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  1. #21
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    Re: SGT Bowe Bergdahl exchange

    Quote Originally Posted by Squatch347 View Post
    And, going back to why this was brought up, the point was to show that he was a deserter, not a POW. If he intentionally left with intent not to return (which would seem to be indicated by his attempt at renunciation) then why are we obligated to bring him back?
    Well, if a soldier deserts while on active duty, in the trenches of deployment, where does the responsibility of the military cease for a trained soldier who has chosen to desert his post who may or may not be all mentally sound? From what I'm reading, there were all types of prior flags (warnings) that went up regarding this guy's behavior and actions before he deserted the second time. Why was Berghahl even deployed as a United States military soldier and on the battlefield?
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  2. #22
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    Re: SGT Bowe Bergdahl exchange

    I don't see the Gitmo argument as compelling because 5 prisoners does not a closing make and if indeed Bergdahl is somehow not a captive that would have huge blowback. So a huge political risk just so he can take a tiny step to close a facility... doesn't make any sense.

    Now I can see if he genuinely thinks that bringing the man home is good policy, taking a small step on Gitmo could be seen as a bonus feature as it were. But as the main motivation... just doesn't wash for me.

    As to prisoners...
    Jenkins is a different case. Clearly that guy was not a prisoner. He didn't want to come to the US, didn't ask to come to the US. He wanted to live in NK so there he stayed and we made no attempt to trade for the guy. He eventually went to japan with his wife and he did face court martial when he was there since we could get at him. But we never tried to trade for the guy.

    Same goes for other known turncoats. We don't generally want them except for prosecution. Bergdhal however clearly wants to come home but couldn't without appeasing the Talliban who held him. Everything points to him being a prisoner and not some guest or Taliban fighter. Both on the way the Taliban are behaving and the way we are behaving.

    As to his legal status as a citizen
    You can say, "why should we bother with this citizen?" Isn't he not worth the effort?

    But legally and traditionally we don't really ask that question. If its a service personnel and they want to come home we bring them home. After that happens we punish them as we deem appropriate. That is just how its done on a matter of principle from what I read.

    I'm not military, you are, but what I understand is one of the number one ethics of the military is your squadmates, like em or not, are your responsibility and you do or die for them whatever the circumstance. I always hear the "I'm not a hero, I'm just doing right by my squad mates." line whenever someone is given accolades for bravery.

    I think its fair to ask if that attitude is the right one, but its pretty clear that is the prevailing view.
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  3. #23
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    Re: SGT Bowe Bergdahl exchange

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    I don't see the Gitmo argument as compelling because 5 prisoners does not a closing make and if indeed Bergdahl is somehow not a captive that would have huge blowback.
    Well, no one said it would close Gitmo, but rather that it was a step towards closing Gitmo. And the second criteria is a pretty big if considering it isn't in any party's best interest to reveal such information. And even if they did, the Administration could easily argue that they didn't know, that the Taliban had represented him as a prisoner (and that well may be a truthful statement).

    Quote Originally Posted by Sig
    Jenkins is a different case. Clearly that guy was not a prisoner.
    In what way is he materially different? He expressed a distaste for being a US citizen, deserted his unit, sought out enemy forces and made contact. Eventually Japan forced a negotiation with NK that led to his being flown to Japan for medical treatment. Except for the words "NK," "Japan" and "medical treatment" it is identical to SGT Bergdahl's story.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sig
    Bergdhal however clearly wants to come home
    Based on what evidence do you make that assertion?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sig
    You can say, "why should we bother with this citizen?" Isn't he not worth the effort?
    Which was not at all my argument. I said, why are we releasing prisoners in exchange for a guy who deserted his unit in the face of the enemy expressing an intent not to return? Why are we expending resources in exchange for a guy we have no evidence wants to return?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sig
    I'm not military, you are, but what I understand is one of the number one ethics of the military is your squadmates, like em or not, are your responsibility and you do or die for them whatever the circumstance.
    No one gets left behind and you fight for your buddy in the foxhole generally ends as a concept when your buddy takes off to join the enemy. I think your belief that it is the prevailing view in this case is incorrect, the sentiment of veterans, soldiers and especially his unit members is pretty heavily against his return.

    Quote Originally Posted by eye4magic View Post
    Why was Berghahl even deployed as a United States military soldier and on the battlefield?
    That is an interesting question. The military's human personnel system is terrible, it has a hard time finding people to deploy and ignores the large list of people wanting to deploy. That they let Bergdahl deploy despite his past is a clearly dereliction of duty to the other members of his unit.
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  4. #24
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    Re: SGT Bowe Bergdahl exchange

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/06/wo...says.html?_r=0

    "WASHINGTON — A classified military report detailing the Army’s investigation into the disappearance of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in June 2009 says that he had wandered away from assigned areas before — both at a training range in California and at his remote outpost in Afghanistan — and then returned, according to people briefed on it.

