Patterico's Pontifications

5/31/2014

L.A. Times Celebrates Trade of Five Taliban GTMO Detainees for U.S. Soldier — Without Telling You Who Those Detainees Are

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 3:41 pm

This is on the L.A. Times main site right now:

Screen Shot 2014-05-31 at 3.21.32 PM

Here is the beginning of the story:

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a captive of the Taliban for nearly five years, has been released to the U.S. military in Afghanistan in exchange for the release of five Afghan prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Bergdahl, an Idaho native, was 23 went he went missing in June 30, 2009, in the eastern Afghan province of Paktika, near the border with Pakistan.

President Obama says U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has been released.

“On behalf of the American people, I was honored to call his parents to express our joy that they can expect his safe return, mindful of their courage and sacrifice throughout this ordeal,” President Obama said in a statement released by the White House. Obama is now scheduled to speak from the White House at 3:15 p.m.

Robert Bergdahl, the soldier’s father, tweeted his thanks Saturday afternoon.

“To every single person who worked so hard to make this recovery possible, WE LOVE YOU! GOD IS GREAT AND HIS MERCY ENDURES FOREVER!” wrote @bobbergdahl.

You can keep reading the article for details about the “five Afghan prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba” — but you will not find those details. The released Afghans are mentioned only one more time in the story:

Bergdahl, now 28, was released to American custody Saturday evening, local time, in Afghanistan. The transfers happened after a week of intense negotiations mediated by the gover nment of Qatar, which will take custody of the Afghans. Several dozen U.S. special forces were involved in the exchange, which took place in eastern Afghanistan, near the Pakistani border.

There is absolutely nothing in the article about who these detainees are. Are they dangerous? Do they pose a risk to the U.S.? The L.A. Times seems remarkably incurious about the answers to these rather obvious questions. The reporter is far too busy telling us how wonderful it is that Bergdahl is home.

The answers can be found, though — of all places, at the Daily Beast (!). The article is titled Here are the Taliban Terrorists Obama Released to Free POW Bowe Bergdahl. The Beast deserves your click to read the whole thing, but I’ll give you a teaser:

The five Guantanamo detainees released by the Obama administration in exchange for America’s last prisoner of war in Afghanistan, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, are bad guys. They are top Taliban commanders the group has tried to free for more than a decade.

According to a 2008 Pentagon dossier on Guantanamo Bay inmates, all five men released were considered to be a high risk to launch attacks against the United States and its allies if they were liberated. The exchange shows that the Obama administration was willing to pay a steep price, indeed, for Bergdahl’s freedom. The administration says they will be transferred to Qatar, which played a key role in the negotiations.

. . . .

While not as well known as Guantanamo inmates like 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the Taliban 5 were some of the worst outlaws in the U.S. war on terror. And their release will end up replenishing the diminished leadership ranks of the Afghan Taliban at a moment when the United States is winding down the war there.

“They are undoubtedly among the most dangerous Taliban commanders held at Guantanamo,” said Thomas Joscelyn, a senior editor at the Long War Journal who keeps a close watch on developments concerning the detainees left at the Guantanamo Bay prison.

Nobody can deny that it’s wonderful news to have a captive soldier home. But a publication needs to be honest about the tradeoffs.

Are you surprised to find that the Los Angeles Times has not been honest?

89 Responses to “L.A. Times Celebrates Trade of Five Taliban GTMO Detainees for U.S. Soldier — Without Telling You Who Those Detainees Are”

  1. That’s what’s known as a “rhetorical question.”

    Patterico (9c670f)

  2. You mean they’re not just innocent shepherds and religious students as the left has claimed all along?

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  3. It needs to be known that one of those Afghans is wanted for war crimes. For the mass killing of Shiites. I’m sure it says that at the link, if Tom Joscelyn is providing the information.

    Steve57 (61329d)

  4. One man’s terrorist is another man’s …. Oh what the hell !

    Mike K (cd7278)

  5. 5 for 1. Is that considered good negotiating these days? I am thrilled for Bowe and hope that he’s not been too badly damaged by this ordeal. But I shudder to think how many more kidnappings and ransom demands this may generate.

    elissa (ee6233)

  6. Camel up
    track them down
    on a wooden saddle
    lazer on target

    mg (31009b)

  7. I might be wrong here, so go easy, but didn’t he just wander off the premises one day. Isn’t that treason?

    Gazzer (0e6aeb)

  8. I would like to think that some government agency inoculated them against various diseases and at the same time injected some kind of GPS trackers under their skins without them knowing it. Seeing your leader constantly followed around by a small personal drone might deter terrorists more than hearing that he was dead. It might deter the five, too, if they figured out the drones could zap them, and anyone standing near them, at any time.

