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Author Topic: Obama admin. negotiates with terrorists
Seneca
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It seems like there is finally something that democrats and republicans agree on, that Obama broke the law by not properly consulting Congress when he negotiated a deal with the terrorists holding Bergdahl. It was good to see Dianne Feinstein get on national TV and admit the President had violated the law. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUki_RcRtWo#t=74

A lot of analysts believe now that what Obama has done will cause a huge surge in kidnappings around now that terrorists know Obama will cave and give them what they want.

And what did we get for letting 5 hardened terrorist leaders go? We got back a traitor, a deserter who walked away from his post. What a great deal right? After the Qatari release these 5 a year from now, it will be virtually impossible to track them inside Afghanistan. No doubt they aren't done trying to kill Americans.


There were some very moving videos I saw from Bergdahl's fellow soldiers who were stationed with him who were outraged and asking why he did it, along with the fact that in an operation to try and stop him from getting smuggled into Pakistan, many of them were stationed to set up roadblocks along mountain border passes, and a couple of them died and were injured doing that, all because he choose to desert.

The one thing that is clear here is that when Obama proposed this swap to Congress there was near unanimous consent between the parties to NOT do this. They knew the long-term cost would be terrible, but Obama did it anyway.

Every time the US deals with terrorists it harms us. Yes, it's been done a few rare times in history, but that does not excuse this instance. So lets not drag in "but X did it so it's OK that Obama did it!"


quote:
The Obama administration largely bypassed the intelligence community to green-light the risky swap of five Taliban leaders for American Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, officials tell Fox News, as new details emerge about concerns with the deal at the highest levels of President Obama's team.

A military intelligence source also confirmed to Fox News that a second option -- involving the payment of a cash ransom for Bergdahl's freedom -- was pursued as late as December 2013.

The source said the goal was to reach out to Pakistan leadership with direct ties to the Taliban, and float the possibility of trading cash, instead of prisoners, for Bergdahl. That option, though, was put "on hold" in December when it was made clear the administration intended to pursue a prisoner swap.

Intelligence officials confirmed to Fox News that the Bergdahl prisoner swap was then on an accelerated track, and no formal assessment of the entire intelligence community was conducted. This made the opportunity to push back against the transfer extremely limited.

Further, top officials including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta were firmly against the proposed transfer in 2012 after it was first floated.

The details add to concerns that the White House and others involved in the decision did not adequately assess the risks before springing five senior Taliban leaders from Guantanamo over the weekend.

"I think he bypassed the intelligence community," Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., told Fox News. "I believe he bypassed Congress because this was done for political reasons. There was no policy justification for this."

Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, claimed the freed Taliban members are likely more dangerous now than they were when they were captured.

"This is Mullah Omar's board of directors, it's his fab five team," he told Fox News, referring to the Taliban leader. Chambliss has called on the administration to declassify the files on the five men.

The Washington Post reports that Panetta and Clapper weren't the only ones who had misgivings about a prisoner trade after it first came up. According to an article on Wednesday, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also opposed the original terms of the prisoner exchange deal.

It's unclear how the terms may have changed since then, and whether different Guantanamo prisoners were considered since the original plan emerged.

Clapper's office and other intelligence agencies have been notably quiet since the prisoner trade was announced over the weekend. In a brief statement, a spokesman for Clapper said he had concerns but the conditions of the transfer limited the risk.

One Gulf official, though, was quoted by Reuters on Tuesday saying the Taliban leaders would be free to move about in Qatar -- where they are staying -- for a year, and then would be allowed to travel outside the country.

In an apparent attempt to turn the transfer into propaganda, the Taliban have also released a video showing the handover of Bergdahl into U.S. custody. It was emailed to media outlets on Wednesday -- a Pentagon spokesman said they have "no reason to doubt [its] authenticity."

According to Time magazine, the decision to proceed with the transfer was ultimately made among top officials on Obama's national security team.

Given past opposition to the plan, though, one unidentified official told Time: "This was out of the norm." The official said the White House and State Department had previously urged the military to "suck it up and salute."

Members of Congress who were first briefed on a possible trade more than two years ago voiced similar concerns.

House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday the administration "never satisfactorily answered" lawmakers' questions and concerns that surfaced from the beginning about the proposed trade. Further, Boehner alleged that the only reason the administration failed to notify Congress is "the administration knew it faced serious and sober bipartisan concern and opposition."



[ June 04, 2014, 01:14 PM: Message edited by: Seneca ]

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Seriati
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This story has me baffled. I've been trying to reserve judgment, but the more details the worse this trade looks. Even from the start it seems to directly undermine our policies for the protection of soldiers and citizens from kidnapping. That must have been obvious even before the deal. I'm not seeing what the administration's reasoning on this could be? Why would they think it was a good idea?
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Why would they think it was a good idea?
Not to be too snarky, but maybe they listened to all the conservative pundits asking them to do it, right up to the day they did it. [Wink]
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Wayward Son
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quote:
A lot of analysts believe now that what Obama has done will cause a huge surge in kidnappings around now that terrorists know Obama will cave and give them what they want.
Was there a huge surge of kidnappings after the Iran-Contra deal?
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Seneca
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I didn't realize pundits could order the President around. American might be better off if Obama listened to them more often. [Smile]

And it looks like we got 3 responses until someone dragged in "X did it so who cares if Obama did?"

