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Friday, May 29, 2015




The self-proclaimed Islamic State has claimed a major provincial capital in Iraq and taken over another strategically key city in Syria. In response, the Obama administration plans to do—well, not much of anything new.

Four defense officials told The Daily Beast that there’s still strong resistance within the Obama administration to making any serious changes to the current strategy for fighting ISIS—despite mounting skepticism from some in the Pentagon about the current U.S. approach to the war.

Although the Obama administration’s public messaging is that it still wants to “degrade and ultimately defeat” ISIS, in reality, many in the Pentagon view the real objective as just running out the clock.

“I think this is driven by a sense that this not our fight and so we are just going to try to contain it and have influence where we can,” one official who works closely on the military strategy explained to The Daily Beast. “This is a long fight, and it will be up to the next administration to tackle.”

Rather than aiming for a decisive victory, the U.S. approach has devolved into simply maintaining a low boil in perpetuity.

They said they realize that the political strategy supersedes the military one; there is no public appetite for ground troops in Iraq; there is frustration about corruption within the Iraqi government; and there is a lack of a clear alternative approach.

“It’s a political response,” one official explained. “They are doing ‘something’ to inoculate themselves from substantial criticism.”

Some are more blunt, saying no one wants to invest too much time or resources in crafting an alternative.

“It’s a political response,” one official explained. “They are doing ‘something’ to inoculate themselves from substantial criticism.”

“Who wants a soldier to come home dead or without a leg or captured by ISIS for forces that retreat?” a second defense official asked.

To be sure, the Pentagon brass has yet to offer alternative strategies to fighting ISIS. Most recently, the U.S.-led coalition did not even ramp up its air strikes after ISIS claimed the Sunni dominated Iraqi city of Ramadi May 18. Since then, the coalition has conducted an average of three strikes a day, targeting vehicles and fighting positions. U.S. officials insist they strike whenever they get good intelligence on ISIS positions.

With no change in air strikes and a ground force that has retreated, ISIS has successfully—and without any major impediments—built berms, receiving and building other defenses against a promised counterattack by Iraqi security forces.

Even the mildest adjustments are being met with resigned silence, four defense officials told The Daily Beast. En route to Singapore on Wednesday, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter told reportersthat he had convened a meeting with “his team” about Iraqi and said the military was examining how “to increase the effectiveness of the campaign.”

“I can’t describe to you what the possibilities are because folks are looking at them right now,” Carter added.

But rather than adjust the strategy, the U.S. military is considering small tactical changes—in how quickly it conducts air strikes after the Iraqis request them and how to provide Iraqi ground forces weapons and equipment quicker. Among the ideas Carter proposed was speeding up the training of Sunni tribesmen. Army Col. Steven Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, emphasized to reporters Thursday the U.S. is looking only to “fine tune” its tactics, not overhaul its strategy.

The secretary noted the military is responsible for two of the nine lines of effort the U.S. is using toward Iraq, which include financial and political pressure, but there was no evidence Thursday that those lines were being reconsidered, either.

But neither a lack of air power nor weapons appeared to lead to Ramadi’s fall. While the Iraqis feared that a sandstorm would limit coalition air strikes, U.S. officials said that was not the case. And the Iraqi army vastly outnumbered ISIS forces, and there is no evidence its soldiers suffered a major weapons shortage.

Rather it appears ISIS had fighters hidden in the city who built scores of car bombs—some the size of the Oklahoma City bombing attack—and a strike plan to follow that flustered Iraq Special Forces, or Golden Brigades, who retreated, followed by brigade forces.

Critics of officials at U.S. Central Command, which is in charge of the U.S. military approach toward the Middle East, note that military leaders have yet to publicly propose a strategy that does not involve a major ground force presence. That’s something the White House simply won’t accept.

At a breakfast with reporters Thursday, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the chief of staff of the Army and a former top commander in Iraq, said he was “adamant” about not sending U.S. ground forces back to Iraq.

"It always comes back to the government of Iraq," Odierno said.

And while U.S. officials have said they are committed to a united Iraq, privately two officials said that many anticipate what they described as “the Balkanization of Iraq” along sectarian and ethnic lines.

