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home : opinion : opinion May 29, 2016

6/9/2014 3:14:00 PM
Editorial Politicians lack character, decency

The conduct of too many of our nation's politician's and political pundits in response to the exchange of American prisoner-of-war Bowe Bergdahl for five former Taliban officials held at Guantanamo Bay as prisoners-of-war is embarrassing and disgraceful. It is appalling how little decency they have demonstrated in responding to this unfortunate incident.

When John McCain returned from being held as a prisoner of war, I don't recall any Democratic politicians using his record of cooperation with the North Vietnamese for their political advantage, although there were fellow POWs who were not happy with the special treatment he had received in North Vietnam and back home. It is unfortunate, even shameful, that he doesn't have the character or compassion necessary to afford another unfortunate American soldier the benefit of a fair trial before condemning him and using him as political fodder.

Bowe Bergdahl may or may not have either deserted his post or have intended to desert his post, at this point no one except Bowe Bergdahl knows what actually happened and why.

Without regard for truth, justice or the American Way, as they say, these politicians and pundits began expounding on rumors and stories that investigators had already said were not true, to stir up animosity against Bergdahl and against President Obama.

Among the rumors they continue to spread, probably the worst is the claim that Bergdahl left behind a letter stating that he was deserting. Military investigators have stated for years that no such letter existed, but that hasn't hampered the rumor mill among self-serving politicians and pundits.

Obama erred when he attempted to make political hay out of the exchange, but he at least did not abuse innocent people or spread lies in order to demean anyone.

There are valid reasons to question the exchange and way it was accomplished, but there is no evidence of Bowe Bergdahl, his family or his community doing anything wrong or questionable regarding the exchange.

Having served in the military, I can attest to the fact that military personnel sometimes do stupid things for which they should rightly be punished in order to maintain discipline, for their own protection as well as for the overall mission. Sometimes they seek some sense of normalcy by violating commonsense rules of behavior. It is not unreasonable to believe Bergdahl was just off on a lark, foolish as it would have been. According to the military investigator's reports, he has done that in the past.

Much as I would like to be able to do so, I do not expect the pundits in the large dailies and on cable entertainment news to be factual, honest, fair or to consider the best interests of our world, but, naive as it may be, I do expect that members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to at least attempt to be factual, honest, fair and to consider the best interests of our nation and of our world.

Ideally, the President would have consulted with Congress before proceeding with the POW exchange, but it clearly would have just been a waste of everyone's time. There is no way this Congress would have considered the merits or demerits of the exchange. Congress has demonstrated time-after-time that it would rather see problems go unsolved than allow anything positive President Obama proposes to go forward. There is no deal the president could have presented that would have been acceptable to save Bergdahl's life, given the present leadership in Congress.

The President did the right thing in making an exchange of POWs to bring Bergdahl home and allow the military to complete an investigation to determine what happened and what should be done. Now it is time for politicians and pundits to demonstrate some character and human decency by allowing the military to complete the investigation and make a report. I doubt that will happen, but it would be appropriate.

Meanwhile, the rest of us should also practice a little restraint and avoid condemning this young man who has been found guilty of nothing at this point. If we need someone to condemn, let's condemn the politicians and pundits who are rushing, for political advantage, to condemn Bergdahl.

Larry Dobson

Claremont Service

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