New WH spin on Taliban 5 swap: Hey, it was Hagel’s call

posted at 9:01 am on June 10, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Old and busted: The Taliban 5 swap was a demonstration of authority by a Commander in Chief who isn’t afraid to act and make the final decision. New hotness: Hey, Chuck Hagel had the final call on the swap! As criticism mounts on Barack Obama over the decision to release five high-ranking and dangerous Taliban commanders in exchange for an American soldier, the White House shifted gears last night in its first briefing to the House — and attempted to shift blame as well:

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel – not President Obama – executed the administration’s final call to proceed with the prisoner exchange of five ranking Taliban detainees for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, administration officials told Congress today in a classified briefing today.

“They indicated [it was] Secretary Hagel [who made the final call],” House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon, R-California, told reporters following the briefing Monday evening. “It was the president of the United States that came out [in the Rose Garden] with the Bergdahls and took all the credit and now that there’s been a little pushback he’s moving away from it and it’s Secretary Hagel?”

Really? Hagel himself told Meet the Press that the decision process went the other direction — that Hagel recommended the deal, but that Obama had to make the final decision. Which one is lying, and why?

That’s not the only part of the story under construction at the moment, either. Recall that the White House insisted that it could not comply with the law requiring 30 days’ notification and consultation of Congress before any detainee release from Guantanamo Bay’s detention facility because of the sensitive nature and speed of the negotiations. Had the story leaked, the White House insisted, Bergdahl’s life would have been in danger, although the parameters of this deal had been discussed openly by both sides for years — including Bergdahl’s own parents, and the Taliban. So how many people did get informed of the deal? Oh … 80 or 90:

Several congressmen told THE WEEKLY STANDARD that they remain frustrated that “about 80 or 90″ people within the administration knew about the Bergdahl trade before it was announced on May 31, particularly considering none of the appropriate committee chairs or even House and Senate leadership were notified beforehand, save for Harry Reid.

“They couldn’t brief a single member of Congress because they didn’t trust us, yet the Qataris knew about it,” said Mike Pompeo, a Republican from Kansas. “It’s phenomenal.”

Even one Democrat who supports the deal found that information troubling:

If anything, the briefing caused some lawmakers to become more upset after being told that 80 to 90 officials within the White House, Pentagon, State Department, and other agencies had knowledge of the deal while key members of Congress didn’t.

“I think it’s part of an erosion of the relationship between Congress and the Executive,” said Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash. “I support the swap, I mean the president made a very difficult decision, but I am concerned about the growing distance between the executive branch and Congress, and I think some consultation sooner would have been appropriate.”

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., said the White House’s handling of Bergdahl’s release is “a pattern, and they need to learn that we actually matter under the Constitution.”

“It’s hard to trust this administration on anything they tell you,” Walden said.

Success has a thousand fathers, but failure is an orphan.  Earlier today, a new CBS poll showed that the White House has created yet another failure in the Taliban 5 swap, and a new poll from Pew shows very similar data. The deal is largely unpopular, but more so among veterans:

Overall, 43% say it was the wrong thing for the Obama administration to exchange five Taliban prisoners for captive soldier Bergdahl, while fewer (34%) say it was the right thing to do; 23% do not offer an opinion. …

Overall, 33% of the public says someone in their household has served in the U.S. military or the military reserves at some point. Among this group, 55% say the exchange of five Taliban prisoners was the wrong thing to do, compared with just 26% who say it was the right thing to do. Non-veteran households are evenly divided (37% right thing, 38% wrong thing).

Furthermore, veteran households are somewhat more likely to say they are angry with Bergdahl (23%) than sympathetic toward him (12%), though most (57%) say they hold neither feeling toward him.

And when it comes to U.S. responsibility toward Bergdahl, 37% of veteran households say the country was not obligated to do all it could to secure his release because he walked away from his post; 47% say the U.S. has a responsibility to do all it can to return an American captive soldier, no matter what the circumstances. Non-veteran households are more likely to back U.S. efforts to free captive soldiers, regardless of the circumstances (60%-26%).

Respondents provided another overwhelming majority of support for following the law on Congressional notification, too:

President Obama has received criticism for failing to notify Congress 30 days in advance of the transfer of five Guantanamo Bay prisoners in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl. When asked to think generally about situations like the Bergdahl exchange, most Americans (64%) say “the president should be required to inform Congress in advance of decisions like these”; just 30% say he “should have the flexibility to make decisions like these without informing Congress in advance.”

This view is nearly unanimous among Republicans (87%-11%), and 67% of independents also say the president should be required to inform Congress in advance of decisions like these. Democrats are more divided, with a narrow 53%-majority saying the president should have the flexibility to act without informing Congress in advance, while 44% say he should be required to notify Congress.

