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Obama's Elephants in the Bergdahl Debate Living Room


"I am well aware of the meaning of the word 'lie.'"

U.S. President Barack Obama gestures as he arrives at the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of D-Day in Ouistreham, western France, Friday, June 6, 2014. World leaders and veterans gathered by the beaches of Normandy on Friday to mark the 70th anniversary of World War Two's D-Day landings.(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko) AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

The twin elephants in the living room of the ongoing debate over Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl are President Obama’s release of five Taliban “commanders” while the Taliban is still waging war against us, and the President lying to the American People.

Sgt. Bergdahl’s status, whatever it is adjudged to be, is only tangential to the main event:  a commander -in-chief who repeatedly aids and abets our enemies, disregards our laws, and lies to the American people.

As a former inspector general, I am well aware of the meaning of the word “lie,” which I use throughout this article with prudence, care, and clinical dispassion rather than as a polemic or demagogic instrument.

For example, one can repeat a falsehood without knowing that it is false without lying. But when one knows something is false and still repeats it, that is a lie. Our president and his national security advisor have unambiguously lied to us, once again.

In this image taken from video obtained from Voice Of Jihad Website, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, sits in a vehicle guarded by the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan. The announcement that the U.S. government had secured Bergdahl's release and that it was freeing five senior Taliban figures from Guantanamo Bay has been portrayed first and foremost as a prisoner exchange. But the four-year history of secret dialogue that led to Saturday's release suggests that the main goal of each side may have been far more sweeping. (AP Photo/Voice Of Jihad Website via AP video) AP Photo/Voice Of Jihad Website via AP video In this image taken from video obtained from Voice Of Jihad Website, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, sits in a vehicle guarded by the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Voice Of Jihad Website via AP video)

Our Constitution is doomed unless “we the people” hold our commander in chief accountable for negotiating the release of Sgt. Bergdahl with terrorists in violation of the explicit statutory requirement of 30-days advance notice to Congress in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, §1028(d), and then misleading both Congress and the American people.

For the past 12 years, the Taliban has been an acknowledged enemy of the United States. Last week, according to ABC News, “White House National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden noted that the Taliban was added to the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT) by executive order in July 2002, even if it is not listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) by the State Department.”

On news of President Obama’s Taliban prisoner swap, Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA),  Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and according to NPR “a strong supporter of the Obama White House, lamented that the president ignored the law requiring that Congress be notified of the prisoner release from Guantanamo.”

Likewise, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), announced:  “This is a complete change of our national security strategy of not negotiating with terrorists. ...  I think it sends a terrible national security message – not just to Afghanistan, but to the rest of the world.”

If this were the first time President Obama had negotiated with terrorists, things might be different.  But this Commander in Chief in March 2011 authorized negotiations with Libyan terrorists, and then, with the help of then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, agreed to arm Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) “rebels” whom they both knew were affiliated with operating under the cover of the Muslim Brotherhood. The LIFG has been on the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organizations List since December 17, 2004.

Eighteen months after President Obama authorized support for the Muslim Brotherhood (since acknowledged as a terrorist group by the governments of both Egypt and Saudi Arabia) and the arming of LIFG-associated “rebels,” terrorists attacked our Special Mission Compound and CIA Annex in Benghazi and killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

Although we do know that the terrorists behind the Benghazi attack were affiliated with Ansar al-Shariah and Al Qaeda, to this day we still do not know for certain whether or not the Benghazi terrorists who killed four Americans on September 11, 2012, were affiliated with the same “rebels” previously supported by our commander in chief and, reportedly, to whom the commander in chief authorized the covert shipment of weapons in coordination with Qatar – the same country that authorized the Taliban to open a representational political office in 2013.

According to Bloomberg, in March 2014 “Saudi Arabia and two Arab allies recalled their envoys from Qatar, accusing the state that hosts Al-Jazeera television of undermining regional security ... Qatar’s backing for the Muslim Brotherhood, especially in Egypt, has drawn criticism from other Gulf nations that have cracked down on the Islamist organization.”

President Obama stands for the National Anthem during the graduation ceremony for Worcester Technical High School, Wednesday, June 11, 2014, in Worcester, Mass. Afterward he will attend a democratic fundraiser in Massachusetts, before returning to Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) AP Photo/Charles Krupa President Obama stands for the National Anthem during the graduation ceremony for Worcester Technical High School, Wednesday, June 11, 2014, in Worcester, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) AP Photo/Charles Krupa

The pattern is apparent – and Sgt. Bergdahl’s alleged desertion is but one important component of the latest manifestation of this pattern: negotiate with terrorists, disregard the law, and then lie about it.

As shameful as it may have been, Sgt. Bergdahl’s apparent desertion during his unit’s operations against the enemy in Afghanistan is not, however, the main event.  By repeatedly negotiating with terrorists, our president has placed Americans around the world at greater risk.

Of course, the American people are willing to allow Sgt. Bergdahl what the U.S. Supreme Court recently referred to as the “essential constitutional promises” of procedural due process. That due process will likely come in the form of a court martial, where Sgt. Bergdahl will be allowed to present his defense, if any, for desertion (UCMJ Article 85) and/or Absent Without Leave, aka AWOL (UCMJ Article 86).

His own actions, and the outrage of his fellow soldiers, will be carefully considered before an appropriate judgment is rendered.

On the other hand, President Obama has yet to be held accountable for misleading the American People in his speech about a video disparaging Muhammed at the United Nations on September 25, 2012, almost two weeks after the CIA had formally disavowed any causal nexus between that video and the September 11, 2012, Benghazi attack.

President Obama should also be held accountable for dispatching Ambassador Susan Rice to mislead the public about that same fallacious nexus the day after the CIA had disavowed it. He should also be held accountable for Ambassador Rice’s more recent outrageously false public announcement that Sgt. Bergdahl “served the United States with honor and distinction.”

In 1798, President John Adams wrote that, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

More recently, former President Theodore Roosevelt reminded us of the profound role of personal integrity in the leadership of our nation in his 1910 “Man in the Arena” speech: “The stream will not permanently rise higher than the main source; and the main source of national power and national greatness is found in the average citizenship of the nation. Therefore it behooves us to do our best to see that the standard of the average citizen is kept high; and the average cannot be kept high unless the standard of the leaders is very much higher.”

Our Constitution is doomed unless our current president is held accountable to what Theodore Roosevelt referred to as a “very much higher standard,” one way or another, for his unapologetic negotiating with terrorists, disregarding his constitutional duty faithfully to execute the laws enacted by Congress, and lying to the American people.

Joseph E. Schmitz served as Inspector General of the Department of Defense from 2002-2005, and is author of "The Inspector General Handbook: Fraud, Waste, Abuse, and Other Constitutional ‘Enemies, Foreign and Domestic’" (2013),  co-author of "Shariah The Threat to America: Report of Team BII" (2010), and a Senior Fellow for the Center for Security Policy.  He graduated with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy, and earned his J.D. degree from Stanford Law School.  


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