The U.S. military’s initial response to Ramadi was to blame the Iraqi military for failing to take on ISIS forces, which they outnumbered. Both Carter and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Iraqis retreated. In an interview with CNN, Carter said the Iraqi army lacked “the will to fight” for its country.

When the U.S.-led air campaign began nearly a year ago, it, by most accounts, achieved its initial goal of stopping ISIS’s momentum, which was ascending with the capture of the Iraqi city of Mosul. There were fears then that the group could move on to Baghdad.

But since then, ISIS has adjusted while the U.S. strategy has not, the defense officials said. And an air campaign that once could contain ISIS no longer can as the group has developed the skills to create a military plan against an army that outnumbers it by 10 to 1, as in Ramadi, according to U.S. military estimates.

U.S. officials often note they have destroyed 6,300 targets since the strikes began. But critics pointed out that statistics are not always an indicator of a working strategy.

“Every agency is briefing that they are having effect,” the first official explained. “But it is activity, not effect.”

Sen. Rand Paul, who is running for the Republican nomination for president, has been a frequent and enthusiastic critic of the Obama administration’s foreign policy and of U.S. military intervention in the Middle East in general. On Thursday, his senior adviser Doug Stafford told The Daily Beast, “Senator Paul called months ago for a declaration of war against ISIS.” That declaration, unveiled in November, would have allowed for boots on the ground. Stafford said Paul called “for arming the Kurds” and “for insisting on boots on the ground from neighboring countries.” (The declaration actually specified limited use of American troops on the ground in specific circumstances.)

Stafford added, “This shouldn’t be a political issue or one that is mired in bad strategy from the Obama administration, and it shouldn’t be left for the next president.”

with additional reporting by Olivia Nuzzi

Russia steps up propaganda push with online "Kremlin trolls"

Russia steps up propaganda push with online "Kremlin trolls"

May 29, 7:34 AM (ET)


(AP) In this picture taken on Wednesday, April 15, 2015, Lyudmila Savchuk speaks in an...
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ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — Deep inside a four-story marble building in St. Petersburg, hundreds of workers tap away at computers on the front lines of an information war, say those who have been inside. Known as "Kremlin trolls," the men and women work 12-hour shifts around the clock, flooding the Internet with propaganda aimed at stamping President Vladimir Putin's world vision on Russia, and the world.

The Kremlin has always dabbled in propaganda, but in the past year its troll campaign has gone into overdrive, adding hundreds of online operatives to help counter Western pressure over its role in the pro-Russian insurgency in eastern Ukraine. The program is drawing Serbia away from its proclaimed EU membership path and closer to the Russian orbit, and is targeting Germany, the United States and other Western powers. The operation has worried the European Union enough to prompt it to draw up a blueprint for fighting Russia's disinformation campaign, although details have not yet been released.

Lyuda Savchuk, a single mother with two children, worked in the St. Petersburg "troll factory" until mid-March. The 34-year-old journalist said she had some idea of the Orwellian universe she was entering when she took the job, but underestimated its intensity and scope.

"I knew it was something bad, but of course I never suspected that it was this horrible and this large-scale," she said in an interview in her apartment, which has colorful drawings on the walls for her two preschool-age children.

(AP) In this picture taken on Sunday, April 19, 2015, a women enters the four-story...
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She described how the trolls manage several social media accounts under different nicknames, such as koka-kola23, green_margo and Funornotfun. Those in her department had to bash out 160 blog posts during a 12-hour shift. Trolls in other departments flooded the Internet with doctored images and pro-Putin commentary on news stories that crop up on Russian and Western news portals.

In some departments, she said, the trolls receive daily talking points on what to write and what emotions to evoke. "It seems to me that they don't know what they are doing," Savchuk said. "They simply repeat what they are told."

She said most of the trolls are young and are attracted by relatively high monthly salaries of 40,000 to 50,000 rubles ($800 to $1,000).

Her descriptions of the work coincide with those of other former trolls who have spoken publicly, although Savchuk is one of the few willing to have her full name published. She quit after a little more than two months, after finding she couldn't stand being part of a propaganda machine.

The trolls are employed by Internet Research, which Russian news reports say is financed by a holding company headed by Putin's friend and personal chef. Those who have worked there say they have little doubt that the operation is run from the Kremlin.