The more they talk and shift their stories, the more the Obama administration digs the hole even deeper.


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Comment pages: 1 2

GarandFan on June 10, 2014 at 10:12 AM

.
Did he just see it on the news, for the first time?

listens2glenn on June 10, 2014 at 10:14 AM

No, Val Jarret just informed him about it, it’s on his schedule to view sometime next week, after he gets to the bottom of why Hagel released those terrorists from GitMo…

oscarwilde on June 10, 2014 at 10:22 AM

Miss Lamar

Schadenfreude on June 10, 2014 at 10:23 AM

Of course they had to blame Hagel. He’s the only pseudo-Republican they had. It was hard to blame Bush, of course he did start the “illegal” wars so Boooosh!

sandee on June 10, 2014 at 10:23 AM

Who the hell do these clowns think they are kidding now? Everybody knows that Hagel cannot even use the restroom without White House approval.

savage24 on June 10, 2014 at 10:27 AM

Is Hagel the only guy left who hasn’t yet been blamed for something? This is so transparently stupid I’m mildly surprised they tried it.

Bishop on June 10, 2014 at 10:29 AM

Obama only lies when his lips are moving.

Even as we speak, he’s ordering up more children for the Mexian Munchin Migration.

Obama is intentionally weakening our nation.

kingsjester on June 10, 2014 at 10:29 AM

Munchkin

kingsjester on June 10, 2014 at 10:30 AM

Democrats are more divided, with a narrow 53%-majority saying the president OBAME should have the flexibility to act without informing Congress in advance, while 44% say he 100% say a Republican President should be required to notify Congress.

FTFY.

VegasRick on June 10, 2014 at 10:30 AM

To save myself from total breakdown, when this phrase comes up I think of the old Bridgestone tire commercial with the cute girls…

eon on June 10, 2014 at 9:38 AM

HTH. (SFW.)

Tsar of Earth on June 10, 2014 at 10:37 AM

$100 bucks to the first GOP candidate that campaigns using Harry Reid saying, “This war is lost” , but gets it changed to, “This Presidency is lost”. Then we move on to, (for Hillarys campaign) “Hillary Clinton’s credibilty is lost”, and then, “Susan Rice is just lost”.

Then take any of the above statements and insert anyone from the Obama administration into any portion of it.

BettyRuth on June 10, 2014 at 10:44 AM

It’s all just a smoke screen. Obama needs to empty Gitmo, and he will be able to make the case for releasing most of the detainees held. He has a group, however, for whom no case can possibly be made for release, and they are his biggest headache. So, let use them for a “prisoner exchange.”

The Gitmo 5 are utterly unrelated to Bergdahl. Bergdahl was released after payment of a ransom.

Obama knew from the start that this was going to be controversial. He calculated that the controversy would provide smoke screen to the real issues, and he was right.

It’s the old Alinsky trick of using the enemy’s strength against them. And its working. He got the worst 5 guys out of Gitmo, and that was the point all along. Bergdahl is just a smoke screen of controversy.

theosdad on June 10, 2014 at 11:06 AM

New WH spin on Taliban 5 swap: Hey, it was Hagel’s call

Too funny for words. (Unlike the situtation in Mosul, which is not the slightest bit funny.)

We’ve gone from a huge public ceremony to take credit, to defending himself from criticism by mouthing platitudes he doesn’t believe about “leaving no man behind,” to accusing his critics of racism, to accusing the military people speaking out against it of ‘swiftboating,’ to suggesting Bergdahl’s team members were psycopaths, to saying, “I don’t apologize, because it had to be done,” to ….. saying “Hagel did it!!”

There Goes the Neighborhood on June 10, 2014 at 11:15 AM

So apparently, if Hagel had recommended not to make the deal, Obama would have been fine leaving Bergdahl behind contrary to previous claims.

Again, what evidence do we have that this guy is “smart”?

