Saturday, May 31, 2014

Last Call For One Of Ours Coming Home

US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, held captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan for five years, is being released in exchange for five Taliban prisoners being held in Gitmo, to be delivered to the government of Qatar.

The lone American prisoner of war from the Afghan conflict, captured by insurgents nearly five years ago, has been released to American forces in exchange for five Taliban prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, Obama administration officials said Saturday.

The soldier, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, 28, was handed over to American Special Operations troops inside Afghanistan near the Pakistan border about 10:30 a.m. Saturday in a tense but uneventful exchange with 18 Taliban officials, American officials said. Moments later, Sergeant Bergdahl was whisked away by the helicopter-borne commandos, American officials said. He was found in good condition and able to walk.
The five Taliban detainees at Guantánamo, including two senior militant commanders said to be implicated in murdering thousands of Shiites in Afghanistan, were being transferred to the custody of officials from Qatar, who will accompany them back to that Persian Gulf state, where they will be subject to security restrictions, including a one-year travel ban.

President Obama spoke this evening at the White House Rose Garden to address the release, along with Bergdahl's parents, saying that Sgt. Bergdahl was "never forgotten" by the US.  Bowe's father Robert had this to say on Twitter:

It's a good day for the Bergdahl family.  A very good day indeed.

"Not Sure" If Thousands Should Lose Health Coverage

That's our Sen. Rand Paul, showing leadership for Kentuckians with authentic frontier gibberish.

A reporter asked Paul if he thought Kynect should be dismantled. Paul responded that he was "not sure."

"You know I'm not sure — there's going to be … how we unravel or how we change things. I would rather —I always tell people there's a fork in the road. I was in healthcare for 20 years so we had problems in healthcare so we had problems in healthcare but we could have gone one of two directions," Paul said. "One was towards more competition and more marketplace and one was toward more government control. The people who think that the government can efficiently distribute medicine need to explain why the VA's been struggling for decade after decade in a much smaller system. And they also need to explain, even though I think we all want Medicare to work better, why Medicare is $35 trillion short. There's a lot of questions that are big questions that are beyond the exchange and the Kynect and things like that. It's whether or not how we're going to fund these things."

What happened to "It has to be repealed" Rand?   Suddenly Republicans like Rand and Mitch can't say if they want to get rid of Kynect or not.  They certainly hated it before and promised us it would surely fail.

Except for the fact Kynect has been a model for the entire country, and everything.  Suddenly it's the Palin-speak above.  Suddenly it's not a yes or no answer anymore.

Funny how that works.

We Ain't Got Time For Questions

Newsweek's Kurt Eichenwald puts together a list of 16 questions that Brian Williams didn't ask Edward Snowden, but should have.  Most of them are very good, good enough that they deserve to be posed to the major players on both sides of this issue.  For example, question number 7:

Technologically, the world has changed dramatically since the original adoption of FISA. With wireless and disposable phones and devices that communicate directly over the Internet, old-style wiretapping is no longer possible. The NSA maintains that, because terrorists often use phones for a single call and an email account for a single message before disposing of them, it would be impossible to identify their numbers and emails without the collection of metadata that allows for retrospective searches. Is the agency lying? And if so, what methods are you aware of that would allow for the discovery of those numbers and email addresses that do not entail the retrospective analysis of metadata?

That's actually the kind of question we need to be focused on.  What roles should the NSA be allowed to fill in 2014, and what boundaries should be placed on those roles?  This is a perfect example of the real debate over the NSA and the duties it should be allowed to pursue.  But there are some other issues involving Snowden that should have been asked.

Question number 10 is short, but very important:

Do you believe that surveillance in foreign nations is intrinsically wrong?

There are a number of people who would answer yes to that question, and of those I'm betting 99.5% are backing Snowden and his actions as necessary.

That leads into 11:

You say that you do not believe your actions damaged United States security and that the government has failed to reveal instances where it did. Two questions: What kind of analysis did you conduct to be sure that the information you were taking did not compromise security? And, secondly, given that journalists do not have security clearances, why did you think they were the best placed to determine what would compromise national security and what didn’t?

Is America allowed to even have a foreign intelligence service?  Because the distinct impression I'm getting is that singularly so, the United States is not.  The fact we have one is the root cause, many would argue, of our foreign entanglements.

And then there's 13:

Your passport was revoked while you were in Hong Kong. How did you get out and manage to fly to Russia?

Nobody seems to have an answer to this that I've heard.  I'd like to know.

Hell, there are a lot of things I'd like to know.  Maybe some enterprising journalist types should get on that.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

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