St. Petersburg journalist Andrei Soshnikov, who was one of the first to report on the "troll factory," said about 400 people work in the building. A video he posted on YouTube this spring gave a rare glimpse inside the building; in one room trolls were shown sitting shoulder-to-shoulder at their computers. The operation moved into the building when it expanded in March 2014, the month Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine and provoked the first round of Western economic sanctions.

Soshnikov, a reporter at the weekly Moi Rayon, or My Region, said there has been a new push in recent months to hire more English-speaking trolls as part of an effort to sway public opinion in the United States.

"All of a sudden, (they) switch on Russia Today and realize that this is a holy land, Obama is a bloody dictator and true freedom of speech exists only in Russia."

In Serbia, trolls are recruited through several small right-wing parties that are both financially and politically supported by Russia, media analysts say.

When Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was killed in Moscow in late February, the Serbian trolls were quick to react. "Who is to gain from this assassination but America? It must have been CIA," was the dominant mantra that took hold in discussions on Serbian news sites. "Likes" went into the hundreds, while comments such as "Putin is responsible" received widespread ridicule.

Serbs receive most of their information about Russia from Moscow-backed media, and the trolls reinforce the Kremlin line. The result is a widespread view in Serbia that the Kiev regime is neo-Nazi and that Putin was right to annex Crimea.

"One of the consequences is the fact that popular support for the EU integration has dropped below 50 percent for the first time since democratic change in Serbia in 2000," said Jelena Milic, a political analyst at the Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies, in Belgrade. "It is going to be very hard to recover this public support."

In Germany, the foreign ministry has tried to counter the propaganda by issuing a memo to its diplomats on how to debunk some of the standard Russian arguments about the Ukraine conflict.

For instance, the memo answers the statement that "fascists are in power in Kiev" by noting that radical and far-right groups made up only a small proportion of the demonstrators who ousted the Russia-friendly president, and that far-right parties did very poorly in subsequent parliamentary and presidential elections.


Dusan Stojanovic in Belgrade, Serbia and Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed to this report.

Clinton’s Benghazi emails confirm her lack of post-intervention plan for Libya

(Paul Mirengoff) 

As John has explained, Hillary Clinton doesn’t just have a Benghazi problem; she has a Libya problem. More than anyone else, Hillary Clinton pushed for, and helped effectuate, the overthrow of Moammar Qaddafi. As a result of his overthrow, Libya became a playground for terrorists, a haven for ISIS, and a failed state.

Clinton’s recently released Benghazi emails confirm her leading role in creating the Libya fiasco. They confirm that, in the words of her deputy chief of staff, Hillary was “instrumental in securing the authorization [to intervene in Libya], building the coalition [that intervened], and tightening the noose around Qadhafi and his regime.”

The emails also confirm that Hillary had no real plan preventing the chaos that ensued in Libya following the overthrow of Qaddafi. She had ample warning that chaos stemming from the rise of Islamist militias and terrorists was a distinct possibility. Sidney Blumenthal’s reports from the ground, which she read and distributed, discuss this potential problem. 

What, then, was the State Department’s plan for coping with it? The recently released emails, especially ones written by Clinton aide and confidant Huma Abedin, show that the plan was to encourage the emerging Libyan government to be “inclusive” in order (as Abedin puts it) to “nurture its legitimacy.” 

To make sure that the government didn’t let Abedin and Clinton down, it would sign a pledge.

Apparently, then, Hillary Clinton’s plan was this: tell the new government to be nice and secure its pledge to do so. A college dean would be embarrassed to have come up with something this naive for dealing with, say, student drinking.

Is there more to Clinton’s approach than comes through in the emails? Conceivably. But her book, Hard Choices, suggests not. Her chapter on Libya ends with this:

I was worried that the challenges ahead would prove overwhelming for even the most well-meaning transitional leaders. If the new government could consolidate its authority, provide security, use oil revenues to rebuild, disarm the militias, and keep extremists out, then Libya would have a fighting chance at building a stable democracy. 

If not, then the country would face very difficult challenges translating the hopes of a revolution into a free, secure, and prosperous future. And, as we soon learned, not only Libyans would suffer if they failed.

Worrying isn’t a strategy and neither is “if.” Will Clinton be permitted to walk away so casually from the “suffering” — not only by Libyans, but by four Americans including an ambassador — her policy produced? 

