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Helping Terrorists By Laughing at the Law

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Pop quiz, class.  Who said this while getting his campaign underway in 2007:

I will not use signing statements to nullify or undermine congressional instructions as enacted into law. The problem with this administration is that it has attached signing statements to legislation in an effort to change the meaning of the legislation, to avoid enforcing certain provisions of the legislation that the President does not like, and to raise implausible or dubious constitutional objections to the legislation. 

Right you are!  No wonder President Obama plans to release thousands of calculating law breakers!  He can sympathize with them, being one.  His Administration cited the White House's signing statement to justify his point-blank violation of a statute enacted just last year.  The statute explicitly bars the President from releasing Gitmo prisoners without 30 days' notice to Congress.

Hey, well, look, that was then.  When a pretext must be found for returning five Jihadist generals to the field to kill more Americans, a pretext will be found.

And in case you think I'm being a rabid partisan in calling Obama a "law breaker," let me introduce you to Jeffrey Toobin of CNN.
Toobin, a liberal by any sane measure, had this to say:

CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin declared on Monday that President Barack Obama "broke the law" when his administration failed to give Congress notice of at least 30 days before releasing five ranking Taliban members from Guantanamo Bay. Toobin said that a presidential signing statement did not absolve Obama from culpability for failing to abide by the law mandating congressional notification.

"I think he clearly broke the law," Toobin said. "The law says 30-days' notice. He didn't give 30-days' notice." Toobin added that Obama's opinion expressed in a signing statement "is not law."

"The law is on the books, and he didn't follow it," Toobin added.

CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer noted that former President George W. Bush also issued signing statements even though they thought their action may not have been constitutional or legal. "But liberals were outraged by George W. Bush's signing statements," Toobin noted.

"You realize, of course, you're accusing the President of the United States of breaking the law" Blitzer observed.

"I do think that his critics have a very good point here," Toobin asserted. He noted that Congress and the courts are unlikely to do anything about it. "But, you know, it matters whether people follow the law or not," he concluded.


Yes, it does matter, particularly when the "people" consist of the President of the United States, a man sworn not merely to "follow" but faithfully to execute the law  -- and, while we're at it, to protect, not endanger, the troops over whom he is commander-in-chief.


Obama has mocked both obligations.


UPDATE:  It occurs to me that, if Bergdahl's health was deteriorating  --  which  is what the Administration is now claiming  --  ranking members of the relevant committees in Congress could have  been brought into the loop as the decision was underway whether to get Bergdahl back through releases as costly as these. Such a process at least would have respected the spirit of the disclosure statute.


But it wasn't done.  Why not?


My guess, and at this stage it's only a guess, is that Bergdahl's health wasn't in anything like the danger the Administration now claims.  (Wouldn't it be nice to get some tough investigative reporting on that?  Does the NYT still do that sort of thing?)


This  Administration has lost all credibility.  The AG admitted he provided misleading information about Fast and Furious.  Benghazi was caused  by an Internet video.  If you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance.  Veterans get first-class care. There will be accountability at the IRS.


Had enough?


When the aroma gets to the level it's reached now, it's impossible not to wonder whether this story is very different from what we're being told.  One can plausibly wonder whether (1) Bergdahl wasn't "captured;" he deserted to the other side and stayed there because he was their sympathizer, not their prisoner; (2) there is no serious health problem with him; and (3) he is thus nothing like what he is being made to appear, but a conveniently timed cover story.  Obama released the five high-ranking Jihadist detainees because, ideologically, he opposes holding anyone at Gitmo (which he's said  from the outset), wants to curry favor with what he privately views as the Jihadist wave of the future in Afghanistan (just as his backing Morsi in Egypt reflected an analogous theory); and, if American soldiers get hurt because these Taliban generals  are back in the field  to direct operations, well, hey, look, we have to take the proverbial "reasonable risks for peace."  At least they'll get the same quality care Obama gives our other veterans.


And if the enactments  of Congress have to be  disregarded in order to get all this worthwhile stuff done, well  --  it  was  only law.  Why get so huffy about it?



11 Comments

I had to look up "signing statement". In layman's speak it appears to be a statement that the President will do whatever he wants. Not really the separation of powers we all learned about in middle school.

I've been eagerly awaiting commentary on whether our erstwhile deserter / POW / "Real life SGT Brody" should be (or can be) court martialed.

I see an update, surprised anyone really thinks he didn't desert...

I think it is pretty clear Bergdahl deserted, at least initially. After that it is unclear whether he turned himself over to the Taliban or was otherwise apprehended.

Assuming that during his captivity he didn't do any Jane Fonda or Marin County Taliban activities I am inclined to think he was remaining with the Taliban involuntarily. 5 years in Taliban detention is in my mind sufficient "time served" for any desertion crime. Though he should be administratively discharged less than honorable so he doesn't get any benefits (unless I am wrong).

Regarding the prisoner swap such things are a necessity of war and IMHO are best left to executive for better or worse.

A big part of how this gets evaluated depends on whether Sgt. Bergdahl was, as you say, a "prisoner" and "in detention." We simply do not know at this stage, but there is ample basis for doubt.

Another part is whether the Administration is lying in its claim that his life was in imminent jeopardy. I have seen not one whit of actual evidence that this is true. But it's the only rationale being offered for Obama's blowing by the notification statute. If he thought it infringed on his powers as commander-in-chief, fine, he could have vetoed it. But it's the height of self-serving hypocrisy for him to slam Bush for using signing statements to evade the law, then turn around and do EXACTLY that.

