Chad’s Morning Brief: Controversy Over Obama’s Swap of 5 Gitmo Prisoners for U.S. Soldier, Open Carry Groups Rally in the Dallas Area, and Other Top Stories
Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of June 2, 2014. Give me your feedback below and tune in to The Chad Hasty Show for these and many more topics from 8:30 to 11am. Remember, you can listen online at KFYO.com or on your iPhone/Android with the radioPup App.
Important Election Dates:
Early Voting for the District 3 Runoff Election: June 9-17
Election Day for Lubbock City Council District 3 Runoff: June 21
Gitmo Prisoner Swap Controversy
President Obama and his administration is once again in the middle of a controversy. The latest controversy involves the prisoner swap with the Taliban. According to the Washington Post some Republicans claim the President broke the law.
Amid jubilation Saturday over the release of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from captivity by the Taliban, senior Republicans on Capitol Hill said they were troubled by the means by which it was accomplished, which was a deal to release five Afghan detainees from the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Top Republicans on the Senate and House armed services committees went so far as to accuse President Obama of having broken the law, which requires the administration to notify Congress before any transfers from Guantanamo are carried out.
“Trading five senior Taliban leaders from detention in Guantanamo Bay for Bergdahl’s release may have consequences for the rest of our forces and all Americans. Our terrorist adversaries now have a strong incentive to capture Americans. That incentive will put our forces in Afghanistan and around the world at even greater risk,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. McKeon (R-Calif.) and the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, James M. Inhofe (Okla.), said in a joint statement.
Lawmakers were not notified of the Guantanamo detainees’ transfer until after it occurred.
The law requires the defense secretary to notify relevant congressional committees at least 30 days before making any transfers of prisoners, to explain the reason and to provide assurances that those released would not be in a position to reengage in activities that could threaten the United States or its interests.
Before the current law was enacted at the end of last year, the conditions were even more stringent. However, the administration and some Democrats had pressed for them to be loosened, in part to give them more flexibility to negotiate for Bergdahl’s release.
A senior administration official, agreeing to speak on the condition of anonymity to explain the timing of the congressional notification, acknowledged that the law was not followed. When he signed the law last year, Obama issued a signing statement contending that the notification requirement was an unconstitutional infringement on his powers as commander in chief and that he therefore could override it.
“Due to a near-term opportunity to save Sergeant Bergdahl’s life, we moved as quickly as possible,” the official said. “The administration determined that given these unique and exigent circumstances, such a transfer should go forward notwithstanding the notice requirement.”
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said that the detainees transferred from Guantanamo to Qatar, where they are to stay for at least a year, “are hardened terrorists who have the blood of Americans and countless Afghans on their hands. I am eager to learn what precise steps are being taken to ensure that these vicious and violent Taliban extremists never return to the fight against the United States and our partners or engage in any activities that can threaten the prospects for peace and security in Afghanistan.”
Beyond this individual instance, some raised the larger question of whether it is sound policy for the United States to have, in the words of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), “negotiated with terrorists.”
Rogers said the action marked a “fundamental shift in U.S. policy.”
More information is coming out about the soldier who was released this weekend. According to the Telegraph, the soldier was caught by the Taliban after abandoning his post.
The little mountain town of Hailey in the rural state of Idaho is readying a hero’s welcome.
Its single shopping street is lined with bright yellow balloons and signs to greet Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl when he finally returns home after five long years as America’s only prisoner of war in Afghanistan.
“Bowe is free at last!” reads one banner. “Our prayers have been answered!”
At Zaney’s coffee house, where the 28-year-old worked before joining the military, well-wishers embrace and admire the large poster board covered in a half decade’s worth of handwritten messages of support.
“To those of us in Hailey, Bowe is certainly a hero,” said Sue Martin, the owner of Zaney’s and Sgt Bergdahl’s former boss.
But behind the scenes of small town celebration is a darker and more complicated story about a young soldier who allegedly abandoned his post after growing disillusioned with America’s wars and the potentially illegal deal struck by the White House to free him.
Bowe Bergdahl was raised in a cabin with no phone in Idaho’s Wood River Valley, a sparse and rugged corner of the American west. He and his sister were home schooled by their father, Bob Bergdahl, an intense woodsman who trained them to shoot and survive in the wild.
For the last five years, Mr Bergdahl has been a tireless campaigner for his son’s release, at times lashing out in frustration at President Barack Obama and even trying to contact the Taliban directly on his own.
Sgt Bergdahl is reportedly struggling to speak English after five years in captivity and his father caught Mr Obama’s aides offguard on Saturday when he began to speak Pashto before the television cameras at the White House.
“I’m your father, Bowe,” he said in the language of his son’s captors.