She will, I fear, if the mainstream media has its way. It grills Republican presidential candidates about the decision to go to invade Iraq in 2003, even though none of the major ones had anything to do with it (but Hillary did). It seems far less interested in Clinton’s central role in the Libyan intervention. 

It will be up to the Republican presidential candidate to drive home the connection between the Clinton inspired intervention, the absence of a serious plan in its aftermath, the Benghazi attacks, and the rise of ISIS in Libya

The Shivers: America's Shrinking Economy

America’s economy probably shrank in the first quarter of 2015. Revised GDP data, due today, are likely to indicate that it contracted at an annualised rate of 0.8% (the first guess, published last month, showed a tiny increase). There are plenty of signs that the economy is struggling. In recent months retail sales have stumbled, and corporate profits have been on a downward trend. But fears of another recession may be overblown. The way that American statisticians adjust GDP figures for seasonal influences may be one problem: in the past few years first-quarter growth has averaged 0.6% (again, annualised); the remaining three quarters have clocked up 3%. Janet Yellen, the head of the Federal Reserve, also ascribes this year’s first-quarter droop “largely” to temporary factors, such as a severe winter in parts of the country and a labour dispute at West Coast ports.

Pataki makes long-shot bid for presidency, joins cluttered GOP field

Pataki makes long-shot bid for presidency, joins cluttered GOP field

View Video: Former New York governor George Pataki is a contender for the White House in 2016. Here's the Republican's take on tax reform, the Islamic State, student loans and more, in his own words. (Sarah Parnass / The Washington Post)

MAY 28, 2015

Former New York governor George E. Pataki — a moderate Republican who led the state through the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — launched a long-shot bid for the presidency Thursday and became the eighth declared candidate in the boisterous race for the GOP nomination.

Pataki, who has not held elected office since 2007, hopes to position himself as a relative centrist in a Republican field that is rapidly tacking to the right on issues such as immigration and national security. But his chances are slim at best against more than a dozen other likely candidates, many of whom are better-known and better-funded.

In a speech in a stifling-hot town hall in Exeter, N.H., Pataki emphasized a message of fiscal conservatism and smaller government, steering clear of divisive social issues championed by many of the party’s most conservative voters. He emphasized his parents’ immigrant past and the life they were able to build in the United States.

View Video: Former New York governor George Pataki released a video May 28 announcing his intention to run for president in 2016. (George Pataki/YouTube)

“Too many Americans feel the path of opportunity is closed to them,” Pataki said, with sweat pouring from his forehead in the hot room. “The problems we face are real. But I’ve never been one to dwell on problems. I’m a solutions guy.”

Pataki, 69, announced his White House run in a campaign video released Thursday morning before the speech.

“America has a big decision to make about who we’re going to be and what we’re going to stand for. The system is broken,” Pataki said in the video, which emphasized his three terms as governor and his leadership following the 9/11 attacks. “The question is no longer about what our government should do but what we should do about our government, about our divided union, about our uncertain future.”

[Flashback: Will he or won’t he? (He will.)]

Pataki had flirted with a presidential candidacy three times before this year, raising money and meeting voters in early-voting states such as New Hampshire. But each time — in 2000, in 2008 and in 2012 — Pataki decided the moment wasn’t right and never launched a campaign.

“I make a joke that every four years, there’s the Olympics, there’s the World Cup, and I come to New Hampshire thinking about running for president,” Pataki told a crowd of 15 people in Laconia, N.H., last month.

Now that he has actually entered the race, Pataki must face the harsh reality that flirting had allowed him to avoid: He has very little chance of winning the GOP nomination.

For one thing, he will enter a crowded GOP field without the benefit of wide name recognition. This January on “Jeopardy!” three contestants were shown a photo of Pataki’s face — but none could remember his name.

And Pataki’s moderate record in New York — strong gun-control laws, an expansion of the state budget — does not seem well suited to today’s GOP primary voters.

In a Quinnipiac University poll of GOP voters released Thursday, five potential candidates were tied for first with 10 percent support each — former Florida governor Jeb Bush, retired surgeon Ben Carson, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Pataki’s support was so low among the 16-person potential field that it didn’t register in the poll — putting him in a tie for last place with former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum.