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I didn't realize pundits could order the President around.
I think there's a difference between "pundits made the president do it" and the question I was answering, which was -- tongue in cheek, of course -- that conservative pundits said it was a good idea, and Obama listened to them. [Smile]

Personally, I think the Bergdahl trade is cover for another deal. The kid's not connected enough to rate genuine concern for his well-being from the people that matter, so he's being used for one reason or another. The reason that makes sense is that he's distracting from some other transaction.

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Seriati
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
Why would they think it was a good idea?
Not to be too snarky, but maybe they listened to all the conservative pundits asking them to do it, right up to the day they did it. [Wink]
Can you cite to some of these examples?
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Wayward Son
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quote:
And it looks like we got 3 responses until someone dragged in "X did it so who cares if Obama did?"
[Roll Eyes] If you read carefully, Seneca, you'll see what I actually did was dispute the notion that this action will result in a huge surge of kidnappings, using a historical example. Please do not miscontrue what I say.
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Seneca
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I can't seem to find records of any "pundits" requesting Obama to released 5 terrorists in trade for Bergdahl...
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Wayward Son
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That's because they didn't care how Obama did it, so long as he didn't do it. [Wink]
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Jack Squat
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quote:
Originally posted by Wayward Son:
quote:
A lot of analysts believe now that what Obama has done will cause a huge surge in kidnappings around now that terrorists know Obama will cave and give them what they want.
Was there a huge surge of kidnappings after the Iran-Contra deal?
Yes. But is this actually against the law? I thought we negotiated with terrorists all the time. We invite them to the UN.
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Wayward Son
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There was a huge surge of kidnappings after Iran-Contra deal? Of Americans? (It would be kinda silly to kidnap people from other countries. I mean, just because Reagan would negotiate with terrorists doesn't mean that Menachem Begin would. [Wink] ) I hadn't heard that. How large was the surge?
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AI Wessex
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Brazilians and Brazilians!
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Greg Davidson
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I was initially very against this action by the Administration. The more I hear, the more my initial understanding of the situation changes.

I heard a story about how 6 people were killed looking for this guy after he deserted. Then it turns out that 6 was the number of fatalities in the entire province over the next 4 months, and the first of those deaths came two months later in a different unit. And then I learned that the fellow-servicemen who had spoken up were gathered by Republican political operatives. And how a wide range of Republicans started scrubbing their websites to eliminate references to their positive references to this guy, and how they were urging him to be free.

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Greg Davidson
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quote:
In the clearest contradiction, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in February that he “would be inclined to support” “an exchange of prisoners for our American fighting man,” like the one Taliban officials had offered in 2012. He has since labeled Obama’s deal “ill-founded” and a “mistake.” [...]

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) — the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee — has also said that the U.S. “must make every effort to bring this captured soldier home to his family.” But appearing on Fox News just days after Bergdahl’s release, Inhofe criticized the administration for agreeing to free “people who have killed Americans, people who are the brain power of Taliban.”


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Greg Davidson
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And for the right-wing press, it doesn't take them long to move from

quote:
Horrible. Obama to Leave US POW to Rot in Afghanistan After Withdrawal
link
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AI Wessex
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Why do people say he deserted? I heard he wandered off, or was out on a patrol of some kind.
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Grant
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Alright.... for whoever cast the spell that woke me from my peaceful rest, the last word is "nikto". "NICK-TOE".

Let's see if I can summarize the arguments here:

"Making a prisoner exchange of 5 captured terrorists for "SGT" Bergdahl was bad policy/action because..."

1. It was against the law.

2. It will encourage or cause further kidnappings of Americans by terrorists.

3. The trade was not worth it because "SGT" Bergdahl was a deserter.

4. Negotiating with terrorists is bad policy.


In response:

"The prisoner exchange for "SGT" Bergdahl was good policy because:

Well, waitaminut, nobody is saying that at all, are they? Except maybe the Chairman of the JCS, and Jay Carney. But nobody here seems to be making that claim. What I'm reading here is mainly attacks on the claims that support the argument that it was bad policy, without saying that it was good policy. In other words, their have been denial of the validity of the supporting claims without denying the actual validity of the argument. Brilliant.

What we have is:

1. Conservatives cannot complain because it was conservative pundits who called for his exchange in the first place.

2. There is no evidence to support the claim that the exchange will lead to further kidnappings.

And that's about it. There is no counter-argument, only specific counter attacks on the validity of supporting claims. It's called "nit-picking" and seems to be psychologically linked to anal-retentiveness.

Honestly, you could say that Tom's introduction of counter #1 was meant for humor, and that he engages in perhaps the ONLY true counter-argument in bringing up a stasis of place/information, claiming that we don't really know all the information behind the exchange so we cannot in essence make a true judgment. More on that later, but Greg basically resurrects the counter by claiming the presence of a disinformation campaign by "Republican operatives". Greg does not go on to say that everything said about "SGT" Bergdahl by the team of Republican secret-squirrels is untrue, however. More on that too.

First, some responses, then my personal take.

