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Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

The Administration’s Cavalcade of Lies on the Bergdahl Deal Continues



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Today I’m off to Los Angeles to appear on this evening’s edition of Real Time with Bill Maher. My co-panelists will be Nicole Wallace, formerly of the McCain-Palin campaign, and some guy you may have heard of by the name of Anthony Weiner. Yes, that Anthony Weiner. You can watch tonight — 7 p.m. Pacific, 10 p.m. Eastern — and I’ll let you know how it went Monday.

A portion of today’s Morning Jolt:

The Administration’s Cavalcade of Lies on the Bergdahl Deal Continues

Oh, I guess we can relax now.

The five senior Taliban leaders released to Qatar after years of detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are subject to strict bans on militant incitement or fundraising that might pose a danger to the United States, according to people familiar with the negotiations that freed American prisoner of war Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

How is this enforced? If these guys begin fundraising or incitement, do the Qataris send them back to us? What about beyond the first year?

Thursday’s big spin:

The Obama administration told senators it didn’t notify Congress about the pending swap of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban officials because of intelligence the Taliban might kill him if the deal was made public.

That fear — not just the stated concerns that Bergdahl’s health might be failing — drove the administration to quickly make the deal to rescue him, bypassing the law that lawmakers be notified when detainees are released from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, congressional and administration officials said Thursday.

They spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly.

Many folks closely following this story immediately dismissed that explanation as bull-you-know-what. Why would the Taliban kill their best bargaining chip? Why would they want absolute silence about a deal that they were going to use for propaganda purposes?

Allahpundit noticed problem number one, from the New York Times, May 9, 2012:

The parents of the only American soldier held captive by Afghan insurgents have broken a yearlong silence about the status of their son, abruptly making public that he is a focus of secret negotiations between the Obama administration and the Taliban over a proposed prisoner exchange.

The negotiations, currently stalled, involved a trade of five Taliban prisoners held at the American military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl of the Army, who is believed to be held by the militant Haqqani network in the tribal area of Pakistan’s northwest frontier, on the Afghan border.

Then John Sexton noticed this Associated Press report from June 20, 2013, roughly one year ago:

The Taliban proposed a deal in which they would free a U.S. soldier held captive since 2009 in exchange for five of their most senior operatives at Guantanamo Bay, while Afghan President Hamid Karzai eased his opposition Thursday to joining planned peace talks.

The proposal to trade U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for the Taliban detainees was made by senior Taliban spokesman Shaheen Suhail in response to a question during a phone interview with The Associated Press from the militants’ newly opened political office in Doha, the capital of the Gulf nation of Qatar.

So how the hell could the Taliban be insisting that Washington be silent about the deal when they were literally calling up the Associated Press and telling them about it?

To quote Joey from Friends, . . . “First, you lied. Then, you lied about lying. Then, you lied about lying about lying. So before you lie about lying about lying about lying about lying . . . STOP LYING!”

By the way, just in case you had faith in senators’ ability to remember what they had been told earlier…

Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) said that administration officials who briefed senators said that “if word of the discussions had leaked out there was a danger that Sgt. Bergdahl would have been killed.”

But other senators, including Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), told reporters that they couldn’t recall officials sharing that information during the briefing presented by officials from the White House, Pentagon, State department and CIA.

Somewhere, Thad Cochran is saying, “And they complain about my memory!”

The strict travel ban will keep them from returning to any active role fighting U.S. forces for at least a year, U.S. officials said. By that time, all U.S. combat forces will be gone from Afghanistan. A small force devoted to training and counterterrorism will remain.

Wait, we’re supposed to be pleased that these guys won’t be actively fighting U.S. forces until this time next year? What do you think happens after that? How long until these guys go after that small force remaining, and/or the Karzai government?

You know this path ends with the Taliban running Afghanistan again, right?

Trust Charles Krauthammer to sum it all up so succinctly:

The swap itself remains, nonetheless, a very close call. I would fully respect a president who rejected the deal as simply too unbalanced. What is impossible to respect is a president who makes this heart-wrenching deal and then does a victory lap in the Rose Garden and has his senior officials declare it a cause for celebration. The ever dutiful, ever clueless Susan Rice hailed it as “an extraordinary day for America.”

Good God. This is no victory. This is a defeat, a concession to a miserable reality, a dirty deal, perhaps necessary as a matter of principle but to be carried out with regret, resignation, even revulsion.

The Rose Garden stunt wasn’t a messaging failure. It’s a category error. The president seems oblivious to the gravity, indeed the very nature, of what he has just done. Which is why a stunned and troubled people are asking themselves what kind of man they have twice chosen to lead them.


Tags: Bowe Bergdahl , Afghanistan , Barack Obama , Angus King


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