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Michael Gerson: White House Bergdahl mess: 'We will fight you as long as you fight us'

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  • Gene Poole SLC, UT
    June 9, 2014 7:40 p.m.

    Will we ever know the truth about this "swap" and if money exchanged hands. Bergdahl's minders are known for wanting cash payments as part of a "deal". If that finally comes out officially, then political heads will roll - maybe. With all that has gone on with this imperial presidency, I kind of doubt it. I'm not for or against either party. I support the Constitution of The United States of America. I feel that what has been going on is in direct conflict with the oaths of office many Federal government officials took when they were sworn into office. The President of the United States must impeccably obey all laws of the United States - period. If he willfully disobeyed any law, even a misdemeanor, it is an impeachable offense. No matter his "purity" of intention. Swapping the only POW in the Afghan war for five KNOWN terrorists is questionable at best and unconscionable at least. The comment was made in the article about value of the trade. How do you count the men who died searching for this "soldier"? What is their value? BTW, if money changed hands, it is an act of treason. Just sayin.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    June 9, 2014 8:04 p.m.

    “It would be difficult, even if intended and planned, to cram more hubris, incompetence and mendacity into a humane and sympathetic act.”

    No. It would be difficult to cram more mendacity and simple-mindedness into a column than the one that Gerson writes, although both George Will and Charles Krauthammer are strong competitors.

    Contrary to Gerson’s long winded version of events, the whole Bergdalgh affair boils down to the fact that Republicans insist that one American soldier is not worth five Taliban.

    True patriots, like President Obama, disagree.

    He knows that one American service member is worth a lot more . . . Much more than five miserable Taliban thugs.

    But of course, “Conservatives” like Gerson, don’t think that highly of American military personnel.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    June 9, 2014 8:19 p.m.

    So, what is it that would make you people happy? If the administration had made it known, and for the most part it wasn't known, that this guy was still in captivity but they didn't like the proposed deal you'd have been all over them. Also, what then is the end game for the Gitmo facility and it's 'residents'? We got some use and value out of five of them; are we to pay to house the rest of them for their entire lives? That conversation needs to be had, too.

  • Mark B Eureka, CA
    June 9, 2014 8:39 p.m.

    Whether Bergdale comes home, is dumped on the street in Germany or takes a bus back to Afghanistan, Gene will find a way to blame Obama, with all the "treason" hype continuing. He has also shown that his understanding of both history and the Constitution is at best incomplete.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    June 9, 2014 9:37 p.m.

    Obama tried a careless and ill advised prisioner swap - he failed to notify congress 30 days prior - he lied about the soldier saying he served with honor when in fact he deserted and sought out the Taliban. All of this just to gain some cheap political points. Now when those soldiers who bravely and honorably served called Bergdahl a deserter and probably a traitor the White House trashed our own soldiers just to save face.

    This is typical Obama - incompetent and inept and now trashing our bravest and best just to save his own ...you know what. What a disgrace this man continues to be.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    June 9, 2014 9:37 p.m.

    "The Bergdahl case reveals a disturbing gap between the White House and military culture."

    Ah, very true. And this is why the military is not a democracy. What the rank and file think.... at the end of the day doesn't matter. They are not given the choice of which wars to go fight. They are not given a vote on if the hill is worth taking. They have absolutely no say in is something justified, or not. Theirs is to obey orders given by those who have been entrusted with those decisions.

    Looping back to the beginning of this piece, which states that the Israeli's consider those they give up in swaps as enemies. I am pretty comfortable feeling that these 5 are too still considered enemies of the US, and should they leave their now safe haven, and attempt to re-enter the fight, they too will have the same fate that many other Taliban commanders have had as of recent.... they may long for the days of safety in Cuba, rather than having to keep an eye skyward waiting for an unfriendly shadow to appear. As prisoners they had rights, and protection they now don't enjoy.

  • high school fan Huntington, UT
    June 9, 2014 10:36 p.m.

    It is simply amazing to me no matter how much our president chooses not to follow the law that there is those that will still go to bat for him over and over.
    I have just one simple question, Is there anything that President Obama could do that would elicit from you a negative comment about him? It appears not from the many posts.

