Monday, June 2, 2014

Did Republican Congressman Michael Grimm commit a political blunder by signing-off on the Obama Administration’s swap of five top terrorists for the return of a problematic and contemptuous soldier

Record indicates that Bergdahl was UA before he fell into enemy hands  —  and that his actions directly resulted in the deaths of several of his compatriots


CNN Reports: Fellow soldiers call Bowe Bergdahl a deserter, not a hero


Apparently the 5-for-1 “prisoner swap” that resulted in the release of Afghan War Taliban prisoner, U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, is generating a firestorm of controversy for the Obama Administration and others who favored the swap. That would seem to include our local GOP congressman, Michael Grimm.

Obviously, in an attempt to get some good press and get out-front of a feel-good news story with a military hook, Congressman Grimm decided to rush in where angels fear to tread. Grimm was either  uninformed or else completely heedless of the fact that the exchange that resulted in the freeing of Bergdahl was so controversial. Of course, the freeing of five top terrorist operatives under any circumstances would be patently problematic from a “national security” perspective.. In addition, however, when it turns out that the swap was done to free an American, whose status at the time of his original capture remains clouded and unexplained, the deal takes on a whole new light and texture; and it also starts to stink to high heaven. Grimm either didn’t know or didn’t care about such complexities when he published his Facebook statement on his official congressional website.

As was reported on this blog below in yesterday’s [6/1/14] comment “UPDATE: THE “CONGRESSMAN GRIMM WEIGHS-IN [SORT OF] ON CONTROVERSIAL RELEASE OF U.S. ARMY SERGEANT BOWE BERGDAHL” EDITION” to the 5/23/14 post “Sure looks like this was a pretty bad week for Grimm !” Congressman Grimm’s “Official” Web Page contained the following Facebook entry about the release of U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl: “'Thrilled to learn that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will be coming home to the U.S. after being held prisoner in Afghanistan for the past 5 years. God bless him and his family for the incredible burden and sacrifice they have endured for our nation. Welcome home Sgt. Bergdahl, your country honors and salutes you!'” When I saw this statement by my congressman on 6/1/14, around 8:30 AM, about sixteen hours after it was made, I made the following observation: “Maybe, Grimm hasn’t heard the whole story about Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl and how he might have fallen into the hands of the Taliban.” Later on 6/1/14 an “Anonymous” comment-maker opined that “One military fraud (Grimm) saluting another (Bergdahl).”  In less than 24 hours, significant portions of the media picked up on this part of the Bergdahl “prisoner exchange” story.

The opening paragraphs of Jake Tapper’s report on the Bergdahl story today are quite stark and unambiguous: “The sense of pride expressed by officials of the Obama administration at the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is not shared by many of those who served with him, veterans and soldiers who call him a deserter whose "selfish act" ended up costing the lives of better men. ***   "I was pissed off then, and I am even more so now with everything going on," said former Sgt. Matt Vierkant, a member of Bergdahl's platoon when he went missing on June 30, 2009. "Bowe Bergdahl deserted during a time of war, and his fellow Americans lost their lives searching for him." ***  Vierkant said Bergdahl needs to not only acknowledge his actions publicly but face a military trial for desertion under the Uniform Code of Military Justice....”  (See “Fellow soldiers call Bowe Bergdahl a deserter, not a hero” by Jake Tapper, 6/2/14, CNN [http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/01/us/bergdahl-deserter-or-hero/] ).

The Tapper article on CNN’s blog pulls no punches when it comes to some of the negative history in the Bergdahl case, saying the following: “Questions surround the circumstances of Bergdahl's disappearance. Conflicting details have since emerged about how the militants managed to capture Bergdahl. Published accounts have varied widely, from claims that he walked off the post to that he was grabbed from a latrine. ***  According to firsthand accounts from soldiers in his platoon, Bergdahl, while on guard duty, shed his weapons and walked off the observation post with nothing more than a compass, a knife, water, a digital camera and a diary.  ***   At least six soldiers were killed in subsequent searches for Bergdahl, and many soldiers in his platoon said attacks seemed to increase against the United States in Paktika province in the days and weeks following his disappearance.”


