Author Topic: WH surprised by Bergdahl  (Read 137 times)

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Offline mystery-ak

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WH surprised by Bergdahl
« on: June 05, 2014, 08:28:56 AM »
http://thehill.com/policy/defense/208318-white-house-surprised-by-bergdahl

WH surprised by Bergdahl

By Justin Sink - 06/05/14 06:01 AM EDT

The White House has been caught off guard by the negative reaction to the deal that freed Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the last American prisoner of war in Afghanistan.

It has been particularly surprised by criticism of Bergdahl, who is accused of walking away from his unit shortly before being abducted by the Taliban.

The surprise helps explain why the administration has struggled to respond to the criticism, which appears to have caught officials flat-footed.

Political observers say the White House miscalculations were highlighted by the decision to have President Obama appear alongside Bergdahl’s parents in a Saturday night address at the Rose Garden address.

“They put too positive a spin on what is a very ambiguous set of circumstances,” Southern Methodist University professor Cal Jillson said.

“A big part of the WH stew on this is typical photo op hubris,” said Boston University political strategist Tobe Berkovitz. “Instead of just bringing Bergdahl back, they had to do the full kissy-huggy announcement with mom and dad figuring this good news would push the VA mess off the front page.”

The administration believed any criticism of the deal would be overshadowed by a positive story: the freeing of a U.S. soldier after five years of captivity in Afghanistan, just as the war there is drawing to an end.

It expected some criticism over the release of the Guantanamo prisons, and it also expected lawmakers would be angered they weren’t informed of the deal in advance. But it didn’t see the criticism of Berghdahl himself coming.

Despite the blowback, which the White House sought to quell with a classified briefing for the entire Senate on Wednesday night, the administration remains confident that the deal to release Bergdahl will eventually be seen as good policy and the right thing to do.

“I think the principle of leaving no man behind will ultimately win out,” said a senior White House official, who predicted most people will agree that the president was compelled to seek Bergdahl’s rescue.

The White House also blames the media in part for the blowback, and argues not enough consideration is being given to what the reaction would have been if it has turned down a deal to return a sick soldier in Taliban custody.

The administration has struggled to contain criticism of the deal, and has sometimes stumbled.

Comments on Sunday by National Security Adviser Susan Rice that have been heavily criticized by Republicans in Congress.

A military investigation into Bergdahl’s disappearance found he intentionally left his tent after becoming disillusioned with the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, officials who have viewed the report told the Associated Press and New York Times.

Yet Rice said during an appearance on ABC’s This Week that he served “with honor and distinction.”

Despite public criticism from some soldiers and families, administration officials believe most military personnel and veterans strongly agree that service members captured on the battlefield should be recovered, regardless of how they came into the enemy’s hands.

Initial reaction to Bergdahl’s release appears to partially validate that logic, as lawmakers and candidates took to social media to cheer his return and his Idaho hometown scheduled a homecoming celebration.

But angry complaints from former service members and families appear to have galvanized public opinion against Bergdahl — and, by extension, the administration. In recent days, some lawmakers have deleted tweets celebrating his release.

The White House and its allies are starting to fight back.

Tuesday night, White House aides circulated on social media a McCain interview in which he explicitly endorsed a five-for-one prisoner swap to regain Bergdahl. And on Wednesday, Reid highlighted “hypocrisy” by Republican lawmakers.

Reid said that “just a couple of weeks ago,” Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) released a statement calling on the Pentagon to “do all it can to find Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and bring him home.”

He also noted a resolution sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) expressing a sense of the Senate that “no member of the armed forces who was missing in action should be left behind.”

Other administration officials sat for television interviews to defend the principle that the president had no option but to rescue Bergdahl.

“When one of your shipmates goes overboard, you go after — you go get them. You don't ask whether he jumped or he was pushed or he fell, you go get him first and then you find out,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told CNN on Tuesday.

Still, political experts said that the efforts to contain the controversy might be too little, too late.

“You can laugh at the Republicans for being so transparently partisan, but you also have to challenge the Obama Administration on how they can be surprised by this,” said Jillson. “They’re back on their heels now, and why they can’t get a better presentation of their side of these issues I can’t quite understand.”

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Offline mountaineer

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Re: WH surprised by Bergdahl
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2014, 09:08:16 AM »
Obama’s master … mistake: behind the Bergdahl bungle
By John Podhoretz
NY Post
June 5, 2014 | 6:31am

Quote
The Obama White House genuinely believed the release of the American soldier who disappeared in 2009 in Afghanistan would provide a triumphant moment for the president and a moment for national unity. Otherwise, there would have been no Rose Garden celebration featuring the president and Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s parents.

Some in the White House surely saw the Rose Garden bit as a chance to play rope-a-dope with their political adversaries after weeks of getting beaten up over the Veterans Administration scandal.

