The Troubling Case of Bowe Bergdahl

By Jay Holmes

Since his release from Taliban captivity on May 13, 2014, in exchange for five senior Taliban leaders, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has been in the spotlight of the U.S. media. The Obama administration and much of the American media hailed the initial reports of his release as a victory and an obvious cause for celebration. However, within hours, questions began to emerge concerning the wisdom of exchanging five senior Taliban leaders for a U.S. Army soldier who had, according to his army comrades, apparently deserted his post in premeditated fashion.

 

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl image by U.S. Army

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl
image by U.S. Army

 

Bergdahl has now become something of a transient touchstone of American politics. Members of both Houses of Congress have pointed out that President Obama violated federal law when he authorized the release of Guantanamo prisoners without giving Congress the required thirty day notice. The law is quite clear on this point. The law was included in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2013 and was signed by President Obama. We know that the President did in fact read the law before signing it because he complained about the restriction that the law placed on him at the time of the signing.

Whether anyone in the Department of Justice or Congress will do anything about that clear violation of law is doubtful. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has attempted to explain away the violation by saying that the President had complained about the law when he signed it, and that the circumstances were urgent.

I fear I must take responsibility for this particular instance of President Obama’s misbehavior. He was simply copying an old ploy that I invented when I was in third grade. When the nuns would assign me homework, I would complain about it and not do it. The following day, I would explain that urgencies—baseball practice, family events, reading time with better books, etc.—had prevented me from doing the homework. I stopped using that ploy when I got to high school. If I had known way back in third grade that future presidents and press secretaries would unleash such a powerful weapon against the American people, I never would have created this devastating device. I offer my sincere apologies.

The public’s response to the Bergdahl case has ranged from “Shoot the bastard!” to “He’s a hero, though I can’t explain why.” Much of this mixed reaction has little to do with legalities or illegalities. The basic controversy stems from the fact that five very dangerous Taliban leaders were released from Camp Cheerful in Guantanamo, Cuba, to obtain the release of a member of the U.S. Army who apparently deserted his post. The public’s anger concerning Bergdahl is based on statements made by Bergdahl’s platoon mates and a 2010 Pentagon investigation that concluded that there was “incontrovertible evidence” that Bergdahl walked away from his unit. Bergdahl has not been convicted of desertion or of any other violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and he might or might not ever face a court martial.

 

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl with Taliban. image from Voice of Jihad Website

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl with Taliban.
image from Voice of Jihad Website

 

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey now explains that, “The questions about this particular soldier’s conduct are separate from our effort to recover any U.S. service member in enemy captivity,” and that, “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.” I trust and respect General Dempsey, and I accept his position as rational. Precisely how much the U.S. was willing to give the Taliban in exchange for Bergdahl is another matter.

On June 30, 2009, Bergdahl vanished from his army post in Afghanistan. In statements that he made to his battalion mates and emails that he sent to his family prior to leaving his post, he made it clear that he was angry with the United States of America, and that he was ashamed of being American. So what would make any sane member of the U.S. Army turn into an American-hating deserter? The question might not quite apply in this case. He may have not been all that sane to start with.

A glance at Bergdahl’s background raises questions about whether he was ever fit to enter the U.S. Army in the first place. Prior to joining, Bergdahl had traveled to France and had attempted to enlist in the French Foreign Legion. To their credit, the Legion rejected his application. Somehow, the U.S. Army failed to detect the same issues, or it ignored whatever had concerned the French Foreign Legion.

Once Bergdahl arrived in Afghanistan, he began learning to speak Pashto. According to his battalion mates, he became more anti-social and spent more time with Afghans than with his platoon mates.  Bergdahl’s father is certain that he became socially isolated from his comrades while in Afghanistan. The very fact that Bergdahl was willing to wander off alone into the wilds of Afghanistan calls into question his ability to make rational decisions.

It’s a large Army and a volunteer Army. The pool of enlistment applicants is by no means infinite. If the Army were to exclude every youngster that seemed a little odd or that had previously acted immaturely, it would be a very small Army. I can forgive the U.S. military for its imperfect recruiting methods. Many of our nation’s military heroes did not always act like saints. The U.S. military will not find perfect screening tools for candidates. Such tools do not yet exist.

My personal judgments concerning Bergdahl’s conduct are not important. The opinions of his battalion mates should not be quite so easily dismissed. Thus far, it is clear that the majority of men that served in combat with Bergdahl are certain that he is a deserter. The Army is stating that this case will be fully investigated. But the president has the power to order this or any other investigation to be abandoned, or to deliver whatever conclusions he desires to have delivered. Both President Johnson and President Nixon directly intervened in major courts martial cases during the Viet Nam War for political reasons. President Clinton intervened during the Iraq No-Fly Zone operations. I don’t doubt that President Obama will do the same.