    The roughly 35-page report, completed two months after Sergeant Bergdahl left his unit, concludes that he most likely walked away of his own free will from his outpost in the dark of night, and it criticized lax security practices and poor discipline in his unit. But it stops short of concluding that there is solid evidence that Sergeant Bergdahl, then a private, intended to permanently desert.

    Whether Sergeant Bergdahl was a deserter who never intended to come back, or simply slipped away for a short adventure amid an environment of lax security and discipline and was then captured, is one of many unanswered questions about his disappearance.

    The report is also said to cite members of his platoon as saying that he may have taken a shorter unauthorized walk outside the concertina wire of his combat outpost in eastern Afghanistan before he left for good, in an episode that was apparently not reported up the chain of command. The newspaper Military Times on Wednesday first reported that claim, also citing officials familiar with the military’s report.

    But the report is said to contain no mention of Sergeant Bergdahl’s having left behind a letter in his tent that explicitly said he was deserting and explained his disillusionment, as a retired senior military official briefed on the investigation at the time told The New York Times this week.

    Asked about what appeared to be a disconnect, the retired officer insisted that he remembered reading a field report discussing the existence of such a letter in the early days of the search and was unable to explain why it was not mentioned in the final investigative report.

    Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, a Pentagon spokesman, declined to discuss the report or make it available.

    “The Department of Defense does not discuss information contained within classified investigations,” he said. “The department is making every consideration regarding the disposition of its continued classification.”

    The narrative about Sergeant Bergdahl over the past few days has undergone a rapid evolution based on accounts by current and former soldiers, which have grown increasingly dark. They have gone from saying he should not be treated as a hero because he was a deserter and blaming the subsequent search for him for every American combat death in the province over a three-month period, to alleging that there is evidence that he was trying to meet up with the Taliban.

    Amid the controversy, an event in his hometown, Hailey, Idaho, to celebrate his return has been canceled. But the accounts of the investigative report, which was described as meticulous and thorough, suggest that even basic facts necessary to understand how he came to disappear have yet to be definitively established.

    The people briefed on the “15-6 report,” named for the army regulation covering such investigations, described it on the condition of anonymity because it remains classified. The report was written by an investigating officer in July and August of 2009 after extensive interviews with members of Sergeant Bergdahl’s unit, including his squad leader, platoon leader, and company and battalion commanders.

    Given his experience in Afghanistan as a soldier, it is easy to see how Bergdahl could become disillusioned with our 'mission' there. ...
    It is said to confirm certain other details relayed in recent accounts, including that Sergeant Bergdahl shipped his computer and a journal home before he disappeared. It also confirms that he left behind his body armor and weapon — an unwieldy SAW machine gun — taking with him water, knives and a compass.

    The report speculates that he most likely left in darkness after the moon had set, following one of two possible routes through the concertina wire.

    While much of the report is said to focus on disciplinary problems in his unit and a lack of accountability in its chain of command, it is also said to portray Sergeant Bergdahl as a free-spirited young man who read martial-arts books, drank tea with Afghan soldiers from whom he tried to pick up Pashto phrases, and maintained a collection of throwing stars and knives, which it documents in detail.

    Its portrayal of him as a soldier is said to be positive, with quotes from both commanders and squad mates — apparently including some of the men now criticizing him — describing him as punctual, always in the correct uniform and asking good questions. It quotes colleagues as saying that he expressed some boredom and frustration that they were not “kicking down doors” more to go after insurgents who were destroying schools.

    The report is also said to contain no mention of any alleged intercepts of radio or cellphone traffic indicating that Sergeant Bergdahl was asking villagers if anyone spoke English and trying to get in touch with the Taliban, as two former squad mates told CNN this week in separate interviews; they both said they remembered hearing about the intercepts from a translator who received the report.

    A leaked military activity report that contemporaneously logged significant events during the initial eight-day search for Sergeant Bergdahl says that at 10:12 a.m. on June 30, about six hours after he was reported missing, an unidentified man was overheard on a radio or cellphone saying that an American soldier with a camera “is looking for someone who speaks English.”

    Still, the log says nothing about the unidentified man’s saying that the American wanted to get in touch with the Taliban."
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  5. #25
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    Re: SGT Bowe Bergdahl exchange

    Quote Originally Posted by Squatch347 View Post
    Well, no one said it would close Gitmo, but rather that it was a step towards closing Gitmo. And the second criteria is a pretty big if considering it isn't in any party's best interest to reveal such information. And even if they did, the Administration could easily argue that they didn't know, that the Taliban had represented him as a prisoner (and that well may be a truthful statement).
    Its too low reward and high risk if that is their plan. You either need some way to lower the risk or raise the reward to make it plausible. Easy to do mind you, just go along with the pretty clear motivations to bring a us soldier home and you have your increased benefit.

