by Tom Fitton –
“What’s emerging is an imperial presidency, an uber presidency as I’ve called it, where the president can act unilaterally. This is only the latest example of that…Barack Obama is really the president Richard Nixon always wanted to be.”
That’s constitutional expert and law professor Jonathan Turley responding to the shocking news that President Obama – without so much as a whisper to Congress of his intentions – unilaterally decided to swap five Guantanamo Bay Taliban terrorists for a soldier who deserted his post, and may have cost the lives of some of his brothers in arms when they went searching for him.
To Turley’s point, when Barack Obama wanted to circumvent Congress and impose illegal alien amnesty via executive fiat, he simply started releasing illegal alien criminals onto the streets under the moniker of “prioritized deportation.”
The same principle applies here. Obama has signaled time and time again his intent to close Guantanamo Bay, in defiance of Congress and military leadership who warn of the repercussions of allowing terrorists to roam free. So what does the president do? He arranges for the release of five leading terrorists, including at least one mass murderer, with more releases reportedly in the offing.
And while the ultimate fate of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl – who was the last remaining Taliban captive – is murky at best at this moment, the fate of the five Taliban terrorists is certain. They are now free to return to the battlefield and wreak havoc on Afghan citizens and U.S. soldiers remaining in the country. (You can read more about these five Taliban characters here.)
And who is Bowe Bergdahl, the “prize” awarded to the president in exchange for the terrorists’ release?
In perhaps Susan Rice’s most tone-deaf statement to date – and remember, this is a woman who lied and blamed Benghazi on an “unfortunately vigorous movie review,” as conservative columnist George Will called it – the nation’s National Security Advisor said in a statement accompanying Bergdahl’s release that he had served with “honor and distinction.”
Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers disagree.
While the details are still developing regarding Bergdahl’s disappearance and reappearance, his fellow soldiers have not been shy about expressing their opinions. They describe a quiet soldier who “kept things close to the vest” – that one guy “who wanted to disappear.”
One fellow soldier described a disturbing conversation with Bergdahl, who asked the soldier how much of a cash advance he could get and how to mail his possessions back home. He asked what would happen if his weapon were to disappear. Days later he was gone, leaving his weapon behind.
In addition to the transgression of deserting his post – an unforgivable sin in military circles – there is also the disturbing issue of just how many soldiers were killed in the effort to try to find and retrieve Bergdahl.
Per The New York Times:
Did the search for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl cost the lives of American soldiers?
Since last weekend’s prisoner exchange in which Afghan insurgents turned over Sergeant Bergdahl after five years of captivity, a number of the men who served with him have called him a deserter. Some have gone further, blaming him for the deaths of six to eight soldiers.
And all of this explains why, at the time of this writing, President Obama has so few allies who back this decision.
The president’s former Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, criticized the swap: “I don’t fault the administration for wanting to get him back. I do question whether the conditions are in place to make sure these terrorists don’t go back into battle,” he told a gas industry gathering in Pittsburgh just after the swap. Panetta opposed releasing terrorists when he served under the president because he saw it as a threat to the security of the United States.
Afghan villagers, who were subjected to a “scorched earth offensive” fifteen years ago that destroyed their homes and lands – an offensive orchestrated by one of the detainees – reacted with “fear and dismay” to the news. Our Taliban enemies are ecstatic, telling Time that, “this is a historic moment for us. Today our enemy for the first time officially recognized our status.”
And the president’s second in command, Vice President Biden? The best he could muster was an expression of “neutrality.”
Members of Congress, meanwhile, are furious. Senator Lindsey Graham suggested “impeachment” if the president tries to release additional Gitmo terrorists. Per The Hill:
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) warned Wednesday that Republican lawmakers would call for President Obama’s impeachment if he released more prisoners from Guantanamo Bay without congressional approval.
Republicans worry Obama may try to shut down the prison camp unilaterally after congressional opposition has repeatedly stymied efforts to pass legislation to close it.
“It’s going to be impossible for them to flow prisoners out of Gitmo now without a huge backlash,” Graham said. “There will be people on our side calling for his impeachment if he did that.”
Senator Graham might want to get those articles in order.
As reported by Fox News, the release of yet another Gitmo terrorist is under discussion. “The Obama administration is considering springing yet another prisoner from Guantanamo Bay.”
His name is Fouzi Khalid Abdullah al-Awda, and he has been held prisoner for 12 years. “According to Defense Department officials and his official Guantanamo detainee profile, he traveled from his home in Kuwait to Afghanistan just before the 9/11 attacks to train in terrorist camps, and ‘possibly’ fight alongside the Taliban and Al Qaeda.”
It should go without saying that the Obama administration should place a freeze on the release of any and all terrorists from Gitmo until the full details of the Bergdahl swap are known. Given this administration’s track record, that could take a while.
What to make of this still developing story?
Obama is on the ropes with Benghazi, the IRS, Obamacare, and the VA scandals. Seeking a positive narrative (and an unimpeded abandonment of Afghanistan), he was desperate to free the one remaining US prisoner from the Afghan conflict. If it meant violating the law, so be it. If it meant negotiating with terrorists and our enemies, so be it. If it meant releasing five dangerous terrorists over the objections of key national security advisers, so be it. And, when criticized, if it means lying, that’s okay, too.