A BENGHAZI-LIKE COVERUP SURROUNDS THE BERGDAHL DISAPPEARANCE


There are also aspects of the Bergdahl case that ominously suggest another Benghazi-like coverup by the Obama Administration. Jake Tapper noted that “... [A] Defense official said Bergdahl will not likely face any punishment. "Five years is enough," he told CNN on condition of anonymity....”  And also this: “Many of Bergdahl's fellow troops -- from the seven or so who knew him best in his squad to the larger group that made up the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division -- told CNN that they signed nondisclosure agreements agreeing to never share any information about Bergdahl's disappearance and the efforts to recapture him. Some were willing to dismiss that document in hopes that the truth would come out about a soldier who they now fear is being hailed as a hero, while the men who lost their lives looking for him are ignored.”

It’s only been one day since the prisoner swap to free Bowe Bergdahl had been announced; and there already are myriad articles, posts, video reports and the like questioning the wisdom, and policies, procedures and legalities of the entire process for securing Bergdahl’s release. There is  also ample coverage delving into Bergdehl’s personality and background and the circumstances of his disappearance and capture very much inline with what Jake Tapper did for CNN ( See e.g.,  “Brothers in arms bash Bowe Bergdahl as a traitor, say search for him cost American lives” by Steven Rex Brown, 6/2/14, NY Daily News [http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/brothers-arms-bash-bowe-bergdahl-traitor-article-1.1814106]).

According to the Daily News article cited above, “The circumstances of Bergdahl’s disappearance remain shrouded in mystery. He reportedly had become disenchanted with the military and wrote to his parents shortly before his capture that he was “ashamed to be an American.”


SAME PRISONER SWAP DEAL OFFERED OVER TWO YEARS AGO

A two year old report on CBS News indicated the very same thing about Sergeant Bergdahl, as much of the material mentioned above; including the following: “Bergdahl, a 26-year-old Army sergeant from Hailey, Idaho, was taken prisoner on June 30, 2009, in Afghanistan. ***  The military has never detailed circumstances of his disappearance or capture, and he is not classified as a deserter. He was initially listed as "duty status unknown" and is now considered "missing-captured." He is the only U.S. prisoner of war from the Afghanistan conflict, and U.S. officials say they are actively trying to free him. ***   The White House declined comment on the emails or Bergdahl's possible motivation for leaving his base in eastern Afghanistan in 2009....”  The article closed with this quotes, which quotes were attributed to Bergdahl, “Some of Bergdahl's reported words read like a suicide note. *** ‘I am sorry for everything,’ he wrote. ‘The horror that is America is disgusting.’ ***   He mailed home boxes containing his uniform and books.” (See “Bowe Bergdahl, U.S. soldier held by Taliban, was "ashamed to be American," emails show” 6/12/12, CBS News/ AP [http://www.cbsnews.com/news/bowe-bergdahl-us-soldier-held-by-taliban-was-ashamed-to-be-american-emails-show/]).

Interestingly, that same June 2012 CBS News report also said the following: “Bergdahl is the subject of a proposed prisoner swap in which he would be traded for five Taliban adherents imprisoned by the United States at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Taliban have walked away from the deal and larger negotiations with the United States, but the Obama administration is still pushing a negotiated settlement between the Taliban and the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan....”


APPARENTLY AN UNINFORMED CONGRESSMAN GRIMM ENDORSED OBAMA ADMINISTRATION  PRISONER SWAP HEEDLESS OF OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES AND CONSEQUENCES


In spite of all the information mentioned above, most of which had been available in the public record for years, my so-called conservative Republican congressman, Michael Grimm, saw fit to endorse the exchange leading to Bergdahl’s release; and he personally said this about Bergdahl: “... God bless him and his family for the incredible burden and sacrifice they have endured for our nation....” And Grimm directly addressed Bergdahl with this appellation: “Welcome home Sgt. Bergdahl, your country honors and salutes you!'”

BTW, the head of the Taliban is hailing the 5-for-1 prisoner swap as a victory of the Taliban over the U.S.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

this smells like a homeland situation

Galewyn Massey said...

