If we use the terrorists’ methods, the old canard goes, we become just as bad as they are–or worse. Well, the Taliban and Al Qaeda live in a lawless society dominated by strongmen–and now, increasingly, so do we.
Empathy aside, the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl raises critical policy questions, such as whether the U.S. should indulge prisoner swaps that may create incentives to capture Americans. It creates security questions, since the five Taliban leaders who were released to win Bergdahl’s freedom may return to battle. It also raises questions of justice, since there is apparent evidence that Sgt. Bergdahl deserted before he was taken captive.
Yet the most fundamental question it raises is a constitutional one: how can we expect to endure as a nation if the President of the United States considers himself above the law, and acts according to his personal whim?
President Obama broke the law requiring him to give Congress 30 days’ advance notice of such prisoner releases. At the time of the law’s passage, Obama added a “signing statement” indicating that he would not consider it binding on his authority as commander-in-chief. Yet the president promised voters in 2008 that he would never do such a thing, implying that the very act of a signing statement was itself unconstitutional:
“I taught the Constitution for 10 years, I believe in the Constitution and I will obey the Constitution the of the United States. We’re not gonna use signing statements as a way to do an end-run around Congress, alright?”
Obama violates such principles with increasing frequency.
And note the quote from a White House official to the McClatchy news service about Bergdahl: “‘This is a case of the commander in chief exercising his prerogative to get one of his soldiers back,’ one official said.”
To Democrats still enthralled by the personality cult around Obama, none of that matters–they leap to their feet to applaud, as Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) did when Obama attacked the Supreme Court directly in 2010.
Yet to the rest of the nation–and to liberals of conscience–it matters a great deal.
In the wake of 9/11, one bleak Photoshop joke circulating on the Internet involved George W. Bush wearing a turban, and a giant mosque in Manhattan, as the likely consequences if the U.S. lost the war. The real consequences are more subtle–and more serious.
This administration stopped calling it the “war on terror” a long time ago. As of May 31, its surrender is complete.