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WHD Exclusive: White House Offered Biden for Bergdahl

White House Dossier has obtained an exclusive transcript of a conversation in the vice president’s West Wing office in which White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough informed Vice President Biden that Biden would be going to Afghanistan as part of a trade for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was kidnapped by the Taliban.

We present to you here the transcript in full.

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McDONOUGH: Mr. Vice President, we want to have a word with you.

BIDEN: Sure, go ahead, you got an idea? Let’s kick it around!

McDONOUGH: As you are aware, a U.S. service member, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, was kidnapped by the Taliban. We are thinking of arranging an exchange.

BIDEN: You don’t say? Let’s do it!

McDONOUGH: Yes, I think we should.

BIDEN: Who are we going to send? One of their guys?

McDONOUGH: No, one of our guys

BIDEN: Who?

McDONOUGH: You.

BIDEN: Me?

McDONOUGH: You.

BIDEN: What the . . .

McDONOUGH: We know you are a brave man, particularly after a couple of scotch and sodas, and so we thought you might be willing to do this for your country.

BIDEN: For my country.

McDONOUGH: There are also several fringe benefits to the exchange.

BIDEN: Like what?

McDONOUGH: Well, once the Taliban have spent a certain amount of time with you, our intelligence agencies have assessed that they will start killing themselves.

BIDEN: I see.

McDONOUGH: You’ll be a cancer within the Taliban. Kind of like you are in the White House.

BIDEN: Okay . . .

McDONOUGH: It’s also a way to way to get our foot in the door with the Taliban. And to get you out the door.

BIDEN: Me out the door?

McDONOUGH: Yes. Now, this is all good because the Republican leadership has signed on because they don’t feel they can impeach Obama while you are vice president. We’ve decided it’s worth the risk.

BIDEN: Okay. I guess that makes sense. Who will the president appoint to replace me?

McDONOUGH: Anybody. It doesn’t matter. Anybody else.

BIDEN: I’m not sure I want to so this. What do they eat?

McDONOUGH: Lots of kabobs.

BIDEN: Every day?

McDONOUGH: Well, some days there’s chicken, some days there’s lamb.

BIDEN: Is there Thai food?

McDONOUGH: We don’t think so, Mr. Vice President.

BIDEN: Can I wear slacks and a golf shirt? I don’t want to walk around in my pajamas all day like those guys do.

McDONOUGH: If you are talking about traditional Afghan garb, you may have to wear what they wear.

BIDEN: But I don’t speak their language.

McDONOUGH: It’s okay, some Taliban speak English. Several make more sense in English than you do. Nevertheless, we’ve brought someone here from the State Department to try to teach you some basic phrases that you may need.

ARNOLD: Hello Mr. Vice President. I’m Arnold, from the South Asia desk. Please repeat after me: Allahu Akbar

BIDEN: Allahuuu . . .

ARNOLD: Allahu Akhbar

BIDEN: Ahh . . .  Ahh . . .  Alakabar

ARNOLD: No, Mr. Vice President, Allahu Akhbar

BIDEN: Alakabar

ARNOLD: Allahu Akhbar

BIDEN: Alakabee

ARNOLD: Gentleman, I don’t think this is possible. Let’s try it in English. They’ll understand. It means “God is great.”

BIDEN: Isn’t that kind of demeaning? Sounds like you’re talking about a can of soda or something. Like, “Hey, Sprite is great!”

ARNOLD: No, it means “great” as in “sublime.”

BIDEN: What’s “sublime?”

McDONOUGH: Just forget it. Just say it when you get there. Now, you’ll be leaving immediately.

BIDEN: Can I have a glass of milk first?

McDONOUGH: No.

BIDEN: Can I bring my Phillies cap?

McDONOUGH: Well, sure. Now –

(Secretary of State John Kerry enters)

KERRY: Wait a second boys. The president has just decided we’re going to send five senior Taliban leaders from Gitmo for Bergdahl instead.

McDONOUGH: What? That’s absurd. Mr. Vice President, please get packed.

KERRY: No, really. Five Taliban.

BIDEN: Thank goodness. I’m not sure I was going to like it there. But you got me hungry. Please order me a chicken kabob for lunch. And bring me my pajamas.

Hillary: “It Doesn’t Matter” if Bergdahl Deserted

Because WHAT DIFFERENCE AT THIS POINT DOES IT MAKE??

Former Secretary of State and future presidential candidate Hillary Clinton suggested in an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer that whether Bergdahl was a deserter – or even a traitor – should not affect the price we pay for his release.

