Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Missing U.S Soldier Bowe Bergdahl Seen Alive in New Video

The new proof of life video is the first in three years of Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban in June 2009

Bob Bergdahl, Jani Bergdahl
Jae C. Hong / AP
Bob Bergdahl, left, and wife, Jani, the parents of captive U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, talk at the "Bring Bowe Back" celebration held to honor Sgt. Bergdahl in Hailey, Idaho, June 22, 2013.
For the family of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier held by the Taliban, it has been 4 years, 7 months and seventeen days since they learned their son went missing from his base in eastern Afghanistan. It has been nearly three years since the last video showing their son alive.

On Wednesday, CNN reported that the U.S. military had obtained a new video showing Bergdahl, dated December 14, 2013. The Bergdahl family released a statement Wednesday afternoon confirming the video and asking again for the released of their son. “As we have done so many times over the past 4 and a half years, we request his captors to release him safely so that our only son can be reunited with his mother and father,” the family’s statement said. “BOWE – If you see this, continue to remain strong through patience. Your endurance will carry you to the finish line.


Bergdahl was serving in Paktika Province in eastern Afghanistan when he went missing from his base on June 30, 2009. The circumstances of his disappearance remain unclear. Bergdahl was captured by Taliban fighters and taken first to the Pakistani border town of Angoor Adda, then to the mountains of North Waziristan’s Shawal Valley, where he is believed to be held by the network of Taliban-aligned militant leader Sirajuddin Haqqani.

Soon after Bergdahl was captured, the Taliban released a video of the American dressed in local garb and with the beginnings of a wispy beard. “I am scared I won’t be able to go home,” Bergdahl said in the video. “It is very unnerving to be a prisoner.” The Bergdahl family initially remained silent in public, working behind the scenes for their son’s release. Then two years after Bowe’s capture, his father, Bob, made a Youtube video where he appealed to the Pakistani military to help secure Bowe’s safe return.

Most of the world would learn the name Bowe Bergdahl in May 2012, when a local newspaper in the Bergdahl’s hometown, Hailey, Idaho, published a story quoting the family saying “everybody is frustrated with how slowly the process has evolved.” That week, news broke that Bowe had been the subject of a failed deal to swap Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo for Bowe’s release.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl
Bob Bergdahl spoke with TIME in Hailey, where he described the family’s painful wait for Bowe’s return. Bob learned Pashto and grew a long beard in solidarity with his son. “His faith seems to be intact,” Bob said. “In his videos, he’s mentioned his faith in God, and that means a lot to us. We think the Taliban and these Pashtun people can identify with that. And I hope they can respect him for that. I hope they continue to treat him humanely.” 

There are few details of the latest video, and Bergdahl’s fate remains in limbo. When Bob spoke with TIME in 2012, he worried that the politics of the presidential election would prevent any prisoner-swap deal that could secure Bowe’s release.

“This is a war, and war doesn’t wait on politics,” he said. There was little discussion of the war in Afghanistan during the 2012 campaign, and virtually no mention of the one soldier still being held prisoner by the Taliban. As the U.S. completes its drawdown of nearly all troops by the end of this year, the Bergdahls must hope the U.S. government can cut a deal with the Haqqani Network and the Taliban that will ensure he is not left behind.

Convincing throngs of young and healthy people to overpay for coverage in order to subsidize aging, sicker Americans was always going to be one of Obamacare advocates' toughest tasks. In assessing the composition of healthy, sustainable risk pools, the administration pegged its target percentage of "young invincibles" at just shy of 40 percent. Coming up short of that goal would risk an adverse selection "death spiral" -- or a politically radioactive bailout. The White House has been unusually tight-lipped about how the nationwide numbers are shaping up, and now we know why. Uh oh:

