Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York on October 19, 2015 · Page A13
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Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York · Page A13

Rochester, New York
Issue Date:
Monday, October 19, 2015
Page A13
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After a preliminary hearing, Army officials are recommending Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl get off without jail time or a punitive discharge for walking o ff his Afghanistan military base in 2009. He could even get back pay and lifetime disability payments. The recommendation leaked out last week, infuriating some of Bergdahl’s former platoon- mates. Instead of examining Bergdahl’s crimes, the hearing whitewashed them. W hy the cover-up? To make President Obama look good. Last year, Obama was criticized for swapping a “dream team” o f five top Taliban warriors from Guantanamo for a deserter who had fallen i nto enemy hands. Reinventing Bergdahl a s a hero makes that trade sound accept- a ble. Disgracefully, that is what the A rmy is doing. Defending the swap last year, admini- s tration official Susan Rice claimed Bergdahl had served with “honor and d istinction.” The hearing was scripted to make that fairy tale claim look true. I nside the 393-page transcript is evi- d ence of a cover-up. Bergdahl didn’t tell his story at the h earing. Instead the defense called Maj or General Kenneth Dahl, who had been a ssigned to investigate Bergdahl’s disap- pearance and had interviewed him for o ne and a half days. Dahl spun an implausible tale that Bergdahl never intended to desert. Instead he planned to leave the base for one night, run to a neighboring military base and tell an unnamed general there about mismanagement in his platoon. Huh? The nearest base was 30 kilometers (nearly 2 0 miles) away over rugged terrain. Running there in the dark night -- near physically impossible. It was a crazy alibi, but no one questioned it. Dahl painted Bergdahl as an idealistic, patriotic, naive man -- saying he resembled John Galt in Ayn Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged.” Shockingly, no o ne presented evidence to dispute this phony portrait, though there is plenty: the email Bergdahl had sent his pare nts saying “the horror that is America is disgusting” or his comments to his p latoon-mates disparaging the war e ffort. T he biggest ruse: the flat denial that a ny of Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers lost their lives looking for him. The issue c ame up twice. Dahl was asked whether he investigated that question. Dahl s aid he had not, because he was told not to. Yet moments later, he stated “ there were no soldiers killed who w ere deliberately looking and searching for ... Sergeant Bergdahl. I did not f ind any evidence of that.” Of course h e didn’t. He was ordered not to look. B ergdahl’s three commanders all 2 009, Bergdahl “was able to appreciate the nature and quality and wrongfulness of his conduct.” “ Wrongfulness.” Not at this charade hearing. The defense called captivity e xpert Terrence Russell and set him up b y asking about “public efforts to s mear the reputations of soldiers who a re captured.” He answered that Bergdahl is a hero for serving “his country w ith honor in captivity.” Bergdahl’s lawyer closed by saying t hat Bergdahl “is deeply grateful to President Obama for saving his life.” W hat about the lives of the men and w omen in uniform who serve bravely? This hearing dishonored them. Now it w ill be up to General Robert Abrams, c ommander of the U.S. Army Forces, t o clean up this dishonorable mess. testified that as soon as he went miss- i ng, a massive search was launched. Thousands of infantry were pushed to their limits, spending 45 days in sweltering 100-degree plus days and cold nights, combing remote areas and driving though villages, down roads and into terrain they had not entered previously. Major S. Silvino testified that I ED blasts doubled, and his soldiers faced higher risk because they were searching unfamiliar territory, and were weakened by fatigue and lack of water. It was compelling testimony, but the fix was already in. The hearing officer announced right afterward that mil- i tary officials had already agreed to exclude it: “To the extent that Major Silvino or any other government wit- n ess testified that there were injuries suffered by U.S. forces during the a lleged search and recovery opera- t ions, I will not consider this as evi- d ence.” S ome of his platoon-mates have been all over television calling Berg- d ahl a deserter. They were not on the witness list. Gregory Leatherman, who s erved with Bergdahl and is no longer in the military, was brought in to testi- f y that Bergdahl was mentally trou- b led. But one the Army’s top forensic p sychologists, Dr. Christopher Lange ( who was not called to testify) exam- i ned Bergdahl and reported that in Record shows a cover-up in the works We chose our syndicated columnists to present a diverse range of perspectives over the course of each week. Every day, w e will offer a different viewpoint from o ne of these writers: Esther Cepeda Michael Gerson CharlesKrauthammer Dana Milbank Betsy McCaughey Leonard Pitts C onnie Schultz Cal Thomas BETSY McCAUGHEY COMMENTARY DemocratandChronicle .com Monday,October19,2015 Page13A Contemplating the financial crisis and the reasons for it doesn’t mean you are living in the past. Rather, such a cold, objective review of the hard facts is imperative to prepare for the future, to try to ascertain what policies need to be on the b ooks to reduce the chances of another meltdown. T he country is failing in this regard — big time. And the more the cri- s is becomes a distant memory, the less likely federal officials are going t o do more to stave off another financial disaster and punish who contrib- u ted to putting this country on the brink of a depression. For instance, it’s completely outrageous that a slew of criminal charges haven’t been brought against individuals. Instead, federal offi- c ials have focused on broader reforms, in addition to handing over bill ions of