They might have calculated that a knee-jerk Republican offensive against the deal — Bergdahl in trade for five of the world’s worst terrorists — would backfire on an attack-dog GOP and thereby help the Democrats.

But that’s the problem with tactical ploys in the middle of a political fight. They may seem rational to you, but you might be punch-drunk, your vision clouded, your thought processes disturbed.

Given everything the administration knew about the five dangerous men it was releasing and the circumstances surrounding Bergdahl’s 2009 disappearance from his outpost in Afghanistan, you would’ve thought Obama and his people would be more circumspect about the deal they struck.

They’re not fools, to put it mildly.

The president and his advisers are very intelligent people with good poll data and a feel for what the American people think and want.

Obama believes that he has the public’s backing in his effort to extricate America from the 13-year-old War on Terror — Iraq, Afghanistan, the prison at Guantanamo and stated policies like “no negotiations with terrorists.”

He might have thought the Bergdahl-Taliban swap was a perfect blend of his policy interests and an example of the new way forward.

1) The fact that US forces are, at his direction, going to pull out from Afghanistan at the end of 2015 meant that sooner or later the five Taliban commanders were going to have to be removed from the Gitmo prison.

2) Their removal from Gitmo would help to make the case for shuttering it, as they were among the worst of the worst still there.

3) The ability to strike a deal with the Taliban would prefigure the kinds of negotiations he thinks we and the Afghan government are going to have to undertake over the next couple of years. If the resolution of this first negotiation were seen as successful, that might portend future successes.

4) The final US departure from Afghanistan couldn’t take place without bringing Bergdahl home — in part to prevent a repeat of the gruesome late ’70s/early ’80s fantasy that America had left POWs to rot in Vietnam.

5) Taken all together, this swap would be a potent demonstration that the centerpiece of the Obama foreign policy is the ending of wars — perhaps even, finally, the War on Terror, the detritus of which sits inside the fences at Gitmo. “This war, like all wars, must end,” the president said last year.

I think the connections here were entirely clear to him, and that he did see the Bergdahl swap as a triumph for which he deserved to take credit — and which he could use to demonstrate to the American people he cares deeply about our men and women in uniform.

That became necessary in the wake of the VA hospital scandal (a Washington Post poll yesterday reveals an astounding 79 percent believe he is personally responsible to some degree for it).

The allure of all this blinded Obama and his team to the cascade of horrified responses to the deal.

First was shock at the release of the terrorists and what it might mean for the safety of Americans and as a signal to the world about the US willingness to make unsavory deals.

Second was the even greater shock at the unfolding tale of Bergdahl’s 2009 disappearance — the rage of those who served with him, the blame they assigned him for the deaths of fellow soldiers and their belief that he had at best deserted and at worst had gone over to the enemy.

This was all predictable, but the White House did not predict it — perhaps because the president doesn’t understand that the American people still value honor over expediency.
The only difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is that the Democrats allow the poor to be corrupt, too.
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Offline musiclady

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Re: WH surprised by Bergdahl
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2014, 09:41:09 AM »
Quote
Tuesday night, White House aides circulated on social media a McCain interview in which he explicitly endorsed a five-for-one prisoner swap to regain Bergdahl. And on Wednesday, Reid highlighted “hypocrisy” by Republican lawmakers.

Reid said that “just a couple of weeks ago,” Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) released a statement calling on the Pentagon to “do all it can to find Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and bring him home.”

He also noted a resolution sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) expressing a sense of the Senate that “no member of the armed forces who was missing in action should be left behind.”

Other administration officials sat for television interviews to defend the principle that the president had no option but to rescue Bergdahl.

“When one of your shipmates goes overboard, you go after — you go get them. You don't ask whether he jumped or he was pushed or he fell, you go get him first and then you find out,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told CNN on Tuesday.

Still, political experts said that the efforts to contain the controversy might be too little, too late.

“You can laugh at the Republicans for being so transparently partisan, but you also have to challenge the Obama Administration on how they can be surprised by this,” said Jillson. “They’re back on their heels now, and why they can’t get a better presentation of their side of these issues I can’t quite understand.”

These dingbats don't understand that it's not "hypocrisy,"  nor "transparent partisanship" that says, yes, we want Bergdahl back, but no, not illegally and in exchange for five high value terrorists.

Juan Williams yesterday on The Five was using the same line. saying basically, I can't believe you don't want Bergdahl back, when in fact, NO ONE has said they don't want him back.

I hate liars SO MUCH.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2014, 09:42:13 AM by musiclady »
Character still matters.  It always matters.

May 3, 2016 - the day the Republican party left ME.  I am now without a Party, and quite possibly without a country.  May God have mercy!


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