If Pataki were to win the 2016 Republican nomination, Florida-based GOP strategist Rick Wilson said a few weeks ago, “basically, it would be like a monkey flying out of a unicorn’s [posterior].”

Bernie Sanders Foul Socialist Odor

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 12.04.42 AM

The horror! The horror!

The rise of collectivist demagogues like Bernie Sanders is exactly why I wrote "Who Built That." These capitalism-hating control freaks can't help themselves. Sanders teed it up's a short leap from "You didn't build that" to "You don't need that." 


Bernie Sanders' foul socialist odor

by Michelle Malkin

Creators Syndicate

Copyright 2015

Socialist genius Bernie Sanders has figured out what's really ailing America.

Our store shelves have too many different brands of deodorant and sneakers. Just look at all those horrible, fully stocked aisles at Target and Walgreens and Wal-Mart and Payless and DSW and Dick's Sporting Goods. It's a national nightmare! If only consumers had fewer choices in the free market, fewer entrepreneurs offering a wide variety of products and fewer workers manufacturing goods people wanted, Sanders believes, we could end childhood hunger.

Nobody parodies the far left better than far-leftists themselves.

In an interview with financial journalist John Harwood on Tuesday, Sanders detailed his grievances with an overabundance of antiperspirants and footwear. "You don't necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants or of 18 different pairs of sneakers when children are hungry in this country. I don't think the media appreciates the kind of stress that ordinary Americans are working on."

Try to suppress a snicker: Sanders, Decider of Your Sanitary and Footwear Needs, is casting himself as the Everyman in touch with "ordinary Americans" to contrast his campaign with Hillary "my Beltway lobbyist and foreign agent operator Sid Blumenthal is just a friend I talk to for advice" Clinton.

Blech. By the looks of the 2016 Democratic presidential field, liberals really do practice the anti-choice principles they preach.

At Caracas-on-the-Green Mountains, every business owner's success robs starving babies of vital nutrition. Because some tummies may be grumbling somewhere across the fruited plains, all must suffer. In Sanders' world, it's the "greedy"-- America's real makers, builders and wealth creators -- who must be punished and shamed, specifically with a personal income tax rate hiked to a whopping 90 percent for top earners.

Of course, the wealth redistributors in Washington never bear any of the blame for misspending the billions they confiscate. Nearly 100 million Americans participated in dozens of federal food assistance programs in 2014. The General Accounting Office reported last year that $74.6 billion went to food stamps, $11.3 billion went to the national school lunch program, and $7.1 billion went to the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program, along with $1.9 billion for nutrition assistance for Puerto Rico and $10.7 million for a federal milk program.

But no, it's not the fault of command-and-control bureaucrats and their overseers on Capitol Hill that the War on Poverty and the War on Hunger have failed.

In Sanders' bubble, childhood hunger is the fault of selfish consumers, self-serving entrepreneurs and rapacious retailers who engage in voluntary transactions in a free-market economy. Just as Sanders believes there are "too many" products on the shelves, President Obama recently opined that families of America's top earners in the financial industry "pretty much have more than you'll ever be able to use and your family will ever be able to use."

We need not speculate about whether the wealth-shamers' recipe of less capitalist consumption, fewer private businesses, stifling of entrepreneurship and more government control over goods and services would result in happier citizens and fuller stomachs. In Venezuela, the shelves are unburdened by "too many" deodorants and shoes and too much soap, milk or coffee. Food distribution is under military control. The currency of the socialist paradise just collapsed on the black market by 30 percent.

Here in America, dozens of private household goods companies make billions of dollars selling scented, unscented, quilted, two-ply, white and colored toilet paper that people want and need. In Sanders' utopia in South America, the government imposed price controls in the name of redistributing basic goods to the poor and seized a toilet paper factory to cure the inevitable shortages. The lines are long. The shelves are empty. The daily battle for subsistence is brutal.

Take it from those who suffer most under the unbridled fulfillment of "you didn't build that" and "you don't need that" radicalism: It stinks.


Michelle Malkin in USA Today: Entrepreneurs are not 'lottery winners'

A Bad Deal Plays Out

A Bad Deal Plays Out

Daniel John Sobieski

Just as President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton knew the night of the Benghazi terrorist attack on September 11, 2012, that the attack on our diplomatic mission there was a preplanned terrorist attack, it has now become known that President Obamaknew in real time that Bowe Bergdahl in fact was a deserter who abandoned his post in the Afghanistan war zone.

