Rush to judge Bergdahl has potentially deadly consequences
by Kevin Foley
June 13, 2014 12:00 AM | 2270 views | 20 20 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When Oliver North was implicated in the Iran-Contra scandal in 1986, conservatives were quick to defend him, warning the Reagan White House operative was owed due process under the law.

Ollie was found guilty of three felonies in the arms-for-hostages deal. His conviction was overturned on a technicality with the help of that notorious conservative boogeyman, the American Civil Liberties Union.

It’s instructive to note the glaring double standard being applied by many conservatives to Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier who went missing in Afghanistan in 2009.

There are conflicting reports about what precipitated Bergdahl’s disappearance but what is known is that he spent five years in captivity, the only American POW in enemy hands.

When it became evident Bergdahl’s health was declining, the Department of Defense and the White House skipped informing Congress to quickly engineer a trade for him, releasing five terrorist leaders into the custody of Qatar, home of the U.S. Central Command.

Had he told Republicans, does anyone doubt Obama’s GOP enemies would have politicized the exchange, endangering the soldier’s life?

Claims by conservative critics the terrorists will return to the battlefield are unsubstantiated because details of the prisoner exchange are unknown, no doubt for security’s sake.

It doesn’t matter. The benefit of the doubt never goes to Obama as far as conservatives are concerned.

“Islamist sympathizers inside our military walk away, and the Obama White House turns a blind eye,” screeched columnist Michelle Malkin.

When the president acts to save an American soldier, he has nefarious motives. If he hadn’t made the trade, Malkin would be claiming Obama abandoned Bergdahl.

The Bergdahl episode also plays into the right wing conspiracy theory that posits Obama is secretly in league with al-Qaida terrorists and wants them to defeat America.

For proof of this, look no further than all the over-the-top vitriol spewed by conservative pundits such as Malkin over the last couple of weeks.

While it may be true Bowe Bergdahl was disillusioned and angry by what he saw in Afghanistan, he is not the first soldier to object to the actions of his government or commanders.

What is America doing in Afghanistan, anyway? What was the mission there after our troops destroyed the Taliban in 2001? Why did we go back?

The Pentagon’s West Point and Annapolis intellectual elite have a fanciful notion in which “counter insurgency” plays a big role in modern military doctrine.

We must win the war but also the hearts and minds of the locals. It’s a strategy that failed miserably in Vietnam and Iraq, but it will work in Afghanistan, where Great Britain and Russia were kicked to the curb?

When he landed at Inchon in 1950, my late father-in-law was a Marine lieutenant. He told me his mission was simple: kill the enemy, which his platoon fulfilled with lethal efficiency.

How far afield have the Marines drifted? In a current recruiting commercial, gyrenes land in some unidentified desert country, not to kill America’s enemies, but to deliver aid, comfort and goodwill to grateful non-combatants.

So it was Bergdahl found himself in Afghanistan “nation building” in a place run by vicious, America-hating tribal war lords with no concept, appreciation or desire for a nation.

Despairing over the hopelessness of this misbegotten mission, Bergdahl reportedly shared his overwrought thoughts with his parents and comrades. Now he’s being vilified by the right as a deserter and traitor.

It’s bad enough he’s being tried and convicted in the media. Now Bergdahl’s parents have received death threats.

And if you don’t believe there are right wing crazies out there ready to pull the trigger, the murders of two police officers and an innocent bystander in Las Vegas this week by a pair of Cliven Bundy supporters should change your mind.

Kevin Foley is an author, writer and public relations executive who lives in Kennesaw.
Comments
(20)
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Mike H
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June 20, 2014
Did anyone die searching for Bowe Bergdhal?

Rhett Butler says "Everybody knows it, but the Pentagon has been silenced." A good old fashioned hate filled Cobb conspiracy is always superior to a military investigation of the facts.

It is the Cobb way.

yournewassignment
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June 16, 2014
Hey, K-Fo...what's up?! Happy Monday to ya! I was completely chuckling this weekend at the latest buffoonery going on over one of the many countless scandals that are falling under your anointed one...our president. The IRS Clown Crew is just making this up as they go along. I know you don't think it's a big deal, but the rest of us do.

