Military Analysts: Bergdahl Report to Show He Deserted

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By Greg Richter

The U.S. Army’s report on Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will show he deserted, but not that he is a traitor, two military analysts familiar with the case told Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor.”

The report was completed in October, but has yet to be released to the public. Bergdahl walked away from his base in Afghanistan and was captured and held by the Taliban for five years.
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He was released earlier this year in a controversial trade for five Taliban leaders being held at the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, who said he played a role in one of three methods the United States considered in bringing Bergdahl back, told Fox’s Bill O’Reilly on Thursday he has heard the final report mirrors the initial Naval Criminal Investigative Service report from 2009, just after Bergdahl was taken captive.

Col. David Hunt says he has heard the same thing, adding that the report likely will be released on Jan. 16. That would be about a week and a half after the new Republican Congress is sworn in, and would be on a Friday, when stories are less likely to get wide media coverage.
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Conservatives have charged that the report’s release was delayed to avoid hurting Democrats in the November primaries. President Barack Obama initially held a Rose Garden ceremony with Bergdahl’s parents, but the good points quickly soured when some platoon mates said Bergdahl had deserted his post.

Hunt said the real issue will be whether Bergdahl will be found to be a traitor. He told O’Reilly that he has been told Bergdahl will not be charged as a traitor and will be given a less-than-honorable discharge.

He also will not be required to refund the $300,000 in back pay he received during his captivity.

Shaffer and Hunt both said they oppose that decision. Shaffer said Bergdahl did as much damage as Pvt. Bradley Manning, who leaked military secrets online.
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And Bergdahl’s damage was more direct, Shaffer said.

“People died looking for him,” he said. “I feel he gave aid and comfort to the enemy, the Taliban, and then forced us to do some really stupid things to get [him] back.”

Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.Newsmax.com/Newsfront/Bowe-Bergdahl-report-Bill-OReilly-deserted/2014/12/18/id/613936/#ixzz3MTuGACdX
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After Realizing That Someone Had To Pay For It, Vermont Abandons Its Plans For ‘Free’ Healthcare

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BY KEVIN BOYD (20 HOURS AGO) | HEALTH, NATION, POLITICS

After the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, Vermont requested a waiver from the Federal government because it was planning to create a single-payer healthcare system.

According to its proponents, a single-payer health care system would have the government act as the sole agency to collect healthcare fees and pay out healthcare costs. It would be mostly free at the point of delivery. Supporters claim that it would result in a more efficient system and would cut healthcare costs.

On Wednesday, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin abandoned his quest to bring single-payer to Vermont. According to Vtdigger.org, the plan would’ve required massive payroll tax increases on Vermont businesses and their workers.

Shumlin said that the latest economic modeling showed the cost of providing high quality health coverage to all Vermonters would be prohibitive.

The price tag for a publicly financed universal health care system turned out to be $2.6 billion, not the $1.6 billion to $2.2 billion that Shumlin and his team originally believed. The objective was to replace what Vermonters now pay in premiums with taxes.

[…]The Shumlin administration revealed Wednesday that his health care reform team was considering an 11.5 percent payroll tax on employers and an income tax with a sliding scale from 0 percent to 9.5 percent, depending on income and family size. The maximum income tax a family would pay was capped at $27,500 per household. In previous news reports about the single payer financing plan, the payroll percentage was pegged at 5 percent and 8 percent, respectively.
Twitter’s reaction was mixed, with single payer supporters showing a combination of disappointment and insistence that Shumlin wasn’t doing *real* single payer:

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Here’s a good quote from William F. Buckley, the founder of National Review:

Idealism is fine, but as it approaches reality, the costs become prohibitive.
It was at the point when single-payer moved from theory to reality, implementation, that it fell apart. Eventually, the bill comes due for even the best sounding ideas. More often than not, the costs are not worth the benefits.

Single-payer healthcare almost always winds up costing more than planned and that’s why it often gets abandoned, just as Vermont did. The way to decrease costs in healthcare is the way to decrease costs in the rest of the economy, through cutting waste and supporting free market competition.

FOUR AFGHANS RELEASED FROM GUANTÁNAMO BAY

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Transfer brings number of Afghans still held to eight of 132 detainees overall

By HELENE COOPERDEC. 20, 2014

WASHINGTON — The United States transferred four detainees from the Guantánamo Bay prison to Afghanistan late Friday, the Defense Department announced Saturday, fulfilling a request from the new Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, in what officials here characterized as a show of good will between the United States and the government in Kabul.