It's against the loix (the lew?) yes the loix (oh you mean the law) yes that is what I said. This is perhaps the strongest supporting claim. No one is denying that the President broke the loix. But the central argument is that the exchange was "bad". It is a claim of value. You could make the inference that the exchange is bad BECAUSE it is against the law, but nobody really does that implicitly, and they undercut the validity of that argument by making parallel claims to the argument.

If the exchange was bad because it was against the loix, then it should stand alone. A second argument aimed at calling into question the action due to the inherent value or quality of "SGT" Bergdahl undercuts the first argument. If the exchange was wrong because it was against the law, it wouldn't matter if "SGT" Bergdahl was a reincarnation of Audie Murphy or Horatius Cocles. Same thing for the argument that we do not negotiate with terrorists.

Too many bullets. Save the shotgun strategy for Friday night at the bah.

I tend to agree that there is not enough evidence to support the claim that the exchange will lead to further kidnappings of American soldiers and citizens. Seneca claims the concept is coming from "some analysts", whom Greg will probably re-label as "operatives". Prima Facie the claim is not outlandish, it makes sense that if the Taliban wants the release of more of it's top people the best way to do that would be to kidnap American citizens or soldiers. Of course, this only makes sense if EVERY time the Taliban wants to do a prisoner exchange, the Obama administration will agree to one.

Then of course, I would like to point out, that if the war on terror dissolves into a war of kidnapping, then it would be a significant de-escalation and possibly a huge success for the administration.

The idea that it was a "bad trade", because "SGT" Bergdahl was a deserter, seems to ignore the fact that as soon as he supposedly deserted, the Army went on a huge manhunt for him anyways. Apparently the Army wants Bergdahl back, regardless of whether he is a deserter or not. The question at that point becomes one of just how valuable the people we exchanged him for truly are, and what effect their release and future actions will have. I can see arguments for and against, but they have not been spelled out here.

"Negotiating with terrorists". Well, terrorists are international criminals. By holding these people as enemy combatants, as prisoners of war, the Bush administration made it a bit difficult to label the Taliban legally as a terrorist organization. Terrorists get a show trial and then get hanged, kinda like pirates. Prisoners of war get held without trial until exchanged or paroled. That's the way it works.

Personally, from what I know about these five men, I would have applauded bullets to the back of their heads. Keeping them alive was probably out way of saying "thanks" for all the non-information they provided us due to torture or disrespecting the Quran.

Now for the counters...

"The conservatives called for their release in the first place so they cannot complain". Fair enough. I PERSONALLY DID NOT CALL FOR THE EXCHANGE. Does that mean that I can complain about it? Good, because I have some of the same issues that the apparent hypocrites are raising, which seem to me to be valid questions regardless of the fact of whether they are hypocrites or not. I can agree that if someone did call for the exchange, then did a face-heel-turn on the matter, then they have some explaining to do.

I've agreed that the claim that the exchange can and could lead to further kidnappings lacks empirical or quantitative evidence. But it does satisfy the rhetorical requirements. It has validity but in my opinion is weak and is open to counter by showing different effects that could occur, and different causes in play.

Now, for some specific quotes:

Tom said:
quote:
I think there's a difference between "pundits made the president do it" and the question I was answering, which was -- tongue in cheek, of course -- that conservative pundits said it was a good idea, and Obama listened to them. [Smile]
It seems we can agree that, whomever these pundits are, President Obama should remove them from his National Security Council.

Greg said:

quote:
I heard a story about how 6 people were killed looking for this guy after he deserted. Then it turns out that 6 was the number of fatalities in the entire province over the next 4 months, and the first of those deaths came two months later in a different unit. And then I learned that the fellow-servicemen who had spoken up were gathered by Republican political operatives. And how a wide range of Republicans started scrubbing their websites to eliminate references to their positive references to this guy, and how they were urging him to be free.
So your initial gut reaction has been checked by the knowledge that Republican "operatives" were involved. Interesting. Somebody cue the "Mission Impossible" theme.

First, the idea that the 6 deaths occurred over 4 months and that it was province wide, does not mean that the desertion of "SGT" Bergdahl was not a cause of those deaths, if the deaths were related to operations with the aim of recovering "SGT" Bergdahl.

Now, I have no response to the idea that it is all part of a Republican smear op, because the claim is probably non-falsifiable. I imagine that the wiped web-pages cannot be recovered, so there can be no proof that they did call for the exchange. I also imagine that the Republican "operatives" have slunk back into whatever pit beneath Orthanc that they emerged from, invisible and anonymous. Very convenient.

On the other hand you have apparently proven that Senator McCain and Senator Inhof are hypocrites. Too bad that doesn't actually support the idea that the exchange was a good one, or counter the idea that it was a bad one.

Nevertheless, Greg, you did provide one link to some guy on the internet, Jim Hoft. I thank you for that. I think we can now agree that Jim Hoft may not be the best choice for National Security Advisor. Or is he? I'm not quite certain of your stance, Greg.

Al said:

quote:
Why do people say he deserted? I heard he wandered off, or was out on a patrol of some kind.
That's what desertion is, Al. It's "wandering off". I.E., he wasn't where he was supposed to be, with his unit.

Tom also said:

quote:
Personally, I think the Bergdahl trade is cover for another deal. The kid's not connected enough to rate genuine concern for his well-being from the people that matter, so he's being used for one reason or another. The reason that makes sense is that he's distracting from some other transaction.
Now, this happens to be the best counter-argument available. It does not exactly claim that the exchange was a good one. Only that there is not enough information available to make the judgment that it was good or bad. A stasis of place.

