|From top left: Mohammad Nabi Omari, Abdul Haq Wasiq, Mullah Norullah Noori, Mullah Mohammad Fazl, Khirullah Said Wali Khairkhwa.|
President Barack Obama's decision to exchange five Taliban prisoners detained for committing terrorist acts for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. Army infantryman who voluntarily deserted his fellow troops while serving in Afghanistan due to his supposed disillusionment with the U.S. government and its war in Afghanistan, has created one of the biggest firestorms of his presidency. When then-Private Bergdahl decided to desert the camp where he was based in 2009, he sent an e-mail to his parents describing how he was "ashamed to be an American" and how "disgusting" the "horror of America" was. A letter he left behind in his tent indicated that he was leaving to start a new life and wanted to renounce his citizenship.
Emotions are running high on all sides concerning the wisdom of Obama's decision to release five Gitmo detainees described as hardened terrorists with some even suggesting that Obama's actions warrant impeachment because he failed to comply with a federal law enacted by Congress requiring 30-days' notice to Congress. Some congressional critics of President Ronald Reagan called for his impeachment after it became known that his administration had traded American hostages being held by Iran in exchange for illegal arms sales to the country. Some of the soldiers who served alongside Bergdahl are particularly angry with the decision and have gone so far as to suggest that Bergdahl should face a court martial based on their belief that he was actually collaborating with the enemy as opposed to being held captive against his will. That's to say nothing of the pain and anger expressed by a number of the parents of the soldiers killed searching for Bergdahl.
My attention at the moment is drawn to a well-known Hoosier politician who is currently serving as a naval intelligence officer in Afghanistan with the rank of lieutenant. I'm of course speaking of South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Before anyone calls me out for putting his life at risk by discussing his work there, let the record show that he publicly disclosed the purpose of his deployment there when he announced that he would be taking a leave of absence this year from his service as mayor last September. Much to my surprise, Buttigieg even posted photos on his Facebook account announcing his departure for Afghanistan on March 27 with the message, "All right USA, I'm going to miss you but I'll be back soon!"
I was quite surprised at the time to learn that Buttigieg was a naval intelligence officer. After further researching his background, I learned that he had previously worked for former Defense Secretary William's Cohen's business consulting firm in Washington. Even more interesting was Buttigieg's prior work for McKinsey & Company, a global management company with close ties to the CIA, where he specialized in energy and economic development. Buttigieg has acknowledged that he spent part of his time while at McKinsey working in Afghanistan. President Obama's controversial national security advisor, Susan Rice, also worked for McKinsey during the early 1990s. Like the Harvard graduate Buttigieg, she is also a Rhodes Scholar who studied at Oxford. I don't think it's preposterous at all to think Buttigieg may have played a part in the negotiations that led to the exchange of the Taliban prisoners for Bergdahl's release.
A few short days before announcing Bergdahl's release, President Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan that was marred when the White House inadvertently identified by name the CIA chief of station in Kabul, Afghanistan in a release to the White House press corps about the briefing the President received from nearly a dozen officials during his surprise visit to Afghanistan. To my knowledge, all of the reporters who received the briefing paper with the CIA official's name listed on it declined to mention him by name. "An alleged affiliation with CIA would put anyone at the top of the Taliban and al-Qaeda's target list," an official told the Telegraph. Whoever he may be, there is good chance Buttigieg has been working directly with him since reporting for duty there.
|Is that Pete greeting President Obama in Afghanistan or just someone who likes an awful lot like him? (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty images photo)|
Bergdahl's father, Robert, has only added to the intrigue by the fact that he grew a beard like his son, learned to speak Pashto and by the very public manner in which he has openly sided with the enemy, calling for the release of all Gitmo detainees while at the same time being embraced at the White House by President Obama. Bergdahl's father also claimed that his son now only speaks the Pashto language, suggesting that he can no longer speak in English after nearly five years of captivity. Any CIA asset serving in Afghanistan would likely have considerable training in at least one of the local languages spoken where they are assigned.
|Obama takes a friendly stroll with Bergdahl's parents at the White House (J.H. Owen/Getty Images)|