By Onan Coca / 30 January 2015
In a heated exchange on Fox News’ Hannity show, Lt. Col Ralph Peters (whose been getting a lot of airtime on Fox News in recent days) explained how the Obama White House was pressuring the Army to whitewash the Bowe Bergdahl fiasco.
His comments came after Sean Hannity had played some video of Bergdahl’s former platoon mates demanding that he be brought up on charges for desertion. It also followed several tense moments between Hannity and Peters when Hannity suggested that Bergdahl had PTSD and that is what had pushed him to desert.
Lt. Col. Ralph Peters: What we have here is very, very clear, it’s damnably clear that the White House which doesn’t understand why this is a big deal. I mean, he just deserted, right? Wouldn’t anybody do that? And they just want to protect the president. And they are pressuring the Army, pressuring the Army to whitewash this. And they don’t understand that for the military, those who went before, retirees like me, those on active duty, this is a powerful matter, as you heard from the young soldier, of precedent and principle.
If you let Bergdahl walk — it’s not about this pathetic little creep, Bergdahl, it’s about the principle — if you let him walk with full pay and benefits and a promotion despite overwhelming evidence that he deserted his post in wartime, you make it virtually impossible to prosecute future deserters. Now, in the Army, I’m sure — the Army’s not perfect. You’ve got some people craven enough and ambitious enough to save to the White House, and I’m sure they are arguing the White House’s point, but so far you’ve got some generals that are showing backbone and saying, no, for the good of the Army, for the good of the military, he has to go through the Article 32 and into court-martial. And the White House is fighting it tooth and nail because they don’t give a damn about our military, they just care about this pathetic puss in boots president’s reputation.
Given the totality of the evidence and all of the information that has come to light in recent months, it’s hard to disagree with the Lt. Col. The Obama administration miscalculated the public’s reaction to the trade for Bergdahl, then they miscalculated how angry Americans would be when they learned that Bergdahl had likely deserted. Finally, the Obama administration miscalculated how important it is to military morale that the rules be followed by EVERYONE… even the President of the United States. The administration seemed to think that the Army would happily sweep the Bergdahl situation under the rug, not realizing that the military would be so passionately against such a move.
With all of those miscalculations, this literally became a perfect storm of ineptitude. So now the only thing the White House can do is try to whitewash the entire mess — and that is proving difficult to do without the full cooperation of the US Army.
Here’s hoping that our military leaders continue to show backbone and demand that Bergdahl be treated just like everyone else.
BY KATIE LAPOTIN (8 HOURS AGO)
Three U.S. contractors were killed during an apparent “insider attack” in the North Kabul International Airport Thursday, according to a U.S. official on the ground in Afghanistan.
The attack occurred around 6:40 p.m. local time. According to Fox News, it is unknown whether the attack was carried out by a member of the Afghan security forces or not. But the Taliban has reportedly taken responsibility for the attack.
Taliban spokesman Zabilluhah Mujahid identified the attacker as a man named “Ehsanullah.”
“Yesterday in the evening he managed to get to a crowd of invading and infidel American military forces where he turned his gun towards them and opened fire,” he added. “During the gun battle, Ehsanullah was also killed by the enemy.”
Mujahid also claimed that Ehsanullah had “penetrated into the security forces and was waiting for such a target for a long time.”
Yahoo! reported that the victims were all employed by the Defense Department to help train the Afghan air force as part of NATO’s “Resolute Support” mission.
The attack also came hours after White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest made these comments on the Taliban:
“They do carry out tactics that are akin to terrorism,” he said, according to Sky News. “They do pursue terror attacks in an effort to advance their agenda.”
“What’s also true though is that it is important to draw a distinction between the Taliban and al Qaeda.”
There has been a sharp rise in “insider attacks” in the war-torn nation over the past few years. Last August, U.S. Major General Harold Greene was killed when an Afghan soldier opened gunfire at a training facility in Kabul, hitting the general and several others. Upon his death, Greene became the most senior American military official to die in action overseas since the Vietnam War.
The Afghani government has taken strides to prevent these “insider attacks” from happening – including the requirement that contractors be armed at all times – however that hasn’t completely stopped the violence.
Earlier Thursday, 16 people were killed when a suicide bomb went off during a funeral in east Laghman province. Eleven Afghani policemen perished and several others were wounded Wednesday in an attack on a checkpoint in the Andar District of Ghazni province.
The Pentagon says US spending to help Afghanistan will no longer be made public. Data had been published over the last six years explaining how the $65 billion program had been spent, however this will now cease, with the US citing “security concerns.”
The release of the information proved to be an effective barometer to show how the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) were faring. It would demonstrate if more money, or less, was needed to help the military force in its battle with the Taliban.
The data would show how many troops needed to be trained, which helped to show how many Afghan soldiers were dying on the battlefield, had deserted or simply quit.
With the decision by the Pentagon to make this data top secret, the US will now have the ability to spend as much money as it pleases, with the public none the wiser.
The US commander in Afghanistan, General John Campbell, said it was the correct move to make the information top secret, saying it could have given the Taliban valuable intelligence concerning US and Afghan plans.
“With lives literally on the line, I am sure you can join me in recognizing that we must be careful to avoid providing sensitive information to those that threaten our forces and Afghan forces, particularly information that can be used by such opposing forces to sharpen their attacks,” Campbell wrote to the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction in a letter dated January 18, AP reported.
Steve Aftergood, a secrecy expert at the Federation of American Scientists, believes that the reason to make the information secret has nothing to do with making sure the Taliban does not have the chance to gain a valuable insight into US policy.
“The reality is that much is classified just to take the issue off the public agenda. That is not what classification is for, but it often serves a purpose,” he stated in an article written in the New York Times.
The responsibility for tracking where the $65 billion of taxpayers’ money is being spent fell to the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction (SIGAR), which published its findings in a quarterly report. Public access to its web page has now been blocked.
John Sopko from SIGAR was disappointed at the US government’s decision and said it was “unprecedented” to classify such a large amount of information.
“The decision leaves SIGAR unable to publicly report on most of the $65 billion US-taxpayer-funded efforts to build, train, equip and sustain the ANSF,” Sopko’s office said in its latest report, which was reported by AFP.
The SIGAR report also stated that the military gave classified or restricted answers to more than 140 questions that the inspector general put forward. These included information concerning the total amount of funding for Afghan forces in 2015 as well as anti-corruption initiatives and aid projects.
The watchdog also noted that the US is spending more than $300 million on Afghan police salaries, despite the risk that these funds are being wasted and abused. Following an audit of the Afghan National Police (ANP), SIGAR found that pay was often inflated and salaries were given to more employees than were authorized, Reuters reports.
“Unless the MOI [Afghanistan Interior Ministry] develops the capability to ensure and verify the accuracy of ANP personnel and payroll data, there is a significant risk that a large portion of … US government funding for ANP salaries will be wasted or abused,” SIGAR said.
Sopko’s viewpoint concerning a lack of transparency was shared by politicians in Washington, who believe it is important to hold the government accountable for its actions in helping to reconstruct the country.
“I’m offended that this previously-unclassified information is now being classified, in a move deeply detrimental to our efforts to root out waste and fraud,” said Senator Claire McCaskill, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
SIGAR says following 17 investigations, which including a number of financial audits, it found that $23.6 million was questionably spent. The organization also said that $15.3 billion from the $107.5 billion, which was allocated by Congress to be used for the reconstruction of Afghanistan has yet to be spent.