UPDATE: THE “GRIMM VS.GRIMM DEBATE ABOUT THE RELEASE OF BOWE BERGDAHL” EDITION


GRIMM’S STATEMENTS ABOUT THE 5-FOR-1 DEAL DON’T ADD UP ANY BETTER THAN THE DEAL ITSELF — TOM WROBLESKI LETS GRIMM GET AWAY WITH DOUBLE-SPEAK


According to Tom Wrobleski’s article in today’s SI Advance, “Grimm said he celebrated Bergdahl's release, but added, “ ‘At the same time, the release of 5 senior Taliban commanders in exchange for Sgt. Bergdahl's return opens the door to a whole host of new perils to our service men and women abroad’ *** He said, ‘The president's dangerous policy shift on negotiating with terrorists basically sends the message that whenever a terrorist group wants to extract concessions from the U.S., all they need to do is kidnap an American.’” (See “Take our poll: Should the U.S. have swapped Taliban prisoners for an American POW?” by Tom Wrobleski, 6/2/14, SI Advance/ silive.com [http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2014/06/take_our_poll_should_the_us_ha.html]).

If you read my main post above, you would know that the Wrobleski piece does not contain Congressman Grimm’s entire quote about the Congressman's view of the upside of the deal to release Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. If you take the two parts of Grimm’s complete remarks they just don’t jibe. Maybe that’s why Grimm’s newer statement on his “Official” website doesn’t contain his full original quote. Needless to say, Grimm's original quote doesn't mention any thing about “At the same time, the release of 5 senior Taliban commanders in exchange for Sgt. Bergdahl's return opens the door to a whole host of new perils to our service men and women abroad.... *** The president's dangerous policy shift on negotiating with terrorists basically sends the message that whenever a terrorist group wants to extract concessions from the U.S., all they need to do is kidnap an American.”

Grimm is playing fast and loose with his statements about the release of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. — And for one day, at least, Tom Wrobleski has let him get away with it.

The Grimm material that Wrobleski quoted in the SI Advance/ silive.com posting cited above is from a statement by Congressman Grimm, dated 6/1/14, that now appears on Grimm’s “official website (See “Rep. Grimm Raises Alarm Over Obama Administration's Negotiation with Terrorists” by Congressman Grimm [or a member of his staff], 6/1/14 [http://grimm.house.gov/press-release/rep-grimm-raises-alarm-over-obama-administrations-negotiation-terrorists]). The Grimm material that I quoted is from a Facebook posting dated 5/31/14 [www.facebook.com/repmichaelgrimm?ref=stream&fref=nf] that quoted material still appeared both on the Congressman’s “Official” Website [http://grimm.house.gov/] and Grimm’s Facebook page through 11:25 PM EDT on 6/2/14.

Anonymous said...

Grimm did the right thing.

Galewyn Massey said...

Which time did Grimm do the right thing ? On May 31, 2014 when he backed Obama's deal 100%; or did Grimm get it right a day later on June 1st when somebody tipped the Congressman off about how controversial the 5-for-1 deal, letting go five terrorists to free Bergdahl, was.

btw, Grimm's backing the release of Bergdahl, but not the release of the five terrorists is fundamentally dishonest, since the two sides of the prisoner exchange were not severable. The release of the five Taliban leaders was the quid pro quo for the release of Bergdahl, and vice versa; both parts were mutually dependent elements of a single deal.

OR ARE YOU SAYING THAT GRIMM DID THE RIGHT THING BY RETREATING INTO DOUBLE-TALK, EVEN IF IT MAKES NO SENSE ?

Galewyn Massey said...

UPDATE & BACKFILL: THE “NOW THIS IS REALLY BAD NEWS FOR GRIMM” EDITION


POLLING BY S.I. ADVANCE SHOWS OVERWHELMING NON-SUPPORT FOR DEAL TO FREE BOWE BERGDAHL — A DEAL THAT GRIMM HAS NOT YET ACTUALLY OPPOSED; AND WHOSE RESULT GRIMM HAS TWICE SAID HE SUPPORTED


Tom Wrobleski’s report in today’s Staten Island Advance, said this: “As controversy continued to mount over the swap of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five top Taliban detainees, those responding to a poll on SILive.com overwhelmingly said that the U.S. was wrong to make the exchange. *** The poll showed that 535 respondents, or 78 percent, said the swap was wrong because the U.S. should not negotiate with terrorists. *** Another 150 respondents, or 22 percent, were in favor of the swap because Bergdahl's life was in jeopardy....” ( See “SILive.com poll shows overwhelming opposition to swap for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl” by Tom Wrobleski, 6/3/14, SI Advance/ silive.com [http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2014/06/silivecom_poll_shows_overwhelm.html#incart_river; wrobleski@siadvance.com ]).

