The facts on President Obama's Taliban prisoner exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl have by now been well worked over. But we'll restate them one more time. President Bush freed hundreds of suspected terrorists from Guantanamo prison with no iron clad assurance that some, many, or most wouldn't resume their alleged anti-American actions. Before Bush, President Reagan negotiated with Iranian backed militiamen in Lebanon to get the release of AP bureau chief Terry Anderson held hostage by them. And the one GOP U.S. Senator who has screamed the loudest about Obama's exchange is the one who should be the last to open utter a peep about it. John McCain is in the Senate today because as a POW captive of the North Vietnamese he was one of the nearly 600 American POWs the Nixon Administration negotiated with the North Vietnamese for their release as part of the 1973 Paris Peace Accords. This was one of the big prices that the U.S. had to pay to close down its Vietnam War. It's worth noting when listening to the shrill, silly and nakedly partisan GOP hit attacks on Obama is that each of the presidents that garnered big headlines for the willingness to negotiate with avowed enemies of the U.S. or release prisoners that might put Americans back in harm's way were GOP presidents.
There's also the much noted fact that there's is yet no conclusive proof that Bergdahl is a deserter, let alone the traitor, that the shriller Obama GOP hit squad team members claim he is. Military officials haven't said one way or the other why he left his post for a good reason. They don't know. That's why you conduct a proper investigation, get the facts, not hearsay, and then make a factual determination. The only thing that is known is that Bergdahl walked away from his post several years earlier and there was an investigation. But no charge was made that he was hostile to the military.
If indeed in this go round it's found that Bergdahl did desert -- and worse, gave the Taliban fodder by recording anti-American blasts -- then he will, and should be, severely punished. That's supposed to be the way the justice system is supposed to work.
However, justice, desertion, anti-Americanism, the notion of aiding and abetting terrorists has nothing to do with the GOP hammer of Obama. Just add Bergdahl to the names Eric Holder, Chuck Hagel, Susan Rice, and a lengthy string of other Obama judicial nominees or administration appointees the GOP has used to rip Obama. Then toss in a crucial mid-term election year. Next, toss in the GOP's earlier blast of Obama for paring down the number of troops in Afghanistan along with a firm timetable for final withdrawal. And finally, toss in the absolute failure of the GOP to get any political traction for its drum beat pound of Obama and Hillary Clinton for their alleged Benghazi gaffes, and the Bergdahl farce makes perverse sense.
The aim yet again is to weaken, besmirch, and taint Obama. Obama was well aware that the swap would draw heat not because of any of the reasons that GOP senators and GOP attackers claim they're concerned about but because it's as he put it their latest "political football" to toss out there and hope that it flies far enough to create enough of a furor that the taint on him sticks.
Obama has said that he makes no apologies for the deal. He shouldn't. There's nothing to apologize for. He followed the basic rule that no military commander leaves troops on the field in enemy's hands if they can help it. And that he's done nothing that other GOP presidents haven't done when it comes to freeing military captives or U.S. citizens held hostage. But this won't stop the GOP attack hounds from continuing to lambaste Obama as an appeaser and putting Americans at risk. Already, the GOP has scored one coup when city officials in Bergdahl's hometown Hailey, Idaho cancelled a scheduled welcome home celebration for him after being flooded with what they called "hateful" phone calls. Idaho is a rock solid Red State. And almost certainly right wing bloggers will play up every dig they can at Bergdahl for being a deserter get from other service persons.
The Bergdahl drama has all the GOP's favored anti-Obama ingredients: president who supposedly disregards national security concerns, thumbs his nose at Congress, and is anti-military. As with every other faux and imaginary bogeyman the GOP has created to knuckle Obama, the feigned outrage is not about Bergdahl; it's about Obama.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the author of How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is host of the weekly Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour on KTYM Radio Los Angeles streamed on ktym.com podcast on blogtalkradio.com and on thehutchinsonreportnews.com
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