Australian comedy show The Chaser's War on Everything travel to the United States to visit a couple of the more well-known torture proponents, John Yoo and Dick Cheney. Donning a familiar costume, Yoo is confronted while giving a lecture in a classroom. Yoo lectures at UC Berkley and Chapman, and was a key member of the Bush administration's justification of torture. (A complete mystery as to why Yoo isn't in jail yet, but as Richard Armitrage advised, it's probably not a good idea for Yoo to travel outside the United States.)
And in another familiar costume, our intrepid faux reporters travel to Dick Cheney's
bunker home to get some unpaid royalties. Unfortunately Dick wasn't at home, and it wasn't long before local authorities and the Secret Service were called in to intervene.
This clip is from their July 15th show. They came to prominence with American audiences during the 2007 APEC conference.
Lou Dobbs has repeatedly used his prime-time CNN show and his radio show to spread discredited theories and wild claims -- his attention to which jeopardizes CNN's credibility. Dobbs has promoted the fringe notions -- labeled "conspiracy theor[ies]" by his own CNN colleagues -- that President Obama has failed to produce a valid birth certificate and that the U.S. government is conspiring to merge the United States with Mexico and Canada in a "North American Union."
CNN had to express regret over Dobbs' program's use of a hate group's graphic to advance the idea that Mexican immigrants are plotting to retake the American Southwest. And Dobbs was criticized on CNN's Reliable Sources by both a liberal and a conservative guest for his refusal to correct his show's gross overstatement of the number of new leprosy cases in the U.S. (which he had attributed to undocumented immigration).
Obama's birth certificate
During the July 15 edition of his radio program, Dobbs devoted substantial airtime to the issue of Obama's birth certificate, asserting repeatedly that the president needs to "produce" it. Dobbs said that the birth certificate posted online by FactCheck.org "that everyone is purporting to validate the president" has "some issues ... I mean, it's peculiar," and stated that he wants to see a "long form" birth certificate, which he called "the real deal." Dobbs also mentioned the issue of Obama's birth certificate on the July 15 edition of his CNN show. Referring to the document that FactCheck.org posted, Dobbs said, "It is, in fact, the so-called short form, not the original document. It is really a document saying that the state of Hawaii has the real document in its possession."
Dobbs continued to repeat the "birther" claims on both CNN and his radio show, stating on the July 20 edition of his CNN program that the birth certificate questions offered by "passionate supporters" "won't go away because they haven't been dealt with, it seems possible to, straightforwardly and quickly," and saying on the July 21 edition of his CNN show, "We had people, including reporters from the LA Times, calling up because I referred to this. ... Instead of calling the White House to ask why they didn't do it, they're calling me to ask why I said I don't know what the reality is. No one does." Additionally, on the July 21 edition of his radio show, Dobbs criticized "certain quarters of the national liberal media that are just absolutely trying to knock down the issue of President Obama's birth certificate," stating that they are "focused on being subservient and servile to this presidency rather than being inquisitive and doing their jobs with, you know, the White House." On July 22, Dobbs again asserted on his radio show that Obama could "make the whole ... controversy disappear ... by simply releasing his original birth certificate."
By contrast, Dobbs' CNN colleagues have repeatedly debunked claims that Obama has yet to produce a valid birth certificate, calling them "total bull" and "a whack-job project" that is "more conspiratorial than factual," and have characterized those who make these claims as "nut jobs" and "conspiracy theorists" who wear "tin foil hat[s]." In a July 22 column published on CNN.com, CNN contributor Roland S. Martin stated, "The nut jobs that continue to promote this story are wacky, right-wing radio and TV talk shows hosts and no-credibility bloggers. They have latched onto this story like bloodsucking leeches, and actually want us to believe this story has legs."
"North American Union"
Dobbs' has also promoted conspiracy theories regarding purported government plans for a "North American Union," while other CNN reporters appear to dismiss these theories out of hand. For example, on the August 21, 2007, edition of The Situation Room, White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux aired a video clip of then-President Bush's response to a question about the North American Union. In that response, Bush said, "It's quite comical, actually, when you realize the difference between reality and what some people are talking on TV about." Malveaux said Bush's denial followed "a lot of talk in the blogosphere and conspiracy theorists." According to a search of the Nexis database conducted at the time, the North American Union had been mentioned on 53 Lou Dobbs Tonight broadcasts prior to Malveaux's statement. Indeed, during a Malveaux report just the day before -- on the August 20, 2007, edition of Lou Dobbs Tonight -- on-screen text read: "Critics say SPP [Security & Prosperity Partnership] an Attempt to Create a N. Amer. Union."