    Dr. Weevil (d80bf4)

  9. The five Guantanamo detainees released by the Obama administration in exchange for America’s last prisoner of war in Afghanistan, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, are bad guys.

    I wish I hadn’t become so cynical: Means to an end. Is this more about Obama wanting to go out with a bang rather than anything else? Mission accomplished.

    Dana (9a8f57)

  10. It is only a matter of time before they will be encountered on the ‘field of battle’, causing additional casualties to American and Allied Forces. Hopefully, they will be killed before that happens.
    We can only hope that when encountered they will be dealt with on a shoot first-ask questions later basis.

    askeptic (8ecc78)

  11. 5
    5 for 1. Is that considered good negotiating these days? …

    Compared to Israel releasing 1027 prisoners for Gilad Shalit?

    James B. Shearer (9233b4)

  12. Well, you are either willing to negotiate for a POW or not. If you are, no reason to think the Taliban would want anything less than a big win for them. As suggested above, if they have still been in GITMO, they are bad news.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  13. Gazzer @7, it might rise to the level of desertion, but it’s not treason in and of itself.

    Steve57 (61329d)

  14. The Obama Administration should offer protection or relocation to the Americans these terrorists dealt with at Guantanamo Bay — especially anyone who guarded them or could be known to them.

    David (b0b5ac)

  15. 5 for 1. Is that considered good negotiating these days?

    It should be mentioned that giving up a lot for a little in negotiations is something that the Republican Party “leadership” excels at. Whether that’s good or not is for each individual to decide…

    Blacque Jacques Shellacque (d3cdd0)

  16. Gazzer, I was stationed in Japan at the time and confirm this is, according to my memory, accurate.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Robert_Jenkins#Confirmation_and_return

    Charles Robert Jenkins (born February 18, 1940) is a former United States Army soldier who lived in North Korea from 1965 to 2004 after deserting from his unit and crossing the Korean Demilitarized Zone.

    …In South Korea, Jenkins was assigned to night patrols. As a result of fears that he would be transferred to combat duty in Vietnam, he grew depressed and anxious, and started drinking alcohol. On the night of January 4, 1965, after reportedly drinking ten beers, he set off on his nightly patrol of the Demilitarized Zone. In the early morning, he told his patrol that he was going to investigate a noise.[1]

    He subsequently crossed into North Korea and surrendered to forces there, in hopes of being sent to the USSR and then, through prisoner exchange, eventually returned to America. Shortly thereafter, North Korean propaganda declared that a U.S. sergeant had defected, and broadcast statements allegedly made by the defector, reportedly in stilted English. The U.S. Army claimed Jenkins wrote four letters stating his intention to defect (an allegation Jenkins denies); however, the original letters are reportedly lost. His relatives maintained throughout his absence that he was abducted.

    …After expressing a desire to put his conscience at rest, Jenkins reported on September 11, 2004 to Camp Zama in Japan. He reported in respectful military form, saluting the receiving military police officer.

    On November 3, Jenkins pled guilty to charges of desertion and aiding the enemy, but denied making disloyal or seditious statements – the latter charges were dropped. He was sentenced to 30 days’ confinement, received a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and benefits and was reduced in rank to E-1 private (the lowest rank in the US Army). He was released six days early, on November 27, 2004, for good behavior.

    Bergdahl will not face charges for treason, and if he had some wrongful motive that led to him being captured, it won’t be entirely excused. But five years in Taliban captivity will largely substitute for any imprisonment that might otherwise be imposed. As it did in Jenkins’ case.

    I’m not saying that is the case. Just that if it proves to be the case. But he won’t be charged with treason.

    Steve57 (61329d)

  17. 7.

    I might be wrong here, so go easy, but didn’t he just wander off the premises one day …

    Maybe, it is a little unclear.

    … Isn’t that treason?