But if it is true that WE do not have the necessary information, then surely SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE, is. It cannot be a true stasis of place if there is NOPLACE, or NO-ONE who has the information or is qualified to make a judgment. Who are these people and are they going to have an investigation or hearing? I'll get back to that.

Now, before I talk about what I think/feel, I want to assure the Techie Subcommittee on Un-Cool Activities (TUCA) that I am not now, and never have been, a member of the Republican party. I have always been in favor of gays and lesbians and transgenders and non-genders and aliens, including the ones from Aliens, being able to marry anybody they like. I also give to the poor and always vote Democrat. I only give money to liberal causes. Please do not boycott my employer until they fire me.

I personally don't care that President Obama exchanged the Taliban 5 for "SGT" Bergdahl, unless it can be shown that the Taliban 5 have the ability to pilot Zords and can combined to form a MegaZord.

Whether he is a deserter or a hero, it makes no difference to me. Our duty is to get him back, and justice should see it itself. If "SGT" Bergdahl is a deserter, as he seems to be, he should wind up in a court martial quite soon. Otherwise there should be some answers given as to why not. Hopefully we won't have to deal with another court martial like PFC Manning's, that lasts 4 years when it could have taken 4 days.

If the Taliban Power Rangers are truly deadly to the interests of the United States, then hopefully we can arrange for some sort of unfortunate accident to occur. Personally, I think that after about 10 years in Gitmo they are probably ready to retire from government and terrorism.

I can't argue that the President did not break the law. But like most Americans, I really don't care that much as long as it was for a good reason. A prisoner exchange dependent on a time crunch could be a good reason, but because there was a law broken, there should be an investigation or a hearing. Hopefully we can have one, but I'm well aware that no matter what is found, any negative comments will be portrayed as partisan attacks. I suppose the truth of the matter is that the President is beyond reproach as long as the Republicans are the only ones doing the reproaching. That's why we're doomed [Smile] .

While I can't seem to bring myself to say that I believe the exchange was bad, I can bring myself to say that the parading of "SGT" Bergdahl by the Obama administration does seem to be a bad thing, and has me extremely puzzled. I have lots of questions that I know will never be answered because the spin machine is in effect.

Did "SGT" Berdahl actually desert his unit? An Army investigation conducted seems to point in this direction. If so, then why did the administration parade him around as a hero? Did they not know? Somebody knew. I would at least hope that the administration would want to know something about someone they were making a prisoner exchange for. Who was actually behind the exchange? Who recommended it? Who made the final decision?

It's all very puzzling to me. None of it makes a lot of sense. I don't even understand how Bergdahl was promoted to SGT in absentia, since he was a PFC when he "wandered off". Back in my day, you can't just make SGT on a timeline. Somebody has to sign a paper, in the guy's unit, promoting the soldier to E-5. You can't make SGT automatically. If this guy was under suspicion of desertion, how in heavens name did some BN commander promote this guy to E-5? And of course we're just skipping over his promotion to E-4. You can make SPC on time, but not SGT. You have to graduate PLDC or be in an actual leadership position. Unless Bergdahl was functioning as a fire team leader before he wandered off, I don't see how he could have been promoted in absentia. That's why I put the quotation marks around "SGT" every time it comes in front of his name.

Now, I plan to return to my tomb. Please carry on attacking evidence while not supporting the attendant counter-position. It's one of my favorite things to do too, though I wonder if we do it for different reasons.

As always, Ave Obama!

[ June 05, 2014, 06:33 AM: Message edited by: Grant ]

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Mynnion
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Plenty we don't know and probably never will but I have to wonder if the CIA didn't play a role here. It would answer a lot of questions if Bergdahl was captured on a classified mission for the CIA or army intelligence. There are just too many things about this case that don't make sense when taken at face value.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
No one is denying that the President broke the loix.
This is inaccurate. Quite a few people are denying that. The President's legal team is saying, for example, that his use of a signing statement in wartime is equivalent to Bush's similar use of a signing statement to get around a law specifically passed to force the executive branch to stop engaging in torture of prisoners. If the earlier approach was legal, the argument goes, so is this one. (Of course, as I said back when Bush did it, this is just another example of how the misuse of signing statements is corrosive.)
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AI Wessex
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quote:
That's what desertion is, Al. It's "wandering off". I.E., he wasn't where he was supposed to be, with his unit.
No, Klaatu, that's what AWOL is. If he went to take a leak in order to water his favorite lily without permission and was clipped before he found his way back he should have his wrist slapped very lightly, not left to rot or be shunned by his home town when he shows up.
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Grant
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quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:
No, Klaatu, that's what AWOL is. If he went to take a leak in order to water his favorite lily without permission and was clipped before he found his way back he should have his wrist slapped very lightly, not left to rot or be shunned by his home town when he shows up.

I had no idea you were such an expert on the UCMJ, Al. You would make an excellent barracks lawyer.

