Harry Reid on freed Taliban prisoners: “I’m glad to get rid of these five people”

posted at 6:01 pm on June 3, 2014 by Allahpundit

Of course he is. The point of all this, again, was to set a precedent for emptying Gitmo later this year. Obama just made a really bad miscalculation in choosing the precedent to set. Reid will still defend it, though, because he’s an old crank willing to say anything for the party, even supporting amnesty for five degenerate Taliban killers. It’s one thing for him to do it, it’s another for more vulnerable Democrats to follow suit. Who wants to join Dingy in unlocking some cells and handing over imprisoned jihadis?

Mark Pryor? Anyone?

Surely Obama’s pal from Illinois, Dick Durbin, will join Reid in backing him up on this. Right?

Reid told reporters today that he got a heads up from the White House on Friday that the Bergdahl deal was going down. Literally no one else in Congress appears to have been given notice, which makes me think he’s simply lying here to make it seem like Obama did in fact make some half-assed attempt to give the legislature advance warning. In reality, though, O’s been blacking them out on Bergdahl for years:

Typically the party leaders and top intelligence members receive higher levels of briefings than rank-and-file members — but two sources familiar with the issue, one Democrat and one Republican, said that the administration’s Bergdahl briefings had largely dried up by the beginning of 2012.

“It was a conscious decision not to engage with Congress,” a Republican source said, recounting radio silence each time an inquiry was sent to the White House regarding the status of Bergdahl negotiations. That source described a sharp contrast with the White House’s disclosure on Bergdahl to the killing of Osama bin Laden, in which top members of Congress received regular outreach from the the White House well in advance of U.S. actions.

The Democratic source said that word on Bergdahl came shortly before President Barack Obama gave a statement in the Rose Garden regarding his release. The staffer said regular Hill briefings ceased about 30 months ago, which jibes with House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers’s assertion on Tuesday that Congress had received no briefings on Bergdahl since 2011.

The best Carl Levin could do to defend Obama’s failure to give Congress proper notice of the deal was to claim that O kinda sorta gave them notice back in December when he stated “he intended to exercise his powers as commander in chief, if necessary, ‘to act swiftly in conducting negotiations with foreign countries regarding the circumstances of detainee transfers.’” That’s cute, but that’s not notice of a specific detainee transfer; it’s just a mundane restatement of Obama’s view of his own prerogatives as commander-in-chief. It’s like you telling me to give you a week’s notice before I drop by for a visit, and then I show up unannounced one day and remind you that I told you last year I might stop by out of the blue eventually. In no meaningful sense is that “notice,” but partisan politics are what they are so Levin has to choke down this crap sandwich and smile as he does it. Be happy he’s not clapping along with Reid that he’s glad to see savages returned to the battlefield opposite American troops.

One more wrinkle from springing these guys, courtesy of Josh Rogin: If Bergdahl is now suddenly a POW — a term the White House hasn’t used to describe him until this week — are Taliban members held at Gitmo also POWs?

During the five years of Bergdahl’s imprisonment, despite discussing his case in several public briefings, State Department and Defense Department officials made sure not to refer to Bergdahl as a “prisoner of war.” The reason, according to a senior administration official at the time, was that U.S. policy dictated that the rules of treatment for “prisoners of war” under the Geneva Convention did not apply to the conflict with al Qaeda and the Taliban. There was concern that if the U.S. called Bergdahl a “prisoner of war,” the Taliban would say its soldiers in U.S. custody were “prisoners of war,” as well, and would demand Geneva protections…

“It rips open an issue that we’ve put aside for 10 years, which is that some of the people we have imprisoned could be entitled to some Geneva protections,” said Eugene Fidell, a professor of military law at Yale University. “The Obama campaign was critical of the Bush administration going in, but the actual changes in how the Obama treated these guys as opposed to the Bush administration are few.”

It’s not necessarily true that the Taliban are POWs for Geneva purposes (they don’t wear uniforms, for one thing) but it may be that the White House now wants them perceived that way. That’s a perfect excuse to repatriate Afghan jihadis as the war winds down this year. If they’re legit POWs, we’ve got to send them back as the conflict ends. That too is part of the Guantanamo-emptying precedent Obama’s trying to set with the Bergdahl deal, even if he isn’t eager for political reasons to start using the term “POWs” for detainees in his public remarks.

He’s down to 41 percent approval on foreign policy, by the way, and that’s according to a poll that was conducted before the Bergdahl exchange. Look out below.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

Who asked you?

rogerb on June 3, 2014 at 7:45 PM

; )

Bmore on June 3, 2014 at 8:05 PM

LMAO! Like he was personally taking care of them!

He must be confused with stealing campaign money and “giving” it to his grandchildren.

wsucoug on June 3, 2014 at 8:05 PM

And with that comment from Reid, I can only say this:

What an effing dumb_a_s_s. He is a certifiable loon.

RI_Red on June 3, 2014 at 8:21 PM

Below is a partial weighing in by Andrew McCarthy at “The Corner”:

Of course, on the straight legal question, hypocrisy is beside the point: If the statutory restrictions in the NDAA are unconstitutional, President Obama is within his rights to ignore them. The fact that doing so demonstrates the mendacity of his complaints about Bush says much about his character but it is legally irrelevant.

