On June 30, 2009, Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl went missing from the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, serving in a remote military outpost in Paktika Province on Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan.
He was captured by the Taliban and imprisoned for 5 years — the only U.S. prisoner of war in the Afghan war.
The Obama administration made a deal with the Taliban. On May 31, 2014, without consulting Congress as required by Section 1028 of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, Obama released five prisoners from Gitmo — the U.S. detention camp for terrorists in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — in exchange for Bergdahl.
Here are 9 things you should know about the Bergdahl scandal:
1. Obama broke a law requiring him to consult Congress
Section 1035 of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requires Obama (via the secretary of defense) to:
(a) Notify Congress 30 days before releasing anyone from Guantanamo Bay;
(b) Ensure that the released prisoner(s) cannot engage or re-engage in any terrorist activity.
House Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Buck McKeon of California and Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma said Obama had “clearly violated laws which require him to notify Congress thirty days before any transfer of terrorists from Guantanamo Bay, and to explain how the threat posed by such terrorists has been substantially mitigated.” (Source: Daily Mail)
For his part, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said Obama “clearly broke the law. The law says 30-days’ notice. He didn’t give 30-days’ notice.” Obama’s opinion expressed in a signing statement “is not law. The law is on the books, and he didn’t follow it.” (Source: Mediaite)
2. The 5 men who were released are some of the most dangerous of jihadists
Mohammad Fazl, Khairullah Khairkhwa, Mullah Norullah Noori, Mohammed Nabi and Abdul Haq Wasiq were the most senior Afghans held at the Gitmo detention facility in Cuba, having been captured in 2001. The 5 jihadists were released to Qatar and received a hero’s welcome. A Taliban commander gloated that the exchange was the first time its “enemy,” the U.S., had “officially recognized our status. Once we confirmed the arrival of our five heroes back in Qatar, celebrations started everywhere in Afghanistan and the neighboring Pakistan.” (Source: Daily Mail)
3. The Obama administration has something to hide
- Many of Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers — from his squad to the larger group that comprised the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division — signed nondisclosure agreements to never share any information about Bergdahl’s disappearance and the efforts to recapture him. (Source: CNN)
- The White House “inadvertently” outed the CIA station chief in Kabul to silence him?
4. Bowe Berdahl is a deserter, not a hero
- That’s what the soldiers who had served with Bergdahl say. (CNN)
- A soldier claims Bergdahl mailed home his valuables mid-tour. (IJReview)
- Bergdahl had carefully planned to leave his platoon. We now know when he went “missing,” he had taken with him a soft backpack, water, knives, a notebook and writing materials, but left behind his body armor and weapons — startling, given the hostile environment around his outpost. (New York Times)
- Bergdahl left behind a note in his tent saying he had become disillusioned with the Army, did not support the American mission in Afghanistan and was leaving to start a new life. (New York Times)
- An official Pentagon report concluded in 2010 that Bergdahl was a deserter — “walked away”. (Daily Mail)
5. Bowe Bergdahl converted to Islam
6. Bergdahl was anti-AmericaN, Complained about fellow soldiers, and wanted to renounce U.S. citizenship
This was reported for the Rolling Stone by the late Michael Hastings who died in a suspicious single-car accident. According to Fox News (via The Blaze), Bergdahl had written a note expressing a desire to renounce his American citizenship.
7. U.S. soldiers were killed while looking for Bergdahl
Nathan Bradley Bethea was an infantry officer in the U.S. Army from 2007 to 2014, had served in the same battalion as Bergdahl and participated in the attempts to find and rescue Bergdahl throughout the summer of 2009. Bethea writes for The Daily Beast: “For five years, soldiers have been forced to stay silent about the disappearance and search for Bergdahl . . . for fear of endangering him. He is safe, and now it is time to speak the truth. And that the truth is: Bergdahl was a deserter, and soldiers from his own unit died trying to track him down.”
The 7 U.S. soldiers who sacrificed their lives while looking for Bowe Berdahl are:
- Pfc Aaron Fairbairn
- Pfc Justin Casillas
- Pfc Morris Walker
- Staff Sergeant Clayton Bowen
- Staff Sergeant Kurt Curtiss
- Second Lieutenant Darryn Andrews
- Staff Sergeant Michael Murphrey
8. Robert Bergdahl, Bowe’s father, praises Allah and Islam
- Like his son, Robert Bergdahl is a convert to Islam who has called for the release of the jihadists in Guantanamo. (Source: Jihad Watch)
- Appearing in a White House news conference with the beaming POS standing by his side, the first words uttered by Robert Bergdahl were these Arabic words, “Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim,” which mean “In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Compassionate.”
9. Obama is not ensuring that the released terrorists will not commit terrorism again
Speaking in Poland on June 3, 2014, Obama grandly declared that “the release of the Taliban who were being held in Guantanamo was conditioned on the Qataris keeping eyes on them and creating a structure in which we can monitor their activities. We will be keeping eyes on them.”
But Reuters reports that a senior Gulf official said Qatar has moved the five men to a residential compound and will let them move freely in the country. The five men are expected to return to Afghanistan in a month.