If you wander off, in a warzone, it's desertion. If it's not a warzone, it's AWOL. If you just got caught while taking a leak while on patrol, it just means that you were captured and probably violated 100 standing orders. Soldiers, especially 11Bs, just don't wander off post accidentally, or behind a rock while on patrol, to take a leak, then get nicked by the Taliban's ninjas who were hiding under a rock or behind a door. PFCs are not supposed to even open their fly without their TL around to hold it for them. For reasons that should be apparent.

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Seriati
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Grant,

Enjoyed the write up thanks. I do have an issue with your analysis of the loix. It's not a claim that has to stand alone, nor is it undermined by reference to this being a bad deal. Very specifically that's because of the nature of the law that was violated. This wasn't a substantive rule, where you can fairly make that kind of direct analysis, this was a proceedural rule.

Arguably the point of the proceedure, prior notice to Congress is to cause an evaluation of a deal prior to it being finalized. Maybe they would have done nothing, or maybe they would have raised these same criticisms and the deal would have been off. We can't know, but I think you have to give the benefit of the doubt to Congress where the other side chose to avoid the law. Accordingly, the Administration needs to show either the deal would have gone through regardless of any Congressional or public opposition or that the deal was good and there's no reason that Congress should have opposed it and it was time sensitive.

And Tom, I really am interest in references to these pundits you mentioned.

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Grant
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
This is inaccurate. Quite a few people are denying that. The President's legal team is saying, for example, that his use of a signing statement in wartime is equivalent to Bush's similar use of a signing statement to get around a law specifically passed to force the executive branch to stop engaging in torture of prisoners. If the earlier approach was legal, the argument goes, so is this one.

Thank you for the correction. The President's legal team, at least, is claiming that he did not break the loix. But of course, that's what the President's legal team is supposed to say, if he broke the law or didn't. I suppose the question will have to be answered by the supreme court.
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Jack Squat
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Hopefully there's something going on here that we aren't informed about. Like maybe Obama's surgically implanted them with tracking devices, and plans to use them to take out Mullah Omar.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Accordingly, the Administration needs to show either the deal would have gone through regardless of any Congressional or public opposition or that the deal was good and there's no reason that Congress should have opposed it and it was time sensitive.
As I mentioned earlier, the President's legal team is arguing that the Bush precedent means that he need only assert that he thought it was a good and necessary thing to do during wartime, and that national security prevents further discussion of the topic.
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NobleHunter
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I'm not sure which post is more horrific: Jack's or Tom's.
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Jack Squat
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quote:
Originally posted by Grant:
Alright.... for whoever cast the spell that woke me from my peaceful rest, the last word is "nikto". "NICK-TOE".

Let's see if I can summarize the arguments here:

"Making a prisoner exchange of 5 captured terrorists for "SGT" Bergdahl was bad policy/action because..."

1. It was against the law.

2. It will encourage or cause further kidnappings of Americans by terrorists.

3. The trade was not worth it because "SGT" Bergdahl was a deserter.

4. Negotiating with terrorists is bad policy.


In response:

"The prisoner exchange for "SGT" Bergdahl was good policy because:

Well, waitaminut, nobody is saying that at all, are they? Except maybe the Chairman of the JCS, and Jay Carney. But nobody here seems to be making that claim. What I'm reading here is mainly attacks on the claims that support the argument that it was bad policy, without saying that it was good policy. In other words, their have been denial of the validity of the supporting claims without denying the actual validity of the argument. Brilliant.

What we have is:

1. Conservatives cannot complain because it was conservative pundits who called for his exchange in the first place.

2. There is no evidence to support the claim that the exchange will lead to further kidnappings.

And that's about it. There is no counter-argument, only specific counter attacks on the validity of supporting claims. It's called "nit-picking" and seems to be psychologically linked to anal-retentiveness.

Honestly, you could say that Tom's introduction of counter #1 was meant for humor, and that he engages in perhaps the ONLY true counter-argument in bringing up a stasis of place/information, claiming that we don't really know all the information behind the exchange so we cannot in essence make a true judgment. More on that later, but Greg basically resurrects the counter by claiming the presence of a disinformation campaign by "Republican operatives". Greg does not go on to say that everything said about "SGT" Bergdahl by the team of Republican secret-squirrels is untrue, however. More on that too.

First, some responses, then my personal take.

It's against the loix (the lew?) yes the loix (oh you mean the law) yes that is what I said. This is perhaps the strongest supporting claim. No one is denying that the President broke the loix. But the central argument is that the exchange was "bad". It is a claim of value. You could make the inference that the exchange is bad BECAUSE it is against the law, but nobody really does that implicitly, and they undercut the validity of that argument by making parallel claims to the argument.

If the exchange was bad because it was against the loix, then it should stand alone. A second argument aimed at calling into question the action due to the inherent value or quality of "SGT" Bergdahl undercuts the first argument. If the exchange was wrong because it was against the law, it wouldn't matter if "SGT" Bergdahl was a reincarnation of Audie Murphy or Horatius Cocles. Same thing for the argument that we do not negotiate with terrorists.

Too many bullets. Save the shotgun strategy for Friday night at the bah.

I tend to agree that there is not enough evidence to support the claim that the exchange will lead to further kidnappings of American soldiers and citizens. Seneca claims the concept is coming from "some analysts", whom Greg will probably re-label as "operatives". Prima Facie the claim is not outlandish, it makes sense that if the Taliban wants the release of more of it's top people the best way to do that would be to kidnap American citizens or soldiers. Of course, this only makes sense if EVERY time the Taliban wants to do a prisoner exchange, the Obama administration will agree to one.

