- - Thursday, June 5, 2014


It’s a season of outrages coming out of the Obama administration these days, from the scandal at the Veterans Administration to the unconstitutional, job-killing mandates being planned by the Environmental Protection Agency.

But truly, nothing can top the outrage, the incompetence and sheer stupidity that we’re seeing from this government in the case of one Army Staff Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. And there are so many different levels to the outrage that I hardly know where to begin.

Maybe President Obama or Susan Rice or Chuck Hagel thought it was a good trade to give up five hardened terrorists to get this soldier back, but almost no one else does. From the first moments I heard about the swap they negotiated, I thought, “People are going to die because of this.”

The deal means five of the worst Taliban leaders in the world, who until last week were rotting away in Guantanamo, are now in Qatar, roaming freely and just counting the days until they can get back into the fight. The official line might be that these guys are Taliban fighters, just citizens of Afghanistan, not terrorists. But they have killed and they will kill innocent people. They’re radical Islamists, and from what we’re learning about Sgt. Bergdahl, we may have just traded five radical Islamists and gotten a sixth radical Islamist in return.

Once again, we have Ms. Rice coming out on a television talk show to mislead the American people, trying to spin a line that Sgt. Bergdahl, who by all accounts simply walked away from his post before he was captured, served with “honor and distinction.” It’s one of the minor stupidities of this whole episode, but who in the White House thinks it’s a good idea to keep sending this woman out to explain policy to the American people?

The Taliban and the terrorists must be laughing at us. It’s just so bizarre that an American president — an entire administration — can be so badly duped. Brave American soldiers went into harm’s way — some even gave their life — in repeated attempts to rescue Sgt. Bergdahl when he was in enemy hands. More brave Americans will be put in harm’s way when these released Taliban terrorists return to the battlefield. If it were my call, if any of these released terrorists made a move to leave Qatar and reconnect with their fellow terrorists in Afghanistan, I would take them out — but I have no hope that this administration would contemplate anything like that. Truly, it is beyond belief that any White House would think this was a good deal.

Clearly there is a major role for Congress now in trying to figure out what happened, even if the administration clearly wanted no role for Congress when it was cutting the deal. The House Armed Services Committee has already talked about doing an investigation, and I know there’s bipartisan outrage in the House and Senate intelligence committees about being kept in the dark. But I think the committee that really should take a look at what happened is the House Judiciary Committee.

If I were back on the Hill, I would want to see the Judiciary panel hold hearings specifically to investigate not just whether the president made a bad deal, but whether he broke the country’s laws and violated the Constitution. This is a president who has repeatedly undermined the rule of law with his unilateral moves and failures to respect the rights of other branches of government. The White House claim that they “consulted” with Congress on the Bergdahl deal has been immediately contradicted by respected figures in both parties. Maybe top Senate Democrat Harry Reid was tipped off a day early, but Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, swears he hasn’t talked to the administration about any Bergdahl deal since 2011. The fact that no one on the Hill was brought into the loop in the months that this deal was coming together — with the administration now claiming it “didn’t have time” to inform lawmakers — suggests to me that the president’s team is just lying about all this, and that Mr. Reid is lying as well.

There’s already been some talk about impeachment, but just as a practical matter, President Obama will be long gone from the White House before any impeachment effort could possibly bear fruit. But I would still hold those Judiciary Committee hearings, because right now is the time to make this a part of the president’s legacy, and to set a precedent for future president about the resistance they will face when they not only violate the Constitution’s separation of power, but when they break the law.

Tom DeLay, a former congressman from Texas and House majority leader from 2003 to 2005, writes a weekly column for The Washington Times and www.washingtontimes.com.

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