Indeed, Dobbs has a long history of promoting this conspiracy theory. For instance, during the June 21, 2006, edition of Lou Dobbs Tonight, Dobbs stated that "the Bush administration is pushing ahead with a plan to create a North American union with Canada and Mexico" and later asked: "Do you think, our question is, maybe somebody should take a vote if we're going to merge Canada, Mexico and the United States as the leaders of the three countries are attempting to do with the security and prosperity partnership? Yes or no. Cast your vote at LouDobbs.com." Similarly, on the November 29, 2006, edition of his show, Dobbs asserted that "the Bush administration is determined to create a North American union without consultation or approval of the people of this country or our Congress." Following a report in which CNN correspondent Christine Romans stated, "[C]ritics say foreign policy elites are promoting a European-style union, erasing borders between the three countries and eventually moving to a single North American currency called the Amero" and cited a denial from the Commerce Department, Dobbs stated, "What they're doing is creating a brave new world, an Orwellian world, in which the will of the people is absolutely irrelevant."
Dobbs has also repeatedly linked immigration to fears that some Mexicans plan to take over the American Southwest for Mexico. On the March 31, 2006, edition of his show, Dobbs introduced a report by Romans by stating, "There are some Mexican citizens and some Mexican-Americans who want to see California, New Mexico and other parts of the Southwestern United States given over to Mexico. These groups call it the reconquista, Spanish for reconquest. And they view the millions of Mexican illegal aliens in particular entering the United States as potentially an army of invaders to achieve that takeover." Romans stated, "Long downplayed as a theory of the radical ethnic fringe, the la reconquista, the reconquest, the reclamation, the return, it's resonating with some on the streets," and went on to say, "A lot of open borders groups disavow it completely. But the growing street protests in favor of illegal immigration, Lou, are increasingly taking on the tone of that very radicalism."
On the May 23, 2006, edition of Lou Dobbs Tonight, correspondent Casey Wian characterized then-Mexican President Vicente Fox's trip to Salt Lake City, Utah, as a "Mexican military incursion" and claimed that "[y]ou could call" Fox's trip to the United States "the Vicente Fox Aztlan tour," an apparent, baseless reference to those who purportedly espouse the concept of "reconquista," a term associated with El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán, a document drafted in the early formation of the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (Chicano Student Movement of Aztalan, or MEChA), which critics claim outlines a plan for recapturing the southwestern United States for Mexico. During Wian's report, CNN featured a graphic of "Aztlan" that was sourced to the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) -- an organization whose "Statement of Principles" says: "We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called 'affirmative action' and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races."
On May 25, 2006, in response to the criticism of CNN over the appearance of the CCC graphic during the May 23, 2006, show, a CNN spokeswoman said that a "freelance field producer" had "grabbed the Council of Conservative Citizens map without knowing the nature of the organization" and that its inclusion in the segment "regrettably, was missed in the vetting process."
Leprosy and Immigration
Dobbs also came under intense fire following his program's gross overstatement of the number of new leprosy cases in the U.S. and for implying that immigrants were responsible for the purported spike in the disease's incidence. On the April 14, 2005, edition of his show, Dobbs said, "The invasion of illegal aliens is threatening the health of many Americans." He then introduced a report in which Romans stated that "the woman in our piece [lawyer Madeline Cosman] told us that there were about 900 cases of leprosy for 40 years. There have been 7,000 in the past three years. Leprosy in this country." "Incredible," Dobbs replied. However, as Media Matters and others -- including CBS's 60 Minutes and The New York Times -- noted, the claim was wildly inflated. According to the National Hansen's Disease Program (NHDP) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), there were 398 U.S. cases of Hansen's disease, or leprosy, reported between 2002 and 2004 -- "the past three years" at the time Romans made her statement. Cosman's claims were originally published in the journal of an organization that has, among other things, promoted conspiracy theories about the death of Vince Foster.
