A week ago U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was released after five years of captivity by the Taliban. Since then you’d have to be a cave dweller to have missed the firestorm that’s erupted.
President Obama invited Bergdahl’s parents to a reception in the Rose Garden to make the announcement and I think that was a mistake. He shouldn’t have tried to make political hay from it. I suppose the fact that Bergdahl was the last U.S. soldier released from captivity made it a notable occasion, but given the controversy that should have been expected, I’d have kept it low key. And I wouldn’t have let National Security Advisor Susan Rice appear on TV saying Bergdahl served with “honor and distinction.” We don’t know yet that he did. Or didn’t.
The media have gone nuts, as they are inclined to do, with speculation about Bergdahl, whether or not he deserted his post, whether five Taliban leaders from Guantanamo should have been released in exchange, whether Obama broke the law by not giving Congress 30 days advance notice of the release, whether Bergdahl’s father did or should have become a Muslim, grow his beard, learn to speak Pashto, etc.
I agree 100% with the “no man left behind” doctrine of the U.S. military, and Obama needed to get Bergdahl back; a prisoner exchange is a common way to accomplish that. I don’t have a problem with the prisoners who were exchanged. Guantanamo should have been closed long ago, with every prisoner there tried and released, exchanged, or convicted and moved to a U.S. prison.
The media’s speculation about whether Bergdahl deserted has been reprehensible. Pending Bergdahl’s own explanation, or a report from some official military investigation, no one knows for sure what happened, why, or how. The speculation has amounted to an unmitigated, unjustified, and grossly unfair smear of Bergdahl. Likewise all the negative things said about Bergdahl’s parents, particularly his father. I would do anything I could — anything — to get my son released if he were a prisoner somewhere. That a man grew a beard and learned a new language to get his son back isn’t even worthy of comment
We have a lot of mean-spirited, hateful, self-centered people in this country. It’s a shame so many of them are given high visibility, microphones, and generous compensation to express their views.