On June 30, 2009, a young solider, Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl, decided that the Army life just wasn’t for him and after writing several missives to spell out his disdain for his current circumstance at his post in Afghanistan and mailing off his kit to family and friends, he decided to go on an unaccompanied (and unauthorized) “walk-about” in Afghanistan. This was generally regarded by all as a “bad career move.”

Bergdahl, sadly, is simply a pawn in a much larger game of badly played chess. 

The young private was swiftly captured and made a prisoner of war by the Taliban. He was moved to Pakistan for safe keeping as a guest of the Haqqani terror network (as so designated by the U.S. government on September 6, 2012). This transfer to Pakistan placed Bergdahl out of touch from U.S. forces due to the artificial U.S. limitation to not pursue terrorists across the Durand Line from Afghanistan into Pakistan.

Bergdahl, sadly, is simply a pawn in a much larger game of badly played chess. 

Significant resources in manpower and surveillance technology was utilized to try to find and return Bergdahl. This action diminished the U.S. military's operational capability to attack the Taliban in other parts of Afghanistan. It also resulted in the loss of life, at the hands of the Taliban, of his fellow soldiers who were sent out to find him.  

Over his years of captivity the Army saw fit to promote Bergdahl not once but  twice – first to E-4/Specialist and then to his current rank of E-5/Sergeant.

Years later President Obama, with other options on the table, decided in December 2013, that the best political option was to trade five senior Taliban detainees (two of which were material supporters of Al Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks) for the return of Sgt Bergdahl.  

I was briefed in December 2013 that a decision had been made to make a “trade” over other options and the trade was confirmed to me by senior leadership in the Defense Department.

Again – this was a political option – not an operational one.  There were at least three other viable operational options for the live return of Bergdahl that did not include the return of the five Taliban leaders. Those options were ignored by President Obama.

The five Taliban leaders were traded for the release of Sgt Bergdahl on May 31, 2014.  The five Taliban were sent to reside in Qatar, in luxury conditions, for one year. After one year they would be allowed to go about their business as they saw fit. 

These five Taliban leaders will soon, in May 2015, be allowed to return to Afghanistan to what will no doubt be a “rock star” welcome, and resume their efforts to both fight U.S. forces still in the country and work to destabilize the central Afghan government. (A government that, according to the White House, is what we’ve invested 13 years of blood and treasure to establish and protect.)  

By the way, we will have no ability to track or monitor these five “enemy combatants” once they arrive in Afghanistan and who will no doubt resume their effort to kill American and Afghan government forces immediately.

Does this sound like a national security policy conflict?  You betcha!  Why? Because And the political objectives, in the eyes of this White House, trump all other policies – even if it means damage to our national security interests.

The reason that the option to swap Bergdahl for the five Taliban senior leaders was so appealing is because President Obama wants to close the military prison at Guantanamo, period. No matter the real world harm such a move will cause to our allies and to the operations of our military forces.  This political narrative, above all else, has drove the horrid and dangerous decision to release the five Taliban leaders.

Further – legally, the president violated the law in authorizing the trade of the so-called Taliban Five for Bergdahl. 

Under the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2014, the president is required to provide Congress with 30 days notice of any release of detainees from Guantanamo; no such notification was made. There was no justification for the president to have violated this law. To date, Congress has failed to hold the president accountable for his actions.

Bergdahl, sadly, is simply a pawn in a much larger game of badly played chess.  He was inappropriately praised by the president in the May 31, 2014 Rose Garden press conference marking his return (a blatant attempt to influence the Army chain of command regarding the disposition of Bergdahl’s desertion from his post in combat) and by NSC Advisor Susan Rice who called him a “hero” in a lame attempt to build up Bergdahl to justify his importance in the trade.

Two investigations, one conducted by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) in 2009 and a second AR 15-6 conducted in 2014 by Maj. Gen Kenneth Dahl, have reached the factual conclusion that Bergdahl violated punitive article 85 – desertion, of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

It is time for the buck to stop – and it has with Army General Mark Milley – the Army officer who as the responsible authority. He has recommended that Bergdahl be charged with Article 85, Desertion and Article 99, Misbehavior Before the Enemy.  

The next step is the UCMJ Article 32 hearing that will validate the specifications and very likely result in a court martial of Bergdahl. General Milley must be complimented for his integrity in the face of huge political pressure – he did the appropriate thing.

Shame on President Obama who has done the wrong thing and who has willfully violated the law by failing to notify Congress of the Taliban release, has provided material help to the very enemies we have worked to defeat over the past 13 years by allowing the Taliban release and blatantly attempted to influence the Army chain of command to go easy on Bergdahl (and his staff continues to do so behind the scenes) – and for his polarization of our national security.

Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer (ret.) is a CIA trained former senior intelligence officer and the New York Times bestselling author of Operation "Dark Heart: Spycraft an Special Operations on the Frontlines of Afghanistan - And The Path to Victory."  His latest book is The Last Line. He is a senior fellow with both the London Center for Policy Research and the Center for Advanced Defense Studies. The opinions reflected here are those solely of Lt. Col. Shaffer -- and are not the opinion of the London Center for Policy Research (LCPR), the Center for Advanced Defense Studies (CADS) or of any other group or organization with which Lt. Col. Shaffer is affiliated.