At the outset of his presidency, Barack Obama stated that “a democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency.” But actions speak louder than words, and the actions of President Obama’s Administration evidence the exact opposite. For example, the laundry list of unanswered scandals such as the IRS targeting of conservatives, the Benghazi cover-up, the ATF fast and furious scandal, and the NSA’s eavesdropping exhibit the President’s lack of accountability and transparency. One would think that such a list could not grow, but recently, President Obama added another to the list.


On May 31, 2014, President Obama addressed the nation from the Rose Garden to trumpet his decision to trade five high- to mid- level Taliban leaders for Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. Allegedly, Sergeant Bergdahl deserted his base in eastern Afghanistan in June 2009, and was captured and held by the Taliban for five years. Bergdahl’s former platoonmates claim that he is partly to blame for the death of six American soldiers killed searching for him. Despite these charges of desertion and soldier-related deaths, President Obama showed Sergeant Bergdahl and his family the most broadcasted and affectionate attention of any military family during his presidency. Further, Bergdahl is set to receive a tax-free $350,000 paycheck for back pay of his military service if an investigation into his disappearance proves that he was not a deserter. Overall, such treatment in an effort to elevate the president’s public perception by using an accused deserter without mentioning any of the soldiers that died trying to find him shows just how out of touch President Obama is with the military’s core values of honor, duty, and country. And this is just the start.


Prior to the prisoner trade, President Obama completely disregarded the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014, which requires thirty days’ notice be given to Congress before the transferring of any Guantanamo Detainee. The top two senators on the intelligence committee, Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), both publicly acknowledge that neither received any intelligence regarding the trade despite being briefed continuously on the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden. At first, the administration alleged that Bergdahl’s deteriorating health did not permit advance notice, but have since shifted their stance claiming that disclosure of the trade would have threatened the mission. This claim has been dismissed by both senators who note that situations involving lives at stake have not prevented disclosure before. Such a wavering stance and failure to address the nation have once again created a situation that leaves Americans wanting answers.


Ironically enough, weeks before President Obama made the decision to release five terrorists, his administration coined the phrase “don’t do stupid stuff” to represent his policy on foreign affairs. Yet, this decision once again shows that President Obama’s actions don’t follow his words. This trade completely bucked America’s prior stance of not negotiating with terrorists. We not only negotiated; we gave them what they wanted. Terrorists now know that the capturing of a U.S. citizen has value and can lead to further advancement of their terroristic agenda.


In the end, it isn’t the bringing home of Bowe Bergdahl that has upset U.S. soldiers. It is the attempted praise President Obama sought at the expense of such a decision. It is the cloud of mystery and unanswered questions that surround the situation. It is the law breaking and backtracking on grounded foreign policy. The members of his Platoon came forward only after the President heaped such praise on Bergdahl and his family. What President Obama forgets is that in order to carry out his minimalist foreign policy agenda, he must rely on the men and women and who serve our country. And now the Bergdahl scandal begins to fade with news of an Iraqi uprising which started as a direct result of our policies of abdication both there and in Syria. Many soldiers, including me, served in Iraq, and it pains us all to see what’s happening there now. If you want the respect of soldiers, Mr. President, please practice what you preach.


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