I have an assignment for you for this Friday's column. In fact, I double dog dare you to write about it. How can you, Kevin Foley, explain and/or EXCUSE...the latest development. The fact that Lois Lerner's computer 'crashed' and she lost her e-mails.

If you're able to come up with a quasi reasonable explanation, I promise to use my real name and not mention the 2 words that cause you to have a nervous breakdown and conniption fit: Fox News.

Good luck but I'm not holding my breath!
Kevin Foley
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June 15, 2014
I don't typically comment on the feedback I receive here. However, there seem to be several readers who believe I am unqualified to write about military matters because I did not serve in the military.

Using their logic, Dick Cheney was not qualified to be Secretary of Defense under the first Bush.

ohkevin
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June 16, 2014
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hfYJsQAhl0
Ben Twomey
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June 16, 2014
@ ohkevin. That is priceless and so very appropriate. I can almost imagine it was written with Foley in mind.
Jake Rake
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June 16, 2014
@Foley

Your Cheney comparison, is apples to oranges, absolutely no comparison, and moreover, I believe you know that. You are grabbing at straws Foley, in order to save face, after you took a severe whoopin' here. SecDef is a civilian appointee political position, who serves at the pleasure of the president. SecDef is NOT a uniformed military position in the national defense organization. It is purely a civilian political position, as is so clearly illustrated by the traitorous Obama worshipper Chuck Hagel, who presently occupies SecDef.

Your logic, Foley, fails miserably.
Rhett Writer
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June 16, 2014
Kevin, you misunderstand. It is not the fact that you "chose not to serve" (I think that is the way you put it) that we feel you are unqualified to comment on military matters.

It is your profound and evidenced ignorance of the subject that evinces these remarks.
Dough Boy
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June 14, 2014
Similar to the egotistical community organizer in the White House, the author, Foley, makes a pathetic attempt to politicize our military in order to promote the secular progressive democrat narrative.
Aardgator
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June 13, 2014
Stunningly empty and sweeping generalizations.

There is no doubt that Bergdahl needed to be brought home.

There is the same absence of doubt that our president made a preposterous error in having the announcement in the Rose Garden.

If Mr. Obama did not know that Bergdahl had a fragile (at best) history, he should have. If Mr. Obama knew that, there were dozens of good reasons to have avoided the Rose Garden football spiking like the plague. (And, oh, yes-- please were a tie if a Rose Garden announcement is on your mind.)

We should embrace Bergdahl, however imperfect he is, and however much help his parents offered him in obtaining his peculiar imperfections. (He is, for example, a poster child of poor home schooling.)

We should allow the Bergdahls to fade into the mountain home they love, and fade from our awareness.

My military service makes me wonder how much lower our standards can go. Why do we take the discards of the Coast Guard and allow them to enlist in the Army? (We are desperate.)

Bowe may not have been broken prior to assignment, but he was most apparently spindled and mutilated, emotionally and mentally-- long before he went walk about.

Finally, I must agree with Eugene Robinson in one more area: Please do not send Susan Rice out on Sundays anymore. The talking points she was given for Benghazi and Bergdahl were appalling.

Bergdahl has no prayer of a normal life. I fiercely hope that Americans are decent enough to let him suffer in remote Idaho.

Obama made him a political football.

More's the pity.
Amber K
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June 13, 2014
K. Foley, you have represented yourself as an expert in this commentary on the behavior of U.S. military personnel on the field of combat.

For me or any other military veteran to take you seriously, please detail your own military service, particularly which units you served in and in what combat operations? Please cite which military decoration you have been awarded, including any qualification badges?
Popeye Sailor Man
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June 13, 2014
Foley, by your own admission, many times, you admit to having never served a single day in military service to your country.

The angry liberal rant you have written here about Bergdahl serves as a perfect example of why those who have never served their county should never attempt to comment on the nature of military service. In doing so, you have made a complete fool of yourself.

How can someone like yourself, who cannot even accurately describe a military rank, expect to be taken seriously, when it comes to commenting on matters of duty, honor, and country?
Aardgator
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June 14, 2014
"Angry rant" is the correct description.

The most intelligent liberal comments are not dissimilar from the intelligent conservative comments on this topic.

Both sides recognize the desire we have to retrieve our men and women on the field of battle.