On the other side of the coin, the five criminals that were released had previously dedicated themselves to the anti-Western, anti-reason, Stone Age agenda of the Taliban. I expect that they will continue to do so.

 

Taliban Five, a.k.a. Taliban Dream Team Abdul Haq Wasiq, Mohammad Fazl, Khalrullah Khalrkhwa, Mohammed Nabi

Taliban Five, a.k.a. Taliban Dream Team
Abdul Haq Wasiq, Mohammad Fazl, Khalrullah Khalrkhwa, Mohammed Nabi

 

The Pentagon cannot resolve the underlying issues of the Bergdahl controversy. They are political in nature. The propaganda efforts put forth by the spin-demons in D.C. have been amusing but not terribly effective. Democratic Party stalwart and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Senator Dianne Feinstein has contradicted the White House’s assertion that they were forced to act quickly because Bergdahl was in imminent danger. It looks like a major political disaster in the making, but my best guess is that it will all soon fizzle. In all likelihood, the public relations fallout will not greatly influence political events in the U.S. A great number of both the president’s detractors and supporters are dogmatic in their politics, and neither this nor any other event will easily influence their loyalties. The president and other politicians understand this and act accordingly.

On the bright side, there is a glimmer of hope in this and in every other political disaster in the U.S.There are significant indications that young voters are less likely to settle for a constant diet of dogma to satisfy their political wishes. In spite of our best efforts to fail, we may have succeeded in raising a generation of Americans that are somewhat less politically gullible than previous generations have been. Call me a wild optimist, but it seems to me that the defective political products that have sold so well in the American political market place might not sell so well in the near future. The buyers are becoming more leery. Let’s hope that that trend will continue.

In the meantime, the Bergdahl case won’t have much influence on our policies or operations in Afghanistan. The Haqqani terrorist branch of the Taliban have their five extra zealots back, and they will continue to grow and to exert whatever influence they can in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Although it’s infuriating to see terrorists set free, it won’t matter much in practical terms. The White House does not wish to burn much more of its shrinking political resources in Afghanistan. We are leaving regardless of what changes might occur there. Whether or not the Afghani tribal leaders will be willing and able to allow government to occur in our absence remains to be seen.

Summer Camp Cheerful–Attitude Adjustment for Adults

By Piper Bayard & Jay Holmes

Inspired by the HAMAS and UN summer camps in Gaza, we are asking, “Why should Palestinians have all the fun? For that matter, why should kids have all the fun?”

Summer should be a time for fun and relaxation for everyone, but we all know people who do their best to prevent any fun or relaxation from occurring. Camp Cheerful is the answer.

image by U.S. Navy

image by U.S. Navy

Situated in a Caribbean location of incomparable beauty and perfect climatic ambiance at the eastern tip of Cuba, with swimming and diving opportunities in Guantanamo Bay, Camp Cheerful is the perfect getaway for those fun-challenged individuals in your life.

So stop for a moment and think. Who has taken a head start on ruining your summer? Is it a hard-drinking relative? A thoughtless, annoying neighbor with three barking dogs? Perhaps there’s someone in your professional life who doesn’t even wait until summer to spread the agony of her own miserable existence, insisting on sharing the “joy” with everyone around her. Camp Cheerful is just the place to send them to ensure happiness this summer–for you.

All campers will be cheerfully greeted by our Certified Happiness Specialists. We’ve recruited some of the finest soldiers and marines with experience in great vacation resorts like Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, the Balkans, and East Los Angeles. These healthy and enthusiastic men and women are well prepared to assist our campers in achieving life-altering experiences.

Camp Cheerful Happiness Specialists at Play image by GySgt Michael Walker, US Marine Corps

Camp Cheerful Happiness Specialists at Play
image by GySgt Michael Walker
US Marine Corps

For your summer enjoyment, all campers’ activities will be live-streamed on the Internet. Our Certified Happiness Specialists have prepared several thrilling activities guaranteed to keep our campers busy all summer long. We’ve updated some of the more traditional, boring summer camp activities to make them far more interesting, and we’ve created a few completely original activities, as well.

After enjoying a morning of rigorous exercise and fasting, the campers will be treated to a thrilling round of bobbing for apples. To make this game a little easier for tired campers, we’ve attached a five pound diving weight to each apple, allowing the apple to settle conveniently at the bottom of the five foot barrel. Our loving camp staff will assist each camper in entering the barrel after securing their wrists with the lanyards the campers wove themselves in arts & crafts class. What could be more cheer-inducing and fulfilling than using their own handiwork in such a practical application?

Feeling more cheerful already, aren't you?

Feeling more cheerful already, aren’t you?

Many children have memories of the humiliation caused by their failure to ever hit the target on the archery range in summer camp. To avoid that emotional distress, our campers will reverse roles and will act as targets as our staff demonstrates proper archery technique. For safety, each arrow tip will be replaced with steel blunts, and campers will be required to remove all eye wear.

