative Mac Thornberry and Senator John McCain, have been top critics of the Obama administration’s Bergdahl deal last May without notifying Congress in advance. Now, following the Army’s decision to indict him for desertion and misbehavior in the face of the enemy — and weeks before the five Taliban leaders are to be released from their one year of house arrest in Qatar — they tell me they will ramp up and broaden their investigations of the swap.

Their effort received an unexpected boost Wednesday when Obama decided to nominate General Mark Milley as the next Army Chief of Staff. Milley, the officer who decided to charge Bergdahl, will face a hearing and confirmation vote in McCain’s committee, where the prisoner swap will doubtless become a focus.

In a two-term administration filled with new nadirs, the Bowe Bergdahl “swap” — actually, a simple release of five bad guys for absolutely nothing, and a Rose Garden appearance to announce it, just to rub the American people’s noses in their latest defeat at the hands of their own commander in chief — still stinks to high heaven. But don’t get your hopes too high about this congressional “investigation.” Look who’s in charge:

The Milley hearings will be only one part of the Republican offensive. “I plan on doing a full Bergdahl investigation,” McCain told me in an interview. “We need to look at that whole thing. I understand that next month the Taliban commanders will be released.” McCain said that while his committee had already been looking into the issue, the staff will now expand the investigation to include several more aspects of the administration’s handling of the case, including why National Security Adviser Susan Rice went on the Sunday shows after Bergdahl’s release and said he served “with honor and distinction.”

The committee will also look into reports that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time, Admiral Mike Mullen, had long known the circumstances of Bergdahl walking off his base in Afghanistan in 2009. There’s no firm timeline on when the Senate committee’s investigation might be complete, McCain said.

Anytime before 2022 — when, if you get re-elected next year under false “conservative” pretenses to your sixth term means you will be pushing 86 — will be just fine, John.