Just 24 percent of Americans signing up for coverage under President Obama's health care law through December were part of the young adult demographic, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday -- well below the nearly 39 percent the White House had once deemed essential to the law's success. 
In a new report, HHS said that through Dec. 28 (about halfway through the six-month open enrollment period), roughly 2.2 million Americans signed up for coverage on one of the law's health insurance exchanges. That's well below the administration's target of 3.3 million. And HHS still hasn't disclosed how many of those who have signed up for insurance have actually paid their first premiums, which is necessary for enrollment to be the report, HHS said that just 24 percent of those who signed up so far were aged 18 to 34. In December, a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation identified a “worst-case scenario” situation in which just 25 percent of enrollees were in the 18-to-34 demographic.
Twenty-four percent is below the "worst case scenario" outside analysts had previously envisioned. If insufficient numbers of young Americans enroll in Obamacare's exchanges, insurers will be stuck with sicker, costlier risk pools. They'll compensate for projected losses by jacking up rates on other customers, which could send additional comparatively healthy consumers heading for the exits.

To forestall this crumble, the administration may tee up taxpayer-funded bailouts for insurance companies. They could expand a provision within the law that was designed to offer targeted, small-scale bailouts if specific companies ended up getting caught with the short end of the adverse selection stick in certain markets. Republicans are seeking to block this bailout scheme, and I can't imagine the public is too excited about Democrats sending millions or billions to insurers because their trillion-dollar program has been a technological and demographic bust. The New York Times published a story over the weekend describing how the number of coverage misfires is growing. As we've predicted, people are showing up for care only to discover that their insurance company can't confirm that they're covered. Some people are being given the choice of either paying exorbitant out-of-pocket fees or walking away without being treated:
Paul D. Donahue and his wife, Angela, are among more than a million Americans who have signed up for health coverage through the federal insurance exchange. Mr. Donahue has a card in his wallet from his insurer to prove it. But when he tried to use it to get a flu shot and fill prescriptions this week, local pharmacies could not confirm his coverage, so he left without his medications. Similar problems are occurring daily in doctors’ offices and drugstores around the country as consumers try to use insurance coverage that took effect on Jan. 1 under the Affordable Care Act...In Los Angeles, Hilary Danailova, who is almost eight months pregnant, said she had to pay $630 for an ultrasound on Thursday after failing to get an ID card or any confirmation of coverage from her new insurer, Anthem Blue Cross.
Ms. Danailova, 38, said she signed up just before Christmas and sent her first month’s premium of $410 by overnight mail on Jan. 3. She has repeatedly tried to reach Anthem to see whether the company has processed her payment. “At this point I am facing the cold dread of not knowing whether Anthem ever recorded my enrollment at all,” she said.
In each of these cases, the individuals in question actually tried to pay their first premium. They were informed and responsible, yet still got screwed. How many "enrollees" haven't even attempted an initial payment? The administration won't say. I discussed this issue with Fox News' Gretchen Carlson yesterday:

This is what horrific mismanagement, technological incompetence, and a litany of seat-of-your-pants delays have wrought. Flailing Democrats are trying to pin all of this on the private companies, but Americans understand who the culprit for the chaos truly is. Meanwhile, the Washington Post wakes up to the fact that another barrage of "disruptions" is likely to crash ashore in late 2014, which is precisely what we've been warning about for some time:
When millions of health-insurance plans were canceled last fall, the Obama administration tried to be reassuring, saying the terminations affected only the small minority of Americans who bought individual policies. But according to industry analysts, insurers and state regulators, the disruption will be far greater, potentially affecting millions of people who receive insurance through small employers by the end of 2014. While some cancellation notices already have gone out, insurers say the bulk of the letters will be sent in October, shortly before the next open-enrollment period begins.
And right before the midterm elections. Ahem. I'll leave you with this:

On every level and from every perspective -- from pure national interest to the purely moral -- the decision by the Obama administration and the Democratic Party to withdraw American troops from Iraq and Afghanistan is indefensible.

Let's begin with Iraq.

Here is how the front-page article in yesterday's edition of USA Today began:

"When the last U.S. combat troops departed Iraq in December 2011, they left behind a defeated al-Qaida and an Iraq where traditional rivals Sunni and Shiite Muslims were sharing power in the world's only Arab democracy.

