The strange serendipity that both Benghazi and Bergdahl each have eight letters isn’t the only similarity between the two, with the negotiated release of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl in return for five Taliban members held in the pride of America, our Guantanamo Bay torture camp the sleazy political games are escalating faster than the covert US backed slaughter in East Ukraine. Despite dozens of legitimate areas of attack against Barack Obama that could bring them their coveted post-November election impeachment tribunal the Republicans and the neocons that infest their criminal party are honing in on Sgt. Bergdahl like a pack of braying, rabid wolves chasing down a wounded rabbit and they are going after his family too. Even the mob has a code of honor but when it comes to political jockeying for control over the cash spigots of the spoils system and the keys to the war machine there is no quarter to be given.
With the incoming fire from the chickenhawks, seeing in addition to the politics of the vilification of Bergdahl an opportunity to turn him into a symbol of the failure of their bloody clusterfuck wars of choice in Iraq but especially in Afghanistan “the good war” for his anti-military views as espoused in correspondence with his family prior to his disappearance and capture. Probably a good place to start to put together Sgt. Bergdahl’s story – do not even waste time with the state-corporate media – would be in the Rolling Stone magazine article by the late journalist Michael Hastings who perished in that mysterious fiery vehicle incident last year. The Rolling Stone magazine story, entitled “America’s Last Prisoner of War” is an insightful and nuanced piece on the confused young soldier, one that you won’t find in the feeding frenzy ongoing since his release. It is an extremely long article but I want to excerpt what I feel are a few critical pieces that offer needed context in light of the neocon smear campaign:
After 16 weeks of training, Bowe graduated from infantry school in Fort Benning, Georgia, in the fall of 2008. While others in his training unit – A Company 2-58 – used their weekend passes to hit up strip clubs, Bowe hung out at Barnes & Noble and read books. He was already an expert shot from his days firing his .22 in the mountains of Idaho. When his parents attended the graduation, the drill sergeant told them, “Bowe was good to go when he got here.” After completing the course, Bowe was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division in Fort Richardson, Alaska, not far from Anchorage. He arrived in October 2008.
At first, according to soldiers in his unit, Bowe seemed to embrace Army life. “He showed up, looked like a normal Joe,” says former Specialist Jason Fry, who is now studying for a master’s in theology. “When he first got to the unit, he was the leadership’s pet. He read the Ranger Handbook like no other. Some people resented him for it.” Bowe kept to himself, doing physical training on his own. “He never hung out with anyone, always in the background, never wanted to be in front of anything,” says Fry. He surrounded himself with piles of books, including Three Cups of Tea, about a humanitarian crusade to educate girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as instructions on Zen meditation and an introductory ethics handbook with writings from Aristotle, Augustine, Kant and Hume.
After a month in Alaska, Bowe and his unit embarked for the National Training Center in Southern California to prepare for war. The NTC is a massive military installation in the Mojave Desert where real life combat situations are simulated under the most difficult conditions, often in extreme heat. It was a brutal experience for the platoon, and Bowe’s unit struggled from the beginning. “The first week is incredibly stressful,” a second lieutenant in the unit, Stephen Fancey, wrote on his blog. “I get overworked to the point where I start to get sick with a fever.”
In his blog posts, which have since been removed from the Web, Fancey detailed a unit that seemed to have almost no discipline. The company’s first sergeant, Fancey wrote, “calls the Captain a quitter, then calls me a quitter. Picture a 2nd LT screaming at a 1SG, who is screaming back in broken Puerto-Rican-fied English, and about 5 Privates sitting quietly in terror.” As the combat simulations continued, the sergeant’s behavior grew even more disturbing. He refused to go to the bathroom, preferring to pee into a Gatorade bottle by his bed, and he obsessed over his desire for a Diet Coke. After one botched operation, according to Fancey’s blog, the first sergeant just gave up. “I need a Coca-Cola,” he said. Then, upset at how screwed up the operation had become, he tore off his body armor and stormed off to his tent, screaming, “Fuck ‘dis ‘chit!”
The neocons are pushing hard in dragging out members of Bergdahl’s unit to attack him as a deserter and blame him for the loss of life of several soldiers who were allegedly killed looking for him in the days after his disappearance – from a New York Times story “Bowe Bergdahl’s Vanishing Before Capture Angered His Unit” – the following is of interest:
The furious search for Sergeant Bergdahl, his critics say, led to the deaths of at least two soldiers and possibly six others in the area. Pentagon officials say those charges are unsubstantiated and are not supported by a review of a database of casualties in the Afghan war.
“Yes, I’m angry,” Joshua Cornelison, a former medic in Sergeant Bergdahl’s platoon, said in an interview on Monday arranged by Republican strategists. “Everything that we did in those days was to advance the search for Bergdahl. If we were doing some mission and there was a reliable report that Bergdahl was somewhere, our orders were that we were to quit that mission and follow that report.”
Platoon members said Sergeant Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, was known as bookish and filled with romantic notions that some found odd.