Even Bergdahl's platoon mates agree about this notion.

But a rational assessment will find that it is the political element that has made this situation such a rodeo.

I think that the DE MINIMUS events to have made this a non-political event would have been:

1) Avoid the Rose Garden ceremony.

2) Call 6 Republican and 6 Democrat leaders PRIOR to the swap and say, "I know that you don't like this, and we don't have time to discuss the details. That said, I'm authorizing this, and promise to meet with you as soon as Bergdahl is safe."

3) Tell the American people that there will be controversy, and "I'm the President of the United States. This is something I'm choosing to do. I will let the fullness of time pass, and then your judgment of me will probably be less angry. (But your anger with me is less important than saving an American soldier.)"

4) DO NOT STAND AT A PRESS CONFERENCE IN EUROPE AND BLAME THE INFLAMMATORY EVENT ON REPUBLICANS. THAT IS WHAT A SMALL PERSON DOES.

5) Stop sending Susan Rice out on the Sunday talk shows with insipid talking points. It makes America seem stupid.
Bob Johnson
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June 13, 2014
I have to think leaving your post and saying that you are going to walk to India is probably deserting under military law.
Laura Armstrong
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June 13, 2014
"Despairing over the hopelessness of this misbegotten mission, Bergdahl reportedly shared his overwrought thoughts with his parents and comrades."

You said it Kevin. First, he joined the Army knowing fully that wars would be for certain in his future. Then as a lowly PFC with little education he observed his very small slice of that war. And instead of manning up and fulfilling his oath, he walked away from men who would have and DID die for him,having shared his treasonous thoughts with them and his distraught, strange and turncoat parents and then by many accounts fraternizing with the enemy. Too bad you and your talking points buddies would rather trash those GOOD MEN who did NOT walk away and ignore Obama's really bad bargain.

In the future, please leave the Marines and their noble mission out of your lexicon. You know not of what you speak.
Kenneth D. Parrott
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June 14, 2014
Semper Fi, Laura. When Foley spews such blather as, "The Pentagon’s West Point and Annapolis intellectual elite have a fanciful notion in which “counter insurgency” plays a big role in modern military doctrine." he shows himself very well. He probably really thinks he knows what he is talking about.
Red Westside
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June 15, 2014
@Laura Armstrong

"And instead of manning up and fulfilling his oath, he walked away from men who would have and DID die for him,"

Please, name those soldiers who did DIE for him, so that we may all know their names, Laura.

Oh, wait, no one died searching for him, did they?

Ben Twomey
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June 16, 2014
@Red Westside; Are you in a coma? Several of his companions died searching for this deserter. A simple search of the internet will reveal their names and also the thoughts of some of their survivors. If you cannot keep up with what is being revealed about this incident, then why not keep your mouth shut until you catch up?
grabacluered
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June 16, 2014
Yo, Red...this is from CNN.com

The six men killed were in the 501st Infantry. All of them were killed in Paktika Province between August 18 and September 6, 2009, after the intense initial search for Bergdahl concluded but within the two- to three-month period when, by accounts from more than 20 members of the 501st, essentially every mission in the province had a PR component to it. One of those killed was from Comanche Company, two of those killed were in Bergdahl's Blackfoot Company, three were from Headquarters Company.

1) August 18, 2009 -- Staff Sgt. Clayton Bowen and Pfc. Morris Walker were killed by an IED

2) August 26, 2009 -- Staff Sgt. Kurt Curtiss is killed by small arms fire

3) September 4, 2009 -- 2nd Lt. Darryn Andrews and Pfc. Matthew Michael Martinek are attacked by an IED and a rocket-propelled grenade

4) September 5, 2009 -- Staff Sgt. Michael Murphrey is hit by an IED

Why don't you and Kevin Fooley pay a visit to their grieving families, just to double check.
Red Westside
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June 16, 2014
@grabacluered

So, no one died searching for Bergdahl. Got it.
Rhett Butler
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June 17, 2014
Wrong again, Red. They did die searching for him.

Everybody knows it, but the Pentagon has been silenced.

As a Marine veteran, I will take the word of the men who served with Bergdahl over the claptrap that comes out of this administration, at any level.
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