The President’s Very Real Military Problem

by Diane Dimond on June 9, 2014

The Commander-in-Chief Losing Respect

The Commander-in-Chief Losing Respect

The President of the United States is the Commander-in-Chief over all branches of the Military. It is a given that no military member goes public to speak negatively about their ultimate Commander.

However, these days, with the Veteran’s Hospital scandal in full bloom, after the administration’s smokescreen about what triggered the deadly attack on the U.S. Embassy at Benghazi and after the president’s tepidly received speech at West Point announcing diplomacy will replace military responses henceforth, the time for silence is over.

Now, career military personnel are speaking out through gritted teeth, insisting they speak for active duty personnel who cannot talk without being punished.  They are speaking about injustice, ineptitude and impeachment.

Bergdahl in Captivity

Bergdahl in Captivity

The era of silence changed after President Obama’s super-secret prisoner swap – five “high risk” Taliban prisoners from Gitmo in exchange for one U.S. Army solider held for nearly five years in Afghanistan. The fact that the soldier, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, walked away from his unit leaving a note saying he was “disillusioned with the Army,” did not support his Commander-in-Chief’s mission in Afghanistan and was, “leaving to start a new life,” left military types stunned that the President would stage a Rose Garden ceremony with Bergdahl’s parents.

“I’m just surprised the president was dumb enough to stand next to them,” Major Mike Lyons told me. “It’s another example of him (Obama) reading the tea leaves wrong.”

Lyons, a West Point graduate (class of 1983) is a highly skilled strategic operations specialist with a resume as long as your arm. He surmises the extraordinary secrecy surrounding the prisoner transfer boomeranged on the president.

Rose Garden Appearance With Bergdahl's Parents

Rose Garden Appearance With Bergdahl’s Parents

“I think part of the reason the president did it? He just didn’t get good advice about the swap and the aftermath. This is not a stellar soldier. He has lots of liabilities,” Lyons said.  Not the least of Bergdahl’s liabilities are unconfirmed reports that as many as six soldiers died in Afghanistan’s Paktika Province during missions to rescue him from the Taliban.

None of the almost dozen military men I heard from were against bringing Bergdahl home (save for one former Marine Captain and CIA Special Ops member who told me, “If the evidence had been clear from the beginning that this soldier had deserted his unit … then “no soldier left behind” does not apply for he is no longer a soldier in the U.S. in our eyes.”) It was the way in which the president negotiated Bergdahl’s return that rankles.

Former Navy Seal Steve Robinson, who works with the POW Network, says he is personally disgusted that the United States has now negotiated with terrorists because it sends a signal to the enemy that if they capture an American soldier the U.S. will eventually bargain with them.

Steve Robinson - Navy Seal Team One (ret)

Steve Robinson – Navy Seal Team One (ret)

He’s equally disgusted to learn that soldiers from Bergdahl’s unit were made to sign non-disclosure agreements not to talk about the missing soldier, the incriminating note he left behind or his odd behavior. Now that those agreements have lapsed we’ve seen a parade of Bergdahl’s colleagues on TV calling him a “deserter,” a “traitor” and even a “collaborator.”

“Every Seal I have heard from (believes) this is the worst possible deal that could have been struck,” Robinson said.  “And, five to one? It should have been the other way around,” he said in an agitated tone. “The entire line-up of the top five has now been turned back to the bad guys!”

Every military person I spoke with predicted that the five returned Taliban leaders will re-enter the fight against America and be pressed to do so sooner rather than later.

President Obama says part of the negotiation, with the government of Qatar acting as the intermediary, included Qatar “keeping eyes” on the five and restricting them to that country for a year.

“It’s ridiculous to think those five will just sit there and not strategize, pick up a phone or get on a computer,” one retired Special Ops operative told me.  “That’s so naïve … and dangerous to think that they won’t.”

Navy Seal Special Forces Search For Bergdahl

Navy Seal Special Forces Searched For Bergdahl

I asked a former member of the Navy Seals elite Jedi Unit (the same unit that killed Osama Bin Laden) to tell me how he feels about the whole episode. “Betrayed and angry…both those words apply,” he said.

Let’s call this man Tommy, for his civilian life must necessarily remain as clandestine as his military service. He said he stays in touch with some 700 Special Forces team members who all took umbrage with the president’s National Security Advisor , Susan Rice, when she declared that Bergdahl had served “with honor and distinction.”

“The White House is whitewashing the ill deeds of this deserter and is lying to the country on mainstream Media,” Tommy told me. And like all the other military men, he insists that Bergdahl must now account for his actions and face a military tribunal or courts marshal.

None of those I interviewed are lawyers but each offered the opinion that the Commander-in-Chief committed an impeachable offense by ignoring the law that requires a president to give Congress 30 days’ notice about any prisoner exchange.