    Not by itself. It would be being AWOL or desertion.

    James B. Shearer (9233b4)

  18. Right after 9-11, public sentiment made it fashionable to rally around the US and the sitting president (of course, George W Bush at the time). The way things are going with the bungler in the White House, it wouldn’t be all that unexpected if we got a more current “Pearl Harbor” version of that, which probably wouldn’t be such a horrible thing to the “blame America first” ethos and huge ego of Obama, and the increasingly listless, apathetic mindset of Americans everywhere.

    To all the Nidal Hasans both here and abroad, hey, this sitting duck is ordering up a big one from ‘ya!

    Mark (99b8fd)

  19. Mr. Shearer is correct. Which is why I said it could rise to the level of desertion @13. People who go AWOL (or in my service UA, for “unauthorized absence”) are classified as deserters after 30 days. But to prove they’re deserters at a court martial, you have to prove they never intended to return.

    So we had people who went UA because of personal problems with a girlfriend or something and they kept their ID cards, etc. So we couldn’t prove they never intended to return, so even if they were gone for more than 30 days they couldn’t be convicted of desertion.

    They thought the Navy would understand. Uhh, no, we all had girlfriends when we were 19 but, no, the Navy is not just going to understand and let it go.

    I hate to engage in this speculation because I have no idea what were the actual circumstances in the Bergdahl case. But if he went outside the wire intending to return then it doesn’t rise to desertion.

    And you’d have to have a lot of evidence to prove treason, which I don’t even see as within the realm of possibility.

    Steve57 (61329d)

  20. It’s amazing how these tools forever insist that proper journalism means to provide contextual notes inside “hard” news articles. Then, if said context may prove problematic for the favored ones, everything is reported in a vacuum. They become Joe Friday’s all.

    Ed from SFV (3400a5)

  21. Then there’s this from the AP:
    Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon of California and Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma said in a statement that Obama is required by law to notify Congress 30 days before any terrorists are transferred from the U.S. facility. They said Obama also is required to explain how the threat posed by such terrorists has been substantially mitigated.

    McKeon is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Inhofe is the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
    In response, the White House said it moved as quickly as possible given the opportunity that arose to secure Bergdahl’s release. Citing “these unique and exigent circumstances,” the White House said a decision was made to go ahead with the transfer despite the legal requirement of 30 days advance notice to Congress.

    elissa (ee6233)

  22. Thanks Steve and JBS for your responses. I see now that I should not have said treason, in this case. I apologize, and don’t get me wrong, I am very happy to have him back. I was just curious.

    Gazzer (0e6aeb)

  23. one thing’s for sure these Taliban fellers will be super-eager to get them a shiny new p.o.w. a.s.a.p.

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  24. Weren’t the guys who organized and led the Benghazi attack graduates of Club GITMO?

    ropelight (8c93a2)

  25. At least one was, ropelight. And we’ll hear from these five again, too.

    Steve57 (61329d)

  26. Yes, there was another fellow, Barrani, who’s kept a lower profile,

    http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2011/05/sufyan-bin-qumu.html

    narciso (3fec35)

  27. Good they got him back, but the equivalence thing and the fact that there’s nothing that suggests the Taliban will not use this hostage strategy to secure the release of a sizable contingent of Gitmo prisoners in the future.

    Colonel Haiku (fc1c1f)

  28. Citing “these unique and exigent circumstances,” the White House said a decision was made to go ahead with the transfer despite the legal requirement of 30 days advance notice to Congress.

    It seems there’s always an excuse with these guys…

    Blacque Jacques Shellacque (d3cdd0)

  29. Troubles me.

    Colonel Haiku (fc1c1f)

  30. Any folks having an expectation that TFG is subject to the laws of these United States should be henceforth disabused of that notion.

    Colonel Haiku (fc1c1f)

  31. President Momjeans
    your pathetic “leadership”
    and you ate a dog

    Colonel Haiku (079a08)

  32. Once again it gets back to this administration’s confusion between the concepts of “governing” and “ruling”. Of course, odds are that Valerie didn’t even know there is a requirement to notify congress in advance.

    elissa (ee6233)

  33. pilgrim you’d better
    cleanse your palate here comes your
    rare loin of dachshund

    Colonel Haiku (a2b90e)

  34. the rules don’t apply to food stamp

    but i tell you what one of these days it’s gonna bite him in his whore ass

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  35. In this case, the secretary, Chuck Hagel, acknowledged in a statement that he did not notify Congress ahead of time. When Mr. Obama signed a bill containing the latest version of the transfer restrictions into law, he issued a signing statement claiming that he could lawfully override them under his executive powers.

