Five Quick Things to Know About Bowe Bergdahl

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It’s an open question whether the White House handled the recovery of Bowe Bergdahl well. Probably not, and it’s a legitimate topic for speculation. But on the substantive question of the prisoner exchange itself, here are five things you should keep firmly in mind:

  1. We don’t know if Bergdahl is a deserter. We’ll only know that after the military legal process has run its course and rendered a verdict. Obviously nothing is going to shut up the hotheads and Fox News blowhards, but the rest of us on both left and right would be wise to reserve judgment until that happens.
  2. Either way, we still should have gotten Bergdahl back. We don’t leave prisoners behind to face justice from the enemy. We dish it out ourselves.
  3. The evidence suggests that, in fact, probably nobody died searching for Bergdahl after he left the base.
  4. When wars end, you exchange prisoners. This is always distasteful and contentious: the issue of POWs was so fraught at the end of the Korean War that it actually extended the fighting for more than a year. But eventually you agree to an exchange, and the Afghanistan war is no different. Foreign policy hawks might not like it, but America’s longest war is finally coming to an end, which means our Taliban prisoners would have been exchanged fairly soon no matter what. We didn’t actually give up much in this deal.
  5. As Michael Hastings reported two years ago, Bergdahl didn’t think much of his unit, and his unit didn’t think much of him. Given the rancor between them, it’s not surprising that his teammates have plenty of lurid things to say about him now. They never liked him much in the first place. For the time being, you should take everything they say with a big grain of salt.

Practically everything you’re hearing right now about Bowe Bergdahl is being driven by extreme partisans with a huge ax to grind. You should view the entire feeding frenzy with intense skepticism until we learn more about what actually happened.

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Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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