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View Diary: President Obama: "No Apologies ... We Do Not Leave Anybody Wearing the American Uniform Behind." (301 comments)

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  •  Some, however, are clearly "worth" more than (3+ / 0-)
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    HairyTrueMan, VClib, Pi Li

    others.  It's ugly, but it's reality.  We'd give up more to get a four-star general back than we would to get a PFC back.

    And we'd give up more to get back a PFC that had be captured trying to rescue other American soldiers, and had not acted dishonorably during captivity, than we would (hypothetically speaking) for a PFC that had deserted and had, say, cooperated with the enemy (perhaps allowing himself to be used for propaganda purposes? or even worse, had turned traitor and had been complicit in the deaths of other Americans) during his captivity.  

    I think it's dishonest to pretend that who Bergdahl was, and whether the military believes he was a deserter, doesn't factor at all into the decision of what the Administration is willing to give up in return for getting him back.  

    I'm not necessarily criticizing the conclusion the Administration reached -- that getting him back was worth giving up these five Taliban guys.  I don't know enough about what danger these five guys pose going forward.  If these five guys WOULD be a threat to Americans -- like a threat to blowing up American planes in the future, like the release of a Khalid Sheik Mohammed might be -- then yes, I would be severely critical of the decision.  But I don't know enough to know the harm, if any, to the U.S. of releasing these five guys.  

    I'm not critical of the balancing decision the Administration made.  I am critical of pretending that there WAS no balancing of Berdhal's "worth" against the harm of releasing the five Taliban guys.  Clearly that kind of balancing was at play.  

    •  No one is pretending that coffeetalk (7+ / 0-)
      I am critical of pretending that there WAS no balancing of Berdhal's "worth" against the harm of releasing the five Taliban guys.
      This is not what the president said.

      He is obviously addressing the firestorm of ridiculous criticism that this was a "bad soldier" who some people have decided did not deserve to be retrieved.

      The president's answer to that is exactly right. He said that we as a country don't decide that the life of any of our military personnel is worthless or they should be left in enemy hands, even if they may not have been a model soldier.

      It's obvious that there are always negotiations and limits and choices to be made on when, how, and under what conditions we get them back. No one is denying that. It's simply addressing the offensive attacks that ANY deal to bring him back was wrong because some people have decided he's a bad guy.

      •  Straw man (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SpamNunn, Pi Li, VClib
        He is obviously addressing the firestorm of ridiculous criticism that this was a "bad soldier" who some people have decided did not deserve to be retrieved.
        I don't know anyone who is saying, for example, that if the Taliban had given us the opportunity to retrieve Bergdahl without giving up anything in return, we should not have done that.  There's no "firestorm" of people saying, no matter how little it may have "cost" us, we should not have retrieved him.  

        The "firestorm" is of people saying these were five really bad guys who pose a future risk to the United States, and it was not "worth it" to trade them for Bergdahl who MAY have been a deserted and MAY have sought out the Taliban when he left.

        My point is that I have no idea, without seeing the information that the Administration has, of whether Bergdahl was "worth it" or not.  My complaint is that the President responded to criticisms that Bergdahl was not "worth it" in terms of the five Taliban guys  (a criticism that may or may not be valid, I don't know) by essentially saying, questions about whether it was "worth it" are not valid questions, and whether he was a deserter or not don't factor into the consideration.  I thought that was the wrong response, and not honest.  I do think it's legitimate to ask whether this one captive was worth these five very bad Taliban guys, and I do think it's legitimate to factor in what the Administration knows about whether he was a deserter, whether he did seek out the Taliban, into that equation.  

        I don't know the answer to the question of whether it was "worth it."  But my point is that the Administration shouldn't deny that (1) it's a legitimate question, and (2) whatever the Administration knows about whether someone served honorably, or deserted from a war zone putting others at risk, factors into that.  

        •  As usual, you hear what you want to hear (10+ / 0-)

          Let me ask you this. As you probably know, his parents, friends and family have been forced to cancel any welcome home for him because of the flood of hate and threats against him.

