June 6, 2014
This week Bill O’Reilly has repeatedly asserted that Bowe Bergdahl‘s father looks Muslim, and has not backed down from that assertion. And on MSNBC last night, Chris Hayes joined in the mockery of O’Reilly’s “blatant Islamophobia.”
O’Reilly contended that it’s wildly inappropriate for Bergdahl’s father to look Muslim, with the beard he’s sporting, and speaking in Pashto while he was at the White House. Hayes played clips of O’Reilly’s musings (as well as Sean Hannity‘s) and said, “The blatant Islamophobia here is eclipsed only by the sheer ridiculousness of the argument.”
Hayes proceeded to mock O’Reilly by wondering if he considers the Duck Dynasty guys, ZZ Top, or The Dude to be similarly Muslim-looking. And he ended with a sharp dig at O’Reilly, the author of a number of historical books.
On his eponymous show, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly said that if he had been president, he “would not have made the deal” to exchange Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay. “These are top Taliban leaders — enemies who bring death and destruction to thousands,” said O’Reilly.
The Fox News commentator, however, took a detour from the sweeping issues of national security to address the case of Robert Bergdahl, Bowe’s father. O’Reilly: “But it is Robert Bergdahl, the father, who is also engendering some controversy. He has learned to speak Pashto, the language of the Taliban, and looks like a Muslim. He is also somewhat sympathetic to Islam, actually thanking Allah right in front of the president.”
June 2, 2014
WASHINGTON — Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl can expect a buoyant homecoming after five years in Taliban hands, but those in the government who worked for his release face mounting questions over the prisoner swap that won his freedom.
Even in the first hours of Bergdahl’s handoff to U.S. special forces in eastern Afghanistan, it was clear this would not be an uncomplicated yellow-ribbon celebration. Five terrorist suspects also walked free, stirring a debate in Washington over whether the exchange will heighten the risk of other Americans being snatched as bargaining chips and whether the released detainees — several senior Taliban figures among them — would find their way back to the fight.
U.S. officials said Sunday that Bergdahl’s health and safety appeared in jeopardy, prompting rapid action to secure his release. “Had we waited and lost him,” said national security adviser Susan Rice, “I don’t think anybody would have forgiven the United States government.”
And in Kabul Monday, the Afghan Foreign Ministry called the swap “against the norms of international law” if it came against the five imprisoned Taliban detainees’ will. The ministry said: “No state can transfer another country’s citizen to a third country and put restriction on their freedom.”
Tireless campaigners for their son’s freedom, Bob and Jani Bergdahl thanked all who were behind the effort to retrieve him. “You were not left behind,” Bob Bergdahl told reporters, as if speaking to his son. “We are so proud of the way this was carried out.” He spoke in Boise, Idaho, wearing a long bushy beard he’d grown to honor his son, as residents in the sergeant’s hometown of Hailey prepared for a homecoming celebration.
In weighing the swap, U.S. officials decided that it could help the effort to reach reconciliation with the Taliban, which the U.S. sees as key to more security in Afghanistan. But they acknowledged the risk that the deal would embolden insurgents.
Republicans pressed that point. “Have we just put a price on other U.S. soldiers?” asked Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. “What does this tell terrorists, that if you capture a U.S. soldier, you can trade that soldier for five terrorists?”