A snippet of the interview was broadcast this morning, with the rest to follow on ABC this evening.

SAWYER: Did (Obama) make a deal with the Devil on releasing those five Talibans?

CLINTON: I think this was a very hard choice which is why I think my book is so aptly named.

Ahh, yes, so apt indeed. I’m left rapt by her apt. I’d like to be able to download her apt app.

Her book is called “Hard Choices,” in case you were wondering.

Let’s continue.

CLINTON: If you look at what the factors were going into the decision, of course there are competing interests and values. I mean, one of our values is, we bring everybody home off the battlefield the best we can. It doesn’t matter how they ended up in a prisoner of war situation

SAWYER: It doesn’t matter?

CLINTON: it does not matter – we bring our people home!

I beg to disagree. If someone is a known deserter, we should still try very hard to get them back. The principle that we get our guys and gals back is indeed a crucial one, both morally and for the morale of the troops.

But the price that we pay and our willingness to risk lives for their return – whether on the battlefield or through the release of known mass murderers and terrorism abettors like the Taliban we sprung from Gitmo – should be affected by notions such as whether a service member was a deserter or a traitor.

Bergdahl was clearly the former. It’s yet to be determined whether he was the latter.

He was responsible for his circumstance, and he put many lives in danger – and probably caused some deaths – because of it. That has to be a factor.

Obama in 2008: No Signing Statements for Me

As you are probably aware, one of the justifications the White House is using to explain it’s failure to consult Congress before releasing five Taliban murderers for an American army deserter is that Obama didn’t think the law requiring him to talk to Capitol Hill was constitutional.

His misgivings were expressed in a signing statement. The very kind of signing statement the wicked George W. Bush used to issue and that the Knight in Shining Armor, Sir Candidate Barack Obama, PROMISED NOT TO ISSUE.

Really, it’s dizzying. Is there any necessary relationship at all between what this man and his advisors say and the truth? The truth and any given statement by Obama seem to glide along on separate paths that may or may not by happenstance intersect.

Do you think I like this? Do you think I like not being able to trust my president, just because I disagree with his policies and think he’s often inept? I don’t like it at all.

Video || The Bergdahl Handoff Analyzed

I thought you might find this analysis of the Bergdahl transfer interesting. Mission accomplished in under a minute.

In addition to the analysis you’ll hear on the video, I’ve heard others say that the white flag and open trunks of the Taliban vehicles were both signals to the Americans that they were in the right place and things were on track.

 

It’s hard for me not to be angry at Bergdahl and his parents when I witness how these special ops guys risked their lives to go get someone who had apparently deserted. This would have been an obvious moment to take out a lot of our best service members.

Sure, the mission was the right things to do. We shouldn’t leave people behind, though Five-Taliban price paid was too high. And I get that Bergdahl’s dad went a little native a desperate effort to get his son back, though it’s hard to excuse his reaction to the message his son sent just before he went AWOL, when he told Bowe, “Obey your conscience.”

Given the awful price we paid – five dangerous Taliban back on the loose – and the circumstance of Bergdahl’s capture, President Obama should not have celebrated his release with a Rose Garden event.

Unless he simply wanted to toast the special forces who probably knew Bergdahl’s history and went and got him anyway.

Obama: “No Apologies” for Bergdahl Swap

A defiant President Obama today said he is making no apologies for arranging the release of Sgt. Bowe Berdahl by freeing five bloodthirsty Taliban leaders who may soon be working on plans to attack American soldiers.

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels today with British Prime Minister David Cameron, Obama claimed he was right to act – and to act fast, without telling Congress.

We had a prisoner of war whose health had deteriorated and we were deeply concerned about and we saw that we had an opportunity and we seized it and I make no apologies for that . . . 

But because of the nature of the folks we were dealing with and the fragile nature of these negotiations, we felt it was important to go ahead and do what we did. And we’re now explaining to Congress the details of how to move forward.

Obama suggested that the matter had become personal to him, saying Bergdahl is “somebody’s child” and noting the letters he has to write to the parents of the fallen.

I make absolutely no apologies for making sure that we get back a young man to his parents and that the American people understand that this is somebody’s child. And that we don’t condition whether or not we make the effort to try to get them back . . .

You have a couple of parents whose kid volunteered to fight in a distant land who they hadn’t seen in five years and they didn’t know if they would ever see again . . .

I write too many letters to folks who unfortunately don’t see their children again after fighting a war.

He added that is was his job as commander in chief to “make sure that that child is being taken care of.”