THIS IS VERY BAD NEWS FOR CONGRESSMAN GRIMM. HE ESSENTIALLY DOUBLED-DOWN ON HIS POSITION FAVORING THE DEAL ENGINEERED BY THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION FOREIGN POLICY TEAM.

As repeatedly pointed out on this blog above, the key facts about Grimm’s remarks are these: a) Grimm’s first remarks about the 5-for-1 prisoner exchange deal to secure the release of U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl were made by Grimm on Facebook on May 31, 2014 and then were re-posted on Congressman Grimm’s “Official” website; and then b) in an obvious attempt to “walk back” his initial unfortunate statements on the subject of Bowe Bergdahl’s release vis a vis Bergdahl and Bergdahl’s parents, Grimm made a lengthy formal statement that was posted on Congressman Grimm’s “Official” website on June 1, 2014 [it is from this statement that Tom Wrobleski has mistakenly divined, derived and defined Grimm’s position supposedly in opposition to the deal to release Bergdahl — which opposition is nowhere expressed ].

It should be noted that both of Grimm’s statements on their face supported the deal that led to the release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. If anything, Grimm’s second and more formal statement of June 1st is the worse of the two that he made. In the June 1st statement, Grimm lists several of the shortcomings and pitfalls of the deal that had been made. In spite of all that, Grimm still said up front, "I join with all Americans in celebrating the return of Sgt. Bergdahl to his friends and family after 5 years languishing under Taliban captivity." Nothing in either of Grimm’s statements said that the 5-for-1 deal for the Taliban leaders held in Gitmo should not have been made by Obama’s negotiators, or the final exchange authorized and executed.

btw, Tom Wrobleski’s article in the Advance closes with this: “Republicans, including Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) are among those who have slammed the swap, saying that it would put other American soldiers and civilians at risk.” That remark obscures the fact that Grimm has twice expressed his support for the deal that was made to pry Bergdahl away from his supposed “languishing under Taliban captivity.”

Galewyn Massey said...

UPDATE & BACKFILL: THE “WHEN IT COMES TO THE BERGDAHL SWAP — MIKE GRIMM’S POSITION IS WEAKER THAN HILLARY CLINTON’S” EDITION


HILLARY CLINTON WAS STRONGER IN HER OPPOSITION TO THE CURRENT DEAL STRUCK BY THE POST-CLINTON OBAMA FOREIGN POLICY TEAM THAN S.I. GOP CONGRESSMAN GRIMM


EVEN THOUGH CLINTON’S POSITION IS CLEARLY TOUGHER THAN GRIMM’S, IT IS STILL DESCRIBED AS “HILLARY CLINTON DEFEND[ING THE] BOWE BERGDAHL EXCHANGE” BY SOME


According to Josh Rogin writing in the Daily Beast, “On Tuesday, Clinton gave a vague and non-committal statement on the prisoner swap, declining to say whether she was for it or against it or whether she still fears the released prisoners pose a threat to America. *** ‘This young man, whatever the circumstances, was an American citizen—is an American citizen—was serving in our military,’ Clinton said. ‘The idea that you really care for your own citizens and particularly those in uniform, I think is a very noble one.’ *** ‘You don’t want to see these five prisoners go back to combat. There’s a lot that you don’t want to have happen. On the other hand you also don’t want an American citizen, if you can avoid it, especially a solider, to die in captivity,’ Clinton added. ‘I think we have a long way to go before we really know how this is going to play out.’ ” (See “Hillary Clinton Was Skeptical of Taliban-Bergdahl Swap” by Josh Rogin, 6/3/14, Daily Beast [http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/06/03/hillary-clinton-was-skeptical-of-taliban-bergdahl-swap.html]). The Rogin article also pointed out that, while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, she opposed a similar proposed deal with the Taliban for the release of Bowe Bergdahl, even though the safeguards in that deal were stronger than those that were accepted by Obama & Co. last week.

Oddly, the very same statement by Hillary Clinton that was quoted above, was described by Maggie Haberman in Politico as defending the deal made by President Obama and his current team (See “Hillary Clinton defends Bowe Bergdahl exchange” by Maggie Haberman, 6/3/14, Politico [http://www.politico.com/story/2014/06/hillary-clinton-defends-bowe-bergdahl-exchange-107355.html]).