Freshman Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Wednesday had a few words for anonymous Obama administration officials who have suggested that soldiers in Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s platoon may have died because they lacked discipline, and not because they were searching for Bergdahl.
“I want to say something to the anonymous sources in the president’s administration who are disparaging the service of Second Platoon, Blackfoot Company,” Cotton said at a House hearing.
“Show yourself, speaking in your own name, have the courage of your convictions. And if you don’t, shut up and stand back and thank these men for their service.”
Cotton was responding to several reports that quote anonymous Obama administration officials who suggested that Blackfoot Company suffered discipline problems. One story in the New York Times quoted an anonymous official who said the platoon was “raggedy,” while other officials have said they have no evidence that the six soldiers died while looking for Bergdahl.
On Wednesday, two subcommittees of the House Foreign Affairs Committee met to explore the decision to trade Bergdahl for five members of the Taliban who were held in Guantanamo Bay. Cotton used the hearing to express his anger at the administration for saying the trade was made because the U.S. shouldn’t leave any men behind in Afghanistan.
“I find it offensive and insulting that this administration, up to and including the president, would cite the principle of leaving no man behind to justify this action,” he said. “When we made those promises to each other, we didn’t promise that we would exchange five stone-cold Taliban killers for each other, nor would any soldier want that to happen.”
One of the witnesses at the hearing seemed to contradict the anonymous administration officials. The father of Darren Andrews, a member of Blackfoot Company, said he was told initially that his son died looking for members of the Taliban, but then was told last weekend that he died looking for Bergdahl.