Despite the fact that Romans' original 2005 reporting on leprosy has been proven false, Dobbs has never admitted to the error on his show and indeed defended Romans' reporting on numerous occasions. For example, on the May 6, 2007, edition of 60 Minutes, Dobbs said of the leprosy claim, "If we reported it, it's a fact." On the June 18, 2007, edition of his show, Dobbs tried to downplay his program's airing and affirming of the falsehood, saying the comment was "eight seconds long and as I said, took place two and a half years ago."
On the June 3, 2007, edition of CNN's Reliable Sources, both Rachel Sklar of the progressive Huffington Post and Mary Katherine Ham of the conservative Townhall.com criticized Dobbs' refusal to correct the falsehood.
The Washington Independent reports Iraqi prime minister is open to renegotiating withdrawal timeline. "Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki opened the door for the first time Thursday to the prospect of a U.S. military presence in Iraq after the December[...]
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You know me, I am proud to be organizing online for the Kansas Democratic Party!In case you haven't[...]
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Roll Call reported today that Senate Democrats are “increasingly frustrated by the secrecy and duration of Finance Chairman Max Baucus? (D-MT) bipartisan talks on health care reform.” One unnamed Senator appeared irritated that Baucus ” is unlikely to run any deal by his caucus before he shakes hands on an agreement with Republicans.” OpenLeft then wondered how Baucus’s campaigns are financed and found that from 2005 to the present, the health insurance industry has significant representation among his top-ten donors:
Also today, Politico reported that many of the industries opposing President Obama’s agenda are contributing heavily to the House’s 52-member Blue Dog Coalition, which has been consistently trying to weaken efforts to pass health care, clean energy, and economic recovery legislation.
Below is the text (as prepared) used by President Obama at his speech near the Cleveland Clinic today. The Cleveland Clinic is a great model of how health care should be delivered: independent of the politics of health care, there is that "provision of health care" thing I'm always carping about, and Cleveland does it exceedingly well.
Doctors are paid salaries, independent of how many procedures they undertake; thus no need to over-test, over-prescribe nor over-operate. In addition, each doctor has a one year contract which is reviewed, and renewed or not renewed based on his/her work in the prior year. Plus, Cleveland Clinic bundles.
I had read that the president was going to tour the Clinic before he made his speech, and I don't know if that experience changed anything. Still, there are some great things in this speech that didn't show last night during the address. I've highlighted them.
The ones that made my toes curl with joy is highlighted in blue. One because it's so true, and shows both the necessity of long standing, and the historic nature of how close we are, and what it means if there is success this time. The others because they show that Obama doesn't just talk reform, he understands PATIENT CARE.
Last night's speech made me sad. This one makes me proud.
Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery
Health Care Town Hall
Shaker Heights, Ohio
July 23, 2009
It’s good to be back in the great state of Ohio. I know there are those who like to focus on the political back and forth in Washington. But my only concern is the people who sent us there: the families feeling the pain of this recession; the folks I’ve met across this country who have lost jobs and savings and health insurance, but haven’t lost hope; the citizens who defied the cynics and the skeptics – who went to the polls to demand real and lasting change. This change was the cause of my campaign, and it is the cause of my presidency.
When my administration came into office, we were facing the worst economy since the Great Depression. We were losing an average of 700,000 jobs per month. Hundreds of thousands of Ohioans have felt that painful loss first-hand. Our financial system was on the verge of collapse, meaning families and small businesses could not get the credit they need. And experts were warning that there was a serious chance that our economy could slip into a depression. But because of the action we took in those first weeks, we have been able to pull our economy back from the brink.
Now that the most immediate danger has passed, there are some who question those steps. So let me report to you on exactly what we’ve done.
We passed a two-year Recovery Act that meant an immediate tax cut for 95 percent of Americans and for small businesses. It extended unemployment insurance and health coverage for those who lost their jobs in this recession, and provided emergency assistance to the states to prevent even deeper layoffs of police, firefighters, teachers and other essential personnel. At the same time, we took needed steps to keep the banking system from collapsing, to get credit flowing again, and to help responsible homeowners – hurt by falling home prices – to stay in their homes.