Sgt Bergdahl took an unusual route into the US military, studying ballet and joining a sailing expedition from the Atlantic to the Pacific before attempting to enlist in the French Foreign Legion. Only after being rejected by France did he join the US Army.
He deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 full of idealistic conviction that he and his comrades could push back the Taliban and improve life in the long-subjugated country.
But hopefulness soon gave way to despair after his unit began to take casualties and he saw how US troops treated the Afghans they were supposed to be saving.
“These people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid,” he wrote in an email to his parents on June 27, 2009.
Three days later, according to Rolling Stone, the 23-year-old soldier simply walked off his base in Patika province, carrying a knife, his diary and a small camera.
He was captured almost immediately and – despite a frantic search by US troops, drones and helicopters – smuggled into Pakistan by Taliban fighters.
Open Carry Rallies
Open Carry rallies have been making headlines in the past few weeks and over the weekend 150 people rallied in North Richland Hills to promote open carry according to the Dallas Morning News.
About 150 people, many of them bearing strong opinions and semi-automatic rifles, assembled on a busy street corner Saturday to make their case for a change in Texas gun laws.
The heavily armed contingent came from the Tarrant County offshoot of Open Carry Texas, an organization that works to “condition Texans to feel safe around law-abiding citizens that choose to carry” guns.
Open Carry groups have staged such events across the state. C.J. Grisham of Temple, the founder of Open Carry Texas, said the “walks” are part of a public relations effort and a political push.
The goal of many in the group is the legalization of open-carry handguns in Texas. State law in general allows the open display of rifles and shotguns but not handguns.
To carry a concealed handgun requires a license.
“I’d much rather have a handgun on my hip,” said Mark Thompson, 54, of Garland. Instead, he attended Saturday’s rally with a Beretta semi-automatic rifle strapped across his back.
“We’re fundamentally changing America and changing Texas,” he said. “We’re letting people know they’re free.”
Although his weapon’s chamber was empty — all those at the rally were instructed to clear their guns’ chambers — Thompson’s gun had a loaded magazine attached. That, he said, was a matter of being prepared for any hostile activity.
“Every now and then we get some aggressive people toward us,” Thompson said. “We get so much hate, it’s incredible.”
Saturday’s event, monitored by several North Richland Hills police officers, took place without incident. It did, however, attract a few critics and protesters.
“I think they’re just a bunch of boobs,” said Jon Felt, 49, who stopped to watch. “They say they checked all these weapons. How do we know they’re empty? I don’t know who these people are.”
Glynn Wilcox of Dallas brought his wife and two sons, ages 6 and 8, to carry home-made signs. “This accomplishes nothing,” one sign said. Another said, “This sign is not a target.”
Saturday’s rally began in the parking lot of a Home Depot. Corporate spokesman Stephen Holmes said that while Home Depot allows customers to carry legally permitted weapons into its stores, “we do not allow solicitation or organizing by third parties on our property.”
The Open Carry supporters were not asked to move on Saturday. But should they return for another rally, Holmes said, “we’ll remind them of that policy.”
Some companies — Starbucks, Chipotle and Jack in the Box among them — have asked customers not to bring firearms into their establishments.
The gathering Saturday generated dozens of critical comments on Home Depot’s Facebook site.
In one typical post, a woman from Dallas wrote, “Since we can’t know when this fanatical anti-woman, death-celebrating-culture group will snap, we’ll be going to Lowe’s from now on.”
Amy Hedtke of Whitesboro wasn’t worried about anyone snapping. She brought four children and two dogs to the rally.
“I’m anti-gun-free zone,” she said. “I’m a huge supporter of the right to self-defense.”
She joined group members at the intersection of Precinct Line Road and Mid-Cities Boulevard. There they waved flags that said “Come And Take It” and passed out Open Carry cards. Many drivers responded with horn-honking support.
Afterward, the group returned to the Home Depot lot, where a raffle was held. Among the prizes: T-shirts and boxes of ammunition.
Some previous Open Carry Tarrant gatherings have convened at intersections in Arlington, where members distributed miniature copies of the Constitution. But the City Council recently banned such activity.
Last week, the Open Carry forces sued in federal court to overturn the ban. Kory Watkins, who filed the suit, said the group will not attempt such public activities in Arlington while the legal matter remains unsettled.
Lately the Open Carry rallies have come under fire from even some gun-rights activists as some are worried that these rallies have done more harm than good when it comes to public relations. Over the last few weeks groups have taken long guns into different locations of Chipoltle, Chili’s, and Sonic.
Other Top Stories:
These and many more topics coming up on today’s edition of The Chad Hasty Show. Tune in mornings 8:30-11am on News/Talk 790 KFYO, streaming online at kfyo.com, and now on your iPhone and Android device with the radioPup App. All guest interviews can be heard online in our podcast section after the show at kfyo.com.