  • shadowbrook el cajon, CA
    June 9, 2014 11:43 p.m.

    I am amazed beyond expression. The commenters here who excuse Obama have got to be White House employees. There is no other reasonable explanation for anyone siding with Obama on this one.

  • one vote Salt Lake City, UT
    June 10, 2014 12:27 a.m.

    Ending wars is as difficult as fighting them.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    June 10, 2014 6:14 a.m.

    high school fan - perhaps it is because some of us have been around to realize this isn't some stupid sport of conservatives versus liberals, that not one side is all good, and the other is all evil, that in the course of our history all of our Presidents have done due to circumstances that raise eyebrows, and that we will never have a president that is perfect. It possibly because we see statements like "how much our president chooses not to follow the law " by people who obviously don't understand the law...

    On most issues, I am very conservative. I have actually done campaign work for Republicans in this state. But it is the nonsense ridicules attack - from birthers to crazy conspiracy theorist - that make trying to bring some level of sanity back to the conversation.

    The latest attacks by conservatives, this time against this young mans parents, show how low this battle has gone. This president isn't perfect, and neither was any that came before him, and neither will any that follow. Lets lower the hysteria level just a tad, and discuss and debate policy, rather than hate.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    June 10, 2014 6:23 a.m.

    Gene Poole -

    “BTW, if money changed hands, it is an act of treason. Just sayin.”

    You mean like the guns for hostages arrangement Reagan made? The Reagan administration went on to make much more serious and lasting mistakes than that though, to the detriment of America and all Americans. So, his treasonous behavior there isn’t really worth mentioning, is it?

    “Swapping the only POW in the Afghan war for five KNOWN terrorists is questionable at best . . . “
    Is it really? If we were to imprison everyone in the world willing to martyr themselves to destroy America, then we might as well put prison walls around the entire Middle East .

    Hey Patriot –

    “-he failed to notify congress 30 days prior –“

    So? It’s ridiculous to wait on Congress to get anything done. Congress has become infested with extremist anti-government Republicans of the Tea Party variety. You know? . . . Tea Party politicians whose followers wave Don’t-tread-on-me flags . . . like the one draped over those two murdered cops in Las Vegas.

  • Casey See FLOWER MOUND, TX
    June 10, 2014 6:36 a.m.

    I am working in Argentina right now. Most of my team is from Europe and hadn't heard the news when I told them last week. Their first comment was, "Since when did the US start negotiating with terrorists?" Most of them support Obama, but they were shocked as this is something the US doesn't do. then they commented, now watch an increase in US soldiers being captured or attempted to be captured by terrorists because a precedent has been set.

    The US now has sunk down to the level of every other country, which is, "When it is expedient, throw out our principles." This act has hurt the US more than any other act our current President has done in the eyes of the international community.

  • BYUalum South Jordan, UT
    June 10, 2014 6:50 a.m.

    And, what about the deafening silence from this Administration about other Americans held captive...one in uniform languishing in a Mexican prison. Why is no one in the press calling for/demanding their releases? Thank you for the details of this article that the left does not want spelled out so succinctly.

    High school fan: Your comments are mine exactly!

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    June 10, 2014 7:36 a.m.

    Bergdahl is an American soldier. He's one of ours even if he is later found guilty of desertion, he is still one of ours.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    June 10, 2014 8:03 a.m.

    "Now when those soldiers who bravely and honorably served called Bergdahl a deserter and probably a traitor the White House trashed our own soldiers just to save face. "

    And just what did the White House say about those who called Berdahl a traitor? I believe it was nothing.

    I think the question just what is the life of an American soldier worth is not just a good one but the relevant one. The Obama bashers freely make the value judgment that this was a bad deal, so make the value judgment and tell us what an American soldiers life is worth.

    The Israeli's say their citizens are worth about anything, pure and simple but then they have a truly staunch conservative party not a Republican/Fox News election machine.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    June 10, 2014 8:26 a.m.