    In what way is he materially different? He expressed a distaste for being a US citizen, deserted his unit, sought out enemy forces and made contact. Eventually Japan forced a negotiation with NK that led to his being flown to Japan for medical treatment. Except for the words "NK," "Japan" and "medical treatment" it is identical to SGT Bergdahl's story.
    Not a captive is the main difference. Bergdhal is a captive and Jenkins was not. Jenkins had a job and was given a wife and so forth. He was essentially a citizen of NK until he went to Japan with his wife. His wife was the one Japan negotiated for as she was a captive from Japan originally.

    Bergdhal was a prisoner.

    Based on what evidence do you make that assertion?
    He escaped twice and was re-captured. Hard to say you want to be a prisoner when you attempt escape and have to be re-captured.

    Which was not at all my argument. I said, why are we releasing prisoners in exchange for a guy who deserted his unit in the face of the enemy expressing an intent not to return? Why are we expending resources in exchange for a guy we have no evidence wants to return?
    Again, hes a US citizen and member of the armed forces who was held captive and ransomed. There are ransom videos, demands, letters from him to his family and so on. Nothing indicates he is voluntarily with he Taliban while just about everything indicates he is their prisoner.

    No one gets left behind and you fight for your buddy in the foxhole generally ends as a concept when your buddy takes off to join the enemy.
    But there is no evidence he joined the enemy. Only that he left his post and was unhappy with the mission there.

    I think your belief that it is the prevailing view in this case is incorrect, the sentiment of veterans, soldiers and especially his unit members is pretty heavily against his return.
    That is not what the official military investigation says by all reports.
    And go and google "Bring Birgdhal home" You will find multiple movements,many involving armed services personnel that lobbied for him to be freed.

    "Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey said: "The questions about this particular soldier's conduct are separate from our effort to recover ANY U.S. service member in enemy captivity" and that the military will investigate how Bergdahl was captured. "Like any American, he is innocent until proven guilty.[...] Our Army’s leaders will not look away from misconduct if it occurred. In the meantime, we will continue to care for him and his family."[29][30]"

    If you want more background good old wikipedia has a nice collection of sourced information from various articles and reports on the episode.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bowe_Bergdahl
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  6. #26
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    Re: SGT Bowe Bergdahl exchange

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    Its too low reward and high risk if that is their plan.
    What risk Sig?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sig
    Bergdhal is a captive and Jenkins was not.
    Based on what evidence? Bergdahl's escape (if it happened, so far only one unnamed source) occurred well after his linking up with Taliban forces. Jenkins also wanted to leave to years before he went to Japan, but feared he would be punished.

    In both cases we had a U.S. citizen that deserted to join the enemy, both perhaps had second thoughts at some point. Is there nothing a U.S. Citizen can do, in your mind, that relieves any moral obligation on our part?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sig
    But there is no evidence he joined the enemy.
    I think you should re-check the OP. Reports from both SOF operators searching for him as well as other members of his unit all report that he was seeking out the Taliban. That during searches for him villages reported an American was asking where to locate Taliban forces.

    Since the OP, several additional reports have come out testifying that he sought out Taliban forces following his desertion.

    The Washington Post interviewed villagers surrounding SGT Bergdahl's COP. They reported that he stopped to ask them how to link up with Taliban forces. http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/...t-taliban.html

    Additionally SGT Evan Buetow (his team leader) stated that radio intercepts of Taliban communications revealed that an American was asking for a translator so that he could find Taliban forces and gave instructions to a link up location. http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/vi...liban.cnn.html
    http://beforeitsnews.com/opinion-con...o-2860652.html

    Quote Originally Posted by Sig
    And go and google "Bring Birgdhal home" You will find multiple movements,many involving armed services personnel that lobbied for him to be freed.
    You'll even find my name on some of those. I don't think it was well known that the guy was as a deserter until the exchange. It was that exchange that prompted a lot of his squadmates to speak out, for Operators to post their messages for the word to get out. And even after that message came out it wasn't clear that 14 other service members died searching for a guy who was a deserter. That tends to shift opinions.

    Take a look at the dates on those groups, especially the FB ones, and you'll see veteran sentiment shift quite a bit.

    WAPO wrote an OK article on it, though it was weak on interviews: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/...499_story.html
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  7. #27
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    Re: SGT Bowe Bergdahl exchange

    Quote Originally Posted by Squatch347 View Post

    Additionally SGT Evan Buetow (his team leader) stated that radio intercepts of Taliban communications revealed that an American was asking for a translator so that he could find Taliban forces and gave instructions to a link up location. http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/vi...liban.cnn.html
    http://beforeitsnews.com/opinion-con...o-2860652.html

    "The report is also said to contain no mention of any alleged intercepts of radio or cellphone traffic indicating that Sergeant Bergdahl was asking villagers if anyone spoke English and trying to get in touch with the Taliban, as two former squad mates told CNN this week in separate interviews; they both said they remembered hearing about the intercepts from a translator who received the report.

