Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Bigger Than Benghazi? Obama Makes a Bad Deal for a Deserter

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Bigger Than Benghazi? Obama Makes a Bad Deal for a Deserter

Article excerpt

When Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl, 23, walked away from his guard post in Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan June 30, 2009, he left behind his rifle, helmet, flak jacket - and a note saying he'd become disillusioned with the Army.

"I am ashamed to be an American," he wrote in an email. "The horror that is America is disgusting."

Afghans in Yahya Khel, a village two miles away, said now-Sgt. Bergdahl headed straight for Taliban strongholds or, by some accounts, that he asked their help in contacting the Taliban. Attacks on U.S. forces in Paktika province "seemed to increase in frequency and effectiveness" after Sgt. Bergdahl disappeared, reported Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard.

"The ambushes we use, the certain tactics we use, the Taliban was picking up on those things," Josh Fuller, who served in Sgt. Bergdahl's platoon, told Fox News. "You could tell it was from somebody on the inside that had that info."

The London Sunday Times reported in 2010 that a Taliban deputy district commander in Paktika province said that Sgt. Bergdahl taught him how to turn a mobile phone into a remote control for a roadside bomb.

Many in the intelligence community think Sgt. Bergdahl was an "active collaborator," reported James Rosen of Fox News.

The swap of Sgt. Bergdahl (he was promoted while in captivity) for five senior Taliban commanders looked bad enough back when National Security Adviser Susan Rice claimed he'd served with distinction and been captured on the battlefield.

Mad Magazine's parody poster for a movie about "Trading Private Bergdahl" summarizes how most Americans feel about the deal now: "They got five Taliban leaders, we got one deserting weasel."

The White House had expected "near euphoria" to break out when the deal was announced, said Chuck Todd of NBC News.

It did. This was a "great victory," said Taliban leader Mullah Omar. The Taliban thinks release of just one of the terrorist leaders "is worth 12,000 fighters," Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky, said he was told by a source in Pakistan.

The swap produced rage among some soldiers who served with Sgt. Bergdahl in the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment.

"His disappearance translated into daily search missions across the entire Afghanistan theater of operations, particularly ours," said Nathan Bethea, then a lieutenant. …

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