    “The executive branch must have the flexibility, among other things, to act swiftly in conducting negotiations with foreign countries regarding the circumstances of detainee transfers,” he wrote in the signing statement, adding that if the restrictions “operate in a manner that violates constitutional separation of powers principles, my administration will implement them in a manner that avoids the constitutional conflict.”

    Dana (9a8f57)

  36. 18 USC 2381
    Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

    I can see a charge of treason, but not against an Army Sgt. I’m not sure if I’m glad he’s back, or not. I suspect there will be a very high price to be paid in the future.

    htom (412a17)

  37. The NY Times, LA Times, WaPo and the AP are collectively (and I do mean collectively) PRAVDA.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  38. I’m glad he’s back, htom.

    No matter what any subsequent investigation proves.

    Whether he did nothing wrong or did everything wrong.

    That, to me, is a different question. What are the details of the deal?

    I’m compartmentalizing. Like in the old days.

    Steve57 (61329d)

  39. And when these 5 f*ckwits blow some stuff up, and they will, that will be a big price to pay, if indeed he was deserting.

    Gazzer (0e6aeb)

  40. I’m willing to be this deal has been on the table for some time. Why take it now?

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  41. they did a big raid to get bin laden but for this guy they just said hey terrorists what can we do you for?

    and the terrorists were like hey food stamp we need you to trot your whore ass over to Cuba and get five of our dearest BFFs, and you just send them over here for where they can kill some Americans… cool deal?

    and food stamp was like sounds good to me!

    And Chuck Hagel laughed cause behind food stamp on the big screen there was this funny IHOP commercial.

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  42. Kevin M, cuz it’s a foreign policy “win.”

    And Preezy Justin Bieber desperately needs a win.

    Steve57 (61329d)

  43. They just released 37000 illegal crimmigrants, so what difference, at this point, will another 5 make?

    Gazzer (0e6aeb)

  44. Here’s an interesting look at the administration’s shift in the negotiations back in 2012.

    The Obama administration, in a move aimed at reviving Afghan peace talks, has sweetened a proposed deal under which it would transfer Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay prison in exchange for a U.S. soldier held by Taliban allies in Pakistan.

    The revised proposal, a concession from an earlier U.S. offer, would alter the sequence of the move of five senior Taliban figures held for years at the U.S. military prison to the Gulf state of Qatar, sources familiar with the issue said.

    U.S. officials have hoped the prisoner exchange, proposed as a good-faith move in initial discussions between U.S. negotiators and Taliban officials, would open the door to peace talks between militants and the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

    The revised proposal would send all five Taliban prisoners to Qatar first, said sources who spoke on condition of anonymity. Only then would the Taliban be required to release Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, the only U.S. prisoner of war.

    Previously, U.S. officials had proposed dividing the Taliban prisoners into two groups, and requiring Bergdahl’s release as a good-faith gesture to come before the second group of prisoners would be moved out of Guantanamo.

    Dana (9a8f57)

  45. Previously, U.S. officials had proposed dividing the Taliban prisoners into two groups, and requiring Bergdahl’s release as a good-faith gesture to come before the second group of prisoners would be moved out of Guantanamo.

    and the terrorists were like omg food stamp do you think we’re stupid?

    No deal.

    And food stamp was like ok ok no worries we’ll do it your way.

    And the terrorists just kind of rolled their eyes and gave each other that “get a load of this clown” look.

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  46. Shame we pissed off the Israelis. A small group from the Mossad could take them out in no time.

    Gazzer (0e6aeb)

  47. You mean the Sayeret Matkal, Shaldag, and Shayetet 13 which are, by definition small groups.

    Steve57 (61329d)

  48. Re: #43… pls help me understand, gazzer… so you’re saying we are truly f*cked?

    Colonel Haiku (0a9e06)

  49. I find myself wishing I was one of the many hippos fighting for space in an ever-shrinking river on this Nat Geo Wild program I’m watching. Please… do not judge me too harshly.