Then of course, I would like to point out, that if the war on terror dissolves into a war of kidnapping, then it would be a significant de-escalation and possibly a huge success for the administration.

The idea that it was a "bad trade", because "SGT" Bergdahl was a deserter, seems to ignore the fact that as soon as he supposedly deserted, the Army went on a huge manhunt for him anyways. Apparently the Army wants Bergdahl back, regardless of whether he is a deserter or not. The question at that point becomes one of just how valuable the people we exchanged him for truly are, and what effect their release and future actions will have. I can see arguments for and against, but they have not been spelled out here.

"Negotiating with terrorists". Well, terrorists are international criminals. By holding these people as enemy combatants, as prisoners of war, the Bush administration made it a bit difficult to label the Taliban legally as a terrorist organization. Terrorists get a show trial and then get hanged, kinda like pirates. Prisoners of war get held without trial until exchanged or paroled. That's the way it works.

Personally, from what I know about these five men, I would have applauded bullets to the back of their heads. Keeping them alive was probably out way of saying "thanks" for all the non-information they provided us due to torture or disrespecting the Quran.

Now for the counters...

"The conservatives called for their release in the first place so they cannot complain". Fair enough. I PERSONALLY DID NOT CALL FOR THE EXCHANGE. Does that mean that I can complain about it? Good, because I have some of the same issues that the apparent hypocrites are raising, which seem to me to be valid questions regardless of the fact of whether they are hypocrites or not. I can agree that if someone did call for the exchange, then did a face-heel-turn on the matter, then they have some explaining to do.

I've agreed that the claim that the exchange can and could lead to further kidnappings lacks empirical or quantitative evidence. But it does satisfy the rhetorical requirements. It has validity but in my opinion is weak and is open to counter by showing different effects that could occur, and different causes in play.

Now, for some specific quotes:

Tom said:
quote:
I think there's a difference between "pundits made the president do it" and the question I was answering, which was -- tongue in cheek, of course -- that conservative pundits said it was a good idea, and Obama listened to them. [Smile]
It seems we can agree that, whomever these pundits are, President Obama should remove them from his National Security Council.

Greg said:

quote:
I heard a story about how 6 people were killed looking for this guy after he deserted. Then it turns out that 6 was the number of fatalities in the entire province over the next 4 months, and the first of those deaths came two months later in a different unit. And then I learned that the fellow-servicemen who had spoken up were gathered by Republican political operatives. And how a wide range of Republicans started scrubbing their websites to eliminate references to their positive references to this guy, and how they were urging him to be free.
So your initial gut reaction has been checked by the knowledge that Republican "operatives" were involved. Interesting. Somebody cue the "Mission Impossible" theme.

First, the idea that the 6 deaths occurred over 4 months and that it was province wide, does not mean that the desertion of "SGT" Bergdahl was not a cause of those deaths, if the deaths were related to operations with the aim of recovering "SGT" Bergdahl.

Now, I have no response to the idea that it is all part of a Republican smear op, because the claim is probably non-falsifiable. I imagine that the wiped web-pages cannot be recovered, so there can be no proof that they did call for the exchange. I also imagine that the Republican "operatives" have slunk back into whatever pit beneath Orthanc that they emerged from, invisible and anonymous. Very convenient.

On the other hand you have apparently proven that Senator McCain and Senator Inhof are hypocrites. Too bad that doesn't actually support the idea that the exchange was a good one, or counter the idea that it was a bad one.

Nevertheless, Greg, you did provide one link to some guy on the internet, Jim Hoft. I thank you for that. I think we can now agree that Jim Hoft may not be the best choice for National Security Advisor. Or is he? I'm not quite certain of your stance, Greg.

Al said:

quote:
Why do people say he deserted? I heard he wandered off, or was out on a patrol of some kind.
That's what desertion is, Al. It's "wandering off". I.E., he wasn't where he was supposed to be, with his unit.

Tom also said:

quote:
Personally, I think the Bergdahl trade is cover for another deal. The kid's not connected enough to rate genuine concern for his well-being from the people that matter, so he's being used for one reason or another. The reason that makes sense is that he's distracting from some other transaction.
Now, this happens to be the best counter-argument available. It does not exactly claim that the exchange was a good one. Only that there is not enough information available to make the judgment that it was good or bad. A stasis of place.

But if it is true that WE do not have the necessary information, then surely SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE, is. It cannot be a true stasis of place if there is NOPLACE, or NO-ONE who has the information or is qualified to make a judgment. Who are these people and are they going to have an investigation or hearing? I'll get back to that.

Now, before I talk about what I think/feel, I want to assure the Techie Subcommittee on Un-Cool Activities (TUCA) that I am not now, and never have been, a member of the Republican party. I have always been in favor of gays and lesbians and transgenders and non-genders and aliens, including the ones from Aliens, being able to marry anybody they like. I also give to the poor and always vote Democrat. I only give money to liberal causes. Please do not boycott my employer until they fire me.

I personally don't care that President Obama exchanged the Taliban 5 for "SGT" Bergdahl, unless it can be shown that the Taliban 5 have the ability to pilot Zords and can combined to form a MegaZord.