    A leaked military activity report that contemporaneously logged significant events during the initial eight-day search for Sergeant Bergdahl says that at 10:12 a.m. on June 30, about six hours after he was reported missing, an unidentified man was overheard on a radio or cellphone saying that an American soldier with a camera “is looking for someone who speaks English.”

    Still, the log says nothing about the unidentified man’s saying that the American wanted to get in touch with the Taliban."

    emphasis mine, NYT article, link in post 24.


    I'm very concerned that there is possible character assassination going on of this man for political purposes.
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  8. #28
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    Re: SGT Bowe Bergdahl exchange

    Quote Originally Posted by Squatch347 View Post
    What risk Sig?
    The political risk of course.

    Based on what evidence? Bergdahl's escape (if it happened, so far only one unnamed source) occurred well after his linking up with Taliban forces. Jenkins also wanted to leave to years before he went to Japan, but feared he would be punished.
    Squatch, you can't escape if you haven't been captured and you can't be captured without being in contact with the enemy. If you want to discount "accounts" then were throwing out every piece of evidence in the whole thing, its all accounts for the most part. We have ransom demands. Videos of him in capture. Letters he's written. Long negotiations with the Taliban for him. Its clear he's a prisoner.

    Jenkins may have wanted to leave because NK rather stinks as a place to live, but he wasn't a prisoner. NK never offered to trade him to us or made demands for his release etc...

    In both cases we had a U.S. citizen that deserted to join the enemy, both perhaps had second thoughts at some point. Is there nothing a U.S. Citizen can do, in your mind, that relieves any moral obligation on our part?
    Sure, but that doesn't change the fact they are a citizen and a soldier. The army simply has a policy of no man left behind. Even murderers don't loose their citizenship.

    I think you should re-check the OP. Reports from both SOF operators searching for him as well as other members of his unit all report that he was seeking out the Taliban. That during searches for him villages reported an American was asking where to locate Taliban forces.
    Looking for them doesn't mean you are a traitor. Those same reports indicate he was trying to do some kind of negotiations. Misguided to be sure and it only got him captured but that's not traitorous.

    You'll even find my name on some of those. I don't think it was well known that the guy was as a deserter until the exchange. It was that exchange that prompted a lot of his squadmates to speak out, for Operators to post their messages for the word to get out. And even after that message came out it wasn't clear that 14 other service members died searching for a guy who was a deserter. That tends to shift opinions.
    Yes, but most of this is coming after the deal is done. His squad mates even said they were keeping mum until his return was secured. Until now there was clear support for his return. Now after he is returned people are second guessing.
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  9. #29
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    Re: SGT Bowe Bergdahl exchange

    Quote Originally Posted by CowboyX View Post
    Still, the log says nothing about the unidentified man’s saying that the American wanted to get in touch with the Taliban."

    emphasis mine, NYT article, link in post 24.


    I'm very concerned that there is possible character assassination going on of this man for political purposes.
    What political gain would two former Army Sergeants who are not politically active have?

    Further, that article is citing what is known as a "sigacts" log. Those logs are often kept in both digital and hard copy form in a TOC (tactical operations center) at every Company, Battalion and above HQ. Those forms (both digital and analog) restrict the character limit heavily and so only an abbreviated sentence is mentioned. Something like "C 1/222 reports LN heard American asking for english speaker." It likely wouldn't go into a long detail about the subject because the radio operator doesn't have time for that. That kind of detail would be found in the standard intel summary or AAR (after action report) written following most patrols.

    Let's review the evidence on this claim though so we can review the possibility of political motivation and judge the strength of evidence.

    1) SOF Operator who claims to be part of the search writes an account detailing his contact with LNs that report they heard Bergdahl ask how to locate Taliban forces.

    2) Three separate NCOs come forward with their reports of the time leading up to and following his disappearance. These NCOs don't seem to have much contact (different states, left the unit shortly after redeployment, different chains of command, etc) so the stories appear independent and each state that patrols or intercepts report that an American is searching for Taliban.

    3) The Washington Post (hardly a conservative mouthpiece) interviews LNs in the area Bergdahl disappeared. They tell reporters that they saw the American acting strangly, asking for someone who spoke English and how he could get in touch with the Taliban.


