It is sure looking that way.
Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) says that at a classified briefing to House lawmakers, administration officials said it was Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel who made the final decision to approve the prisoner exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. McKeon will chair a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee tomorrow in which Hagel will testify.
Obviously Obama himself cannot be held accountable for this goat rodeo (or anything it seems), despite statements like:
"As Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, I am responsible for those kids." And "I wouldn't be doing it if I thought that it was contrary to American national security...
The bloom has come off Obama’s Rose Garden victory lap and the hard questions are not going away. The competition begins to see which member of the national security team takes the fall. Similar to picking an MVP of the hapless Washington Generals who lose to the Harlem Globetrotters every night, picking the most expendable or least competent member of this group is tough work: Susan Rice, National Security Director, has already made her obligatory pilgrimage of prevarication to the Sunday talk shows but she doesn't hold an executive position so she is out; as is Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, since the intelligence community only had an advisory role in this debacle. That limits the playing field to Secretary of State John Kerry, and Hagel.
Either one would serve quite well; their credentials for cluelessness and bad judgment are eminently established. The problem, however, with just sending Hagel out into the wilderness bearing the sins of the Obama administration is that he wasn't in charge of this mess. On the other hand, the Kerry led State Department was responsible for negotiating this deal with the able assistance of the political team representing the White House.
Section 1035 of the 2014 Defense Bill requires 30 days notice to Congress before setting jihadis free. The bill gives authority for release to the Secretary of Defense so it looks plausible that Sec. Hagel really could have been the decider on this. But not so fast. That just covers a decision to let them go, not to horse-trade them for hostages. The negotiations for this deal were with the Taliban and the Haqqani Network and although we have been killing them regularly, we are not officially at war with either. Qatar was the intermediary and is a foreign government. This means that while DoD was certainly involved and approved the release of the terrorists, the State Department was in charge of the negotiations and the deal.
The cooperation, or lack thereof, between the two organizations was a major source of problems according to sources at CENTCOM involved with the Bergdahl operation. It is understandable that Congress would have many questions for Secretary Hagel about the disappearance, captivity and release of Bergdahl. And he was the one actually tasked with giving them a heads up that a deal Congress, DoD and the Intel community had said “Hell No!” to back in 2012 was now going to happen. That certainly bears some scrutiny. But he was not lead dog on this and it is well past time to take a good look at the formalized lying in formal wear done by Secretary Kerry and his compatriots to negotiate this dog's breakfast of a deal.
For instance: Did the Qataris pay cash to get the Haqqanis to release Bergdahl? Why did we agree to the same crazy deal the Taliban put on the table more than two years ago and never expected us to agree to? Are we seriously expected to believe the Talibs won’t be back in Mullah Omar’s cabinet on day 366 after their heroes tour of Qatar? Were they at least embedded with GPS trackers, so when they get back to their home turf and start their badness up again we can send them a remote controlled Hellfire welcome basket?
When we put Kerry in the hot seat, we can take another look at the White House saying that the other members of Bergdahl's unit "swift boated" him when they said he deserted them. John Kerry's "heroic" service and hasty exit from Vietnam were the impetus for the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. The brave political tools in Obama's White House seemed to think their use of the term meant Bergdahl's teammates were unfairly smearing him. Let's get a proper definition into play here:
Swift Boat, verb informal-
The exposure of a military member's misdeeds by team mates in his unit with first hand knowledge of them. The actions of the malefactor (See Blue Falcon) must have been heinous enough to warrant a public airing and repudiation.
In Kerry's case, 21 of the 22 officers from his ignominious four months in Vietnam stepped up to throw a BS flag on his tall tales of wartime heroism and dubiously achieved Purple Heart collection. In Bergdahl’s case, the men left behind the night he wandered off and who risked their lives looking for him came forward to say he had not served with "honor and distinction".
Hagel testifies today in front of the House Armed Services Committee and it should be a lively event to say the least. Congress needs to take their bites out of his hide then move on to Sec. Kerry for another course. The rest of the meal may depend on what we hear from them.