I can understand his grief and concern for American soldiers. But mawkishness is not exactly a good basis for policy. And this exchange may well force him – or the next president – to write more such letters.

And as usual, Obama suggested that criticism directed his way for actions he has taken is political.

I’m never surprised by controversies that are whipped up in Washington. That’s par for the course . . . .

I think it was important for people to understand that this is not some abstraction, this is not a political football

We have a basic principle: we do not leave anybody wearing the American uniform behind.

It Wasn’t the First Time Bergdahl Went AWOL

CNN’s Barbara Staff reports that a 2010 fact-finding mission determined that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl left his unit “of his own free will” and that in fact he’d done it before.

“He did leave the base of his own free will . . . he walked out,” said Starr. “Troops that were interviewed for this fact finding investigation say that there were previous instances when Bergdahl left the base,” she continued. “He basically snuck outside the wire with no one noticing.”

Video || Koffler Quizzes Carney on Bergdahl-for-Taliban Deal

I thought you might want to see this video of me tangling with White House Press Secretary Jay Carney Monday.

Jay had been repeating his prepared talking points that the threat to national security of having five nasty Taliban leaders out of Guantanamo Bay had been sufficiently “mitigated.” I thought this was strikingly casual and provided precious little information about such a serious issue, so I tried to pin him down a bit.

There were reports that whatever arrangement we had made with the Qataris would last no more than a year. So I tried to get to the bottom line and see if Jay could assure Americans that these bad guys won’t go back to trying to kill us in two or three years.

Note, I asked specifically about two or three years, not “sometime after one year.” That would have given Jay a chance to say, “We haven’t said anything about a year” and try to move on.

Also, being specific about a result – “two or thee years” – is an important journalistic tactic for asking questions, which of course few journalists use. It’s also one you can apply in your own lives.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked some stray senator, “When will you announce your new bill?” and they respond, “I’m not going to discuss timing.” And then I ask “Will it be next week?” And they say, “No, probably not for about three weeks.”

Somehow, when you offer a specific possibility, it compels people to give you a specific answer. Next time your spouse says they’ll be home late, ask, “Like at 8 pm?”

Anyway, didn’t work this time. Jay stuck to his talking points, of course.

The second question I asked was in response to what struck me as an absurd contention that the exchange of five murderous Taliban leaders for a single low-ranking U.S. soldier was perfectly within the tradition of prisoner exchanges. I wanted to know when the last time such gruesome  and dangerous characters had been set loose for someone of Bergdahl’s stature.

Several people noted to me that during the questioning Jay got a little pissy and even seemed to insult my website. It wasn’t my intention to make him testy, but if he loses his cool, all the better, maybe he’ll make a mistake and say something newsworthy. And as for the website, I only regret he didn’t mention the name!

White House Misinformation on Bergdahl?

Oh boy. Here we go again.

The White House said it just had to had to had to act to swap five real bad guys for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl without giving notice to Congress because the guy who dropped out of his unit was about to fall off the earth.

Buhhhht . . .

He looks pretty healthy in the video the Taliban inconveniently released today.

NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski, one of the most no-nonsense reporters I’ve ever worked with – he spent a short time at the White House giving the Clinton people utter Hell – notes in the video below that Bergdahl looks rather robust.

Meanwhile Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the DEMOCRATIC Chairwoman of Intelligence Committee Chairwoman, said she has seen no evidence that Bergdahl’s health was failing.

They’d better release the report of the doctors who are examining Bergdahl in Germany. Without, you know, full-page redactions. Just to make sure he didn’t simply break a nail playing badminton.

Taliban Video Shows Bergdahl’s Transfer

Hopefully these are the final guys to risk their lives for Bergdahl. How did they know they weren’t walking into an ambush? Here’s the handoff. Below is the longer version, in which you can see many interesting things, including the aircraft involved in the transfer and the Taliban spreading out on the hills in case… Continue Reading

Video || Chuck Todd: WH Caught Flat-Footed by Bergdahl Hostility

The White House was shocked at the criticism it has gotten for the way it went about freeing Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, apparently thinking there would be joy that their Herculean efforts to free a possible deserter would be met with gratitude and joy. According to NBC’s Chuck Todd: What’s caught the White House off guard… Continue Reading

Obama Admits Taliban May Resume Harmful Activities

President Obama acknowledged today that five Taliban prisoners released in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl may resume “activities” harmful to the United States, even as he continued to defend the deal. “Is there the possibility of some of them trying to return to activities that are detrimental to us? Absolutely,” Obama said in a news… Continue Reading