    So we have three, relatively independent sources, at least one of which doesn't appear to have a political agenda reporting the same thing. I think that makes character assassination a relatively low probability.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    The political risk of course.
    Again, I'm not actually sure what political risk the President would have taken. Let's assume the absolute worst case scenario for a second. SGT Bergdahl is a defector and the Taliban hatch a plot to trade him for 5 valuable prisoners and release him back to the US as some kind of agent (again, crazy worst case scenario). It is pretty unlikely the President would know that since it is in the Taliban's interest not to reveal it during negotiations or afterwards. Even if he did know, there is certainly enough plausible deniability and good intentions to wave that off. Additionally, he could simply mute all criticism by saying "we now have evidence that he is a defector, court martial" then let it die out in the news a la Major Hassan.

    My major point is that the President's potential political risk isn't a good reason to argue that there weren't ulterior motives by all sides.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sig
    Squatch, you can't escape if you haven't been captured and you can't be captured without being in contact with the enemy.
    Be that as it may, this report (much like the initial reports in the Guardian and Mail of him assisting the Taliban to make cell phone initiators) doesn't come from a reliable source and more importantly has no other corroborating evidence. At least the other accounts seem to support each other.

    But even if we completely accept the account of his escape, that only means he had become a prisoner at some point. The preponderance of the evidence still suggests that he initially was not "captured" but linked up with the Taliban voluntarily, that he left his unit voluntarily and that he did so initially with no intent on returning.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sig
    Jenkins may have wanted to leave because NK rather stinks as a place to live, but he wasn't a prisoner. NK never offered to trade him to us or made demands for his release etc...
    And Pakistan is a oasis?

    NK also doesn't offer to trade its Japanese citizens that have been kidnapped and who are clearly prisoners as well. The lack of negotiation on the part of North Korea does not establish that they are not prisoners.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sig
    The army simply has a policy of no man left behind.
    But that doesn't apply to deserters, that applies to soldiers who are wounded, killed or trapped behind enemy lines, not those who voluntarily left. The Army's policy historically has been to shoot them. More recently our policy has been to ignore them. We don't go searching for deserters in the US. We don't protect them from civilian trial or the consequences of the decisions they make once abandoning their post here, I'm not sure why it would be any different there.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sig
    Looking for them doesn't mean you are a traitor.
    I agree, I didn't imply that makes him a defector. He may well have been trying to ask permission to pass towards China or seek assistance to do so (why he wanted to go to China is a whole other discussion). That wouldn't make him a traitor as you point out and I agree, but it would make his decision to go there a free one for which he would suffer the consequences.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sig
    Yes, but most of this is coming after the deal is done. His squad mates even said they were keeping mum until his return was secured. Until now there was clear support for his return. Now after he is returned people are second guessing.
    I agree, and as I said I was part of that group, but that was largely because we hadn't heard the full story on the situation. The question isn't whether or not people were justified seeking his return, it is whether now, given all the information, that was a good decision.
    "Suffering lies not with inequality, but with dependence." -Voltaire
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    Re: SGT Bowe Bergdahl exchange

    I didn't say political "gain".
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    Re: SGT Bowe Bergdahl exchange

    Quote Originally Posted by CowboyX View Post
    I didn't say political "gain".
    Ok, I'll rephrase:

    What political purpose would two former Army Sergeants who are not politically active have?

    Further, that article is citing what is known as a "sigacts" log. Those logs are often kept in both digital and hard copy form in a TOC (tactical operations center) at every Company, Battalion and above HQ. Those forms (both digital and analog) restrict the character limit heavily and so only an abbreviated sentence is mentioned. Something like "C 1/222 reports LN heard American asking for english speaker." It likely wouldn't go into a long detail about the subject because the radio operator doesn't have time for that. That kind of detail would be found in the standard intel summary or AAR (after action report) written following most patrols.

    Let's review the evidence on this claim though so we can review the possibility of political motivation and judge the strength of evidence.

    1) SOF Operator who claims to be part of the search writes an account detailing his contact with LNs that report they heard Bergdahl ask how to locate Taliban forces.

    2) Three separate NCOs come forward with their reports of the time leading up to and following his disappearance. These NCOs don't seem to have much contact (different states, left the unit shortly after redeployment, different chains of command, etc) so the stories appear independent and each state that patrols or intercepts report that an American is searching for Taliban.

    3) The Washington Post (hardly a conservative mouthpiece) interviews LNs in the area Bergdahl disappeared. They tell reporters that they saw the American acting strangly, asking for someone who spoke English and how he could get in touch with the Taliban.


    So we have three, relatively independent sources, at least one of which doesn't appear to have a political agenda reporting the same thing. I think that makes character assassination a relatively low probability.
    "Suffering lies not with inequality, but with dependence." -Voltaire
    "Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.” -G.K. Chesterton
    Also, if you think I've overlooked your post please shoot me a PM, I'm not intentionally ignoring you.


  12. #32
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    Re: SGT Bowe Bergdahl exchange

    What purpose did the swiftboat vets have?

    and I also didn't say there was no political gain. There might be for other than the soldiers.