As Robinson put it, “The President has to follow the law. He waited five years… Bergdahl’s health was not an issue. Why couldn’t he have alerted Congress and waited just 30 more days?” And then Robinson answered his own question.

“It’s to show a success to the low-information voters…a feather in his cap… because the mid-term elections are just around the corner.”

This Marine Jailed In Mexico - Bring Him Home Too?

This Marine Needs to Come Home Too!

In addition, these men (I was not able to interview any military women) wonder why Bergdahl is free while just across the Mexican border a U.S. Marine still sits in a Mexican jail after being arrested two months ago. Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi insists that while moving across country he accidentally crossed the border. His offense? He carried three (legally owned) guns among his possessions.

Forget what the politicians on Capitol Hill are saying about the prisoner swap. Forget the pontifications from the myriad of talking heads on TV and radio.  Now you know what members of our U.S. military are thinking and saying. They have lost all respect for their Commander-in-Chief.

It chills me to the bone.

Diane Dimond June 9, 2014 at 8:24 am

ABQ Journal Reader Tom Claffey writes:

“Dear Ms. Dimond,

Your column in today’s Albuquerque Journal, “Military loses respect for president,” is right on target. Barack Obama and his administration have my absolute disgust and disdain.”


Tom Claffey
(Pilot, USAF, 1958-1965)

Diane Dimond June 9, 2014 at 8:26 am

ABQ Journal Reader Carole Eberhardt writes:

“Diane, your latest column about the military loosing respect for the President is over the top. Let’s be honest now. The military have never liked this President from the get go.
He is not the gung-ho “let’s get’em boys” that they like. The respect comes from the top down and too long the US military has been fed with a golden spoon. Lip service is given to the troops but really it amounts to a pat on the head for being dumb enough to enlist and go off to fight wars with no end and no real reason. How many innocent people have been killed since the US decided to go after the 9/11 terrorist? The military want compliant Presidents like George Bush and Ronald Reagan who will give them their head to do whatever they like. President Eisenhower warned against the power of the military industrial complex and someone as smart as you must realize we are there already. Obama, while he has not done everything those of us who voted for him wanted is surely trying to end his term with more promises kept. Get those people out of Gitmo. What the hell are we going to do with them if the troops are coming home? There is no evidence against them so they cannot be brought to trial.
Why did 9/11 happen in the first place? The main reason, and one that Americans cannot seem to get through their heads, is that everywhere America goes they leave bases behind. No, they don’t claim or take land but they keep a military presence on the soil of those countries and some of the natives don’t like that. How many bases does the US have and in how many countries? That is what scares people because from those bases all sorts of folly comes and CIA operatives can do their work in undermining governments and creating coups. It surely is a dirty dangerous world out there but we seem to be good at making enemies even when we say we have come to help.”
Carole Eberhardt
Albuquerque NM

Diane Dimond June 9, 2014 at 8:28 am

ABQ Journal Readers Dan Shelton and Sally Alice write:

“I am surprised you have joined the fray in trying Bowe Bergdahl in the press along with other pundits. Yes, I see your sources where you quote military personnel bashing President Obama, but I too have heard many military, NSA and intelligence persons praise the return of an American soldier.
Where were your outspoken sources when the Bush/Cheney administration lied us into the Iraq War? They sat by and nodded approval because war is what they do and are told to do. Why weren’t their teeth gritting then? Truth be told, many of them don’t want the Afghanistan War to end as they didn’t want the Iraq war to conclude. But the president and the American people who elected him are smarter than that.
As for the “high risk” Taliban prisoners, if they are so important, why weren’t they put on trial after over a decade at Gitmo? And where was the outrage when President Bush released 532 prisoners from Guantanamo? Think they all went home and became model citizens?
As for the disgruntled Navy Seals, one of their admirals recently stated that if a sailor is lost overboard at sea, they don’t ask if he fell, was pushed or jumped, they turn the ship around and rescue him.
Rescuing Bowe Bergdahl was the right thing to do. Now I ask, if Bowe were Lindsay Graham’s or John McCain’s or your son Diane, what would your response have been, leave him there?
Bowe will be tried by the military for any wrong doing, if there are any, not by journalists or the military personnel they cherry pick to make their point.
Dan Shelton Vice President of Veterans for Peace the Don and Sally-Alice chapter in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Diane Dimond June 9, 2014 at 8:37 am

Mr. Shelton:

The Taliban prisoners were not tried because our “leaders” in Washington have mishandled the situation for years. They cannot decide whether to classify the prisoners as “enemy combants” (which you turn over when the war has concluded) or “terrorists” (who are tried in CIVILIAN courts)
To make matters worst Congress passed a law that mandates none of the Gitmo detainees shall be tried in CIVIL courts…So, stalemate.