And what summer camp would be complete without a broad array of aquatic activities? Like any good summer camp, we stress safety first. Campers will learn important water survival techniques, such as how to use chicken blood on their swimming trunks as a shark repellant, how to safely tread water for four hours over sharp coral reefs, and how to spend a long day of swimming in the bright Caribbean sun without relying on the crutch of sunscreen. And don’t worry. No life vests allowed!

Camp Cheerful Swimmer getting more cheerful all the time.

Camp Cheerful Swimmer getting more cheerful all the time.

After a scrumptious lunch of cold gruel and a thirst-quenching draught of water from the local sacred spring of Baca Podrida (translation “Rotting Cow”), the staff will choose the Distinguished Camper of the Day, who will then serve as the star in a thrilling round of Pin the Tail on the Jackass. Given the larger size of some of the campers’ rear ends, the players will be allowed to use nail guns, rather than thumb tacks, to ensure the firm placement of the tails.

Most campers look forward to horseback riding as part of their summer camp activities. In spite of the lack of horses in Guantanamo, we have no intention of disappointing our campers. So we’ll be saddling up the campers for competitive steeplechase exercises. To help encourage those young foals to do their best in clearing those quicksand bogs and barbed wire fences, the “horse” that finishes last will be subjected to an extra round of Pin the Tail on the Jackass.

During our evening campfire time, campers will learn thrilling new songs that they will likely remember the rest of their lives. We’ve contracted with some of the world’s leading songwriters (us) to come up with unique songs that our campers will cherish for a lifetime. A Hundred Broken Bottles of Beer On My Head; Row, Row, Row Your Boat Across the River Styx; I Wanna Go Home (But They’ll Kill Me If I Try), and the trademark Camp Cheerful Song, If You’re Happy When You Suffer, Clap Your Hands.

Please notify us now of who you’re intending to send to Camp Cheerful this year, and we will reserve our special 3’ x 7’ dog kennels luxury suites for their vacation pleasure. Enroll your camper today!

Who would you like to send to Camp Cheerful this year and why?

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

 

1-800-ZAPP-ASS: Bayard & Holmes Spark Up Politics

By Author Piper Bayard & Intelligence Operative Holmes

Are you feeling abused by your political system? Disgusted by the candidates? Ready to shoot your TV when Super PAC commercials start their incessant droning? Fear not! Bayard & Holmes stand ever prepared to turn your problems into our opportunities.

We are proud and excited to bring you our latest ingenious program calculated to lower your stress and increase your happiness. We call it 1-800-ZAPP-ASS. Here’s how it works. . . .

For a meager donation of $1.99, you can dial or text 1-800-ZAPP-ASS and deliver an electric shock to the Political Offender of your choice—congressmen, elected officials (no Executive Privilege applies), or a fervent, annoying, neighborhood political party radical. You can even use this device to zapp some sense into political phone solicitors, or those college kids still young enough to know everything who come to our doors, clipboard in hand, and tell us how misguided we are in our political views.

All proceeds will be placed in a special fund to assist the growing numbers of unemployed people and their hungry families who are so desperate for work they are now studying Mandarin or Phillipino in the hopes they will be re-hired for their own outsourced jobs some day.

Sound amazing? But wait! There’s more!

The top 12 most-zapped Political Offenders will win all expense paid vacations to Camp Cheerful Summer Camp for Adults in the beautiful blue Caribbean on the coast of Cuba.

 

Our highly trained Happiness Specialists will be waiting for your favorite Political Offenders with a very special fun activity designed just for them. We call it Politicalboarding.

With Politicalboarding, the Political Offenders are restrained in a room together where they are subjected to each other’s company. Then, they sit through 72 non-stop, fun-filled hours of their own recorded speeches, only interrupted by diaper changes and Super PAC commercials for presidential candidates.

No worries! This is nothing like waterboarding. In fact, Political Offenders at Camp Cheerful aren’t even given water.

At the end of the 72 hours they will be treated to a sumptuous banquet of a health-enhancing whole wheat bread crust and a draught from the local sacred spring of Baca Podrida (translation “Rotting Cow”).

After their meal, the Political Offenders will be strapped to chairs and turned upside down in a dunking booth. Then, since Baseball is not only our religion but the All-American Sport, major league hopefuls will practice their throws. Just so you know, this isn’t waterboarding, either. It’s Strategic Dunking.

Text, phone, tweet, email, or FaceBook now and contribute your $1.99 to sparking up this year’s political campaign and helping your fellow Americans survive. God knows our politicians aren’t doing it.

card available from zazzle.com

If you would like to suggest anyone to receive a shocking wake up from 1-800-ZAPP-ASS, please feel free to do so below. However, in the interests of delicacy and the fact that social media platforms take years to build and can be destroyed in seconds, please only refer to your Political Offenders by clean and clever code names.