    Possibly a distraction from the VA scandal?
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    Re: SGT Bowe Bergdahl exchange

    Quote Originally Posted by CowboyX View Post
    and I also didn't say there was no political gain. There might be for other than the soldiers.

    Possibly a distraction from the VA scandal?
    And who would gain from that? Additionally, this misses the point. What was the "political purpose" of these soldiers to conduct "character assassination?"


    Further, you seem to have ignored the rebuttal concerning the inter-validation of these accounts:

    Further, that article is citing what is known as a "sigacts" log. Those logs are often kept in both digital and hard copy form in a TOC (tactical operations center) at every Company, Battalion and above HQ. Those forms (both digital and analog) restrict the character limit heavily and so only an abbreviated sentence is mentioned. Something like "C 1/222 reports LN heard American asking for english speaker." It likely wouldn't go into a long detail about the subject because the radio operator doesn't have time for that. That kind of detail would be found in the standard intel summary or AAR (after action report) written following most patrols.

    Let's review the evidence on this claim though so we can review the possibility of political motivation and judge the strength of evidence.

    1) SOF Operator who claims to be part of the search writes an account detailing his contact with LNs that report they heard Bergdahl ask how to locate Taliban forces.

    2) Three separate NCOs come forward with their reports of the time leading up to and following his disappearance. These NCOs don't seem to have much contact (different states, left the unit shortly after redeployment, different chains of command, etc) so the stories appear independent and each state that patrols or intercepts report that an American is searching for Taliban.

    3) The Washington Post (hardly a conservative mouthpiece) interviews LNs in the area Bergdahl disappeared. They tell reporters that they saw the American acting strangly, asking for someone who spoke English and how he could get in touch with the Taliban.


    So we have three, relatively independent sources, at least one of which doesn't appear to have a political agenda reporting the same thing. I think that makes character assassination a relatively low probability.
    "Suffering lies not with inequality, but with dependence." -Voltaire
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  14. #34
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    Re: SGT Bowe Bergdahl exchange

    Quote Originally Posted by Squatch347 View Post
    Again, I'm not actually sure what political risk the President would have taken. Let's assume the absolute worst case scenario for a second. SGT Bergdahl is a defector and the Taliban hatch a plot to trade him for 5 valuable prisoners and release him back to the US as some kind of agent (again, crazy worst case scenario). It is pretty unlikely the President would know that since it is in the Taliban's interest not to reveal it during negotiations or afterwards. Even if he did know, there is certainly enough plausible deniability and good intentions to wave that off. Additionally, he could simply mute all criticism by saying "we now have evidence that he is a defector, court martial" then let it die out in the news a la Major Hassan.
    Well, words case would be that he did know because it was in a military report and there was evidence that Bergdahl was on a mission from Obama to hatch this plot all along.

    But lets take your worst case, I agree that Obama has deniability there. But if he has deniability or more specifically didn't know, then we still have an apparent primary motivation simply to "bring the boys home". If He doesn't know Bergdhal is a traitor, then motivation #1 remains getting a POW back home and not closing gitmo.

    I'm not saying Gitmo never crossed Obama's mind. If he's like me (and I often feel like he is) then getting bonus value from an action is always a win. Synergy is often king in strategy. But to me, because its only a small step on Gitmo and a big step on bringing a POW home, it just seems far more likely its playing out pretty much what it looks like on the surface.

    Its usually when folks do things that don't make much sense on the surface that there is a hidden agenda under the surface. Though I will admit a master deceiver can use this to their advantage. Obama doesn't strike me as the type. (Clinton perhaps )

    My major point is that the President's potential political risk isn't a good reason to argue that there weren't ulterior motives by all sides.
    Sure, but I don't think those ulterior motives were primary.

    Be that as it may, this report (much like the initial reports in the Guardian and Mail of him assisting the Taliban to make cell phone initiators) doesn't come from a reliable source and more importantly has no other corroborating evidence. At least the other accounts seem to support each other.
    I'm not sure much of any of the information we have comes from truly reliable sources. Perhaps that secret report but that's about it. This is a gig where it looks like a duck, it quacks like a duck, so until it gives birth to a chicken I'll assume its a duck.

    Yes, its possible he's fooling us all but I don't think its very likely. What seems likely is he's a bit of a cook and a lot of a fool who got himself into a difficult situation and did quite a lot of inadvertent harm because of it.

    NK also doesn't offer to trade its Japanese citizens that have been kidnapped and who are clearly prisoners as well. The lack of negotiation on the part of North Korea does not establish that they are not prisoners.
    Reading his story it just doesn't come over like he was a prisoner. He wasn't exactly free, but no on in NK really is. But he had a job teaching English and helping their spies out, given a wife and that sort of thing. It just doesn't smack of what you do with a prisoner or how a prisoner behaves. Bergdhal on the other hand was used in all the usual prisoner ways: Ransom videos with weird statements that sound like they were written by someone who speaks English only poorly. The usual ransom demands and so forth and no record of him participating in any other way.