    Colonel Haiku (c9ee7b)

  50. This deal is a big improvement from the past when we were like just giving terrorists away for free. What could go wrong?

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  51. Shoot, we were even paying countries to take terrorists before.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  52. Similarly with the Brits. The SAS can be quite useful. Shame TFG is such a knob.

    Gazzer (0e6aeb)

  53. The exchange shows that the Obama administration was willing to pay a steep price, indeed, for Bergdahl’s freedom.

    No it doesn’t. Nobody in the administration is likely to pay that price. The price will be paid by the victims of these people’s next attacks, and they did not consent to the deal.

    At least the price was kept down to 5:1; by the standards successive Israeli governments have foolishly set, that’s cheap.

    Milhouse (b95258)

  54. Hippo versus Croc
    Leopards of teh Waterways
    Crocs not teh Hippos

    Colonel Haiku (c9ee7b)

  55. When Mr. Obama signed a bill containing the latest version of the transfer restrictions into law, he issued a signing statement claiming that he could lawfully override them under his executive powers.

    Don’t see why he needs to issue a signing statement if he already has the authority under “executive powers” to override the law’s restrictions…

    Blacque Jacques Shellacque (d3cdd0)

  56. Alright, why the reference to Israel’s top special forces units,

    narciso (3fec35)

  57. The SAS is still quite useful.

    CPL Apiata, VC.

    Would you f*** with this guy?

    http://static2.stuff.co.nz/1342580892/399/7302399_600x400.jpg

    New Zealand SAS soldier to receive Victoria Cross
    Read more at http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=ff5_1183356939#7uJiCsudDrFmLMHL.99

    Steve57 (61329d)

  58. Not only a knob
    He qualifies as Yohan
    I forget third one

    Colonel Haiku (d8bba3)

  59. That’s right… a “hoser”

    Colonel Haiku (d8bba3)

  60. We’re watching the “hippo v. croc” show as well, Colonel. The way those hippos fling around their poop with their tails makes me think that in addition to being related to whales, hippos are part of the same evolutionary branch as journalists.

    Russ from Winterset (830aac)

  61. I thought signing statements were bad bad bad.

    JD (e5a0fa)

  62. Those wigger dudes were hard to get rid of. We had to spread them out between Slovakia, Bermuda, Switzerland, Palau, Albania, and El Salvador.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  63. There is much truth in your words, Russ. Looks like Beachmaster Hippo’s a pretty good gig!

    Colonel Haiku (c7c3b3)

  64. Kicking croc ass… yes!

    Colonel Haiku (c7c3b3)

  65. Oh, man… Tiny Hippo took one for the team.

    Colonel Haiku (c7c3b3)

  66. Beachmaster Hippo
    may you long reign over Crocs!
    don’t forget Sunblock

    Colonel Haiku (c7c3b3)

  67. Shame we pissed off the Israelis. A small group from the Mossad could take them out in no time.

    Considering that they don’t do that to any of the prisoners they release, I doubt they could do it in this case.

    Milhouse (b95258)

  68. You make a good point MH.

    Gazzer (0e6aeb)

  69. When Mr. Obama signed a bill containing the latest version of the transfer restrictions into law, he issued a signing statement claiming that he could lawfully override them under his executive powers.

    Don’t see why he needs to issue a signing statement if he already has the authority under “executive powers” to override the law’s restrictions…

    That’s what signing statements are for. They’re like the preambles Congress attaches to bills stating for the courts’ benefit what they had in mind, so courts can’t come later and say they have to guess legislative intent. Presidents make signing statements for the same reason, serving notice that by signing they are not waiving their constitutional prerogatives, and will interpret the law in a way that is consistent with their understanding of the constitution.

    In this case he’s probably right; it’s difficult to see how Congress can have the power to restrict him in this way. The power to hold or release prisoners of war seems inherent in the role of Commander in Chief. POWs are not entitled to habeas corpus because they’re exclusively under the authority of the military, and what happens to them is none of any court’s business; by the same reasoning it should also be none of Congress’s business.

    Milhouse (b95258)

  70. The guy volunteered to be a soldier. In doing so, he accepted certain risks and responsibilities. Instead, he went AWOL and got captured. To get him back we give up 5 zealots who like killing people, any one of which Sgt AWOL should have been willing to risk his life to kill.

