Yet another exercise in exploring the depth of Republican hypocrisy and hysteria. This one is about OH MY GOD IMPEACHING OBAMA BECAUSE GITMO TRANSFEREES!
In a June 2nd press briefing, questions were asked regarding the transfer of the five Guantánamo (Gitmo) detainees in exchange for the successful recovery of Sergeant Bergdahl, a prisoner of war in Afghanistan. Press Secretary Jay Carney explained that there were restrictions made in the prisoner exchange, which is not an uncommon occurrence in armed conflicts.
From the White House transcript:
Q As you know, there have been detainees who have returned to the battlefield. What are the guarantees, other than just a one-year ban on travel on these five detainees that they won’t go back and target U.S. interests, U.S. personnel, U.S. military?
MR. CARNEY: Again, I’ll re-stipulate that prisoner exchanges are not uncommon in armed conflicts. Secondly, I’ll say that without getting into specific assurances, I can tell you that they included a travel ban and information-sharing on the detainees between our governments, between the United States and Qatar. I can also tell you that the assurances were sufficient to allow the Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, in coordination with the national security team, to determine that the threat posed by the detainees to the United States would be sufficiently mitigated and that the transfer was in the U.S. national security interest.
So this was done after the appropriate consideration and analysis, and it was the judgment of the Secretary of Defense in coordination with the entire national security team that there was sufficient mitigation in place and assurances in place to allow the exchange.
Republicans are acting as if Obama never should have done this. Senator Lindsey Graham is talking impeachment if Obama releases any more prisoners or tries once again to close Gitmo. Yet, in 2009, PolitiFact confirmed that “More than 500 Guantánamo detainees were released or transferred under Bush.”
Indeed, government documents indicate more than 500 detainees were released or transferred from Guantanamo while George W. Bush was president. A White House executive order issued on the second day of Obama’s presidency said, “The federal government has moved more than 500 such detainees from Guantánamo, either by returning them to their home country or by releasing or transferring them to a third country.”
That’s backed up by a fact sheet from the military task force that runs the detention camp, which says 520 detainees had been released or transferred by March 2009.
PolitiFact then got into the weeds of release versus transfer, with a transfer being a situation where there are restrictions (as appears to be the case with the prisoners transferred in exchange for Bergdahl). Maybe someone should tell Lindsey Graham, too.
But the Pentagon says there is a difference between a release and a transfer to another country. The vast majority of detainees leave Gitmo under a transfer, which means they are transported to another country that places them under some type of restrictions. Some are incarcerated in those countries because of criminal charges, while others face monitoring or travel limitations.
Carney noted we successfully recovered Sergeant Bergdahl (this is exactly the sort of discussion Republicans are hoping to avoid), “(T)his was the right thing to do, because we in the United States do not leave our men and women in uniform behind during an armed conflict. And five years is a very long time to be a prisoner.”
The bottom line is Obama got Osama, and now Obama successfully recovered our single prisoner in the Afghanistan war. So, Republicans are attacking Bergdahl and his family in dishonorable and stunningly disturbed ways, hoping to mitigate what they see as another Obama success.
Republicans have muddied the waters of every single Obama success. There has not been one occasion upon which they have been able to set aside their partisan agenda in order to cheer or praise a positive occurrence under Obama. They made sure no one gave Obama credit for bin Laden and now they’re at it again.
Ironically, even if the Republican smear campaign against Bergdahl and his family was accurate (and no one judging Bergdahl is in any position to sift through the facts as broken down here, so the discussion is irrelevant and ridiculous), the bottom line is we don’t leave our troops behind.
Clueless Republicans might want to note that it’s not because we deem them all heroic characters fit for the black and white world in which conservatives live — the ultimate Good Guy. It’s because practically speaking, we need to protect our assets, including information. If we have reason to suspect an asset has been compromised it behooves us to determine to what extent.
Republicans have chosen to troll Obama’s national security successes until the press is embroiled in discussing their accusations rather than the success. We can’t have a moment of national pride in a job well done—oh, no. Not while a Democrat is in the White House.
Note: Per the Pentagon’s distinction, the title to this article should read “released or transferred”. However, for the sake of brevity and due to common usage in the national dialogue on this issue, we’ve used “released”.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.