Whether he is a deserter or a hero, it makes no difference to me. Our duty is to get him back, and justice should see it itself. If "SGT" Bergdahl is a deserter, as he seems to be, he should wind up in a court martial quite soon. Otherwise there should be some answers given as to why not. Hopefully we won't have to deal with another court martial like PFC Manning's, that lasts 4 years when it could have taken 4 days.

If the Taliban Power Rangers are truly deadly to the interests of the United States, then hopefully we can arrange for some sort of unfortunate accident to occur. Personally, I think that after about 10 years in Gitmo they are probably ready to retire from government and terrorism.

I can't argue that the President did not break the law. But like most Americans, I really don't care that much as long as it was for a good reason. A prisoner exchange dependent on a time crunch could be a good reason, but because there was a law broken, there should be an investigation or a hearing. Hopefully we can have one, but I'm well aware that no matter what is found, any negative comments will be portrayed as partisan attacks. I suppose the truth of the matter is that the President is beyond reproach as long as the Republicans are the only ones doing the reproaching. That's why we're doomed [Smile] .

While I can't seem to bring myself to say that I believe the exchange was bad, I can bring myself to say that the parading of "SGT" Bergdahl by the Obama administration does seem to be a bad thing, and has me extremely puzzled. I have lots of questions that I know will never be answered because the spin machine is in effect.

Did "SGT" Berdahl actually desert his unit? An Army investigation conducted seems to point in this direction. If so, then why did the administration parade him around as a hero? Did they not know? Somebody knew. I would at least hope that the administration would want to know something about someone they were making a prisoner exchange for. Who was actually behind the exchange? Who recommended it? Who made the final decision?

It's all very puzzling to me. None of it makes a lot of sense. I don't even understand how Bergdahl was promoted to SGT in absentia, since he was a PFC when he "wandered off". Back in my day, you can't just make SGT on a timeline. Somebody has to sign a paper, in the guy's unit, promoting the soldier to E-5. You can't make SGT automatically. If this guy was under suspicion of desertion, how in heavens name did some BN commander promote this guy to E-5? And of course we're just skipping over his promotion to E-4. You can make SPC on time, but not SGT. You have to graduate PLDC or be in an actual leadership position. Unless Bergdahl was functioning as a fire team leader before he wandered off, I don't see how he could have been promoted in absentia. That's why I put the quotation marks around "SGT" every time it comes in front of his name.

Now, I plan to return to my tomb. Please carry on attacking evidence while not supporting the attendant counter-position. It's one of my favorite things to do too, though I wonder if we do it for different reasons.

As always, Ave Obama!

That's the funniest thing I've read on Ornery. You could be the Conservative answer to Colbert and Stewart.
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Jack Squat
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quote:
Originally posted by NobleHunter:
I'm not sure which post is more horrific: Jack's or Tom's.

Which of my posts? Surgical implants or negotiating with terrorists at the UN?
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Grant
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quote:
Originally posted by Seriati:
Grant,

Enjoyed the write up thanks.

Ha! Somebody liked it. I win the thread. Give me the internet. Thank you, and you're welcome.

quote:
I do have an issue with your analysis of the loix. It's not a claim that has to stand alone, nor is it undermined by reference to this being a bad deal. Very specifically that's because of the nature of the law that was violated. This wasn't a substantive rule, where you can fairly make that kind of direct analysis, this was a proceedural rule.

Did I say thank you? Oh well. It sounds to me like you have a much greater understanding of the loix then I do. I couldn't tell you the difference between a substantive rule and a procedural rule.

quote:
Arguably the point of the proceedure, prior notice to Congress is to cause an evaluation of a deal prior to it being finalized. Maybe they would have done nothing, or maybe they would have raised these same criticisms and the deal would have been off. We can't know, but I think you have to give the benefit of the doubt to Congress where the other side chose to avoid the law. Accordingly, the Administration needs to show either the deal would have gone through regardless of any Congressional or public opposition or that the deal was good and there's no reason that Congress should have opposed it and it was time sensitive.

I'm not completely familiar with the law in question, or the legal tack you are taking. What I seem to gather is that somehow, this is a type of law that, in order to show that something done broke said law, you have to prove that the action not only broke the letter of the law, but the spirit as well. Is that the case?
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AI Wessex
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quote:
Originally posted by Grant:
quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:
No, Klaatu, that's what AWOL is. If he went to take a leak in order to water his favorite lily without permission and was clipped before he found his way back he should have his wrist slapped very lightly, not left to rot or be shunned by his home town when he shows up.

I had no idea you were such an expert on the UCMJ, Al. You would make an excellent barracks lawyer.

If you wander off, in a warzone, it's desertion. If it's not a warzone, it's AWOL. If you just got caught while taking a leak while on patrol, it just means that you were captured and probably violated 100 standing orders. Soldiers, especially 11Bs, just don't wander off post accidentally, or behind a rock while on patrol, to take a leak, then get nicked by the Taliban's ninjas who were hiding under a rock or behind a door. PFCs are not supposed to even open their fly without their TL around to hold it for them. For reasons that should be apparent.