I would think that as an official (and a veteran) in a group such as yours you would have known that…

But more to your point. No one (except for the one man cited) ever thought that Berghdal should not have been brought home. That was never stated in the piece. I’m well aware of the Admiral’s recent comment about turning the ship around…and 99.9% of those I spoke with were perfectly fine with Bergdahl coming home. Scan the column again and you will see that. But to a person, everyone thinks Bergdahl should now face the music – and be tried by a military court.
Thanks for writing. We agree more than we disagree. ~ DD

Diane Dimond June 9, 2014 at 8:44 am

Real Clear Politics Reader boysenberry Robert_Fl writes:

“Obama wasn’t posing with the Bergdahl parents, he had his arms around both of them and walked with them in the Rose Garden. (There was a picture of that, which since has been scrubbed) Such emotion for a deserter. When the father spoke Pashtu in the Rose garden, 0bama smiled and approved because his sympathies are with the deserter.
Don’t forget what he said in his biography, if push comes to shove he will stand with the muslims. (not word for word, but that’s the take)”

Diane Dimond June 9, 2014 at 8:46 am

Real Clear Politics Reader ibeeducky writes:

“Sorry to say there, are a huge number of those fools still amongst us. As in the article, those low-information voters plus millions of others that think he still walks on water.”

Diane Dimond June 9, 2014 at 8:47 am

Real Clear Politics Reader Bunky writes:

“40+ % still think he’s doing a good job.
Shows how incredibly stupid people can be.”

Diane Dimond June 9, 2014 at 8:48 am

Real Clear Politics Reader Terrence Jeffrey Johnson writes:

“I can tell you why they feel the way they do in two words…FREE STUFF…”

Diane Dimond June 9, 2014 at 8:48 am

Real Clear Politics Reader Racemaster writes:

“Yep. Teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Give him a fish and he’ll vote for you…”

Diane Dimond June 9, 2014 at 8:50 am

Real Clear Politics Reader Louis Renault writes:

“President Omnipotent told folks that he was going to fundamentally transform the United States of America before being elected so it would appear the next 2.5 years might be bumpy ride folks…”

Diane Dimond June 9, 2014 at 8:51 am

Real Clear Politics Reader Jack writes:

“It’s interesting how all the Obama lovers on TV go on and on about how he’s innocent until proven guilty (guess that wasn’t a factor when it came to George Zimmerman).”

Diane Dimond June 9, 2014 at 8:52 am

Dear Readers:

This column was picked up by and garnered more than 400 comments at last glance. To read more of them please go to:

Diane Dimond June 9, 2014 at 8:57 am

Facebook Friend Daniel Karten writes:

“He’s arrogant beyond acceptability. And a fool”

Diane Dimond June 9, 2014 at 8:58 am

Facebook Friend Lynne Adrine writes:

“Is there any evidence that President Obama will block a military investigation and/or trial of Bergdahl, if warranted? Do you find it curious that you did not run into one soldier who had a less-harsh assessment? Are you presenting your survey as indicative of all US military?”

Diane Dimond June 9, 2014 at 8:59 am

Dear Lynne:

Of course this was not a scientific survey but it was, I think, indicative of what special forces military believe. You know, the ones who go into places all the rest of us would run away from?

The point was not that POTUS might block a military investigation (I didn’t even touch on that issue – and, no, I don’t think he would block such a probe) – the point of the column is that some members of the military are openly criticizing their Commander-in-Chief which is, traditionally, taboo.
Look, when a president loses the respect of even some of the military its an important thing to note. Bad morale spreads like wildfire – look inside any disgruntled office building. ~ DD

Diane Dimond June 9, 2014 at 9:09 am

Twitter Pal Xtrme4 writes:

” @DiDimond Can’t even imagine how disgusted all military must be at how this went down.”

Diane Dimond June 9, 2014 at 7:23 pm

ABQ Journal Reader BG Johnson writes:

“The Albuquerque Journal’s substitute headline for your piece ( “Military loses respect for president” ) did you a disservice. From reading your piece, it is clear to me that you understand that there was no respect left to lose but rather we have moved on to gut wrenching outrage.

I am a Viet Nam Era vet that has been and am being insulted and injured by the VA hospital mess. We got kicked to the curb, again, in deference to the new vets and they are still not being served either. Both my daughter and my son are veterans. My son is so shamed by having Obama’s signature on his discharge and retirement certificates after 20 years of service that he does not display them in his home.

Impeach not, Treason is a hanging offense.

“I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and *domestic* //”It chills me to the bone.”