    But no. Soldiers are like little kids down a well now. And we negotiate with terrorists now.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  71. POWs are not entitled to habeas corpus because they’re exclusively under the authority of the military, and what happens to them is none of any court’s business; by the same reasoning it should also be none of Congress’s business.

    Err, no. The military exists at the sufferance of Congress, and Congress can make rules about the disposition of POWs. And federal habeas corpus likewise is a creature of Congress, just like the jurisdiction of the federal courts themselves. It’s not genuinely a separation of powers issue. It might rise to one if a Congressional committee, on an Afghanistan hillside, started arguing with a sergeant about where to set up the SAW, I suppose and even then the Congress might win if both houses had veto proof majorities that it should go behind the boulder and not in the gully.

    nk (dbc370)

  72. I have a new post on Obama’s blatant violation of the statute.

    Impeach.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  73. When Hitler offered to trade Stalin his son in exchange for Hitler’s favorite nephew, Stalin said said, “Nyet. War is war”. But Stalin was kind of weird that way, that’s why nobody likes him.

    nk (dbc370)

  74. Milhouse,

    So Reagan’s arms for hostages ploy was OK, as was arming the Contras even though the Congress said he couldn’t? That’s now what the Dems said back then, and it isn’t even what Reagan said back then.

    Congress is a co-equal branch of government. They passed a law. The President signs it or he doesn’t. He does NOT get to note exceptions, except to posture. After that he has to abide by it, and only in the MOST exingent circumstances (e.g. a nuke in Manhattan) does he get to wield that emergency power that is inherent in his job. This wasn’t that by about 4 orders of magnitude.

    Not buying it.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  75. I’m on-board Kevin, if Obama thought the law improperly restricted presidential authority, his recourse was to the federal courts. When the Legislative Branch is at odds with the Executive Branch it’s up to the Judicial Branch to decide the issue. Or, that’s the way it was before Obama started fundamentally transforming (running roughshod over) the Republic to suit his personal preferences.

    ropelight (2e5434)

  76. And federal habeas corpus likewise is a creature of Congress, just like the jurisdiction of the federal courts themselves.

    Habeas corpus is certainly not a creature of Congress. It predates the USA, and is specifically mentioned in the constitution! And the cases that established that POWs aren’t entitled to it also predate the USA and the constituiton.

    Milhouse (b95258)

  77. So Reagan’s arms for hostages ploy was OK, as was arming the Contras even though the Congress said he couldn’t? That’s now what the Dems said back then, and it isn’t even what Reagan said back then.

    I don’t know whether the arms for hostages was OK, but it could fall under the president’s plenary authority over foreign policy. The only problem with arming the Contras was that Congress hadn’t appropriated any money for it, so it was done with money that didn’t come from Congress. I’m not sure whether the president can spend money that he didn’t get from Congress, e.g. if someone donates the money directly to the government, or if it was obtained by selling a government asset. The whole subject is entirely rooted in English law, and the English precedents didn’t really contemplate such a thing.

    Congress is a co-equal branch of government. They passed a law. The President signs it or he doesn’t. He does NOT get to note exceptions,

    Bullshit. The courts are also a co-equal branch of government. Congress doesn’t get to tell them what to do, and nor do they get to tell Congress or the President what to do. Each branch is entitled to its own view of the constitution. When the president chooses to sign a bill he is entitled to explain his intent in doing so, just as Congress explains its intent. If he thinks a particular clause is void, or constitutionally suspect, he can say so. That way when he later finds it necessary to violate it, nobody can claim that he just invented the constitutional problem when it became convenient.

    Milhouse (b95258)

  78. So Reagan’s arms for hostages ploy was OK, as was arming the Contras even though the Congress said he couldn’t? That’s now what the Dems said back then, and it isn’t even what Reagan said back then.

    I don’t know whether the arms for hostages was OK, but it could fall under the president’s plenary authority over foreign policy. The only problem with arming the Contras was that Congress hadn’t appropriated any money for it, so it was done with money that didn’t come from Congress. I’m not sure whether the president can spend money that he didn’t get from Congress, e.g. if someone donates the money directly to the government, or if it was obtained by selling a government asset. The whole subject is entirely rooted in English law, and the English precedents didn’t really contemplate such a thing.

