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PAT BUCHANAN: Bowe Bergdahl: War hero or traitor?

Creators Syndicate Published: June 9, 2014 4:00 AM

"We needed to get him out of there, essentially to save his life."

=So said Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, an Army sergeant in Vietnam, of Barack Obama's trade of five hard-core Taliban leaders at Guantanamo for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a Taliban prisoner for five years.

The trade speaks well of America's resolve to leave no soldier behind. And the country surely shared the joy of Bergdahl's family on learning their son was alive and coming home.

But this secret swap, as well as the circumstances of Bergdahl's capture and captivity, are likely to further polarize our people and poison our politics.

First, the price the Taliban extorted from us is high. We could be seeing these killers again on a battlefield after their year's detention in Qatar. Other Americans may have to suffer and perhaps die for our having freed these five from Guantanamo.

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Taliban leader Mullah Omar is proclaiming a "big victory" over the Americans, and it is a morale boost for the Taliban we are fighting.

As for the Afghan government, it was kept in the dark.

The message received in Kabul must be: The Americans are taking care of their own, cutting deals behind our back at our expense, packing up, going home. We cannot rely on them. We are on our own.

But as for the claim that we "never negotiate with terrorists," it is not as though we have not been down this road before.

During Korea, we negotiated for a truce and return of our POWs with the same Chinese Communists who had tortured and brainwashed them. During Vietnam we negotiated for the return of our POWs with North Vietnamese and Viet Cong who massacred 3,000 civilians in Hue in the Tet Offensive.

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Jimmy Carter negotiated with the Ayatollah's regime to get our embassy hostages out of Iran. The Iran-Contra scandal was about Ronald Reagan's decision to send TOW missiles secretly to Iran, for Iran's aid in getting hostages released by Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Bibi Netanyahu today insists that America not recognize a new Palestinian government that includes Hamas, for Hamas is a terrorist organization committed to Israel's destruction.

Yet Bibi released 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in 2011, many of them guilty of atrocities, in exchange for a single Israeli soldier held by Hamas in Gaza, Pvt. Gilad Shalit.

Yasser Arafat, Menachem Begin and Nelson Mandela were all once declared to be terrorists heading up terrorist organizations -- the PLO, the Irgun and the ANC. And all three have something else in common: All became winners of the Nobel Peace Prize.

One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Today's terrorist may be tomorrow's statesman. The remains of Lenin and Mao rest in honor in their capitals. Jomo Kenyatta, founding father of Kenya, was once the chieftain of the Mau Mau.

When it comes to negotiating with domestic hostage-takers, do we not, along with training SWAT teams to take them out, train men to negotiate with them? How many of us, with a family member held by a vicious criminal demanding ransom, would refuse to negotiate?

Yet, if those released Taliban are indeed "hardened terrorists who have the blood of Americans ... on their hands," as John McCain charges, why were they not prosecuted and punished like the Nazis at Nuremberg?

America has sent a message to its enemies by trading five war criminals for Sergeant Bergdahl: The nation with a preponderance of the world's hard power has a soft heart.

And though America rejoiced with the parents of Sgt. Bergdahl this weekend, other troubling issues have begun to be raised.

Obama's national security adviser, Susan Rice, said on ABC that Bergdahl "served the United States with honor and distinction" and "was an American prisoner of war, captured on the battlefield."

But is this true? His fellow soldiers say Bergdahl was not missing in action, and not wounded. Disillusioned with the war, he walked away from his post.

In an email to his parents three days before he went missing. Bergdahl wrote, "I am ashamed to be an American. And the title of U.S. soldier is just the lie of fools. ... I am sorry for everything. The horror that is America is disgusting."

For days, Bergdahl's fellow soldiers were out searching for him, risking their lives to prevent his Taliban captors from taking him into Pakistan. U.S. soldiers may have been wounded and some may have died in the attempt to rescue their lost sergeant.