“He wouldn’t drink beer or eat barbecue and hang out with the other 20-year-olds,”Cody Full, another member of Sergeant Bergdahl’s platoon, said in an interview on Monday also arranged by Republican strategists. “He was always in his bunk. He ordered Rosetta Stone for all the languages there, learning Dari and Arabic and Pashto.”
[as if reading, learning the local culture and not drinking beer and eating BBQ with a bunch of fuckups is a sin]
The anger toward Sergeant Bergdahl increased exponentially after Sept. 4, when they learned that two members of Third Platoon, which routinely went on tandem missions with Second Platoon and who they believed were also searching for Sergeant Bergdahl, had been killed in an ambush. Pfc. Matthew Martinek and Lt. Darryn Andrews, both of them friends of Mr. Cornelison, died in the ambush. A Defense Department official said it was unclear whether the two men were killed directly because of the search for Sergeant Bergdahl.
[It is a war zone and people do get killed in war zones, but it is always nice to have a scapegoat]
The interesting thing about the NYT piece is the mention that Bergdahl’s fellow solders were being sought out and prepped for the media in sessions “arranged by Republican strategists” so the politicizing is there and per Hastings’ Rolling Stone piece has always been there – I excerpt the following:
“The Hill is giving State and the White House shit,” says one senior administration source. “The political consequences are being used as leverage in the policy debate.” According to White House sources, Marc Grossman, who replaced Richard Holbrooke as special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, was given a direct warning by the president’s opponents in Congress about trading Bowe for five Taliban prisoners during an election year. “They keep telling me it’s going to be Obama’s Willie Horton moment,”Grossman warned the White House. The threat was as ugly as it was clear: The president’s political enemies were prepared to use the release of violent prisoners to paint Obama as a Dukakis-like appeaser, just as Republicans did to the former Massachusetts governor during the 1988 campaign. In response, a White House official advised Grossman that he should ignore the politics of the swap and concentrate solely on the policy.
“Frankly, we don’t give a shit why he left,” says one White House official. “He’s an American soldier. We want to bring him home.”
The tensions came to a boil in January, when administration officials went to Capitol Hill to brief a handful of senators on the possibility of a prisoner exchange. The meeting, which excluded staffers, took place in a new secure conference room in the Capitol visitor center. According to sources in the briefing, the discussion sparked a sharp exchange between Senators John McCain and John Kerry, both of whom were decorated for their service in Vietnam. McCain, who endured almost six years of captivity as a prisoner of war, threw a fit at the prospect of releasing five Taliban detainees.
“They’re the five biggest murderers in world history!” McCain fumed.
Kerry, who supported the transfer, thought that was going a bit far. “John,” he said, “the five biggest murderers in the world?”
McCain was furious at the rebuke. “They killed Americans!” he responded. “I suppose Senator Kerry is OK with that?”
McCain reluctantly came around on the prisoner exchange, according to those present at the meeting, but he has continued to speak out against negotiating with the Taliban. Opposition has also come from Sen. Saxby Chambliss, a Republican from Georgia who won election with a vicious smear campaign against former Sen. Max Cleland, a decorated Vietnam veteran who lost three limbs in the war. Chambliss, according to Bowe’s father, has insisted that America shouldn’t make a prisoner trade for a “deserter.”
Some top-level officials within the administration, including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, are very wary about making a swap for Bowe. “Panetta and Hillary don’t give a shit about getting him home,” says one senior U.S. official involved in the negotiations. “They want to be able to say they COINed their way out of Afghanistan, or whatever, so it doesn’t look like they are cutting and running.” (Both Clinton and Panetta, by law, would have to sign off on any exchange.) As with Vietnam, many in the military are resisting any attempt to end the war. “Even after Robert Bales” – the Army staff sergeant charged with massacring 17 Afghan civilians in March – “they are making the argument that the war is turning a corner,” says this official. “They don’t realize that the mission is changing. We don’t need all those U.S. soldiers there anymore.”
Given the political aspects of the Bergdahl situation it is no wonder that the FBI was investigating Hastings over the Rolling Stone story – as is evident by this story that was published on website VICE entitled “Why Was the FBI Investigating Michael Hastings’ Reporting on Bowe Bergdahl?” that I recommend reading. There is far more to this savage neocon led mission to take out Bergdahl with extreme prejudice than meets the eye, outside of the election year political horseshit to turn him into “Willie Horton” – Hastings’ reference to the 2016 Democratic party nominee Hillary Clinton and her own politically motivated reasons for not wanting Bergdahl released is a testament as to her true character or lack thereof. McCain’s crazed ranting that the Taliban members were “the five biggest murderers in world history!” is just McCain being McCain but he is out front leading the charge of the sleaze brigade against Sergeant Bergdahl so his own motivations are telling.
The story will continue to develop rapidly as the corrupt media continues to seek out family members of those who were allegedly killed in the search for Sgt. Bergdahl to exploit their grieving for their cheap ratings and currying of political favors. Even the military, that most overvalued institution in our collapsing empire is caving to the politics and has now announced that they are going to investigate Bergdahl which shows that said institution whose only purpose is in killing people should not be revered as the God which it is by the fools in this star spangled lemming colony.
There will assuredly be more to come but it is important to get the true background, Hastings’ piece is a MUST READ.