          If the only real issue any of these people have is those five bad guys doing harm to the country someday, why are they threatening him and his family?

          •  the question is, who is "they"? (1+ / 0-)
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            I've seen a lot of hatred directed toward him -- not the least of which comes from some of his fellow soldiers -- because of their belief that he deserted.  As I've said elsewhere, IF -- and that's a big IF -- he deserted, that's an extremely serious thing, as it puts his fellow soldiers at risk.   I completely agree with the Administration that the military needs to investigate that and, if it is demonstrated that he deserted, he needs to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I have no problem calling out the people who are threatening him, his family, or his town.  On the other hand, unless the military can tell us they've investigated and he was not a deserter, I think the big "welcome home" thing was premature.  Of course we would never do a big "welcome home" for a deserter, and so while there are significant questions, that kind of thing is probably premature.  

            I would have no problem whatsoever with the Administration saying (if it were true), "I recognize that some of his fellow soldiers contend he deserted, and I recognize the seriousness of such an allegation.  But we don't know for sure whether he deserted or not.  Any judgment on that should be reserved until the military completes its investigation.  And because the military does not know yet whether he deserted, we did not hold that against him in deciding whether to make this trade.  We treated him as any soldier being held captive. And we think this trade was in the best interests of the United States because we do not believe these five Taliban members pose a serious future threat to the United States because . . . ."  

            That would recognize that it's a balancing of (1) the "value" of getting this captive back; against (2) the harm in giving up the five Taliban guys.  And it would give us some assurance.  Because,IF -- BIG IF --  it later turns out that the military concludes that Bergdahl deserted, and if a year from now, one of these Taliban guys kills some Americans, most Americans certainly will be irate about trading a Taliban guy who went on to kill Americans for a deserter.  

            But it would mean acknowledging that the Military doesn't have a good idea, at this point, whether he was a deserter or not (and I can't imagine that the Military has not done an investigation on that already).  (And it would hang Susan Rice, who went on the Sunday talk shows and said Bergdahl served "with honor and distinction" out to dry, because it would mean they have some question about whether that is true.)

            Again, I have no problem with calling out those who have threatened Bergdahl, or his family or his town.  

            That does not in any way justify the mistake I think the Administration made -- i.e., not being honest about the calculation and weighing they did in coming to the decision to trade Bergdahl for five Taliban guys.  

            •  You said: (6+ / 0-)
              The "firestorm" is of people saying these were five really bad guys who pose a future risk to the United States, and it was not "worth it" to trade them for Bergdahl who MAY have been a deserted and MAY have sought out the Taliban when he left.
              You called my comment that the president was addressing:
              the firestorm of ridiculous criticism that this was a "bad soldier" who some people have decided did not deserve to be retrieved
              a "strawman" -- and you denied there has even been any such firestorm.

              The firestorm is an out-of-control mob of people across this country who are saying that this man was a bad guy who didn't deserve to be brought home, and viciously attacking him and his family.  

              The president said that is wrong.

              He's correct.

              •  This is the straw man part. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Pi Li, VClib
                did not deserve to be retrieved
                Again, I don't know anyone -- except perhaps extremist nutcases -- who are saying, "even if the Taliban just handed Bergdahl over to us for nothing, we should not have taken him."

                Certainly nobody in Congress is saying that.  And the criticism that MATTERS is the criticism from Congress.  The criticism from Congress is generally that (1) the President violated the law by not informing Congress prior to the trade; (2) the President should not have made a deal with "terrorists"; and (3) that if Bergdahl was a deserter he was not "worth" giving up five Taliban guys that the Administration believed posed a future threat.

                That's the criticism I understood the President was responding to.  I thought his response, which was basically "those are not legitimate questions" was inappropriate and wrong.  They are legitimate questions; I do think that some in Congress who are posing them are improperly jumping to conclusions about the answers to those questions.  

                I would imagine even the staunch military supporters are HAPPY to get someone they think is a deserter back if they don't have to give up anything of value to do that.  That way, they can have the alleged deserter tried in a military court and prosecuted (and the penalties for desertion during a time of war can include death).  