dollars in bailout money to big banks. I n an interview with USA Today recently, Ben Bernanke, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, offered revealing and disturbing comments about the crisis. He said unless the federal government took action to stabilize the market through the bailouts, there was a very real chance “we could have gone into a 1930s-style depression.” But he added more corporate executives should have gone to jail for their misdeeds. The Justice Department and other law enforcement agencies focused on indicting or threatening to indict financial firms, he notes, “but it would have been my preference to have more investigation of individual action, since obviously everything that went wrong or was illegal was done by some individual, not by an abstract firm.” A bsolutely. Keep in mind the banking industry has been recovering s teadily since the big fall, but many people and neighborhoods have not. W hile the bank bailouts were necessary to keep the economy afloat, they s hould have come at a steeper price for the financial institutions, namely e nsuring they would negotiate in good faith with people stuck in home l oans they couldn’t afford and facing foreclosure. That didn’t happen, and t he country has suffered through a slower-than-necessary recovery as a r esult. C ongress and President Barack Obama have passed some regulations, i ncluding ensuring big U.S. banks have access to a certain amount of c ash in the event of market stress. But it’s questionable at best whether there are clear demarcations between traditional banking and the type of speculative trading that got the big institutions into trouble to begin with. New rules are designed to restrict banks from engaging in proprietary trading that does not benefit their customers, but many regulatory and enforcement bodies, from the Securities and Exchange Commission to federal prosecutors, have pivotal roles in seeing these rules are carried out as intended. The response to date has been completely underwhelming and bewildering considering what is at stake — considering all we should have learned but perhaps did not learn from the financial disaster. This editorial is adapted from one previously published in the Poughkeepsie Journal. What lessons were learned? Our nation’s response to 2008 financial meltdown has been underwhelming DAs should face term limits Now that election season is upon us, so is the perennial debate over term limits. To me, it only makes sense that if our president has to adhere to them, then every elected official should follow. One local district attorney has been in that powerful position for 37 years. Any rational person would agree that amount of time is too long. As Lord Byron succinctly put it, “Nothing corrupts like power and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” URSULA PULLES ROCHESTER No cost of living increase Millions of senior citizens who receive Social Security were disappointed this week to learn that there would be no Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) next year. Evidently the recent drop in gasoline prices in 2015 more than offset the continuing increases in prices of food, housing, and medical care. It would seem reasonable to compute a “Senior COLA” — a number that more accurately reflects the actual spending patterns of seniors who receive (and rely on) monthly Social Security payments. Use this SCOLA to determine next year’s Social Security adjustment for seniors. JOHN MICHAELS WEBSTER All children deserve a chance Ihad tears in my eyes as I read about the East Rochester residents who are so averse to having a children’s group home in their neighborhood. I was a severely abused child, went into foster care and was placed in a group home nestled within a tranquil community. Thanks in part to the love and care of the group home staff, I went on to graduate high school, college with honors and receive an MBA from UR’s Simon School of Business. I now serve on the board of directors at Hillside Children’s Center and am slated to be the next chairman. The East Rochesterians are saying they would not have wanted a “bad” kid like me living next to their family. It just proves that once children are actually born into this world the concern and support for them dwindles. Thank you Villa of Hope, Hillside, Bovina and other agencies that believe all children deserve an equal chance. As a successful member of this community, I stand as a testament to the power of your good work. MONICA MONTE, CHIEF MARKETING & OPERATIONS OFFICER LARE MARKETING GROUP Stop texting and speak! Remember your vocal cords? Those magical parts of your body used frequently before text and the smart phone? Were they lost when you tripped and knocked your own head off staring down at a magical and addictive device? Have they rotted from disuse? When and on what planet, did it become simpler, faster, or even easier to write me a novel of abbreviated idiocy, when even my texted response requesting and often begging you to “call me now” only yields more texted and idiotic novellas via phone? Ibeg you. SPEAK! Just speak. Please and thank you. JAN MOYER BRIGHTON LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Opinion “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for redress of grievances.” FIRST AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION EDITORIAL BOARD Michael G. Kane, President and Publisher Karen M. Magnuson, Editor & Vice President/News Julie J. Philipp, Senior Engagement Editor Sheila Rayam, Community Engagement Editor Len LaCara,Erica Bryant Anna Valeria Iseman and Jim Ryan Jr. Community Members CONNECT WITH US All submissions must include your name,address and daytime telephone number. Limit letters to fewer than 150 words; essays to 450 words. Readers are limited to one published letter every 30 days. Send to Letters to the Editor,Democrat and Chronicle,55 Exchange Blvd.,Rochester NY 14614; e mail Call (585) 258-2250. Fax: (585) 258-2356. All letters and essays chosen for publication are subject to editing for length,clarity and accuracy. CARTOONISTS’ VIEW

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