Did Sgt. Bergdahl defect, did he desert, did he collaborate with the enemy? We do not know. But these charges will have to be investigated.

For if they are not, or if they are proven true and Bergdahl evades all punishment, it would be a blow to Army morale and widen the gulf between the Army and commander in chief that was on display at West Point a week ago.

Sergeant Bergdahl, one suspects, is about to become a famous and representative figure of his country's divisions in the Obama era.

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TaggR Jun 12, 2014 2:21 PM

We really didn't need the confirmation red.
I pointed out a long time ago that you are a little whiner, plain and simple.  
Some men take action. Others cry like big babies. We know to which category you belong.

Don't believe I need to explain anything to you. Because as you stated, it doesn't matter what you believe.  

redleg6 Jun 12, 2014 12:30 PM


If we had this set-up (R-C & Computers) in 1960's-to the present, you would have said I was whining about Presidents, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush1, Clinton, Bush 2, and now Obama. And you would be right.

Democrats and Republicans both worked together to make America what it is today, A powerless superpower...We have the might, but not the Resolve or the Leadership to use it. The Pride in our Power has been broken. Lev. 26:14-19

We have elected Crooks/thieves, Born Againers, Movie Actors, Cowboys, and now Community Organizers. The cream of the American crop. The Best and Brightest our American Educational System has produced. And here we are. A nation of "Phony Scandals", and a "Paper Tiger" on the world scene, and we are Broke!

How do you explain that?

P.S. I voted for McGovern in 72......

TaggR Jun 12, 2014 11:43 AM

Soon enough you'll be whining about Hillary red.  wink, wink..

redleg6 Jun 10, 2014 7:06 PM

@taggr...Don't talk ugly about Reagan.

Remember he gave the seniors, the poor, the blind, cripples, and crazy people 5 lb blocks of surplus government cheese and sometimes blocks of butter.

He also wanted packets of catsup to be considered a serving of fruit for the school lunch program.

America has negotiated with terrorist since Thomas Jefferson (shores of Tripoli). But no President has ever returned our Top ranking enemies to the battlefield, accept President Obama. And Obama violated the law when he did it

TaggR Jun 10, 2014 5:03 PM

Selective memory issues red? Not surprised. Weapons for money. Money was to be used to free hostages. The Reagan admin screwed it all up.  Many faced charges, good ole Bush pardoned them all. Ring a bell red?

Obama setting a precedent is just a figment of your imagination.

And you're right red. It does not matter what you believe, but the truth will set you free. 

redleg6 Jun 10, 2014 4:25 PM

@taggr....it doesn't matter what I believe. And what was the deal with Reagan and Iran? What did U.S. Give up for the hostages?

TaggR Jun 10, 2014 2:49 PM

Why is it Ronald Reagan can make deals with terrorist years ago and now the propaganda spreaders claim Obama is setting a precedent?
GOP hypocrites forget their hero negotiated with terrorists. See the hypocrites propaganda below.  

Redleg, do you honestly believe all the bs you read and post?

redleg6 Jun 10, 2014 1:35 PM

@stanback..To say that these incidents will now happen more often is not based on fact but rather for political gains. To say that these incidents will increase is saying that the Taliban has had other opportunities to grab U.S. servicemen but passed.

Excerpts from: dailymail.co.uk......5 June 2014

A Taliban commander in Afghanistan said Thursday that Americans can expect to see more kidnappings to ransom accused terrorists held by the United States.

Terrorists under his command, the Taliban leader said, would work to take more Americans prisoner, since the Obama administration's deal to free Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has shown captive U.S. troops can be used as leverage. 'It's better to kidnap one person like Bergdahl than kidnapping hundreds of useless people,' the commander told TIME magazine. 'It has encouraged our people. Now everybody will work hard to capture such an important bird.'.....

