Deputy national-security adviser Ben Rhodes, who wrote Susan Rice’s misleading Benghazi talking points, defended her misleading talking points about U.S. Army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.
When asked if Rice was right to say Bergdahl had “served with honor,” in light of military reports that Bergdahl deserted, Rhodes defended the “pomp and circumstance” characterizing the announcement that Bergdahl had been freed from captivity in exchange for five Taliban leaders. He said that the joy at returning him to his family superseded the military reports that he deserted his unit and voluntarily sought out the Taliban.
“I think everybody should feel that parents who have been away from their son for nearly five years — knowing that he was in harm’s way, knowing that he was in captivity from the Taliban — that it is a joyful thing that those parents are going to be reunited with their son,” Rhodes replied when asked about the Rose Garden announcement and Rice’s comment. “And I think the president was very clear that it was the right thing to do, again, to share in the joy that those parents felt that they were going to be reunited with Sergeant Bergdahl. So I think he’s addressed that.”
Documents obtained by Judicial Watch in April revealed that Rhodes had briefed Rice, then ambassador to the U.N., in advance of her appearance on the Sunday news shows about how to explain the Benghazi terrorist attack. He told her “to underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy”; the top CIA official in Libya reported the day before her talk-show appearances that there were no protests ahead of the attack.
On Sunday, Rice described Bergdahl as “an American prisoner of war captured on the battlefield,” adding that “he served the United States with honor and distinction.”
Soldiers who served with Bergdahl have raised questions about his service since word of the exchange broke. “There is equipment that can listen in to radio communications, cell phone communications between people, and there were teams monitoring that chatter,” former Sergeant Evan Buetow, Bergdahl’s team leader on the night he disappeared, explained to CNN’s Jake Tapper, saying that they heard that “‘the American is in [a nearby village], he’s looking for someone who speaks English so he can talk to the Taliban.’ And I heard it straight from the interpreters lips as he heard it over the radio.”
Buetow also suggested that Bergdahl gave tactical advice to the Taliban. “Following his disappearance, IEDs started going off directly under the trucks,” he said. “They were getting perfect hits every time. Their ambushes were very calculated, very methodical, like they knew what we were going to do.”
Bergdahl’s hometown of Hailey, Idaho, canceled a welcome-home party planned for his return. “The organizers and Hailey expect a significant increase in attendance to this event, by people who both want to support or protest against it,” city administrator Heather Dawson said in a press release. “In the interest of public safety, the event will be canceled. Hailey, a town of 8,000, does not have the infrastructure to support an event of the size this could become.”