    Congress is a co-equal branch of government. They passed a law. The President signs it or he doesn’t. He does NOT get to note exceptions,

    Bulldust. The courts are also a co-equal branch of government. Congress doesn’t get to tell them what to do, and nor do they get to tell Congress or the President what to do. Each branch is entitled to its own view of the constitution. When the president chooses to sign a bill he is entitled to explain his intent in doing so, just as Congress explains its intent. If he thinks a particular clause is void, or constitutionally suspect, he can say so. That way when he later finds it necessary to violate it, nobody can claim that he just invented the constitutional problem when it became convenient.

    Milhouse (b95258)

  79. I’m on-board Kevin, if Obama thought the law improperly restricted presidential authority, his recourse was to the federal courts.

    This is absolutely wrong. First of all, a president has no need to turn to the courts to keep Congress in its bounds. His authority is equal to that of the courts. He is only bound by his own view of the consititution, not Congress’s view.

    Second, he can’t turn to the courts, even if he wanted to, because they have no authority to issue advisory opinions. The courts don’t get to have a view on a law’s constitutionality until there’s a case for them to decide. So until then there are only two views: Congress’s and the President’s. His view is as good as theirs.

    When the Legislative Branch is at odds with the Executive Branch it’s up to the Judicial Branch to decide the issue. Or, that’s the way it was before Obama started fundamentally transforming (running roughshod over) the Republic to suit his personal preferences.

    Again, this is not true. It’s never how it was, going all the way back to Washington and Jefferson. The president has always conducted himself according to his own understanding of the constitution, not anyone else’s. And when, in order to keep peace with Congress, he complies with its wishes even though he thinks it has exceeded its authority, he always says so, in order not to create the impression that he has waived his view.

    Milhouse (b95258)

  80. Did this sort of thing ever happen in any previous war? America never released enemy POWs in exchange for their own in all of American history?

    Michael Ejercito (becea5)

  81. Kevin M (b357ee) — 6/1/2014 @ 12:03 am

    So Reagan’s arms for hostages ploy was OK,

    It wasn’t strictly arms for hostages – that is not the way it was sold to President Reagan. It was sort of like, if the interlocutors we are dealing with in Iran show they can get arms, they’ll gain influence and be able to get hostages released and much more.

    Most hostages in Lebanon were actually released sometime later, without giving Iran arms, I think in 1989.

    But in any case, it’s not a question of it being OK, it’s a quesiton of it being legal. President Reagan signed a special finding (provided for by law) that allowed arms to go to Iran. He signed that on January 17, 1986. John Poindexter had to tear up a finding dated January 6, 1986 because Reagan didn’t go along. He had already prepared it beforehand. Maybe even signed it, or tricked Reagan into signing it. It had to be torn up when Reagan rejected the idea. I think Poindexter told North Reagan had signed it by mistake.

    Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger’s false “contemporaneous notes”, that he gave to the Library of Congress, which was the basis for his indictment right before the 1992 election – for lying to Congress, not to his diary, when it was his supposed “diary” that he actually lied to and not to Congress – the notes must have been made long after the fact and were probably written ad donatesd at the instigation of Prince Bandar, with whom Weinberger was friendly with – I read something once that he was frendly with him but admit I need a reference for that.

    Let me start over.

    Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger’s false “contemporaneous notes” claimed that President Reagan approved the sale of arms to Iran on January 6, 1986. Reagan’s own diary said it was January 17. And he had rejected the idea on January 6, in large part because of Casper Weinberger’s own objections. The plan was changed somewhat between January 6 and January 17 so as to have the arms not delivered by the Defense Department, and that was what made the profit and the diverson of funds possible.)

    Weinberg’s lying memo blamed the idea on Israel and noted Bush was present at the meeting (as he was not on January 17)

    In 1992, Democrats tried to claim that therefore Bush’s statement in 1986 or 1987 that he “out of the loop” on the sale of arms to Iran was a lie, but the Democrats had changed the meaning of the words “out of the loop!” In 1986 and 1987 it meant out of the chain of authority, not outside of his knowledge. GWHB was so clueless, he didn’t understand the meaning of the words had been changed.

    as was arming the Contras even though the Congress said he couldn’t?