    Still, the full story is going to come out here so we can only know for certain by wait and see. At this point the case is just much much stronger for him being a prisoner much like the case for the NK guy is pretty weak on surface.

    But that doesn't apply to deserters, that applies to soldiers who are wounded, killed or trapped behind enemy lines, not those who voluntarily left. The Army's policy historically has been to shoot them. More recently our policy has been to ignore them. We don't go searching for deserters in the US. We don't protect them from civilian trial or the consequences of the decisions they make once abandoning their post here, I'm not sure why it would be any different there.
    Are you sure about that? My impression is we have a "No one left behind" policy that is pretty iron clad deserter or no. We almost always try to try soldiers ourselves. Its true civilians that get in legal trouble abroad often have to face the music, but not always.

    I'm open to this though, if you can show me how we generally leave military deserters to their fate in other countries I can be pretty easily convinced. I'm mostly going by official statements I hear when this story is discussed.

    I agree, and as I said I was part of that group, but that was largely because we hadn't heard the full story on the situation. The question isn't whether or not people were justified seeking his return, it is whether now, given all the information, that was a good decision.
    Fair enough. For my part, knowing what I know, and if I didn't have political concerns, I'd let him stay in the bed he made for himself. Were I in the political situation.. I'd go for a less dramatic trade and honestly make it clear tot he Talliban he just wasn't that valuable and publish the contents of the investigation. I'd have some seriously pissed families on my ass, and possibly a lot of flack from the armed forces, but I think it would be good strategy to lower his perceived value before negotiating.
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  16. #35
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    Re: SGT Bowe Bergdahl exchange

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    Well, words case would be that he did know because it was in a military report and there was evidence that Bergdahl was on a mission from Obama to hatch this plot all along.
    Hmm, I'm not sure what scenario you think I'm presenting as a worst case. I certainly never implied that SGT Bergdahl was on some kind of mission for President Obama.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sig
    But lets take your worst case, I agree that Obama has deniability there. But if he has deniability or more specifically didn't know, then we still have an apparent primary motivation simply to "bring the boys home". If He doesn't know Bergdhal is a traitor, then motivation #1 remains getting a POW back home and not closing gitmo.
    Well remember the absolute worst case scenario was that the President did know (unlikely) that he was a traitor and in that case it would be likely (given the principle of charity) that his primary motivation was closing Gitmo.

    Let's dial it back a tiny bit though and assume the President didn't know, that all he knew is what seems hard to dispute here, that SGT Bergdahl was a deserter. Given the policy of not negotiating for deserters (as highlighted above, we also don't negotiate for them when they end up in prison for example) it would seem that either a) the President has decided to dramatically alter the policy on desertion or b) was using this as a convenient way to lower the count of people in Gitmo by removing 5 of the most likely to be objected to if released in another manner.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sig
    I'm not sure much of any of the information we have comes from truly reliable sources. Perhaps that secret report but that's about it.
    I'm not sure why the personal testimony of people in his unit would not be reliable. Or the reports from the Washington Post about an American seeking out the taliban. Both of those seem somewhat credible to me, at least as credible as a leaked 15-6 with no validation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sig
    What seems likely is he's a bit of a cook and a lot of a fool who got himself into a difficult situation and did quite a lot of inadvertent harm because of it.
    I think this is probably the most likely case as well (though I think the defector case, given his family situation and statements is more likely than the total innocent scenario).

    Let's operate on that scenario for a minute.

    SGT Bergdahl is a guy with some odd notions about the world and decided to take off from his unit. He deserts from them in a combat situation and seeks out Taliban forces (not sure why, best case scenario is that he was simply seeking passage). They link up with him and at some point thereafter it becomes clear to SGT Bergdahl that this isn't going to come out like he hoped and he finds himself a captive.

    Given that scenario, a deserter in a combat situation (a decision that got between 5 and 14 people killed, something reasonably expected), why are we risking any national security as part of a trade (even if that risk is relatively low, as I believe it to be)?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sig
    Reading his story it just doesn't come over like he was a prisoner.
    He stated that he was scared to leave because they would kill him, that sounds a lot like a prisoner. He also had to make statements attempting to convince other Americans to come north. I'm not sure his work teaching english should be categorized as a "job" in that it wasn't something he asked to do, it was what they assigned him to do. His japanese wife was an assistant at that camp who had been kidnapped from Japan.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sig
    Are you sure about that? My impression is we have a "No one left behind" policy that is pretty iron clad deserter or no.
    About as sure as one can be yes. I was a company commander of a rear detachment (those who didn't deploy) while on active duty and so I was assigned all those who were AWOL and (after 30 days) became deserters. I was even assigned a guy who turned himself in later. The army takes no action in deserter cases. Once they are dropped from roles, we wash our hands of them. Hell we had a guy who was arrested for theft and the Sheriff called me to ask if we wanted to seek jurisdiction. We declined, once you leave us, you are on your own.

