In news that has been far too long in the making, the United States Army has decided to move forward with charges of desertion against Bowe Bergdahl.
During Monday’s broadcast of “The O’Reilly Factor”, retired Lt. Colonel Tony Schaffer of the London Center for Policy Research told host Bill O’Reilly:
“Bill, the Army has come to its conclusion and Bowe Bergdahl will be charged with desertion. I have been told and confirmed by two other sources that his attorney was given what we call a charge sheet. A charge sheet is results of the investigation listing out the articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice that have been violated. The key violation is desertion. And this is has been done. The decision has been made. Let me be very clear. As a corporate entity, the Army has decided that they want to pursue Bergdahl for this violation.”
The Obama administration has been called out for stone-walling the investigation in order to distance itself from the decision to release known terrorists for Bergdahl.
To a man, every person in Bergdahl’s unit calls him a traitor and says his actions are directly responsible for the deaths of fellow soldiers during efforts to recover him.
Bergdahl was held captive by the Taliban-aligned Haqqani network in Afghanistan from June 2009 until his release in
May 2014, which was part of a prisoner exchange for five Taliban members who were being held at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.
In the exchange, President Obama released 5 Gitmo detainees in exchange for Bergdahl. Known as the “Taliban 5? the released prisoners were Mohammad Fazl, Khairullah Khairkhwa, Abdul Haq Wasiq, Norullah Noori, and Mohammad Nabi Omari. They were the Taliban army chief of staff, a Taliban deputy minister of intelligence, a former Taliban interior minister, and two other senior Taliban figures.
According to Wikipedia,
Bergdahl went missing on the night of June 30, 2009, near the town of Yahya Kheyl in Paktika Province. Accounts of his capture differ. In a video, Bergdahl stated that he was captured when he fell behind on a patrol. Taliban sources allege he was ambushed after becoming drunk off base; U.S. military sources deny that claim, stating, “The Taliban are known for lying and what they are claiming [is] not true”. A Department of Defense spokesperson said, “I’m glad to see he appears unharmed, but again, this is a Taliban propaganda video. They are exploiting the soldier in violation of international law.” Other sources said Bergdahl walked off base after his shift or that he was grabbed from a latrine. According to an AP article from 2009, the U.S. Department of Defense attributed his disappearance to “walking off his base in eastern Afghanistan with three Afghan counterparts and was believed to have been taken prisoner”.
General Nabi Mullakheil of the Afghan National Police said the capture occurred in Paktika Province. Other sources say that he was captured by a Taliban group led by Maulvi Sangin, who moved him to Ghazni Province. He was held by the Haqqani network, an insurgent group affiliated with the Taliban, probably somewhere in Pakistan.
Bergdahl was a Private First Class when captured; he was promoted in absentia to Specialist on June 19, 2010, and to Sergeant on June 17, 2011.
A Pentagon investigation in 2010 concluded that Bergdahl walked away from his unit. Bergdahl wrote e-mails to his parents in which he reported having become disillusioned with the war effort and bothered by the treatment of Afghans by American soldiers. He said in his e-mail he was ashamed to be American. Some sources say he left an explanatory note before leaving, though this was denied.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey said: “The questions about this particular soldier’s conduct are separate from our effort to recover ANY U.S. service member in enemy captivity” and that the military will investigate how Bergdahl was captured. “Like any American, he is innocent until proven guilty.[…] Our Army’s leaders will not look away from misconduct if it occurred. In the meantime, we will continue to care for him and his family.”
Some soldiers who served with Bergdahl have called him a deserter. Nathan Bradley Bethea, a member of Bergdahl’s battalion wrote a Daily Beast article stating that there was no patrol the night that Bergdahl went missing, and that Bergdahl had talked about his desire to walk to India. Bethea wrote that the brigade received an order not to discuss Bergdahl due to safety reasons, but now that he has been found there is not a need for further silence. Cody Full, a member of Bergdahl’s platoon, said “He knowingly deserted and put thousands of people in danger because he did. We swore to an oath and we upheld ours. He did not.” Full said that Bergdahl had mailed his computer and other possessions home prior to his disappearance.