"Two years later, al-Qaida has seized major cities where hundreds of U.S. troops died while fighting alongside their Iraqi brethren. The population once freed by the U.S.-Iraqi alliance has now watched those same jihadist insurgents return to command the streets and impose their will."

As a result of the United States withdrawing its troops at the end of 2011:

In 2013, 7,818 Iraqi civilians were killed, higher than the 2008 toll of 6,787 (United Nations figures).

In 2010, there were approximately 10 car bombs per month; in 2013, there was an average of 71.

At great expenditure in money, lives and limbs, the United States had defeated al-Qaida in Iraq.

American troops had turned such terrorist dominated cities as Fallujah and Ramadi into relatively peaceful cities governed by pro-government, anti-al-Qaida Sunnis. And al-Qaida had been handed its greatest defeat.

In 2008, the American people elected as president a man dedicated to bringing the troops home.

Discussing Iraq last week, White House spokesman Jay Carney said, "The president made a commitment to end the war in Iraq. He fulfilled that commitment."

The language Carney used is instructive. The president made a commitment "to end the war."

That is how Democrats see abandoning countries to mass death: the "war ends."

That is the amoral and provincial perspective of the Democrats. All the death, torture and fighting that takes place because Americans have withdrawn don't really matter. For the Democrats and others on the left -- the self-proclaimed compassionate folks -- the amount of suffering caused by America withdrawing its troops is just not important.

This began with the withdrawal from Vietnam. By 1972, when the Democratic Party nominated George McGovern, it had, for the first time, ceased being a liberal party. It had been taken over by the left, and remains so until this day.

Forced by the Democrat-controlled Congress, the United States abandoned Vietnam in 1975. On April 30 of that year, the last American helicopter left Saigon, leaving our Vietnamese allies to be "re-educated," tortured and murdered -- and all the Vietnamese to be enslaved by a Stalinist Communist regime.

After America left Vietnam, about two million South Vietnamese were sent to re-education camps, of whom about 165,000 died, between 100,000 and 200,000 were executed, 50,000 died performing hard labor in "New Economic Zones," and another 200,000 to 400,000 Vietnamese died fleeing Vietnam (the "Boat People").

The same month the last American left Vietnam, the Communist Khmer Rouge ("Red Cambodians") under Pol Pot took over Cambodia and proceeded to murder about two million, or about one out of every three or four Cambodians.

Eight months after the Americans left Vietnam, Communists took over Laos who then proceeded -- with the help of the Vietnamese Communists -- to engage in genocide against the Hmong population.

Meanwhile about three million additional people fled Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

But for the left, the "war ended."

Having lived through all that, I recall only silence from previously vociferous anti-war protestors about the mass murders that followed the American withdrawal from Vietnam. The campuses were quiet, the intellectuals were quiet, the Democratic Party was quiet.

We are reliving that now as the left and its political party abandon Iraq and soon Afghanistan. The amount of death and human suffering that will follow in each country mean nothing to the left and the Democratic Party (and, to be fair, to the Libertarian Party as well) -- so long as there is no American involvement.

And the most amazing aspect of all this is that the left and the Democrats are certain that they are the moral and compassionate ones.

But there is one difference this time: In all the previous abandonments of allies, only the benighted allies suffered the consequences. This time, with a victorious al-Qaida in Iraq and Taliban in Afghanistan, we will, too.

Incredibly, the lead negotiators for the House GOP have just agreed that the only group deserving budget punishment in the new spending deal is the career military. It is an obscene deal, one made worse by a patently cynical attempt to hide the blow to the military by "restoring" cuts to the pensions of wounded veterans. A vote for this betrayal of the military will haunt every Republican who supports it.

When the first outlines of the budget "deal" emerged late last year, I counseled caution as the final details could change. I had assumed sane people who remind the House GOP that spending discipline shouldn't begin and end with hammer blows to the career military that has been at war for more than a dozen years.

I figured the details would change and the military would emerge if not saluted for their service, then at least not punished for it.