Bergdahl walked away from his comrades and his military responsibilities in June 2009 after he finished his guard shift at an outpost in Southeastern Afghanistan's Paktika Province. And his fellow soldiers knew at the time Bowe Bergdahl was a deserter

"I was pissed off then and I am even more so now with everything going on," said former Sergeant Matt Vierkant, a member of Bergdahl's platoon when he went missing on June 30, 2009. "Bowe Bergdahl deserted during a time of war and his fellow Americans lost their lives searching for him." 

In a recent interview with Fox News' Martha Macallum, retired Army general and former Afghan commander Stanley McChrystal said he knew almost immediately that Bergdahl had "intentionally" deserted his post about a month after McChrystal's appointment as Afghan commander was announced in in May 2009:

"And my initial understanding, based upon the reportings I got, that he had walked off intentionally," McChrystal said, adding that he was not sure whether Bergdahl left with the intent of being picked up by the Taliban or simply "walked off."

That was indeed the impression of all of Bowe Begdahl's squad mates, three of whom say they relayed their opinion that Bergdahl had deserted them and his post in time of war to former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen when he visited Afghanistan in December 2009, just six months after Bergdehal abandoned his post.

Vierkant and two other colleagues, Evan Buetow and Cody Full, were part of Mulen's security detail during his visit when Mullen, in a question and answer session with soldiers, said they could ask him anything they wanted:

'So Matt asked him, you know Bergdahl deserted, what's going on with that? And Admiral Mullen said, 'Yes, we know all the circumstances surrounding Bergdahl walking away from the OP (outpost,)and we're still working on getting him back, figuring out where he is and kind of figuring out that whole situation.'

Mullen, Vierkant says, was not taken aback and did not object to the characterization by Bergdahl's colleagues that he was a deserter:

"I don't remember him being taken aback by it at all, you know, he knew what was going on, he answered not confidently but he didn't have to think about it, he didn't want to give us some political answer," Buetow explained. "He just gave us an answer."

Asked if there was any ambiguity based on the conversation, Vierkant said no. "Without a doubt, he (Mullen) knew he (Bergdahl) deserted or, you know, was suspected of desertion. There was no doubt in my mind that he fully understood what Bergdahl did."

So you have the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and our commander in Afghanistan knowing that Bergdahl was a deserter long before former U.N. Ambassador and current National Security adviser Susan Rice claimed that Bowe Bergdahl had "served with distinction."

They knew long before President Obama welcomed and commiserated with Bowe Bergdahl's parents in the Rose Garden on May 31, 2014. It would be stretching credulity to beyond the breaking point to believe President Obama did not know when it was announced we were trading five top Taliban commanders, soon to be free to return to the terrorist battlefield, for Bergdahl.

Even if Bergdahl was not a deserter, the trade would have been a bad deal. As Investor's Business Daily noted in an editorial charging "Obama Gave Material Assistance To OurTaliban Enemy":

The Taliban is considered a non-state terrorist group to which Obama has returned five of the worst terrorists held at Guantanamo. They are not foot soldiers and this exchange was not at the end of a war, when prisoner swaps often happen. They are four-star general equivalents who will return to the battlefield to target and kill Americans again. If that's not material assistance, what is?

That Obama would endanger American security for a dubious photo-op and help empty a Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention facility he had pledged to close is beyond the pale. Now the Taliban "dream team" currently biding their time in Qatar under the deal for Bergdahl will soon to be free to return to the terrorist battlefield under the terms of the terrorist exchange for Bergdahl. While in Qatar, reports indicate they have been in contact with their terrorist brethren.

So in the end, we got nothing of value in a bad deal that has put us all in jeopardy: That they will return to the battlefield to kill again, as other former Gitmo detainees have, is a given. But when you're committed to leaving Afghanistan and closing Gitmo, this is a twofer.

One question we have is: How many Americans lost their lives in the pursuit and capture of these jihadists? How many Afghan and American deaths were they responsible for? How many more will die as the result of their release and their likely return to the battlefield?

Mission accomplished, Mr. President?

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared inInvestor's Business Daily, Human EventsReason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.