June 12, 2014
Bowe Bergdahl, an Army sergeant held for nearly five years by the Taliban in Afghanistan, is back in American hands. The bad news is that the Obama administration appears incapable of offering a consistent, credible explanation about its actions.
We don’t have a problem with U.S. giving up the Taliban leaders who were held in the prison at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, to secure the release of Sgt. Bergdahl.
Nor do we have a problem with the 5-for-1 deal for the American soldier even if he, according to some of his former Army buddies, may have abandoned his unit. If any discipline is warranted in addition to the years Sgt. Bergdahl spent as a prisoner of war, the Army will have an opportunity to take the proper steps in due time.
But we, like many others, do have serious concerns about the White House’s troubling inconsistencies about transferring the five prisoners from Guantanamo without giving Congress the 30 days notice required by U.S. law — a law signed just last year by none other than President Barack Obama.
First, administration officials tried to justify the failure to notify the legislative branch by arguing that Sgt. Bergdahl had an urgent health issue. That excuse quickly fell apart under bipartisan scrutiny and criticism on Capitol Hill. Democrats and Republicans said recent video and other evidence showed the soldier wasn’t facing an immediate health crisis.
Next, the administration pointed out that last year when President Obama signed the law, the National Defense Authorization Act, he asserted — in what is known as a “signing statement” — that he wouldn’t necessarily follow the law when he exercised his authority as commander in chief.
That’s sharply at odds with what Mr. Obama said when he was a candidate for president. Then-candidate Sen. Barack Obama harshly criticized President George W. Bush for using such signing statements to disagree with the legislation he signed into law. The candidate said his administration would be different.
The administration looks amateurish as it continues to revise its explanations. After successfully freeing Sgt. Bergdahl from the hands of his captors, it would be exceedingly unfortunate if the Obama administration should find itself imprisoned by a lack of credibility due to its perplexing inability to keep its story straight.
— The Gleaner, Henderson, Kentucky