In 2009, Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl was captured in Afghanistan after deciding to walk off his base. A look at why he left, and the complications surrounding his rescue:
"Within an hour, two F-18s were circling overhead. Afghan forces passed along intelligence that a U.S. soldier had been captured by the Taliban. By that evening, two F-15s – call sign DUDE-21 – had joined the search. A few minutes later, according to files obtained by WikiLeaks, a radio transmission intercepted by U.S. forces stated that the Taliban had captured three civilians and one U.S. soldier. The battalion leading the manhunt entered and searched three compounds in the area, but found nothing significant to report.
"The next morning, more than 24 hours after Bowe had vanished, U.S. intelligence intercepted a conversation between two Taliban fighters:
"'I SWEAR THAT I HAVE NOT HEARD ANYTHING YET. WHAT HAPPENED. IS THAT TRUE THAT THEY CAPTURED AN AMERICAN GUY?'
"'YES THEY DID. HE IS ALIVE. THERE IS NO WHERE HE CAN GO (LOL)' 'IS HE STILL ALIVE?'
"'YES HE IS ALIVE. BUT I DONT HAVE THE WHOLE STORY. DONT KNOW IF THEY WERE FIGHTING. ALL I KNOW IF THEY WERE FIGHTING. ALL I KNOW THAT THEY CAPTURE HIM ALIVE AND THEY ARE WITH HIM RIGHT NOW.'"
PUBLISHED: June 7, 2012
LENGTH: 33 minutes (8300 words)
How the U.S. drone program became central to the Obama administration's counterterrorism efforts. The president has presided over 268 covert drone strikes, five times what George W. Bush ordered:
"But the implications of drones go far beyond a single combat unit or civilian agency. On a broader scale, the remote-control nature of unmanned missions enables politicians to wage war while claiming we're not at war – as the United States is currently doing in Pakistan. What's more, the Pentagon and the CIA can now launch military strikes or order assassinations without putting a single boot on the ground – and without worrying about a public backlash over U.S. soldiers coming home in body bags. The immediacy and secrecy of drones make it easier than ever for leaders to unleash America's military might – and harder than ever to evaluate the consequences of such clandestine attacks.
"'Drones have really become the counterterrorism weapon of choice for the Obama administration,' says Rosa Brooks, a Georgetown law professor who helped establish a new Pentagon office devoted to legal and humanitarian policy. 'What I don't think has happened enough is taking a big step back and asking, "Are we creating more terrorists than we're killing? Are we fostering militarism and extremism in the very places we're trying to attack it?" A great deal about the drone strikes is still shrouded in secrecy. It's very difficult to evaluate from the outside how serious of a threat the targeted people pose.'"
PUBLISHED: April 20, 2012
LENGTH: 27 minutes (6935 words)
The president answered these arguments himself. According to one participant's summary, Obama said: Look, the question of who rules Libya is probably not a vital interest to the United States. The atrocities threatened don't compare to atrocities in other parts of the world, I hear that. But there's a big "but" here. First of all, acting would be the right thing to do, because we have an opportunity to prevent a massacre, and we've been asked to do it by the people of Libya, their Arab neighbors and the United Nations. And second, the president said, failing to intervene would be a "psychological pendulum, in terms of the Arab Spring, in favor of repression." He concluded: "Just signing on to a no-fly zone so that we have political cover isn't going to cut it. That's not how America leads." Nor, he added, is it the "image of America I believe in."
PUBLISHED: Oct. 27, 2011
LENGTH: 29 minutes (7431 words)
The orders came from the command of Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, a three-star general in charge of training Afghan troops – the linchpin of U.S. strategy in the war. Over a four-month period last year, a military cell devoted to what is known as "information operations" at Camp Eggers in Kabul was repeatedly pressured to target visiting senators and other VIPs who met with Caldwell. When the unit resisted the order, arguing that it violated U.S. laws prohibiting the use of propaganda against American citizens, it was subjected to a campaign of retaliation.
PUBLISHED: Feb. 24, 2011
LENGTH: 8 minutes (2235 words)
Now, flipping through printout cards of his speech in Paris, McChrystal wonders aloud what Biden question he might get today, and how he should respond. "I never know what's going to pop out until I'm up there, that's the problem," he says. Then, unable to help themselves, he and his staff imagine the general dismissing the vice president with a good one-liner. "Are you asking about Vice President Biden?" McChrystal says with a laugh. "Who's that?" "Biden?" suggests a top adviser. "Did you say: Bite Me?"
PUBLISHED: June 22, 2010
LENGTH: 31 minutes (7813 words)