Dutch Ruppersberger, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, slammed Obama on Tuesday for setting a 'dangerous precedent that puts all Americans at risk throughout the world.' 'Since World War II we have not negotiated with terrorists or other groups,' Ruppersberger told The Baltimore Sun. 'What concerns me is the future. This puts all Americans at risk throughout the world, including our men and women on the front line ... for kidnapping.'

*** it the Democrats or Republicans that are trying for those political gains, or is releasing 5 Top Taliban leaders just STUPID???? Are you going to believe the Taliban Commander or President Obama and John Kerry, who by the way stated this controversy is just a bunch of BALONY...

Welcome to ObamaLand... The Land of Spin and Phony Scandals.....

redleg6 Jun 10, 2014 12:50 PM

From: washingtonpost.com

Khirullah Said Wali Khairkhwa: This 47-year-old was once the Taliban's interior minister, actually helping to create the Taliban movement in 1994. His Guantanamo case file, released by WikiLeaks, described him as a “hard-liner in his support of the Taliban philosophy” and “known to have close ties to Osama bin Laden.”...Captured by Pakistani border patrol on Feb. 16 2002.

Mullah Mohammad Fazl: Also 47, Fazi was a senior commander in the Taliban army during the 1990s, eventually becoming its chief of staff. He is thought to have personally supervised the killing of thousands of Shiite Muslims near Kabul between 1998 and 2001. His Guantanamo case file also describes him as being present at a 2001 prison riot that led to the death of CIA operative Johnny Michael Spann, the first U.S. citizen killed in the Afghan war. "If released, detainee would likely rejoin the Taliban and establish ties with ACM elements participating in hostilities against US and Coalition forces in Afghanistan," his case file reads...Fazi surrendered to a Northern Alliance commander in November 2001, and was transferred to U.S. custody in December.

Mullah Norullah Noori: Noori, 47, was a provincial governor in several areas during the Taliban regime. He is also believed to have been present during Spann's death and may have also been involved in the Shiite massacre. His Guantanamo case file says that he "continues to be a significant figure encouraging acts of aggression." Noori turned himself in to a Northern Alliance commander in November 2001.

Abdul Haq Wasiq: Wasiq, 43, was the deputy chief of intelligence for the Taliban. According to his Guantanamo case file, he “utilized his office to support al Qaeda” and was “central to the Taliban’s effort to form alliances with other Islamic fundamentalist groups.” Wasiq was detained in November 2001.

Mohammed Nabi Omari: Omari, 46, was a member of a joint al-Qaeda-Taliban cell in eastern Khost province, according to his case file, and “one of the most significant former Taliban leaders detained” at Guantanamo. Omari was captured in September 2002.

It would be interesting to know how many Americans died or got wounded trying to hunt these 5 guys down.



stanback Jun 10, 2014 11:08 AM

First, any opportunity that groups like the Taliban have had to grab a member of the U.S. military, they have taken. To say that these incidents will now happen more often is not based on fact but rather for political gains. To say that these incidents will increase is saying that the Taliban has had other opportunities to grab U.S. servicemen but passed. Second, John McCain says that the five released terrorists have American blood on their hands but did not give any specifics of attacks for any of the five.

Finally, do not forget "innocent until proven guilty". I, personally, will NEVER refer to a U.S. Serviceman who has served in an active war zone as a "piece of crap". NEVER!

doc54 Jun 10, 2014 9:02 AM

I will be very surprised under the current administration if this piece of crap is held to account for his actions.


trawl Jun 10, 2014 8:42 AM

This is one time little_r and I agree.

We should wait and see what becomes of his Court Marshal.

I know those in the military don't have Constitutional Rights but, come on, you don't want to hang someone without a fair trial do you?


whizzard Jun 10, 2014 12:10 AM

You folks do realize that the word terrorist is only used when the perpetrator does not have a country of their own.

POW's are war victims.  Hostages can be war victims.

A Soldier walking off from their post in our war against terrorists, is just a person abandoning his country.\

Many gave their life for him, he should be put to death.