WisRich on June 10, 2014 at 9:09 AM

~~~~~~

This is such an EXCELLENT point, and oh how I WISH someone in the media would bring this up!!

ellifint on June 10, 2014 at 11:22 AM

It will not be long before Marie Harf gets the blame.

Techster64 on June 10, 2014 at 11:35 AM

If Hagel had one shred of integrity, he’d VERY publicly resign and turn a blowtorch on Obama.

But he doesn’t and he won’t. He’s a dedicated cookie jar republican, just like the rest.

Harbingeing on June 10, 2014 at 11:56 AM

Hegemon’s reign could be hilariously lampooned by a comedy skit that riffs off “The Most Interesting Man in the World”. You know, “he speaks fluent French, in Russian,” or, “He makes orange juice…out of apples!” It could be titled “The Smartest Man in the World” and the tagline would necessarily be: “Stay Stupid My Friends.” The tipping point for this Administration has long passed. Humor would sink this ship of State faster than the Titanic. Look at this lineup! Hagel? Jarrett? Holder? Biden? Pelosi? Reid? Can anyone devise a more hilarious cast with such comic potential? The next two years could produce some of the loudest laughter this country has seen in years if only some semi-talented comedians (and producers) would see the opportunity.

Mr Mxyzptlk on June 10, 2014 at 12:01 PM

Man. You mean there’s still room under the Obama bus for more throwaway officials?

RebeccaH on June 10, 2014 at 12:12 PM

Wait for it…….Dear Leader has complete confidence in Hagel.

d1carter on June 10, 2014 at 12:14 PM

im sure the commentors on this site will find at least a dozen differant ways to deny obama any credit for this or spin it as a bad thing.

ThisIsYourBrainOnKoch on May 31, 2014 at 5:33 PM

Looks like even Obama is trying to deny Obama any ‘credit’ for this.

slickwillie2001 on June 10, 2014 at 12:15 PM

Liberals are crazy.

ama on June 10, 2014 at 12:19 PM

Reporter: “How do you feel anout breaking the law that required you to notify Congress 30 days prior to such an act?

Obama: “I never liked that law.”

Obama: “You never leave a man behind – I brought home an American.”

Obama: “I have NOTHING to apologize for.”

Obama: “Umm…the terrorists said they would kill Bergdahl if this went public & I couldn’t trust Congress…”

Obama: “The members of Bergdahl’s unit speaking out against him are LIARS!”

Obama: “Umm…It was all HAGEL‘s fault!”

(…Face Palm)

easyt65 on June 10, 2014 at 12:31 PM

New WH spin on Taliban 5 swap: Hey, it was Hagel’s call

…these people are comedians?

KOOLAID2 on June 10, 2014 at 12:36 PM

Hagel? Really? no doubt he thought it was a good idea, but who is the CIC? He made a “hard choice” or did he? He makes a tough choice if it is good PR, it is somebody else’s fault if it is bad PR. my contempt for this man knows no bounds.

warmairfan on June 10, 2014 at 12:44 PM

Who’s on first?!

Tard on June 10, 2014 at 12:48 PM

Serves him right.

He probs had to sign a pledge that he’d be willing to do something like this in order to get his job.
If he didn’t, then he was just too stupid to realize that he’d be used for roadkill, if necessary.

avagreen on June 10, 2014 at 12:56 PM

Who’s on first?!

Tard on June 10, 2014 at 12:48 PM

This season the answer is NOBODY

LarryinLA on June 10, 2014 at 1:02 PM

Isn’t this just typical behavior for this White House. They couldn’t blame THIS one on Bush…..so….hey……..Hagel will do. And after all he IS a Republican !

kjatexas on June 10, 2014 at 1:15 PM

Who came up with this defense of actions? It is the same as Hilliary with “I hire People to do that” and Obama I higher the SOD to do State Department work.

jpcpt03 on June 10, 2014 at 1:25 PM

It’s all just a smoke screen. Obama needs to empty Gitmo, and he will be able to make the case for releasing most of the detainees held. He has a group, however, for whom no case can possibly be made for release, and they are his biggest headache. So, let use them for a “prisoner exchange.”

The Gitmo 5 are utterly unrelated to Bergdahl. Bergdahl was released after payment of a ransom.

Obama knew from the start that this was going to be controversial. He calculated that the controversy would provide smoke screen to the real issues, and he was right.

It’s the old Alinsky trick of using the enemy’s strength against them. And its working. He got the worst 5 guys out of Gitmo, and that was the point all along. Bergdahl is just a smoke screen of controversy.

theosdad on June 10, 2014 at 11:06 AM

This. Dear God, This.

wvose on June 10, 2014 at 1:52 PM

But Mr. Hagel said that Obama Made Ultimate Decision

Nevsky on June 10, 2014 at 2:08 PM

The buck stops anywhere but here! —Obama

sadsushi on June 10, 2014 at 2:32 PM

Old and busted: The Taliban 5 swap was a demonstration of authority by a Commander in Chief who isn’t afraid to act and make the final decision. New hotness: Hey, Chuck Hagel had the final call on the swap!

A-yup

Newtie and the Beauty on June 10, 2014 at 3:04 PM

Hagel even looks dumb. Recall obamas best and brightest…any?

StevC on June 10, 2014 at 5:59 PM

If you work for Obama you better expect to be thrown under the bus

jaywemm on June 11, 2014 at 10:30 PM

Comment pages: 1 2