The United States Army has charged Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl with desertion and "misbehavior before the enemy." Bergdahl allegedly abandoned his post in Afghanistan and was held captive by Taliban-aligned forces for nearly five years before the Obama administration negotiated a deal with the Taliban forces. Bergdahl returned to the United States in 2014 in exchange for the release of five high-ranking and highly dangerous Taliban commanders. President Obama made the announcement in a highly dramatic fashion, with a speech in the Rose Garden flanked by Bergdahl's parents.
Hillary Clinton, Obama's former secretary of state, defended the deal in the days following. Clinton dismissed claims at the time that Bergdahl had deserted as "irrelevant." "We bring our people home," she said. Obama's national security adviser Susan Rice said Bergdahl had served with "honor and distinction."
Congressional leaders were effusive in their praise as well.
“Today is a joyful day for our nation," said House minority leader Nancy Pelosi in a May 31 statement. "As Sgt. Bergdahl returns home, we join in celebrating his safe return, and in expressing our gratitude for the relentless dedication of all the service members, intelligence officers, and diplomats who worked so hard to make this day a reality."
Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, then the majority leader, took to the Senate floor on June 4 to castigate Republicans criticizing the exchange. "As the president said, this is not a victory for him. It is a victory for the United States military and our country," said Reid.
Praise for the deal was not limited to members of Congress. New Hampshire's Democratic governor Maggie Hassan, who is likely to challenge Republican senator Kelly Ayotte in 2016, issued a statement to celebrate Bergdahl's return. “Sergeant Bergdahl’s release is incredibly heartening news, and I am sure his family and loved ones are overcome with joy that they will soon be reunited," said Hassan in a May 31 statement. "His dedication and resilience represent the very best of all our service members, and I join all Americans in thanking him for his service, bravery and sacrifice.”
The big speech last week was, of course, the one given before Congress by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It was a forceful performance. Nancy Pelosi said that she was so dismayed by both the style and the substance of the prime minister’s speech that she was nearly reduced to tears.
Susan Rice told AIPAC It was "neither realistic nor achievable" to expect Iran to stop enriching uranium:
"We cannot let a totally unachievable ideal stand in the way of a good deal. I know that some of you will be urging Congress to insist that Iran forgo its domestic enrichment capacity entirely," Rice told AIPAC, as the crowd broke in to chear.
"But, but, but as desirable as that would be, it is neither realistic nor achievable."
Secretary of State John Kerry contradicted National Security Adviser Susan Rice by saying that Israel prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is "welcome to speak in the United States" and by saying that the U.S.-Israel relationship is at an historic high. Kerry made the comments this morning on ABC:
The following is a transcript of a conversation in the Oval Office passed to me simultaneously by the German, French, and British intelligence services, along with copies of their governments' complaints about the immorality of American spying on its allies.
Writing on the White House blog, Ambassador Susan Rice, the president’s national security advisor, accuses the Senate of harming national security by not confirming more ambassadorial nominees. Rice contends that the current backlog of forty-eight is unnecessary and harmful:
President Obama's national security adviser, Susan Rice, said on ABC that Bowe Bergdahl "served the United States with honor and distinction" and that "Sergeant Bergdahl wasn't simply a hostage; he was an American prisoner of war captured on the battlefield."
In response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed last summer by Judicial Watch, the Obama administration last week released 41 documents related to the attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012. An email from the deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, has received most of the attention. In it, Rhodes laid out four goals for Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who would be appearing on five Sunday talk shows 36 hours later.
Whether it’s “pivoting” or “rebalancing,” the Obama administration’s unceasing efforts to turn retreat into a virtue – particularly when it comes to the Middle East – have become a distinguishing feature of this president’s national security strategy.