The four men will likely not be subjected to further detainment in Afghanistan, an Obama administration official said. The transfer brings the number of Afghans still held at the American military prison in Cuba to eight of the 132 detainees over all.

The transfer is the latest in a series of detainee releases and reflects a quickened pace, as President Obama has been pushing to make good on his goal of shutting the military prison at Guantánamo, a pledge that dates to the earliest days of his presidency. One administration official said more transfers are expected in the coming weeks.T

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Delays by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in signing off on transfers that had been approved by Mr. Obama’s national security staff contributed to tensions between the exiting Pentagon chief and the White House, particularly with the national security adviser, Susan Rice. But Mr. Hagel, who resigned under pressure last month, has maintained all year that he would not be rushed in releasing prisoners.

In May, Ms. Rice sent Mr. Hagel a memo pressuring him to pick up the pace, and Mr. Hagel told reporters during a flight to Alaska at the time that he was in no hurry to approve deals. “My name is going on that document; that’s a big responsibility,” Mr. Hagel said. He added: “What I’m doing is, I’m taking my time. I owe that to the American people, to ensure that any decision I make is, in my mind, responsible.”

Some military officers have expressed worry that prisoners released from Guantánamo may return to the battlefield and harm American troops who remain in Afghanistan.

But the Pentagon statement released Saturday said that “the United States has full confidence in the ability of the Afghan government to mitigate any threats that may be posed by these individuals, and to ensure humane treatment. The Afghan government, including its judiciary and security forces, is fully prepared to repatriate these detainees in a responsible manner.”

The statement also noted that “over 90 percent of the Guantánamo detainees transferred during this administration are neither confirmed nor even suspected of having re-engaged in any terrorist or other hostile activity.”

Although Mr. Obama vowed in 2013 to revive his efforts to close the prison, the military in the first months of this year had transferred just one low-level detainee, back in March. Since November, though, 17 more have been transferred. There have now been 34 transfers under Mr. Hagel’s watch as defense secretary; by comparison, only four were transferred by Leon E. Panetta, the former defense secretary.

In its statement announcing the transfers, the Pentagon identified the men as Shawali Khan, Khi Ali Gul, Abdul Ghani and Mohammed Zahir. The four men were “unanimously approved for transfer by the six departments and agencies” that review such cases, the Pentagon said.

“This repatriation reflects the Defense Department’s continued commitment to closing the detention facility at Guantánamo in a responsible manner,” Paul Lewis, the Defense Department’s special envoy for the closure of Guantánamo, said in a statement.

All four men released have been considered to be low-level prisoners who pose little threat. Mr. Khan is believed to be 50 or 51 years old; the administration’s review board recommended his transfer in January 2010. Mr. Gul, also believed to be 50 or 51, and Mr. Ghani, believed to be 41 or 42, were all also recommended for transfer in January 2010.

The three men had been held for almost 12 years. It was unclear how long Mr. Zahir had been held.

The administration is hoping that if it can shrink the inmate population to below 100, Congress will revoke a law that bars the transfer of detainees into the country. The White House argues that closing Guantánamo would eliminate a propaganda symbol used by terrorists to generate anger at the United States.

OBAMA APOLOGIZES TO CASTRO

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Cuban communist leader lectures Obama for 30 minutes

by WEEKLY STANDARD | MICHAEL WARREN | DECEMBER 20, 2014

Barack Obama apologized to Cuban president Raul Castro during their phone conversation after the American commander in chief’s opening remarks. Speaking to reporters at his final White House press briefing of 2014 Friday afternoon, Obama gave more details about his phone call with the communist leader of Cuba earlier this week before the announcement of a change in U.S. policy on the Caribbean island nation.

Obama began the phone call with Castro with what he described as 15 minutes of opening comments. It was the first conversation between the heads of state in both countries since 1961.

“I apologized for taking such a long time,” Obama said. Castro responded by reminding Obama that the American president was still young enough to beat Castro’s brother, former Cuban president and revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, who once gave a 7-hour-long speech.

According to the president, Raul Castro proceeded to speak to Obama uninterrupted for 30 minutes.