As we are all aware, 28 year old Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was released from Taliban captivity on May 31, by a special action by the President of the United States.
His captivity in Afghanistan at the hands of the Haqqani network was particularly heinous because Bergdahl, as American Military are instructed to do, made several attempts to escape his captors. He attempts proved unsuccessful, and he was severely punished. He reports having been held for weeks at a time in a small box. He is still hospitalized for psychological trauma caused by physical abuse. Bergdahl appears to have held up bravely during his 5-year ordeal, in spite of the fact that at his capture Bowe Bergdahl was fresh from training in the U.S, with a designation of Private First Class; he made rank over time in captivity to become Sergeant Bergdahl.
President Obama, with the courage of his convictions, negotiated for the captive’s release in exchange for the release of five suspected terrorists from the Detention Facility at Guantanamo Bay Cuba.
Obama didn’t wait for Congressional approval, indicating that if the proposed exchange had become public knowledge, Taliban retribution would have been likely. The deal might have gone undone, and Bergdahl might have been punished or killed.
Secretary of State John Kerry commented to the press that the released detainees will be monitored closely. He warned them via the media that if they returned to anti-American service they would be punished to the fullest extent “And if they violate, then we have the ability to be able to do things… if these guys pick a fight with us in the future, or now, or at any time.”
America’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said that Sergeant Bergdahl, who has been called a deserter by some who served with him in Afghanistan, “Served the United States with honor and distinction.” She acknowledged the controversial nature of Berghdahl’s service, but called him “A young man who volunteered to serve his country in uniform at a time of war.” Rice went on to say, “”He is, as all Americans, innocent until proven guilty.”
John McCain, ever the hawk, always outspoken, took the politically predictable stand that the President was wrong, and that the Presidential action might be illegal. McCain angrily pointed out his awareness that “30% of the detainees released from the facility at Guantanamo Bay have already gone back into the fight.” In fact, National Intelligence figures say 17% of those released have engaged in “terrorist activities.” An additional 12% are suspected of such engagement.
Is in any surprise that Guantanamo detainees upon release return to re-join the fight? They have been held for years without charge, faced the prospect of torture —enhanced interrogation —, and they have been treated as guilty of serious charges with no chance to defend themselves. Some of the Guantanamo detainees were young at the time of their capture, some perhaps innocent. Injustice toward a fighter for whatever cause is likely to produce a strong reaction.
President Obama in his run for a first term as President promised to close the Guantanamo Detention Facility. But some in the United States felt it would be impossible to hold those brought here, even in our maximum security prisons. While we are of a belief that all humans have certain inalienable rights, our legislators seem to believe otherwise. Even Susan Rice provides insight when she mentions that “All Americans are considered innocent until proven guilty.”
Well, we wish the best and fairest for Sergeant Bergdahl, and we are aware that his alleged desertion will be examined in trial upon his return to health. We praise the President for his mettle, and we wonder as to the Republicans who obsess with politics and the vote.Powered by Sidelines