Several factors may account for the Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s seemingly light sentence Friday of a dishonorable discharge but no prison time for leaving his post in Afghanistan in 2009. He faced a possible sentence of up to life in prison for desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.
I am one of many who believe Bergdahl was guilty of the higher crime of treason. However, six factors seem to have played a role in prompting Army Col. Jeffrey Nance, the judge in his case, to let Bergdahl off without prison time.
First, Bergdahl was held captive for five years by the Taliban and says he was tortured.
Second, several soldiers who served with Bergdahl made favorable comments about his military service.
Bergdahl was not a victim, albeit some will make this argument; he was an instrument to be used by the president in his desire to empty U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.
Third, Bergdahl’s attorneys asked Nance to give Bergdahl a dishonorable discharge.
Fourth, it is alleged that Bergdahl was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder that was undiagnosed when he left his post in Afghanistan.
Fifth, there was the claim that Bergdahl suffered from a schizotypal personality disorder prior to military service.
And finally, Bergdahl’s willingness to share information and cooperate with investigators warranted some leniency.
However, lest we forget, Bergdahl put other soldiers in danger. Despite his trauma, he had to realize that desertion would jeopardize those attempting a rescue operation.
One witness pointed out that the platoon that searched for Bergdahl went without food and limited water for 19 days. Chief Petty Officer James Hatch came under fire while looking for Bergdahl. Hatch was shot in the leg and has had 18 surgeries in the aftermath.
It is noteworthy that the Bergdahl case has had an effect on military morale, The Army Code includes the belief that you do not abandon your fellow soldiers in battle. That is axiomatic. After the Bergdahl case, that matter is somewhat ambiguous.
Perhaps the one issue that remains unambiguous is the role played by President Barack Obama. By honoring Bergdahl in 2015, despite a full 2009 Army report indicating his desertion from duty, President Obama intentionally misled the American public and has contributed to the cynical belief you cannot trust comments emanating from the White House.
When Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice maintained that Bergdahl represented the Army with “honor and distinction” she undermined the heroism of thousands who have defended the principles in this land of the free.
In some ways, the Bergdahl case is a contemporary exercise in post-modernism. What you believe to be true often isn’t. Not only is truth elusive, it has been buried beneath the desire for a political gain.
Bergdahl was not a victim, albeit some will make this argument; he was an instrument to be used by President Obama in his desire to empty U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.
Five Taliban prisoners being held at Guantanamo were released in exchange for Bergdahl and three are now fighting for Al Qaeda
I have it on good authority that the Taliban were prepared to return Bergdahl for cash exclusively. But that was not what President Obama wanted. As a consequence, the United States paid a price in spiritual loss, political legerdemain and military morale.