In the second phase, we now are investing in projects to repair and upgrade roads, bridges, ports, and water systems – and in schools and clean energy initiatives throughout Ohio and the country. These are projects that are creating good jobs and bring lasting improvements to our communities and our country.There is no doubt that the steps we have taken have helped stave off a much deeper disaster and even greater job loss. They have saved and helped create jobs and have begun to put the brakes on this devastating recession. But I know that for the millions of Americans who are looking for work, and all those who are struggling in this economy, full recovery can’t come soon enough. I hear from you at town hall meetings like this. I read your letters. These stories are the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing I think about at night – and the focus of my attention every day. The simple truth is that it took years for us to get into this mess, and it will take more than a few months to dig our way out of it. But we will get there, and we are doing everything within our power to get people back to work.
We also have to do more than just rescue this economy from recession; we need to address the fundamental problems that allowed this crisis to happen in the first place. Otherwise, we’d be guilty of the same short term thinking that got us into this mess. That’s what Washington has done for decades. That’s what we must change.
Now is the time to rebuild this economy stronger than before. Strong enough to compete in the 21st century. Strong enough to avoid the waves of boom and bust that have, time and again, unleashed a torrent of misfortune on middle class families across this country. That’s why we are building a new, clean energy economy that will unleash the innovative potential of America’s entrepreneurs – and create millions of new jobs – helping to end our dependence on foreign oil. We are transforming our education system, from cradle to college, so that this nation once again has the best-educated workforce in the world. And we are pursuing health insurance reform so that every American has access to quality, affordable health coverage.
I want to be clear: reform isn’t just about the nearly 46 million Americans without health insurance. Though I realize that with all the charges and criticisms being thrown around in Washington, many Americans may be wondering, “How does my family, or my business, stand to benefit from health insurance reform? What’s in this for me?”
I want to answer those questions today.
If you already have health insurance, the reform we’re proposing will give you more security. It will keep the government out of your health care decisions, giving you the option to keep your coverage if you’re happy with it. And it will keep the insurance companies out of your health care decisions, too, by stopping insurers from cherry-picking who they cover, and holding insurers to higher standards for what they cover.
You won’t have to worry about receiving a surprise bill in the mail, because we’ll limit the amount your insurance company can force you to pay out of your own pocket.
You won’t have to worry about pre-existing conditions, because never again will anyone in America be denied coverage because of a previous illness or injury.
And you won’t have to worry about losing coverage if you lose or leave your job, because every American who needs insurance will have access to affordable plans through a health insurance exchange – a marketplace where insurance companies will compete to cover you, not to deny you coverage.If you run a small business and you’re looking to provide insurance for your employees, you’ll be able to choose a plan through this exchange as well. I’ve heard from small business owners across America trying to do the right thing, but year after year, premiums rise higher and choices grow more limited. That’s certainly the case here in Ohio.
And if you are a taxpayer concerned about deficits, I want to reassure you, I am too.
In the eight years before we came to office, Washington enacted two large tax cuts, primarily for the wealthiest Americans, added a prescription drug benefit to Medicare, and funded two wars, without paying for any of it. The national debt doubled, and we were handed a $1.3 trillion deficit when we walked in the door – one we necessarily had to add to in the short term to help break the back of the recession. I believe we have to restore a sense of responsibility in Washington. We have to do what families and businesses do, cutting the things we don’t need to pay for the things we do.
That is why I have pledged that I will not sign health insurance reform that adds even one dime to our deficit over the next decade. And I mean it. We have estimated that two-thirds of the cost of reform to bring health care security to every American can be paid for by reallocating money that is simply being wasted in federal health care programs. This includes more than one hundred billion dollars in unwarranted subsidies that go to insurance companies as part of Medicare – subsidies that do nothing to improve care for our seniors. We ought to take that money and use to actually treat people and cover people, not line the pockets of the insurers. I’m pleased that Congress has already embraced these proposals. And while they are currently working through proposals to finance the remaining costs, I continue to insist that health reform not be paid for on the backs of middle-class families.
In addition to making sure that this plan doesn’t add to the deficit in the short-term, the bill I sign must also slow the growth of health care costs, while improving care, in the long run. I just came from the Cleveland Clinic where I toured the cardiac surgery unit and met some of the doctors and nurses achieving incredible results for their patients; there’s important work being done there as well as at University Hospitals and MetroHealth. Cleveland Clinic has one of the best health information technology systems in the country. This means that they can track patients and their progress. This means that they can see what treatments work and what treatments are unnecessary. And this means they can provide better care to patients with chronic disease like diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, and emphysema by coordinating with doctors and nurses both in the hospital and in the community.