Thanks for raising your visor and only giving me a mild sunburn, but articles 85 and 86 of the UCMJ don't talk about war zone stipulations.
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NobleHunter
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quote:
Which of my posts? Surgical implants or negotiating with terrorists at the UN?
Surgical implants. Specifically performing surgery on prisoners without their knowledge, never mind consent ('cause if they know the transmitters are there, it wouldn't be effective).
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Pete at Home
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I have no defense for the intelligence or worthiness of this obama action, but I see an obvious legal defense, and am surprised no one mentioned it.

Under what constitutional provision does congress have power to bind the commander in chief from what's essentially a battlefield negotiation?

One might argue that to the extent Obama broke the law, the law was unconstitutional, violating separation of powers.

Again, I find the decision deplorable under known facts... although perhaps one of the five has been turned, in which case good move Barry.

Do I win the most horiffic post award, NH?

[ June 05, 2014, 10:12 AM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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Grant
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quote:
Originally posted by Jack Squat:
That's the funniest thing I've read on Ornery. You could be the Conservative answer to Colbert and Stewart.

Far from my best work. I still think my Summmmary of the "645 Economists Endorse Romney Economic Plan" thread in September, 2012 was my crowning achievement. But I was drinking so I had a lot of help that I usually don't get when I'm at work like I am now.
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Seriati
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
As I mentioned earlier, the President's legal team is arguing that the Bush precedent means that he need only assert that he thought it was a good and necessary thing to do during wartime, and that national security prevents further discussion of the topic.

You're going to have to be a lot more specific to make an argument on this. What signing statement (to a law right?) is the President evoking? And you do understand that a signing statement can only set out how the President intends to have the Administration enforce a law, it can't actually contradict it (I suppose one could argue that they often do, but I doubt you could make a convincing argument that a direct conflict would stand up in the Supremen Court).

Normally, the President argues that the law was an invalid limitation on executive authority and moot, like they have with the War Powers Act. So give me some details.

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Jack Squat
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quote:
Originally posted by NobleHunter:
quote:
Which of my posts? Surgical implants or negotiating with terrorists at the UN?
Surgical implants. Specifically performing surgery on prisoners without their knowledge, never mind consent ('cause if they know the transmitters are there, it wouldn't be effective).
Implant is a very minor surgery. And maybe one of the prisoners required surgery anyway, and it was just a matter of slipping the tracker in during the course of an ordinary surgery. These were war time captures, and it's not inconceivable that we might have used surgery to save their lives at some point, remove bullets, etc. Which Geneva Convention provision would that violate?
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Seriati
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quote:
Originally posted by Grant:
I couldn't tell you the difference between a substantive rule and a procedural rule.

It's like the difference between it being illegal to murder someone - substantive - and having evidence excluded if you're not read your Miranda rights - procedural.

In this case, it's a notice period, presumably its there for a reason, whether if its to seek advice, second opinion, provide a cooling off period, or something else.

If the deal had to be approved by Congress then this would be substantively illegal as well.
quote:
you have to prove that the action not only broke the letter of the law, but the spirit as well. Is that the case?
That's not really what I meant. For all I know Congress couldn't interfere with the deal at all. I'm just pointing out that you can't separate an evaluation of the quality of the deal from the legal question when the rule that was violated was designed to allow for that evaluation of quality to occur before the deal.

If you have an agreement with your partner that you'll discuss all deals ahead of time, but then find yourself having to agree to the "deal of a lifetime" before you can talk it over, don't you think that you would bear a greater responsibility for the consequences of that deal?

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
I can't argue that the President did not break the law. But like most Americans, I really don't care that much as long as it was for a good reason. A prisoner exchange dependent on a time crunch could be a good reason, but because there was a law broken, there should be an investigation or a hearing.
I think that that's about the best summation of the overall situation. I wouldn't be surprised to find that the overall urgency was ginned up a little to provide a little bit of cover for finding a small way to undermine the "Obama shall not close the gitmo prison" law, but not so much taht iot was unreasonable to use that contingency.

I think the earlier point about becoming a war of kidnappings being deescalation is good as well. The idea taht it will lead to more kidnappings is only a bad thing if the default state was to leave the US alone and allow US citizens and soldiers to act freely out of fear of annoying us. When the default state is to see how high they can get the body count at any reasonable opportunity, then making kidnapping a more appealing prospect than heavy application of IEDs is a good direction to move in, especially because it provides active context for further deescalation and movement away from the use of terror as a policy tool.

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Seriati
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In a related note on the kidnapping angle, CBS spent almost five minutes covering the story of an American couple who were kidnapped while hiking in Afghanistan and their families insistence that there needs to be a deal to bring them home. It's not just the other side of the oceans that sees this as a potential precedent to be used.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
Accordingly, the Administration needs to show either the deal would have gone through regardless of any Congressional or public opposition or that the deal was good and there's no reason that Congress should have opposed it and it was time sensitive.
As I mentioned earlier, the President's legal team is arguing that the Bush precedent means that he need only assert that he thought it was a good and necessary thing to do during wartime, and that national security prevents further discussion of the topic.
Oh the fools. Surely they can do better than use the Bush torture precedent as honorable. It pains me how so few attorneys know anything about separation of powers. I had an SoP class in law school from Judge Bybee. Interesting stuff. [Smile]

Obama's team should have distinguished Obama's action from the Bush torture memos on the basis that torture is against the Law of Nations, where Congress does have power even to bind the CoC during war.

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