What also chilled me to the bone was the realization that a key word has been dropped from the military oath of allegiance.

When I took it in 1967 I recall it said:

“I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the *lawful* orders of the President of the United States and the *lawful* orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

It does not now.

I am afraid, very afraid.”

Diane Dimond June 10, 2014 at 6:29 pm

Facebook Friend Ginnie Oleskewicz Schwartz writes:

“I have mixed feelings on this situation….have negative feelings concerning the VA….I think the way our Government treats our Veterans is a disgrace……just my opinion.”

Diane Dimond June 10, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Facebook Friend David Loving writes:

“Obama is real smart, but leadership deficient.”

Diane Dimond June 10, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Facebook Friend Bill Voinovich writes:

“I would say that Schmo-bama would block ANYTHING that might make him look stupid, but we’re past the point of no return on THAT…….THAT SHIP sailed a LONG TIME AGO…”

Diane Dimond June 10, 2014 at 6:31 pm

Facebook Reader TMac Mcalister writes:

“What does that say about the atmosphere you folks on he right have created where some military members feel comfortable bashing the commander-in-chief. Do you honestly think other presidents haven’t annoyed the military? But it’s fair game with Obama. BTW, the Pentagon signed off on this swap. Do you think they may know a bit more about military matters than Diane Diamond and the rest of the right-wing clown car?”

Diane Dimond June 10, 2014 at 6:33 pm

Dear Mcalister:

I am not a part of the “right wing”. I have always been a registered independent. And I don’t pretend to be an expert on military matters. I just report what I think is important for citizens to know.
P.S. – You spelled my last name wrong.

Diane Dimond June 10, 2014 at 7:13 pm

Diane Dimond June 10, 2014 at 7:25 pm

Washington Times Reader Chuckinva writes:

>> “The entire lineup of the top five has now been turned back to the bad guys.”

The way Rush Limbaugh put it was the president was restocking the Taliban. Not exactly a comforting thought is it? Bob Beckel tonight made the unfortunate statement on television that it doesn’t matter because we will not be fighting in Afghanistan any longer, so who will they kill? What small minds like his have forgotten is that the terrorist brought this fight to American shores on 9/11/2001. He also forgets that there are America volunteers in Afghanistan trying to help. Won’t they become targets Mr. Beckel.

I am sick to death of the twisted logic of the left that seems to think America is at fault in all things and that we are the cause of Middle East terrorist killing Jews, Christian and I might add other Muslims. We, the American people must tell this administration that we have had enough of these lawless acts and they will cease or you will be removed.”

Diane Dimond June 10, 2014 at 7:28 pm

Washington Times Reader Angry Webmaster writes:

“What should really worry the “Political Elites” on both sides of the aisle are regular soldiers, marines, airman and sailors beginning to wonder when the “Domestic” part of “All enemies, foreign and Domestic” of their oath’s kicks in.”

Diane Dimond June 10, 2014 at 7:30 pm

Washington Times Reader RMCSRET writes:

“It is terribly sad the Military Members who have been trained not to disagree with the CinC and the Higher echelons of the military but from what the Ground Pounders and the deck hands are seeing is a total lapse of leadership. When you See Retired Admirals white washing investigations, and CJCS sitting back and not providing the
President with the Proper guidance that he needs and is tasked to provide. The respect for leadership has grown less and less under this Administration.”

Diane Dimond June 10, 2014 at 7:33 pm

Washington Times Reader Pilgrim1620 writes:

“With Shinseki gone there is only one veteran in Obama’s Cabinet. “Swifty” Kerry doesn’t count. Is it any wonder why no one in the Executive branch understands the military?
Obama showed his ignorance of the basics of leadership with his comment of “leading from behind.” The mantra is “FOLLOW ME!” Obama is leading from behind, far, far behind!
In the next election we need a President who is a leader, regardless of party. Not a professional legislator or policy wonk. Someone who has governed a state bureaucracy or run a large company, preferably with military service in his/her background.
We can’t afford another rookie looking for “on-the-job training.”

Diane Dimond June 10, 2014 at 7:34 pm

Washington Times reader cammo99 responds to Pilgrim1620:

“Hagel, Vietnam decorated turned winter soldier pacifist they want peace no matter how many fictions they have to create to achieve it or how many soldiers they force to atone for their sin; of being soldiers…”

Diane Dimond June 10, 2014 at 7:35 pm

Washington Times Reader TheFirstRule writes:

“The military was always leery of Obama, and time has justified that.”

Diane Dimond June 11, 2014 at 1:00 am

Twitter Pal alabamarose writes:

“@DiDimond Its embarrassing to have thanked soldiers for their service & sacrifice & then prisoner swap & VA mess. #theydeservebetter”

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