And this is the remarkable thing: often better care produces lower, not higher, expenses. Because better care leads to fewer errors that cost money and lives. You, or your doctor, don’t have to fill out the same form a dozen times. Medical professionals are free to treat people – not just illnesses. And patients are provided preventive care earlier – like mammograms and physicals – to avert more expensive and invasive treatment later.
That’s why our proposals include a variety of reforms that would both save money and improve care – and why the nation’s largest organizations representing doctors and nurses have embraced our plan. Our proposals would change incentives so that doctors and nurses are finally free to give patients the best care, not just the most expensive care. We also want to create an independent group of doctors and medical experts who are empowered to eliminate waste and inefficiency in Medicare – a proposal that could save even more money. Overall, our proposals will improve the quality of care for our seniors and save them thousands of dollars on prescription drugs, which is why the AARP has endorsed our reform efforts.
The fact is, lowering costs is essential for families and businesses – and our economy. Here in Ohio, for example, over the past few years premiums have risen nearly nine times as fast as wages. That’s something Rick and his wife are very familiar with. As we meet today, we’re seeing double-digit rate increases on insurance premiums all over America. There are reports of insurers raising rates by 28 percent in California; seeking a 23 percent increase in Connecticut; and proposing as much as a 56 percent increase in Michigan. If we don’t act, these premium hikes will be just a preview of coming attractions. That’s a future you can’t afford. That’s a future America can’t afford.
We spend one of every six of our dollars on health care in America, and that’s on track to double in the next three decades. The biggest driving force behind our federal deficit is the skyrocketing cost of Medicare and Medicaid. Small businesses struggle to cover workers while competing with large businesses. Large businesses struggle to cover workers while competing in the global economy. And we will never know the full cost of the dreams put on hold, the entrepreneurial ideas allowed to languish, the small businesses never founded – because of the fear of being without insurance, or having to pay for a policy on your own.
That is why we seek reform. And in pursuit of this reform we have forged a consensus that has never before been reached in the history of this country. Senators and Representatives in five committees are working on legislation and three have already produced bills. Health care providers have agreed to do their part to reduce the rate of growth in health care spending. Hospitals have agreed to bring down costs. The drug companies have agreed to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors. And the American Nurses Association and the American Medical Association, which represent the millions of nurses and doctors who know our health care system best, have announced their support for reform.
We have never been closer to achieving quality, affordable health care for all Americans. But at the same time, there are those who seek to delay and defeat reform. I’ve heard that one Republican strategist told his party that even though they may want to compromise, it’s better politics to “go for the kill.” Another Republican senator said that defeating health reform is about “breaking” me – when it’s really the American people who are being broken by rising health care costs and declining coverage. And the Republican Party chair, seeking to stall our efforts, recently went so far as to say that health insurance reform was happening “too soon.”I thought that was a little odd. We’ve been talking about health reform since the days of Harry Truman, and he’s saying reform is coming too soon. Too soon?
I don’t think it’s too soon for the families who’ve seen their premiums rise faster than wages year after year.
It’s not too soon for the businesses forced to drop coverage or shed workers because of mounting health care expenses.
It’s not too soon for taxpayers asked to close widening deficits that stem from rising health care costs, costs that threaten to leave our children with a mountain of debt.
Reform may be coming too soon for some in Washington, but it’s not soon enough for the American people. We can do this. For this nation never shrinks from a challenge. And we were reminded of that earlier this week, when Americans – and people all over the world – marked the fortieth anniversary of the moment that the astronauts of Apollo 11 walked upon the surface of the moon. It was the realization of a goal President Kennedy had set nearly a decade earlier. There were those at that time who said it was foolish, even impossible. But President Kennedy understood, and the American people set about proving, what this nation was capable of doing when we set our minds to doing it.
