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Posts in "Afghanistan"
August 22, 2014
The White House said Friday that constitutional authorities of the commander in chief trumped possible funding illegality in the transfer of five Taliban members in exchange for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
“The president has the constitutional responsibility to protect the lives of Americans abroad, and specifically to protect U.S. service members,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz told reporters in Edgartown, Mass., “It’s important for everyone here to understand that the GAO report expressly does not address the lawfulness of the administration’s actions as a matter of constitutional law.”
June 5, 2014
The Obama administration is pushing back as frustrated senators question the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
Bergdahl could have been killed if word of the prisoner swap with the Taliban had leaked, a senior administration official told reporters, responding to lawmakers upset that President Barack Obama did not follow the law and notify Congress 30 days in advance.
President Barack Obama said Thursday he would “make no apologies” for freeing five Taliban detainees in return for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s release.
In his strongest defense yet of the deal that has come under intense scrutiny on Capitol Hill, Obama said he wasn’t surprised by the controversy that has erupted over the circumstances surrounding the deal.
“Yeah, I’m never surprised by controversies that are whipped up in Washington. Right? That’s — that’s par for the course,” he said.
“But I’ll repeat what I said two days ago. We have a basic principle, we do not leave anybody wearing the American uniform behind. We had a prisoner of war who’s health had deteriorated, and we were deeply concerned about and we saw an opportunity and we seized it. And I make no apologies for that,” he said. Full story
June 3, 2014
The prisoner swap that freed Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was legal, the White House insisted Tuesday, as President Barack Obama defended the deal at a news conference in Poland.
A statement from the White House said the president’s power under the Constitution trumps a law requiring Congress get 30 days notice.
“Delaying the transfer in order to provide the 30-day notice would interfere with the Executive’s performance of two related functions that the Constitution assigns to the President: protecting the lives of Americans abroad and protecting U.S. soldiers,” said Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the National Security Council. “Because such interference would significantly alter the balance between Congress and the President, and could even raise constitutional concerns, we believe it is fair to conclude that Congress did not intend that the Administration would be barred from taking the action it did in these circumstances.”
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl could be prosecuted for the circumstances surrounding his capture by the Taliban, but is “innocent until proven guilty,” the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff suggested Tuesday.
“As for the circumstances of his capture, when he is able to provide them, we’ll learn the facts,” Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said in a statement. “Like any American, he is innocent until proven guilty. Our Army’s leaders will not look away from misconduct if it occurred. In the meantime, we will continue to care for him and his family.”
The statement, sent to reporters by the White House, comes as the administration tries to quell a burgeoning controversy over President Barack Obama’s decision to trade five prisoners from the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to secure Bergdahl’s release.
Soldiers who served with Bergdahl have accused him of deserting his post before his capture, and said other soldiers were later killed trying to rescue him. Full story
May 27, 2014
The White House will conduct an internal review of the circumstances leading to Sunday’s disclosure to members of the White House press corps of the identity of a CIA station chief.
The event transpired Sunday, when as part of President Barack Obama’s surprise trip to visit with troops in Afghanistan, the Kabul “chief of station” was included on a list of participants in a meeting distributed to the traveling press pool and subsequently sent to a broader list of reporters, as explained by The Washington Post.
“The Chief of Staff has asked the White House Counsel, Neil Eggleston, to look into what happened and report back to him with recommendations on how the Administration can improve processes and make sure something like this does not happen again,” National Security Counsel Spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.
Updated 3:26 p.m. | President Barack Obama announced Tuesday he intends to keep thousands of troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014, but would pull out most of the remaining forces by the end of 2016.
Obama said he plans to keep 9,800 troops in Afghanistan at the start of 2015, provided the next president of Afghanistan signs a new security agreement, as expected. The troop levels would be cut roughly in half by the end of 2015, with troops consolidated to Bagram Airfield.
“When I took office, we had nearly 180,000 troops in harm’s way,” Obama said. “By the end of this year, we will have less than 10,000.”
Obama said the troops staying in Afghanistan would no longer be responsible for combat missions to secure the country, but would continue to target terrorists and train and advise the Afghans.
One top Republican senator on military issues was quick to say that Obama’s plan “emboldens the enemy.”
May 26, 2014
President Barack Obama is fond of saying the war in Afghanistan will “end” this year, but he still plans to keep troops in the country indefinitely.
During his surprise four-hour visit to Afghanistan this weekend — under cover of darkness and with no prior notice and no visit with outgoing President Hamid Karzai — Obama suggested he’d still like to keep troops in that country.
“I’ve made it clear that we’re prepared to continue cooperating with our Afghan partners on two security missions — training and equipping Afghan forces and targeting … al Qaeda,” Obama told the troops. Full story