Now those details are available and the outrageous cut of the COLA for pensions of the career military remains in the deal.

In fact, to repeat: The only serious cut in the entire deal is aimed at active duty and retired career military, with a small change made from the round outline one to assist disabled veterans supposed to serve as cover for the Members of Congress who vote for this. This looks like a slick, cynical attempt to hide the huge impact of the bill on the career military, thus using the disabled veterans as cover for their friends and colleagues of two decades who emerged from the wars not disabled or wounded. This deeply cynical move makes disgust with the "deal" deeper, not less.

I would have had no objection to a spending plan that called on everyone to sacrifice, that reformed all COLAs, that means-tested wealthy recipients of Medicare and which ended the absurd, obscene subsidy net that supports everything from NPR to Amtrack.

But support for a spending bill that blows through agreed upon sequester caps and slops out great new mounds of spending of borrowed dollars on all sorts of hands-out to special interests while cutting the retirement benefits of 20+ year career military is shameful.

The only people called upon to sacrifice are those in uniform today or those who retired after 20+ years of military service? Astonishing, and worse than astonishing. House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers is the GOPer responsible for this deal --and it will shock the veterans in his Kentucky District. They will rightly ask why he didn't fight for them as they fought for him, his family and his country through a dozen years of way.

Senate Democrats who vote for this bill can rightly expect the issue to haunt them throughout 2014 as the families of the warriors they had screwed show up at their rallies and the retired veterans speak up at town halls. I hope Ed Gillespie, running against the Democratic incumbent in Virginia Mark Warner and Tom Cotton, running against the hapless Mark Pryor in Arkansas, make a point of pointing to this outrage every day for the next nine months. The same charge should be made against Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire, Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, Mark Udall in Colorado and Kay Hagan in North Carolina --indeed against every Democrat whose contempt for the career military is so great as to single them out for budget punishment after a dozen years of war.

House Republicans who break faith with the soldiers, sailors airmen and Marines --really, $45 billion in new spending but the career military had to take a $6 billion dollar cut?-- will run into the same fierce anger and rightly so. They are supposed to be the party of defense, not the party of throwing the military under the bus first.

Speaker Boehner, Leader Cantor and Rules Chair Sessions should act to allow amendments to restore the military retirement cuts. There may come a day when everyone in America is asked to sacrifice a point of their COLAs, but there shouldn't ever be a day when the only ones asked to do so are those who fought the wars for the longest period in American history.

It is a $1.1 trillion dollar spending bill, and the House GOP didn't fight to save $6 billion in military pensions for men and women who have been at war since 2001, who have deployed four, five, six and even seven times from their families while the party went on in D.C., the real estate values swelled, and the whole obscene "This Town" Beltway culture spun out of control?

Again, it isn't that the military are being asked to sacrifice. It is that they are the only ones being asked to sacrifice. The House appropriators just took the most deserving group in America and slashed their retirement benefit while leaving Members of Congress and their staffs, the senior members of the permanent government, and all the other hand-out takers of the big government money machine happy and applauding their bipartisan cooperation. "Disgusted" doesn't begin to capture the feeling that most voters will have towards this deal, and rightly so.

Benghazi: Obama was told immediately that it was a "terrorist attack," not a protest on Muhammad video

From Jihad Watch / Posted by: Robert Spencer

Thumbnail image for Stevens.jpg

What is most disturbing about Obama's deceptiveness here is that he blamed the Muhammad video -- in effect blaming America's freedom of speech and implying that restrictions on the freedom of speech would be warranted. As Pamela Geller notes: "Not one week after the September 11th attacks on our consulate, Obama stood before the world at the UN and said, 'the future must not belong to those who slander the Prophet of Islam.' Obama said this knowing that the murder of our people and the attack on our consulate was in the cause of Muhammad." You'd almost think he wanted the U.S. to adopt Sharia blasphemy restrictions.