Then there was Jay Carney's claim yesterday that the released Gitmo generals will pose no threat to the United States. First, he can't possibly know that, and, second, the likelihood that it's true is asymptotic to zero, as Carney knew when he said it.

The WHOLE REASON the Taliban wanted these five in particular was for their skill, experience and daring IN WAGING WAR. Are we expected not to know this?

This whole thing smells to high heaven. You didn't have to listen to Bergdahl's father's convincing imitation of Mullah Omar for two minutes before you knew that this whole deal is rotten to its core. The father hates America, and the son, while he might not have started out that way, came to hate it too, as his messages near the time of his desertion make crystal clear.

In my view, the evidence is mounting that Obama used this episode to make a hero of a deserter and, as a bonus, to leverage the desertion in order to jeopardize even further the lives of the actually patriotic soldiers serving in Afghanistan.

This is even sicker than the VA's "die-on-the-concocted-waiting-list" scandal.

It is clear that he departed his unit without orders. It is clear he ended up with the Taliban. I use the term "detention" as I do not think the Taliban would have let him leave.

His fellow soldiers view him as a deserter and an internal Army investigation in 2010 determined he deserted. Long story short, he deserted.

As to the prisoner swap - it doesn't really concern me that the 5 released are the supposed Taliban equivalents of Audie Murphy or Erwin Rommel. It does concern me that this guy was worthy of any swap. It rewards desertion. Bad precedent.

It looks like Obama administration bungled this one. Sort of like Pat Tilman, Snowden, Jessica Lynch . .

But sadly aside from Bill, me, and a few of my old Army buddies, most Americans don't care. That's sad.


My guess is that a lot of people will care by the time we're done.

This is a wonderfully apt panoramic of this Administration's commitment to law. It's increasingly clear that Obama blew by the disclosure statute because he knew that Congress would never accept this, but was so eager to see the Jihadist generals released to resume hostilities against American soldiers that he just couldn't contain himself.

The violation of law is truly the tip of a nauseating iceberg. There's the negotiating with terrorists, the hero-making of a deserter, the mocking of the deaths of the six soldiers who lost their lives searching for Bergdahl, the cheerleading for Jihad done at the White House podium (no less) by the father, the incentivizing of other terrorists to take American hostages so they can get their goodies too, and the lying and obfuscation about every aspect of this.

I think it is more incompetence that any particular nefarious motive on the Obama administration's part. Someone probably thought it'd score some political points by bringing home the last "POW" and as tends to be the case none of the yes-men did any homework and it turns out he really wasn't a POW.

Sadly, if the President doesn't follow the law aside from impeachment there doesn't seem to be any remedy.


Having worked in the White House, I can tell you that this was no mere incompetence. It's certain that the White House had Bergdahl's service file soup-to-nuts and had contacted and researched his family. NO ONE gets to stand that close to the President unless the Secret Service has checked out your entire life.

Plus, given the high visibility of Gitmo and releases therefrom -- visibility that Obama himself has promoted -- I'm not buying the idea that this was some White House staffer's half-baked idea. The negotiations with the Taliban and with Qatar about who would get released, under what conditions, and what the terms of their supposed "custody" in Qatar would have taken months at the minimum.

Both the timing of what was done and the ramifications were carefully looked at, I can assure you. Something like this would have gone directly to both the Chief of Staff and the Counsel, not the mention the National Security Advisor.

Plus, look at when it was announced: The weekend. If the President really thinks he's going to get a heap of credit, he doesn't announce it on the weekend. He has the Press Office call the networks to reserve weekday prime time.

This was not negligence and it was not a screw-up. It was months in the planning. Obama knew exactly what he was doing.

I will defer to your knowledge on white house inner workings. However, I still don't grasp the motivation to do it if it is well known Bergdahl was a deserter and given the high profile nature of the Taliban releasees how it would benefit Obama? What was he hoping to accomplish? My inability to even guess at a nefarious motive makes me believe some incompetence along the way.

And while I was a Field Artillery officer by training, I did serve also as our battalion adjutant so I am very familiar with personnel files and there is always a lot of stuff omitted for various reasons. Don't ask me what is omitted from mine


What's omitted from yours?

You KNEW that was coming.

When I was a 2LT myself and several cohorts had a drink or 12 too many and ended up in an altercation and ended up in drunk tank for the evening.

Our misdeeds were discovered by the chain of command and I got a general letter of reprimand - but it never actually got put in my file because I stayed out of further trouble so it was pulled or withdrawn or something.

All things considered my 8 hours in the drunk tank with the scum of society taught me a valuable lesson - crime doesn't pay (or more appropriately has consequences). Never understood why people keep going back to life of crime because jail sucks.

There is a lot of stuff that doesn't stay in the personnel file however in the case of Bergdahl the classification as a deserter would stay.

I also have no doubt that this administration is deliberately attempting to break down the USA. If Congress ever "grew a pair" then they should start with Valerie Jarrett and the Hidden Cabinet. She and the other "advisers" appear to have their prints over every illegal action taken; from Fast and Furious, Benghazi, NSA spying, IRS targeting, to Releasing Enemy Combatants for a Deserter; all of which violate the Constitution and USA Law.

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