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?
Senate Majority leader Reid on Bergdahl prisoner swap/release of Gitmo prisoners: "I'm glad to get rid of these five people."
— Kara Rowland (@kararowland) June 3, 2014
Surely Obama’s pal from Illinois, Dick Durbin, will join Reid in backing him up on this. Right?
Sen. Durbin won't say if Gitmo 5/Bergdahl deal was a good one. "I just don't know enough about it," he tells me.
— John McCormack (@McCormackJohn) June 3, 2014
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.