"The Benghazi Transcripts: Top Defense officials briefed Obama on ‘attack,’ not video or protest," by James Rosen for Fox News, January 14 (thanks to all who sent this in):
Minutes after the American consulate in Benghazi came under assault on Sept. 11, 2012, the nation's top civilian and uniformed defense officials -- headed for a previously scheduled Oval Office session with President Obama -- were informed that the event was a "terrorist attack," declassified documents show. The new evidence raises the question of why the top military men, one of whom was a member of the president's Cabinet, allowed him and other senior Obama administration officials to press a false narrative of the Benghazi attacks for two weeks afterward.  
Gen. Carter Ham, who at the time was head of AFRICOM, the Defense Department combatant command with jurisdiction over Libya, told the House in classified testimony last year that it was him who broke the news about the unfolding situation in Benghazi to then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The tense briefing -- in which it was already known that U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens had been targeted and had gone missing -- occurred just before the two senior officials departed the Pentagon for their session with the commander in chief. 
According to declassified testimony obtained by Fox News, Ham -- who was working out of his Pentagon office on the afternoon of Sept. 11 -- said he learned about the assault on the consulate compound within 15 minutes of its commencement, at 9:42 p.m. Libya time, through a call he received from the AFRICOM Command Center. 
"My first call was to General Dempsey, General Dempsey's office, to say, 'Hey, I am headed down the hall. I need to see him right away,'" Ham told lawmakers on the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation on June 26 of last year. "I told him what I knew. We immediately walked upstairs to meet with Secretary Panetta."
Ham's account of that fateful day was included in some 450 pages of testimony given by senior Pentagon officials in classified, closed-door hearings conducted last year by the Armed Services subcommittee. The testimony, given under "Top Secret" clearance and only declassified this month, presents a rare glimpse into how information during a crisis travels at the top echelons of America's national security apparatus, all the way up to the president. 
Also among those whose secret testimony was declassified was Dempsey, the first person Ham briefed about Benghazi. Ham told lawmakers he considered it a fortuitous "happenstance" that he was able to rope Dempsey and Panetta into one meeting, so that, as Ham put it, "they had the basic information as they headed across for the meeting at the White House." Ham also told lawmakers he met with Panetta and Dempsey when they returned from their 30-minute session with President Obama on Sept. 11.
Armed Services Chairman Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., sitting in on the subcommittee's hearing with Ham last June, reserved for himself an especially sensitive line of questioning: namely, whether senior Obama administration officials, in the very earliest stages of their knowledge of Benghazi, had any reason to believe that the assault grew spontaneously out of a demonstration over an anti-Islam video produced in America.
Numerous aides to the president and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton repeatedly told the public in the weeks following the murder of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans that night -- as Obama's hotly contested bid for re-election was entering its final stretch -- that there was no evidence the killings were the result of a premeditated terrorist attack, but rather were the result of a protest gone awry. Subsequent disclosures exposed the falsity of that narrative, and the Obama administration ultimately acknowledged that its early statements on Benghazi were untrue. 
"In your discussions with General Dempsey and Secretary Panetta," McKeon asked, "was there any mention of a demonstration or was all discussion about an attack?" Ham initially testified that there was some "peripheral" discussion of this subject, but added "at that initial meeting, we knew that a U.S. facility had been attacked and was under attack, and we knew at that point that we had two individuals, Ambassador Stevens and Mr. [Sean] Smith, unaccounted for."
Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, a first-term lawmaker with experience as an Iraq war veteran and Army reserve officer, pressed Ham further on the point, prodding the 29-year Army veteran to admit that "the nature of the conversation" he had with Panetta and Dempsey was that "this was a terrorist attack." ...

Mission accomplished...Obama style
By: Diane Sori

“Every person who served in Iraq or Afghanistan never loses that part of them when they come home. It becomes part of their soul.”- former three-star General Mark Hertling

Sometimes reality is cruel but sometimes reality stares us in the face and forces us to face facts, and one of those facts is that it's time we accept...liberal rhetoric aside...that we indeed are at war with islam...all islam...and that thanks to the "absence of conviction" of Barack HUSSEIN Obama we have sadly lost Iraq, as the sustained peace our soldiers fought and died for has NOT come to pass.