                So yeah, even those nutjobs would want a deserter in a time of war brought back so they can try him and execute him --  if they don't have to give up anything, or put any future Americans at risk, to do that.

                •  You understood wrong then (6+ / 0-)

                  All the criticism that matters is from congress?!?!?

                  Oh. My. God.

                  Tell that to Bowe Bergdahl and his family. I'm sure that will make them feel a lot safer, knowing that the mob threatening them don't matter.

                  •  The president does not make speeches (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Pi Li, VClib

                    responding to nutjobs and mobs.  And I'm glad of that.  So no, I DON'T think the President was responding to nutjobs and mobs.  I DO think the President was responding to criticism from members of Congress and others in the government.  

                    And, like I said, I think even the most extreme of those nutjobs and mobs would be HAPPY to have him home so he could be tried for desertion.  

                    The Nutjobs and mobs are not happy with him because they believe he deserted, they are not happy with his family of the reports of his father's support of that, and they are not happy with the town because they think that it's inappropriate to celebrate a deserter.  

                    I don't think the nutjobs and mobs should be jumping to the conclusion that he's a deserter unless and until he's given due process and unless and until he would be tried and convicted of that.  

                    If he is adjudicated a deserter, then I understand the anger toward him (but not the threats).  If his father supported that desertion, I understand the anger toward the father (but not the threats).  If he is adjudicated a deserter, I understand that people would boycott a town that had a celebration for him (but again, not the threats).  

                    And if he is adjudicated a deserter, I especially understand the anger of his fellow soldiers, and I especially understand the anger of the families of soldiers whose death may have been related, even in part, to his desertion.  

                    •  eyeroll... I'm sorry but you *cannot* be serious (7+ / 0-)

                      You think President Obama cares only about congress, and doesn't believe (or realize, as you apparently don't) that his role as President of the United States includes addressing the national response to an event like this. And he doesn't care about the soldier or his family or the out-of-control mobs, threats, and insane attacks on them. Those are totally not his concern, nor should they be.

                      That's too silly to even talk about anymore. You're hopeless coffeetalk.

                      •  I don't consider those who are crazy enough to (2+ / 0-)
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                        VClib, Pi Li

                        threaten Bergdahl's family to be part of the "national response."  

                        The Westboro Baptist Church, the KKK, are all part of the country.  I don't consider them part of the national dialogue, and I don't think the President responds to stuff by fringe groups like that.  

                        I would view people who are actually making threats   against Bergdahl's family to be in that category.  Certainly, law enforcement should take it seriously -- there are crazies out there who will do someone harm for stuff like that. And if there's even 100,000 nuts like that (out of the 300 million people who live in this country) that's enough to be a threat, and law enforcement needs to take it seriously.  

                        But no, I DON'T think the President was talking to those crazies -- if there's 10,000, 20,000, or even 100,000 of them -- who are making actual threats against Bergdahl's family.   I think he's talking to the country's leadership, and to the 299 million or so people out there who have questions about what he did but are not threatening the Bergdahl family.  

                        I would be REALLY upset with the President if he thought he was supposed to respond to the crazies and nutty fringe elements like that.  

                •  a bit off topic and I apologize ahead of time, but (0+ / 0-)

                  your comments are always very long and detailed. And they are often made during the weekday work day hours. How do you find time to get all of your law work done too plus long and detailed comments here?

                  Your days and nights must be very long ?

                  Keystone Liberals on Twitter @ KeystoneLibs , Join PA Liberals at

                  by wishingwell on Fri Jun 06, 2014 at 07:17:40 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  Co-operated with the enemy? Like McCain? (2+ / 0-)
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      jplanner, a2nite

      Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

      by Wee Mama on Thu Jun 05, 2014 at 03:48:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  McCain's response to this issue is messed up (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wee Mama, a2nite

        I wish he wouldn't be asked his opinion on this by anyone in the press. And also, I wish people would not judge the actions of anyone in captivity-no one knows what they'd do in such circumstances.

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