    It appears our political leaders have betrayed our country:

    * releasing five terrorists who have killed/beheaded thousands of people.
    * in 2013, 36,000 convicted criminals released from Americans prisons.
    * giving away billions of Americas hard earned dollars.

    With leaders like these, who needs enemies?

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    June 10, 2014 8:35 a.m.

    So it's OK for Israel to make these kinds of exchanges, but we can't? And who cares about the political narrative in the wake. The President did the right thing. The right wing (most of the GOP) want to conduct a witch trial. Shame on them. Appalling. Conditional patriotism. Shame.

  • Screwdriver Casa Grande, AZ
    June 10, 2014 8:37 a.m.

    The case is simplified by the fact that many conservatives were complaining that Obama had left Bergdahl behind just before the swap.

    A May 22 press release from Ayotte's office read, "As part of ongoing efforts to urge the Department of Defense to do all it can to find Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl and bring him home safely, Senator Ayotte worked successfully to include a provision in the bill that presses Pakistan to fully cooperate in the search for SGT Bergdahl."

    Rich Nuegent "Last year, on the fourth anniversary of Sgt. Bergdahl's capture, on the floor of the House of Representatives, I introduced a resolution in the House calling on the United States to do everything possible not to leave any members of the armed forces behind during the drawdown of Iraq and Afghanistan. "

  • Screwdriver Casa Grande, AZ
    June 10, 2014 8:43 a.m.

    There are millions of terrorists that hate america in the middle east. Billions that sympathize with them. Now there are 3,000,005 terrorists. And less sympathizers every time we do the right thing.

    I don't think letting 5 terrorists go home is going to hurt the cause much. It makes it harder for them to say we are the devil when we let them go home doesn't it?

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    June 10, 2014 9:02 a.m.

    @BYUalum
    Because the guy in a prison in Mexico is in that prison for breaking a law.

  • Say No to BO Mapleton, UT
    June 10, 2014 9:10 a.m.

    Does anyone know how many other soldiers are left behind? Was Bowe the only one?
    Or was he the only one on the market that Obama could pick up quickly to douse the VA scandal?

  • UT Brit London, England
    June 10, 2014 9:22 a.m.

    @Casey See

    Where in Europe? Its been making headlines here.

    "now watch an increase in US soldiers being captured or attempted to be captured by terrorists because a precedent has been set."

    Capturing prisoners of an occupying force has been around since warfare began. This will have been the talibans number 1 objective since the fighting has begun.

    "The US now has sunk down to the level of every other country"

    Sorry this made me literally laugh out loud. Please please do some research into the actions of your country. You have trained murder squads that raped and killed in South America, given billions to Iran for hostage releases, given weapons to Iran for hostage releases, some of your citizens gave millions of dollars to a terrorists that killed my countries soldiers and planted bombs in our cities.

    The US is knee deep in mess just like the rest of us.

    I think Obama is not a very good president but I dont think you have a good feel for the international community. Obama has a loooooooooong way to go yet before he gets to Bush's level. Thats just counting modern presidents as well.

  • Cougsndawgs West Point , UT
    June 10, 2014 9:40 a.m.

    Schnee:
    "Because the guy in a prison in Mexico is in that prison for breaking a law."

    So what's good for the goose apparently isn't good for the gander? Bergdahl is also accused of breaking the law by his own brothers in arms. Or did you think desertion was allowed under military justice? Some even say he sought out the enemy to join them which would make it treason (serious broken law).

    Look, none of us know the whole story but in my mind what this boils down to is liberals deciding to trust the president, his staff and Susan Rice more than OUR soldiers who served and DIED for Bergdahl and called him a deserter. I have no problem going after him and finding him in the field...no man left behind is a time honored mantra. Even trading for terrorists probably won't have a really significant effect. But to stand there and in the face of what his brothers in arms have said and continue to say he served with honor and denegrate congress (both parties) as unpatriotic is dispicable. Here's a new tactic BO...admit something, own it, and be honest about it.

  • OneAmerican Idaho Falls, ID
    June 10, 2014 9:46 a.m.