    Congress said he couldn’t spend U.S. government dollars. It didn’t say he couldn’t ask the Sultan of Brunei or anybody else to help.

    The money from the sale of arms to Iran, never went to the contras. North (and Poindexter?) said they mistakenly used the wrong bank account number, off by one digit I think. Donald Reagan thought that possibly North and Poindexter’s intent was to abscond with he money on January 20, 1989 – money that nobody knew about. His experience on Wall Street informed his thinking.

    The contras didn’t get money from cocaine smuggled into Mena Airport in Arkansas, either. The smuggling was all before 1984. The prohibition was from October 1, 1984 to September 30, 1986.

    The cocaine was probably being smuggled to Dan Lasator, a contributor to Bill Clinton’s gubernatorial campaigns. And he really needed the money in 1982. Although records of who contributed money were made public, the government of Arkansas later destroyed them, and the Republican Party did not save them so by 1992 or so, there were no records going back before the 1984 campaign. Bill Clinton’s brother, Roger, was part of the smuggling ring. The smuggling wasn’t
    done by the CIA – which hardly needed money – and certainly not to help the contras, which was not illegal until October 1, 1984, which is when the Boland amendment went into effect.

    Sammy Finkelman (8cd742)

  82. The New York Daily News has a special small article on page 4 with pictures giving the deteails of who these five men are (one paragraph per prisoner released)

    The new York Post as their pictures on the front page, and also on page 6, with 1-sentence descriptions.

    The new York Times describes who they are, toward the end of a long artivle, starting on paragraph 29 (paragraphs 29-33 of 37.

    It also says there at the end why they supposedly were afraid of a leak. According to “a westerrn official in Kabul” they were afraid the Taliban would get cold feet or face pressure from more hardline elements, and also that it might be upended by an outburst from the Afgahn president, Hamid Karzai. No one wanted to deal with an accusation that the U.S. was trying ti cuta separate peace woth the Taliban and its backers in Pakistan.

    Sammy Finkelman (8cd742)

  83. 44. 2012 article.

    U.S. soldier held by Taliban allies in Pakistan

    He was being held in Pakistan.

    This was disguised. For the purposes of the exchange, he was moved back into Afghanistan.

    Sammy Finkelman (8cd742)

  84. The courts are also a co-equal branch of government. Congress doesn’t get to tell them what to do,

    Congress can abolish the whole structure, save for the Supreme Court, whose size they can alter. They can regulate existing Courts, setting their authority and jurisdiction, as they have recently in national security cases and attempted to in death penalty cases. So, bulldust back to you.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  85. MIlhouse,

    After careful consideration of your #77, I really have to take issue with this nonsense:

    “When the president chooses to sign a bill he is entitled to explain his intent in doing so, just as Congress explains its intent. If he thinks a particular clause is void, or constitutionally suspect, he can say so. That way when he later finds it necessary to violate it, nobody can claim that he just invented the constitutional problem when it became convenient.”

    What you are claiming is that the President has a line-item veto, not subject to override, in which he can announce that portions of the law he is signing are null and void.

    Not only is this extra-constitutional, but it has no historical basis. In the first century of the US, Presidents used the veto power almost exclusively for laws they though unconstitutional, never for policy reasons. This kind of law would be one of those they would veto.

    But now, Obama (and W before him) have arrogated to themselves the power to unilaterally declare portions of laws inoperative and dare the Courts to second-guess them after the fact, almost always in cases where commitments have been made overseas. Congress’ sole means of overriding these line-item vetoes is to impeach, or censure and hope that public opinion can force compliance.

    This is bad enough when limited to foreign policy, but extended to domestic matters it imperils the entire Constitutional framework. It is impossible to legislate, make compromises and balance interests when the President can just draw lines through your law to suit his fancy.

    So, no, I won’t go along with this crap. It makes Congress more a suggestion box than a legislature.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  86. In short, the President gets the whole law, to sign or to veto. And then he has to live with his choice.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  87. So, no, I won’t go along with this crap. It makes Congress more a suggestion box than a legislature.

    Agree. Choices are sign or veto.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  88. Wait a minute. We gave them five of their people, and they returned one of ours.

    Does this mean that we can send 5 Mexicans (illegal ones) back and have that soldier who accidentally cross with a gun back? Hell, send 500.

    Visvires (084cf2)


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