Perhaps because he knows this, though, the president is soft-selling his constitutional authority to ignore laws that improperly restrict his powers to transfer wartime detainees to other countries. The Journal emphasizes that the president asserted his constitutional objection in a fleeting statement back when he signed the NDAA. The editors have to go back to the signing statement because the administration has been reluctant, in the specific context of the Taliban release, to declare that Obama—in Bush/Cheney style—is relying on Article II war powers to ignore statutes. Administration officials instead blather about some purported presidential power to waive Congress’s restrictions if the president unilaterally perceives exigent circumstances. That is, as with Obamacare, the immigration laws, and other enactments, Obama is claiming the despotic power to amend, rewrite and ignore the NDAA at his whim.

To my mind, the dispute is nearly irrelevant. The vital point here is that the president has returned five senior commanders to the Taliban and Haqqani network while those violent jihadist organizations are still conducting offensive attacks against American troops, who are still in harm’s way and still conducting combat operations pursuant to a congressional authorization of military force.

These terrorists were not exchanged in connection with a final peace settlement in which it would be appropriate to exchange detainees—after all, if there is no more war, even unlawful enemy combatant prisoners must be released unless they can be charged with crimes.

While the president is obviously abandoning the war effort, it has not been fully abandoned yet. The Taliban and Haqqani have not surrendered or settled; they are still working hard to kill our troops. It is thus mind-bogglingly irresponsible for the commander-in-chief to replenish their upper ranks. The reason the laws of war permit enemy combatants to be detained until the conclusion of hostilities is humane: when enemy forces are depleted, they have a greater incentive to surrender, bringing a swifter, less bloody conclusion to the war. By giving the enemy back its most effective commanders, Obama, by contrast, endangers our forces, potentially extends the war, and otherwise makes it far more likely that the war will end on terms injurious to American interests.

As I demonstrate in Faithless Execution, high crimes and misdemeanors are not primarily statutory offenses. They are the political wrongs of high public officials—the president, in particular—in whom great public trust is reposed. When the commander-in-chief replenishes the enemy at a time when (a) the enemy is still attacking our forces and (b) the commander-in-chief has hamstrung our forces with unconscionable combat rules-of-engagement that compromise their ability to defend themselves, that is a profound dereliction of duty.

That’s what we ought to be outraged about. The chitter-chatter about a 30-day notice requirement is a sideshow. Yes, the president has once again violated a statute. And as I said in yesterday’s column, he undoubtedly did so in order to get the swap done before public and congressional protest could mount. But in the greater scheme of things, that’s a footnote to the real travesty.

And now Obysmal is apologizing for not notifying Congress ahead of time because O operates under the premise that it is easier and more expedient to seek forgiveness than to seek permission.

onlineanalyst on June 3, 2014 at 8:51 PM

What came first, Bergdahl or Dear Leader’s desire to release the big five….?

d1carter on June 3, 2014 at 6:09 PM

Is it even plausible to anyone not writing comedy for Jay Leno that Obama began with concern for Bergdahl’s release and grudgingly conceded the Gitmo 5 as the price? More likely, some Ben Rhodes/ValJar-like sycophant brought up Bergdahl as a passable trade-off to make the release happen and Obama’s all-politics-all-the-time antenna signaled twofer. In his eagerness to neutralize the VA mess with a military-related triumph, however, he omitted his homework on the circumstances of Bergdahl’s “capture from the battlefield” and, as is his wont, ran to the sound of the guns glory.

Barnestormer on June 3, 2014 at 9:00 PM

Good one, Mad Magazine!

KS Rex on June 3, 2014 at 9:07 PM

Too bad this prisoner swap didn’t include the condition that the Taliban absolutely had to take Harry Reidickulous in order to get their prisoners back or no deal.

stukinIL4now on June 3, 2014 at 10:00 PM

“I’m glad to get rid of these five people”

I wanted to get rid of them for a long time. You wouldn’t let me, Dingy. Of course, my idea of getting rid of them involved a tribunal followed by a rope around the neck. Hence your resistance.

GWB on June 4, 2014 at 9:07 AM

Sen. Reied may have been happy to gotten rid of the top five terrorist leaders leave Gitmo. However with his demands for more lenient immigration laws he should not be surprised when they show up in Las Vegas to blow up such symbols of Western decadence.

Such targets could be the “Stratosphere” (a target for many Hollywood production companies) or the Pyramid/Sphinx because it is a slap in the face of Islamic/Muslim beliefs. Or for that matter any of the other glitzy resorts (how about the New York New York and Eiffle Tower, etc.) to serve as warnings to other States or Countries that they are in control underground, with free reign of who and where they want to kill.

MSGTAS on June 4, 2014 at 9:40 AM

Let’s let Charlie Manson out; it would sure be nice to be rid of him.

Axeman on June 4, 2014 at 9:41 AM

Reid’s words will probably come back to haunt him one day.

zoyclem on June 4, 2014 at 12:10 PM

Senate Majority leader Reid on Bergdahl prisoner swap/release of Gitmo prisoners: “I’m glad to get rid of these five people.”

Will no one rid us of this meddlesome putz?

wagnert in atlanta on June 4, 2014 at 5:59 PM

Harry Reid on freed Taliban prisoners: “I’m glad to get rid of these five people”

The feeling is mutual. Those five people would like to get rid of Harry Reid, as well as every other American.

Steve Z on June 4, 2014 at 6:11 PM

Comment pages: 1 2