    "The president made the final call, then proceeded to a discrediting error."

    UPDATE: The White House is now saying Secretary of Defense Hagel made the final call. WHAT?!!! In attempting to deflect criticism, the President admits to allowing subordinates to make a final call in a situation like this? America ain't buying it, Mr. President. If he wants his poll numbers to rise, he would find an admission of "Hey I'm human. Maybe I made a mistake on this one" would go much farther than the juvenile approach of "It's not my fault, HE did it!"

  • wrz Phoenix, AZ
    June 10, 2014 9:45 a.m.

    GaryO:
    "Contrary to Gerson’s long winded version of events, the whole Bergdalgh affair boils down to the fact that Republicans insist that one American soldier is not worth five Taliban."

    Maybe you meant to say that one American soldier, who deserted his post, is not worth five Taliban. Or maybe not even worth even one Taliban.

    Hutterite:
    "Also, what then is the end game for the Gitmo facility and it's 'residents'?"

    The end game for Gitmo is to keep prisoners of war until the end of the war. And the end of the war on Islamic terror is not over... and won't be for a very long time. Probably past the remaining life span of the inmates.

    "We got some use and value out of five of them..."

    What we got was someone who left his military post. That ain't all that much.

    patriot:
    "All of this just to gain some cheap political points."

    Actually, what he was trying to do was to get the Vet's issue off the front page. He did. But it backfired since the Berdahl issue is ten times worse.

  • Alfred Phoenix, AZ
    June 10, 2014 10:03 a.m.

    UT Brit
    "Obama has a loooooooooong way to go yet before he gets to Bush's level."

    I think you're right, Obama has a long way to go... and the direction would be up to get to Bush's level.

    And just an aside... try to remember if you can, who in the US Congress voted for the Iraq War... Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Joe Biden.

  • wingnutty Casa Grande, AZ
    June 10, 2014 10:56 a.m.

    "Mission accomplished", George Bush said 11 years ago and the right wing cheered.

    Yes, let's talk about hubris and naivete.

    Bush also released some 500 prisoners from Guitmo.

  • UT Brit London, England
    June 10, 2014 11:27 a.m.

    @Alfred

    I don't care who in your country voted to go to war, I am ashamed that my country stupidly followed you in.

    Bush was an international laughing stock. You must have been sheltered from it in the States but he was the butt of many jokes. Americas image suffered as a result. Like I said I don't think Obama is much good but at least he presents himself well instead of bumbling around like a buffoon.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    June 10, 2014 2:11 p.m.

    @worf
    "* releasing five terrorists who have killed/beheaded thousands of people."

    If those five terrorists had done that then how come we haven't brought charges against them like we have for only a few of the Guantanamo detainees?

    @Cougsndawgs
    "So what's good for the goose apparently isn't good for the gander? "

    Should we be petitioning to get American drunk drivers arrested overseas released too? There's a different context when it comes to prisoners of war.

    "is liberals deciding to trust the president, his staff and Susan Rice more than OUR soldiers who served and DIED for Bergdahl and called him a deserter."

    I'm not jumping to any conclusions one way or the other regarding his status as a deserter and most liberals are merely saying to bring him back and have him go through the process for that.

    @wrz
    "But it backfired since the Berdahl issue is ten times worse."

    I'd consider the poor treatment of our veterans to be a much more important problem than retrieving an American soldier who possibly was a deserter, but then again I'm not arguing from the world of cheap partisan political points.

  • merich39 Salt Lake City, UT
    June 10, 2014 2:33 p.m.

    The potential Bergdahl swap was a no-win situation for the President. If he does not do the swap, then conservatives like Michael Gerson will criticize that decision. If he does make the swap, then those same conservatives will criticize that decision as well. My perception is that modern conservative's moral weathervane does not point in any consistent direction. For the last several years, conservatives are not 'for' anything. They are merely against President Obama. With any situation or decision for which the President's position or action is not already known, conservatives will wait to see the President's direction and then speak out against that.

    I consider myself an independent and moderate and it's very difficult for me to support a group whose policies are based on negativity, anti-everything and hate.