When George W. Bush left office the tangible physical war in Iraq had been won so to speak, but now 4,486 American troops have returned home in coffins, three quarters of them killed on Obama's watch. And thanks to Obama, in his role as Commander-in-Chief, forcing our troops to fight politically correct battles for "the hearts and minds" of the enemy instead of fighting those battles to win, there was a major resurgence in violence over this past year across the western province of Anbar, resulting in the black flag of al-Qaeda now flying over government buildings in Fallujah. And as the jihadists declare an Islamic state in a city in one of the most critical areas we fought hard to secure and temper down before Obama's telling the enemy...telling the world...when exactly American forces would be leaving became reality....seeing that flag symbolically stained with the blood of our American heroes flying in victory, sadly proclaims for all to see that our fighting and our dying was for naught.

And it took Obama just five years to lose all the gains we had made in Iraq...for Obama NOT only lost the war...or what he calls 'an overseas contingency'...but he sold out the peace...for that simple black al-Qaeda flag announces to the world the total failure of his policies in Iraq.

And it announces NOT just defeat but now his actions...or lack thereof...spits on the graves of the 3000+ Americans lost on September 11th when that very same al-Qaeda changed America forever. America's enemy...the one's Obama claimed were "decimated and on the run"...were anything but for as they regrouped and grew stronger Barack HUSSEIN Obama...America's very own 'enemy within'... looked away for our enemy is his friend...a friend he gave the chance to just wait it out until we left and then take back what American blood had been spilled for.

And now some are saying...and maybe rightly so...that the war in Iraq was possibly the biggest waste of American lives, American money, and American time in our nation's history. And when you compare Iraq to the aftermath of World War II there is some credence to what those folks are saying.

Remember, when Japan and Germany were occupied after the war the rules we set for the occupation were strictly enforced and the occupation lasted for years, which gave those countries time to restructure themselves to become successful modern nations, something we did NOT do in Iraq or for that fact we are NOT doing now in Afghanistan.

But thanks to the Obama liberals, to the leftists, to the kumbaya Democrats who dared NOT step on muslim toes, all we did when Obama sold us and the Iraqi people out was leave behind arms, equipment, and training programs so that the locals could create a viable fighting force, but we did NOT leave people there to train them, and so now all those arms and equipment are rotting across the landscape of Iraq.

And so what we hoped to win, we actually were destined to lose.

And the very basis for our being destined to lose...besides having a traitor sitting in the White because it was NEVER admitted least NOT publicly...that we are indeed at war with islam for if you do NOT recognize who the enemy is how can you be victorious over them. And like I said in the beginning of this piece we are most assuredly at war with ALL of islam for those who simply follow the tenets of islam cannot be separated from those who commit unspeakable acts in the name of islam. And America's Judeo-Christian mindset cannot fathom nor understand the vileness of those whose very so-called holy book (the qur'an) commands them to kill all who do NOT believe as they do. And it's our total awe of that very unspeakable understanding that prevents us from doing what we all know needs to be done and accepting the fact that our Judeo-Christian America...a nation whose very ideals, values, morals, and beliefs were founded upon the word of the one true living God of the Christians and Jews...can NEVER co-exist in peace with those who relish and welcome death over life.

So sadly, something deep in our hearts we knew was coming but dared NOT speak of, al-Qaeda flags now fly over both Fallujah and Ramadi. And for those who fought the good fight...for those who came home damaged in body and mind...that reality is hard to accept as it should be.

“It brings back a lot of anger,” said U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Paul, who served in the Iraqi cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. “I feel like it’s been a big waste of time. It’s kind of like, why the hell did all my buddies die there for."

And how right he is for because of Barack HUSSEIN Obama and his misguided allegiances and policies we have lost Iraq...and probably will lose Afghanistan our brave troops are NOT returning home as the victors they should be but as those in defeat...and that is something that this most miserable of presidents must be both called to task for and made to answer for...period.