We have a president that will put the law, the Constitution, the security of our troops, the truth, and the nation’s security all aside to score a political or ideological point. What to do? I suspect Congress will fulminate but will do little in the end. Congress won’t impeach anyone, cut off funding, or take other significant steps that might protect the nation from this rogue president.
As we successfully did with Benghazi and the IRS, Judicial Watch is taking steps to get both the truth and accountability to the rule of law. We will investigate, push requests for information, and, if necessary, sue in federal court about yet another Obama scandal that is endangering our nation.
Judicial Watch Sues Defense and State for Records about Benghazi Briefings of Congressional Leaders
Yes, we uncovered the most significant and explosive details yet related to the Obama administration’s Benghazi lies. But we are not resting on our laurels.
Judicial Watch continues to pepper the administration with Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests (and lawsuits when necessary) to shake loose as many Benghazi-related records as possible. Why? Because it has been nearly two years since the deadly terrorist attack on the Mission Compound at Benghazi, and there are still more questions than answers.
In fact, we still don’t even know what information was provided by the Obama administration to the members of the Senate and House leadership and the leadership of the intelligence committees – or whether certain members of Congress were in on the “cover-up.”
And this information is at the center of a new Judicial Watch investigation.
On May 15, 2014, we filed a FOIA lawsuit against the U.S. Departments of Defense and State to obtain records regarding any briefings given to top congressional leaders regarding “the activities of any agency or department of the U.S. government at the Special Mission Compound and/or classified annex in Benghazi, Libya.”
We specifically seek the following information from January 1, 2011, to the present:
a) Any and all records detailing the dates on which any official of the [Departments of Defense and State] briefed any of the following members of Congress on matters related to the activities of any agency or department of the U.S. government at the Special Mission Compound and/or classified annex in Benghazi, Libya:
• Rep. John Boehner [Speaker of the House]
• Rep. Mike Rogers [Chairman, House Select Permanent Committee on Intelligence]
• Rep. Charles “Dutch” Ruppersberger [Ranking Member, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence]
• Rep. Nancy Pelosi [Minority Leader of the House]
• Sen. Dianne Feinstein [Chairman, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence]
• Sen. Saxby Chambliss [Vice Chairman, Senate Select Committee in Intelligence]
• Sen. Harry Reid (Senate Majority Leader]
• Sen. Mitch McConnell (Senate Minority Leader]
b) Any and all records produced by any official of the [Departments of Defense and State] in preparation for, use during, and/or pursuant to any of the aforementioned briefings (including, but is not limited to, any and all reports, analyses, presentation slides, and/or notes).
c) Any and all records of communication between any official of the [Departments of Defense and State] and any of the aforementioned members of Congress and/or any of their respective staff members regarding, concerning, or related to activities or operations of any agency of the U.S. government at the Special Mission Compound and/or the classified annex in Benghazi, Libya.
JW is after this information because there remains unanswered a fundamental question related to the Benghazi attacks: Why was Ambassador Chris Stevens at the Special Mission Compound to begin with?
In August 2013, CNN reported, “Speculation on Capitol Hill has included the possibility the U.S. agencies operating in Benghazi were secretly helping to move surface-to-air missiles out of Libya, through Turkey, and into the hands of Syrian rebels.”
Earlier, Gregory Hicks, the State Department’s deputy chief of mission in Tripoli at the time of the attack, told the House Oversight Committee that one of the reasons Stevens was in Benghazi was that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “wanted Benghazi converted into a permanent constituent post.” Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), Chair of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, has said he will investigate why the U.S. State Department remained in Benghazi when other international entities pulled out due to militant activities.
If anyone can get hold of this information, it’s your Judicial Watch. We’ve gotten records when Congress could not. And what we’ve discovered has been game-changing.
On April 29, 2014, JW released 41 new Benghazi-related State Department documents that created a firestorm in the nation’s capital resulting in the appointment by House Speaker Boehner of a Special Committee to investigate the terrorist attack on Benghazi.
The new documents included a newly declassified email showing then-White House Deputy Strategic Communications Adviser Ben Rhodes and other Obama administration public relations officials attempting to orchestrate a campaign to “reinforce” President Obama and to portray the Benghazi consulate terrorist attack as being “rooted in an Internet video, and not a failure of policy.” Other documents showed that State Department officials initially described the incident as an “attack” and a possible kidnap attempt.
Among the top administration PR personnel who received the Rhodes memo were White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, Deputy Press Secretary Joshua Earnest, then-White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, then-White House Deputy Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri, then-National Security Council Director of Communications Erin Pelton, Special Assistant to the Press Secretary Howli Ledbetter, and then-White House Senior Advisor and political strategist David Plouffe.
JW’s discoveries prompted Congress to appoint a Select Committee to investigate Benghazi. However, in order for the American people to decide for themselves whether the upcoming investigation by the House Select Committee is focusing on the issues that matter most, they must have access to the information we seek.
And with history as a guide, we are going to have to pry this information loose from the Obama administration’s iron grip. You know by now we are up to the task. But if you’d like to help give this campaign a little boost, I ask that you consider making a tax-deductible donation to Judicial Watch via this secure online link. If you want results, your dollar could not be better spent.