Now, now! No crowding, and no personal attacks on each other in the Comments Section. We’ll leave that sort of unethical, unprofessional behavior to the politicians.

Piper Bayard—The Pale Writer of the Apocalypse

Holmes—Student of Sex, C4, and Hollow Points

Camp Cheerful Summer Camp for Adults

By Piper Bayard & Jay Holmes

Inspired by the HAMAS and UN Summer Camps in Gaza, we here at Bayard & Holmes are asking, “Why should Palestinians have all the fun? For that matter, why should kids have all the fun?”

Summer should be a time for fun and relaxation for everyone. There are always a few folks around, though, who will do their best to prevent any fun or relaxation from occurring. It’s those people we had in mind when we conceived the idea of Camp Cheerful.

Situated in a Caribbean location of incomparable beauty and perfect climatic ambiance at the eastern tip of Cuba, with swimming and diving opportunities in Guantanamo Bay, Camp Cheerful is the perfect getaway for those fun-challenged individuals in your life.

So stop for a moment and think. Who has taken a head start on ruining your summer? Is it a hard-drinking relative? A thoughtless, annoying neighbor with three barking dogs and teenagers who party until two a.m.? Perhaps there’s someone in your professional life who doesn’t even wait until summer to spread the agony of her own miserable existence, insisting on sharing the “joy” with everyone around her. Camp Cheerful is just the place to send them to ensure happiness this summer (for you).

All campers will be cheerfully greeted by our Certified Happiness Specialists. We’ve recruited some of the finest soldiers and marines with experience in great vacation resorts like Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, the Balkans, and East Los Angeles. These healthy and enthusiastic men and women are well prepared to assist our campers in achieving life-altering experiences.

For your summer enjoyment, all campers’ activities will be live-streamed on the Internet. Our Certified Happiness Specialists have prepared several thrilling activities guaranteed to keep our campers busy all summer long. We’ve updated some of the more traditional, boring summer camp activities to make them far more interesting, and we’ve created a few completely original activities, as well.

After enjoying a morning of rigorous exercise and fasting, the campers will be treated to a thrilling round of bobbing for apples. To make this game a little easier for tired campers, we’ve attached a five pound diving weight to each apple, allowing the apple to settle conveniently at the bottom of the five foot barrel. Our loving camp staff will assist each camper in entering the barrel after securing their wrists with the lanyards the campers wove themselves in arts & crafts class. What could be more cheer-inducing and fulfilling than using their own handiwork in such a practical application?

Many children have memories of the humiliation caused by their failure to ever hit the target on the archery range in summer camp. To avoid that emotional distress, our campers will reverse roles and will act as targets as our staff demonstrates proper archery technique. For safety, each arrow tip will be replaced with steel blunts, and campers will be required to remove all eye wear.

And what summer camp would be complete without a broad array of aquatic activities? Like any good summer camp, we stress safety first. Campers will learn important water survival techniques, such as how to use chicken blood on their swimming trunks as a shark repellant, how to safely tread water for four hours over sharp coral reefs, and how to spend a long day of swimming in the bright Caribbean sun without relying on the crutch of sunscreen. And don’t worry. No life vests allowed!

After a scrumptious lunch of cold gruel and a thirst-quenching draught of water from the local sacred spring of Baca Podrida (translation “Rotting Cow”), the staff will choose the Distinguished Camper of the Day, who will then serve as the star in a thrilling round of Pin the Tail on the Jackass. Given the larger size of some of the campers’ rear ends, the players will be allowed to use nail guns, rather than thumb tacks, to ensure the firm placement of the tails.

Most campers look forward to horseback riding as part of their summer camp activities. In spite of the lack of horses in Guantanamo, we have no intention of disappointing our campers. So we’ll be saddling up the campers for competitive steeplechase exercises. To help encourage those young foals to do their best in clearing those quicksand bogs and barbed wire fences, the “horse” that finishes last will be subjected to an extra round of Pin the Tail on the Jackass.

During our evening campfire time, campers will learn thrilling new songs that they will likely remember the rest of their lives. We’ve contracted with some of the world’s leading songwriters (us) to come up with unique songs that our campers will cherish for a lifetime. A Hundred Broken Bottles of Beer On My Head; Row, Row, Row Your Boat Across the River Styx; I Wanna Go Home (But They’ll Kill Me If I Try), and the trademark Camp Cheerful Song, If You’re Happy When You Suffer, Clap Your Hands.

Please notify us now of who you’re intending to send to Camp Cheerful this year, and we will reserve our special 3’ x 7’ dog kennels luxury suites for their vacation pleasure. Enroll your camper today!

Who would you like to send to Camp Cheerful this year and why?