More Trouble For the Obama Administration
President Obama faces another round of criticism over the decision to swap five Taliban war criminals for Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl who may have deserted his unit in Afghanistan before being captured by the Taliban. The decision looks to be unpopular but does President Obama care? We'll break it down tonight.
Because Mr. Woodward has covered different presidential administrations for many years, the Factor was eager to hear his perspective on this latest scandal.
Woodward, who served in the Navy, targeted his criticism at the management of this prisoner swap. He implied the Obama administration genuinely wanted to get the soldier released, but instead of informing Congress, went out on their own. He referred to the "unfortunate bubble in the White House where they are too often isolated on things like this."
Recognizing that the management problem has been going on for six years, the Factor - pressed on whether this is an arrogance issue or an ignorance issue.
Woodward said it's all about isolation. He acknowledged that in writing two books on Obama, there are some definite strengths there. In this particular case, he conceded that, in a rush to act, nobody in the administration thought through the arguments against the prisoner exchange.
Freed in Afghanistan
Guests:Cheryl Brandes & Ken Luccioni
At least 6 U.S. soldiers were killed searching for Sgt. Bergdahl after he left his unit without permission in Afghanistan. One of them was 20-year-old Pfc. Matthew Martinek. His mother and stepfather entered the no spin zone.
The Private's mother called the comments made about bringing Bergdahl home as a hero "very disconcerting." She wondered how people in the administration can say he served with honor when he disrespected his fellow soldiers by deserting.
When the Factor inquired whether Sgt. Bergdahl should be put on military trial, both guests replied: "Absolutely."
Mr. Luccioni expressed the desire to make sure the code of justice is taken to the full extent because the American people need to know all of the facts. He also said he understands Bergdahl's parents' joy of having him home and out of harm's way, but he believes the Sergeant must now be held accountable for his actions.
The Factor gave Ms. Brandes an opportunity to speak directly to the President, to which she replied if it was her son who had been captured, he would not have wanted five extremely dangerous terrorists traded for his life.
A Deeper Look
Guests:Monica Crowley & Kirsten Powers
Kirsten, having just watched the previous segment, agreed that it's an extremely tragic what happened to Pfc. Martinek. However, she pointed out that the Pentagon has specifically said people didn't die searching for Bergdahl. While she's inclined to believe the men on the ground, this certainly adds confusion to the situation, in her opinion.
Crowley described it as heartbreaking to watch Pfc. Martinek's parents. She wondered if these parents were ever invited to the White House, as Bergdahl's parents were for a big Rose Garden ceremony.
The Factor asked if he was wrong to dislike the presentation of Bergdahl's father. Kirsten reminded the Factor that Bergdahl's son has been missing for five years, and he has said he grew the beard as part of an attempt to understand his son's captors. Rather than questioning his conduct, she expressed sympathy for him.
Crowley called into question the emails that went back and forth between father and son, where Sgt. Bergdahl called America disgusting and said he hated being a soldier, to which his father replied "obey your conscience."
The Factor concluded he's standing by his analysis that what Bergdahl's father did at the White House was inappropriate, but he's also interested to hear what viewers think.
More Problems at the V.A.
Guests:Kimberly Guilfoyle & Lis Wiehl
In Memphis, more than $1 million was paid in bonus money to VA officials there, yet a therapeutic pool used to rehab veterans was shut down due to lack of funding.
According to Wiehl, no laws were broken because money is specifically allocated to bonuses and technically can't be used for operational costs. She reported that one of the whistleblowers told her the pool is drained and filled with filed cabinets. Guilfoyle affirmed this was gross mismanagement by the VA, but that nobody will be brought up on charges.
The Factor voiced frustration, saying Gen. Shinseki should have killed the bonuses and dealt with the pool instead. He said one way or another, we're going to get that pool filled.
At Duke University, two students went out on a date. Afterwards, the girl claimed she was assaulted - the male student was expelled, but a judge has ordered him re-instated.
Guilfoyle explained that the male student was never criminally charged after police investigated. When the girl complained to Duke, they decided to expel him.
Wiehl analyzed the case, saying this is a breach of contract situation - the male student is saying he did everything he was supposed to do and thus can't be deprived of diploma. Both lawyers think he'll prevail in the case.
In San Diego, a 5-year-old was born a girl and is now a boy.
Wiehl laid out the story - the parents took him to therapists, where he was able to convey that he identified more with the male gender than his original gender. He hasn't had any surgery or hormones. His parents are simply allowing him to live as a boy.
Guilfoyle countered that up to 80% of individuals change their mind about gender re-assignment, and stressed this is a decision that needs to be made as an adult when this child is better informed.
The Factor sounded off: he'd let the little girl play football, but she'd have to stay a girl because she's too young to make that kind of decision.
Krauthammer jumped right in with his opinion: this latest Obama scandal is not a management problem; it's an intrinsic problem with hostage swaps. He declared a country has two obligations: 1) get a soldier being held back, and 2) subject deserters to military discipline. In his instance, the only path forward was to free Bergdahl and try him. In Krauthammer's estimation, the mistake Obama made was to celebrate the release at that press conference. He proclaimed that when you make the swap, you know the terms are uneven - this is a somber and solemn thing that you do with regret.
The Factor disagreed, insisting he would not have made the swap. He insists he understands the code not to leave anyone behind, but wouldn't put more people in danger with this particular deal. He would have tried to work something else out.
Krauthammer poured water on that idea, saying a better deal wouldn't have been gotten. He maintained the West always gets the raw end of hostage swaps because we put a premium on individual lives, while the enemy does not.
Viewers sound off
John Pillman, Prescott Valley, Arizona... "I was appalled by how you personally attacked Sgt. Bergdahl's father. You said he should have shaved before he met the President."
Jim Hamilton, Sarasota, Florida... "If Sergeant Bergdahl was a deserter, why was he promoted during his captivity?"
Nancy Miller, Concord, North Carolina... "Nobody is talking about the VA scandal now. President Obama is a master of misdirection."
Pick up Dugard's Latest
The Factor's co-author for the "Killing" series is Martin Dugard, but on his own, Mr. Dugard has a new book out today called "The Explorers." If you are a history buff, check out the book!
Pick up the book right here on BillOReilly.com.