Nel's New Day

June 2, 2014

GOP’s Latest Issue: A Captive’s Release

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:22 PM
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Once again GOP members of Congress prove their belief that President Obama can do nothing right. After chewing him up on the problems of the Department of Veterans Affairs, they castigated him yesterday on the Sunday talk shows for his negotiating the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for sending five Taliban members from Guantanamo Bay prison to be imprisoned in Qatar.

  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX): “Disturbing.” (ABC’s This Week)
  • Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI): “Dangerous.” (CNN’s State of the Union)
  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ): “We need more information about the conditions of where they’re going to be and how.” (CBS’s Face The Nation)
  • Reps. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK): “[The exchange] may have consequences for the rest of our forces and all Americans. Our terrorist adversaries now have a strong incentive to capture Americans. That incentive will put our forces in Afghanistan and around the world at even greater risk.”

Taking U.S. captives is not a new idea for the Taliban. They try to do it every day. It’s also odd that the right-wing is opposed to trades because they don’t mind when their model, Israel, does it. Israelis swapped 1,000 prisoners to get one back, but the captures of Israelis haven’t increased.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice said that the president acted within his constitutional authority as commander-in-chief. “We didn’t negotiate with terrorists,” Hagel said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “Sgt. Bergdahl is a prisoner of war, that’s a normal process in getting your prisoners back… We don’t let anyone out of Guantanamo, and I will not sign off on any detainee coming out of Guantanamo unless I am assured…that we can efficiently mitigate any risk to American security.”

On CNN, Rice said:

“Given the acute urgency of the health condition of Sgt. Bergdahl and given the president’s constitutional responsibilities, it was determined that it was necessary and appropriate not to adhere to the 30-day notification requirements because it would have potentially meant that the opportunity to get Sgt. Bergdahl would have been lost.”

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) summarized the GOP attacks on the president on Fox News Sunday:

“We save an American life on foreign soil, the president gets criticized. We lose American lives on foreign soil, the president gets criticized. Are you seeing a theme here? It’s politics.”

GOP congressional members can complain as much as they want, but they gave up their right to stop it in the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Prior to that time, Congress had to give permission for releasing prisoners from Guantanamo Bay prison. The new law requires that the Defense Secretary notify Congress when releasing prisoners. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel did, in fact, notify Congress of the U.S.’s exchange. He was smart to wait until the last minute to do this because GOP members of Congress have proved that they can’t keep their mouths shut about classified information.

Republicans claim that this country does not negotiate with terrorists. A bit of history negates any fact in that myth.

William Howard Taft negotiated with Filipinos before he was president. Theodore Roosevelt granted a general amnesty for Emilio Aguinaldo’s resistance fighters after the 1902 U.S. occupation. In South Vietnam, the U.S. negotiated with the Viet Cong who would be described as “terrorists.” The U.S. negotiated with them in 1973 for the release of captured U.S. soldiers. At that time the right-wing was angry about 1,300 U.S. soldiers who were never released. Forty years later, many of the Viet Cong “terrorists” are in government with cordial U.S. relations.

During the 1980s, GOP icon Ronald Reagan began his first term by negotiating the release of 52 U.S. hostages. After radical Shiites took U.S. hostages in Lebanon, Reagan took anti-aircraft munitions from Pentagon warehouses and shipped them to Tehran, sending the money that they received to right-wing death squads in Nicaragua. The State Department had listed Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini as a terrorist, and selling weapons to Iran was illegal. During Reagan’s regime, taxpayer moneys were secretly funneled to al-Quaeda because they fought the Soviet Union.

Following the bombing of Pan Am 103 in 1988, George H.W. Bush negotiated in secret to protect state secrets. The secrecy continued into the first term of George W. Bush when the U.S. and Britain negotiated with Libya over the Quaddafi regime’s nuclear weapons. Quaddafi gave up his weapons, and the U.S. wouldn’t demand a regime change.

Just months before 9/11/2001, Bush supported the Taliban by giving them $43 million despite Osama bin Laden’s terrorist operation that made two attacks on U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998. Although $43 million doesn’t go far in the United States, it was the main sponsor of the Taliban because that sum of money gave a huge advantage to the Taliban.

In 2007, Bush paid Sunni insurgent leaders in Iraq to stop bombing U.S. troops and join the fight against al-Qaeda in Iraq. The insurgents were well-known as terrorists by officials in 2005-2006. Throughout the Iraqi war, the U.S. secretly supported al-Qaeda operations in eastern Europe.

More about the U.S. history of negotiating with terrorists and rogue regimes is in Mitchell Reiss’ book, Negotiating with Evil, starting with the Founding Fathers’ making agreements with pirates. The author, who worked in the State Department under President George W. Bush and served as national security adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, wrote:

“[Negotiation with terrorists] may be new to certain individuals. Whether it’s new or not is not as important as whether it’s sound policy and promotes national security. That’s the ground where there’s a more legitimate debate.”

Another right-wing complaint is that the five Taliban officials now in Qatar are the worst of the worst. Yet the U.S. left big Afghan warlords of the 1990s to operate freely in their country. Gen. Rashid Dostam was a vice presidential candidate, and Abu Sayyaf serves in parliament. A current criteria of terrorism in the Middle East is whether the men are cooperating with the Karzai government.

People commonly refer to the Taliban as “terrorists,” but the group is not on the State Department’s official list of terrorist organizations. The men released to bring home Bergdahl have no history of plotting attacks against the United States.

Under GOP presidents, Republicans claim that negotiating with terrorists is a diplomatic solution to save U.S. lives. Under Democratic presidents, GOP regards the diplomatic solutions as negotiating with terrorists.

As Todd Robberson wrote in the Dallas News:

“Once you acknowledge (as we have) that you cannot win a war militarily, there are only two other ways to end it: surrender or negotiate with your enemy. The United States might be capable of winning the war in Afghanistan militarily, but the sacrifice and cost in civilian lives would be too unpalatable to contemplate. This was the conclusion reached by civilian and military leaders years ago.”

After he was captured in Afghanistan, Bergdahl was held for nearly five years by the Taliban after being captured in Afghanistan. He was the only remaining U.S. soldier captured during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. All the living captives have now come home.

The Republicans have a major problem. They abandoned opposition to the Affordable Care Act to create a special committee to investigate Benghazi. Attention for that was lost with the information about problems in the Department of Veterans Affairs, and focus changed to the exchange of Bowe Bergdahl for five Gitmo prisoners. Almost immediately the crisis moved to the new EPA standards. This week will likely produce another issue that they want to use against the president. By now GOP members look like dilettante butterflies.

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1 Comment »

  1. Dilettante butterflies – is that anything like Agnew’s effete snobs?

    Like

    Comment by Lee Lynch — June 2, 2014 @ 10:08 PM | Reply


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