    As for examples, we generally haven't been engaged in conflicts where that kind of thing was possible. Vietnam was the most recent and there were 40 or so deserters who were dropped from roles in Vietnam itself. The military made no specific attempt to get their return and didn't ping the North Koreans on their status as part of prisoner exchange, some were turned over as part of that process, many weren't. http://www.miafacts.org/aa.htm
    "Suffering lies not with inequality, but with dependence." -Voltaire
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  17. #36
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    Re: SGT Bowe Bergdahl exchange

    Quote Originally Posted by Squatch347 View Post
    And who would gain from that? Additionally, this misses the point. What was the "political purpose" of these soldiers to conduct "character assassination?"
    You're saying democrats aren't interested in spending money on government health care?


    Quote Originally Posted by Squatch347 View Post
    3) The Washington Post (hardly a conservative mouthpiece) interviews LNs in the area Bergdahl disappeared. They tell reporters that they saw the American acting strangly, asking for someone who spoke English and how he could get in touch with the Taliban.
    "And he seemed to be deliberately heading for Taliban strongholds, they say."http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/...o-their-midst/

    I don't see anything in there about him "asking...how he could get in touch with the Taliban"
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    Re: SGT Bowe Bergdahl exchange

    Quote Originally Posted by CowboyX View Post
    You're saying democrats aren't interested in spending money on government health care?
    You'll have to elaborate. Are you saying that these soldiers were acting on behalf of democrats to distract from the VA scandal?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cowboy
    I don't see anything in there about him "asking...how he could get in touch with the Taliban"
    To clarify, since you only quoted a small section of what I was saying. I was pointing out that radio intercepts noted that an American was asking how to get in touch with the taliban and that that corroborates the statements of Afghan villagers as to his intent.

    And he seemed to be deliberately heading for Taliban strongholds, they say....“They tried to tell him not to go there, that it is dangerous. But he kept going over the mountain. The villagers tried to give him water and bread, but he didn’t take it,” said Ibrahim Manikhel, the district’s intelligence chief.

    “We think he probably was high after smoking hashish,” Manikhel said. “Why would an American want to find the Taliban?”

    IE he was there for some period of time they discussed where he was headed to, they warned him it was dangerous, but he persisted. The last statement doesn't make any sense unless SGT Bergdahl made some intonation that he was attempting to find the Taliban.
    "Suffering lies not with inequality, but with dependence." -Voltaire
    "Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.” -G.K. Chesterton
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    Re: SGT Bowe Bergdahl exchange

    Quote Originally Posted by Squatch347 View Post

    To clarify, since you only quoted a small section of what I was saying. I was pointing out that radio intercepts noted that an American was asking how to get in touch with the taliban and that that corroborates the statements of Afghan villagers as to his intent.

    So your "relatively independent statements" aren't independent at all, you're using them to corroborate each other.

    ---------- Post added at 12:44 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:42 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Squatch347 View Post

    “We think he probably was high after smoking hashish,” Manikhel said. “Why would an American want to find the Taliban?”[/indent]

    IE he was there for some period of time they discussed where he was headed to, they warned him it was dangerous, but he persisted. The last statement doesn't make any sense unless SGT Bergdahl made some intonation that he was attempting to find the Taliban.
    Manikhel wasn't even there. It makes perfect sense since he is operating on heresay. It's nothing but speculation.

    ---------- Post added at 12:47 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:44 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Squatch347 View Post
    You'll have to elaborate. Are you saying that these soldiers were acting on behalf of democrats to distract from the VA scandal?
    The VA "scandal" belongs to the republicans. Are they not the one's who care so strongly about the troops?
    "Real Boys Kiss Boys" -M.L.

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    Re: SGT Bowe Bergdahl exchange

    Quote Originally Posted by CowboyX View Post
    So your "relatively independent statements" aren't independent at all, you're using them to corroborate each other.

    ---------- Post added at 12:44 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:42 AM ----------



    Manikhel wasn't even there. It makes perfect sense since he is operating on heresay. It's nothing but speculation.

    ---------- Post added at 12:47 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:44 AM ----------



    The VA "scandal" belongs to the republicans. Are they not the one's who care so strongly about the troops?
    Are you implying that Democrats don't care about the quality of health care of U.S. veterans?
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    Re: SGT Bowe Bergdahl exchange

    Quote Originally Posted by eye4magic View Post
    Are you implying that Democrats don't care about the quality of health care of U.S. veterans?

    I don't have to, the right wing run media does it all the time...not only their health care, according to conservatives/republicans, whatever, democrats don't care about vets at all.
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