Today, there are those who see our failure to address stubborn problems as a sign that our best days are behind us; that somehow we’ve lost that sense of purpose, that toughness, that capacity to lead. Well I believe that this generation, like generations past, stands ready to defy the naysayers and the skeptics. That we can once again summon this American spirit. That we can rescue our economy and rebuild it stronger than before. And that, yes, we can achieve quality, affordable health care for every single American. That is what we are called upon to do. And that is what we will do.
I've been pouring through the archives at King's College, London, preparing for several interviews that I have coming down the pike. Israeli journalist and professor Ahron Bregman houses his papers in the Liddell Hart library, and included in the records are transcripts of interviews filmed for the BBC's Elusive Peace -- It's the proverbial cutting room floor. And, as one would imagine, there's some fascinating material that didn't make the screen.
A pair of anecdotes from Shepherdstown, 2000:
Martin Indyk recalls riding with Ehud Barak on flights from Israel to Washington as often as possible in order to glean as much as he could about the prime minister's thinking. At the time, it was apparently a rather battered old 707, with a bedroom that had been hastily installed with little room for more than a bed. On the eve of the summit, Indyk, then an assistant secretary of state, was waiting for Barak's arrival at Andrews AFB. After the delegation filed off the plane the prime minister failed to emerge, Indyk climbed aboard and found Barak in his bedroom. Barak motioned for him to sit on the bed alongside him. He told him he couldn't cut a deal with Assad -- there would be no peace in exchange for the Golan.
Danny Yatom also recalls going to the gym with Barak and finding Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharraa there working out. Barak tried to make a joke, saying that he would follow al-Sharraa through the routine so they could see who was stronger; al-Sharra picked up his belongings and left without a word.
So where are we now, nearly a decade down the line?
While Washington seems to be content to quibble about whether Hillary was upstaged by the White House's decision to return an ambassador to Damascus -- apparently without a quo to match the quid -- the difficult question remains unanswered: can Damascus really offer what Israel's after?
Far more than recognition; more than a peaceable border -- Hezbollah seems to be the one issue looming in the minds of the Israeli leadership.
Hezbollah, the dominant Lebanese political movement, or Hezbollah the militant lung through which Iran breathes?
If Israel attacks next year, we'll certainly find out. But until then, post-election Hezbollah, the better equipped, more strategically positioned, and more internationally credible incarnation -- having proved willing to play both sides of the democracy game -- remains an insufferable ire for Netanyahu.
Bashar is looking for concessions that are quite tangible -- one can wrap the mind around 1,200 square kilometers of strategic high ground.
But networks of support connecting Syria to Nasrallah's army, contacts and friendships intertwined with intelligence and armament deals -- these are less concrete, less severable bonds.
If Bashar is as eager to get the Golan back as we've all believed -- and as David Lesch, who literally wrote on the book on the new lion, suggested while presenting a paper at the National Press Club last week -- he'll have to be less fixated on dangling his feet in lake Tiberias than his father was, and more devoted to delivering on the Party of God.
The Israeli leadership is rightfully wary of what the new lion can deliver.
-- Brian Till
Yesterday, we reported that we hadn't heard a clear story from the Pentagon about how Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl was captured in Afghanistan. We started looking after a Fox News analyst claimed the soldier deserted (and therefore should be executed by the Taliban).
But last night, an NBC News correspondent reported that Pentagon officials are certain Bergdahl is not a deserter.
"Senior military and Pentagon officials, not only in Washington but there on the ground in Afghanistan, say there's no question he's not a deserter," said Jim Miklaszewski, NBC's Pentagon correspondent.
Video after the jump.
Miklaszewski also said the officials are "quite outraged" about the comments made by the Fox analyst, Lt. Col. Ralph Peters because they could be used to harm Bergdahl.
"These Peters comments could actually be used by his captors to get even deeper inside Bergdahl's mind, and further erode any confidence that he may have that he will ever come out alive," he said. "It's why you don't hear military officials or even government officials talking much about this case."
Miklaszewski also had more details about the events leading to the soldier's capture.
He did leave his post by himself. He came off a patrol June 30, dropped off his weapon and his body armor, grabbed up a bottle of water, a compass and a knife and took off out on his own. And it was sometime after that, apparently, that some local militants grabbed him and turned him over to the Taliban. Now, should he have left the post alone? Of course not. But it doesn't make him a deserter.
In related news, CNN reports that U.S. forces have opened a fact-finding mission into Bergdahl's disappearance.