When it really comes down to it, there is no other way to admonish this man to the point to deter others from doing the same as he.

Martin Fleming


whizzard Jun 10, 2014 12:06 AM

I concur with Redleg6.  Not only did he desert his fellow men, he deserted his company and his nation.  Let's face it, this guy enlisted into the military to hold true the American way and thought.  His vows were to defend and to support his fellow men.  His decision to turn away from America, his fellow troops and yes, his family was his and his alone.  And his decision cost the lives of fellow Americans who went searching for him.  And heaven knows how many others have been put at risk because of what he had divulged to the enemy.   It is hard to say what information he gave them but the information he did provide has put many in jeopardy.  Obama trading him for terrorsts is not the same as what it was when we were at war with another country.  In Afghanistan, we are not at war with their country, we are at war with people who move from state to state and don't really have a place that they can call home.  They attack for no reason and their attacks are not associated with any country.  This is the difference from what Buchanan explains above and sadly enough he doesn't get it either.

Now, you will start to see many to be abducted in the hopes that these terrorists will be able to negotiate a deal to get more of the terrorists back.  Our president has now set a precedence for the terrorists to go out and begin abducing innocents, maybe even those with no military connection in order to get what they want.  No where is it going be safe for any American outside of our country. 

This soldier knows much about our weaponry that the enemy does not yet know and I am sure for this coward to save his own life has informed them of much of what they did not know.

I am sorry for his family alright.  I am sorry that they raised such a piece of work like this that has even jeopardized their life.  If not from the death threats it will be some terrorist will think he can get much more if he puts his family in jeopardy. 

He and Obama both have started a machine that will now never stop.  It is a perpetual machine that will threaten the lives of many and this man needs to be made an example and prosecuted giving him the death sentence.  He has set the tone.  It may be a tone that if nothing happens to him, how many more soldiers will then walk off the job?  How many more will give away secrets the enemy does not yet know?  How many more will put more and more of the general populace at danger?  What kind of secrets can each one give that will encourage and help terrorists attack us on our own soil?

Apparently, Obama and his aides never thought this through entirely.

Or did he and this was his intention all along?

Martin Fleming

redleg6 Jun 9, 2014 2:44 PM

Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ)

Any member of the armed forces who, without authority--

(1) fails to go to his appointed place of duty at the time prescribed;

(2) goes from that place; or

(3) absents himself or remains absent from his unit, organization, or place of duty at which he is required to be at the time prescribed;

shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.........

Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ)

(a) Any member of the armed forces who--

(1) without authority goes or remains absent from his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to remain away therefrom permanently;

(2) quits his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to avoid hazardous duty or to shirk important service; or

(3) without being regularly separated from one of the armed forces enlists or accepts an appointment in the same or another on of the armed forces without fully disclosing the fact that he has not been regularly separated, or enters any foreign armed service except when authorized by the United States;

*** guilty of desertion.

(b) Any commissioned officer of the armed forces who, after tender of his resignation and before notice of its acceptance, quits his post or proper duties without leave and with intent to remain away therefrom permanently is guilty of desertion.

(c) Any person found guilty of desertion or attempt to desert shall be punished, if the offense is committed in time of war, by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct, but if the desertion or attempt to desert occurs at any other time, by such punishment, other than death, as a court-martial may direct.

***Bergdahl was a Private when he walked away. The soldiers in his platoon said he left his rifle, vest, and nite-vision equipment, and a note that basicly said I QUIT.......

National Security Advisor Susan Rice said Bergdahl servered with Honor, and Dis"stink"shon. We have a front row seat at the Obamaland Phony Scandal Spin Zone. Obama did get the VA scandal off the news for a few days.

little_r_republican Jun 9, 2014 12:24 PM

Why not just wait until he gets his court marshal and let that detemine if he was AWOL, a deserter or a taitor.