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Bowe Bergdahl Charged With Desertion

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Photo courtesy of CBS News.

CBS News – The saga of former Taliban prisoner Bowe Bergdahl took a new turn Wednesday, with the Pentagon announcing at a press conference charges claiming the U.S. Army sergeant deserted his post intentionally before winding up in the extremists’ hands in Afghanistan.

Bergdahl’s attorney, Gene Fidell, told CBS News his client had been informed of the charges earlier Wednesday.

Military officials said Bergdahl will face in a court martial on one count of “desertion with intent to shirk important or hazardous duty,” which carries a maximum of five years in prison, as well as one count of “misbehavior before the enemy, endangering the safety of a command, unit or place,” which carries a maximum sentence of up to life in prison.

The charges could result in a dishonorable discharge, as well as a rank reduction and benefit removal if convicted. The case now goes to the military equivalent of a grand jury, an Article 32 hearing. If the panel approves of the charges, it will be referred to a court-martial trial.

CBS News correspondent David Martin reports the charges are notable because they do not carry the possibility of the death penalty, which some critics have asked be taken into consideration. Martin said it would be surprising if Bergdahl served any time in prison for the current charges, because of the argument many have given that his five years spent as a Taliban prisoner is punishment enough.

Bergdahl’s saga gained national attention last year, when in May U.S. officials announced the U.S. Army sergeant had been traded for five Taliban prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay.

That deal proved to be a large source of tension between Congress and the Obama administration, with some congressmen claiming it was illegal.

During the course of its investigation into Bergdahl’s disappearance and capture, military officials had already concluded that on the night of June 30, 2009, Bergdahl neatly stacked up his equipment, and walked off his outpost in eastern Afghanistan. Bergdahl’s unit established that he had been captured within 30 minutes of his disappearance.

When he was captured, Bergdahl had less than a year of military service and his official performance record was without blemish. However, investigators discovered that the June 2009 disappearance was at least the second time he had wandered off without permission.

Since his release, former fellow servicemenquestioned whether Bergdahl was worthy of the effort put into securing his freedom, with some claiming six servicemen had died attempting to bring him back.

Some of Bergdahl’s writing was released after the prisoner exchange, and critics seized on it as proof he had deserted because of how much he talked about being disillusioned with America’s mission in Afghanistan.

In July of last year, further questions were raised when a photo of Bergdahl emerged, showing him smiling with Badruddin Haqqani, a now-deceased senior commander for the Haqqani network, a notorious terrorist group based in Pakistan.

CBS News correspondent David Martin reportsthat one Pentagon official described Bergdahl at the time of his release as “at worst, a deserter. At best, a stupid kid who caused us to expend great energy and resources to bring him home.”

A former senior defense official told the Associated Press that in interviews, members of Bergdahl’s unit portrayed him as a naive, “delusional” person who thought he could help the Afghan people by leaving his post.

After his release, Bergdahl described often hellish conditions as a prisoner, including extended stretches in solitary confinement, a punishment he claimed he was given for trying to escape. Obama administration officials claimed the swap was made somewhat hastily because they feared for Bergdahl’s rapidly declining health.

12 comments

    • Tom Kotten

      Too bad Bush and the Republicans got us in Iraq in the first place. Think about all the soldiers who perished in the vein attempt to find nuk-u-lar weapons.

      What a quagmire… And what did we accomplish??? We took out a tyrant (Saddam) and stirred up a hornets nest of insurgents. Didn’t bush and republicans leave with our economy in ruin, as well? I digress…

      It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if this soldier was a republican that couldn’t hack the military life… It would be typical, in my opinion.

      • Maxwell Smart

        There are no words to adequately express how utterly asanine this post is. You are nothing more than a buffoon, a simpleton brainwashed into rambling on about nothing. Barack Obama is absolutely the biggest fraud ever perpetrated on the American people and you are an example of how far this country has fallen. This complete disaster of a prisoner exchange is Obama’s narcissism on full display. Swapping a traitor for 5 terrorists under the guise of bringing home a “hero” and holding a charade of a news conference with the leftist parents on the White House lawn is as low as it gets. This latest scandal is one in a continuing long line of scandals that will forever cement Obama’s place in history as the greatest failure in American history. The icing on the cake will be Bergdahl and Barry sharing a cell together in Leavenworth. These two traitors belong together. And you, ‘Tom Kotten’, belong in an ISIS video.

      • Tom Kotten

        Ahh Maxwell, did I hurt your feelings by speaking the truth? You fail to acknowledge the facts:

        Bush left office with a floundering American economy, where republicans allowed for leading banks to cause a financial crisis, the likes we haven’t seen since the Great Depression. We had a war on two fronts, with no end in sight, and it was siphoning the life out our country to a tune of trillions. You could fully fund Obamacare a couple of times over for what we’ve wasted. And to think that the republicans tried to shut down our economic and cause us to default on our debt. Our recovery, under our president, would have been much faster and stronger had the conservatives not tried to be obstructionists. Unemployment is dropping. Your views are flawed.

        You can name call all you want, but the truth hurts. Maybe you should put on your “big boy”pants and become a better patriot, by supporting your president. You sound like a very-very bitter person.

      • arnold fudpucker

        News flash…Bush isn’t in office any longer. Your boy obumma is there and is leading this country down the road of ruin. Libs like you need to deal with the present. If an error was made in the past it doesn’t excuse blatant screw up in the present like your boy obumma. BTW you need to get a dictionary and look up the words “vein” and “vain”. You will have to “nuke” yourself for being ignorant.

  • Steven

    So you want Obama to be judge, jury, and executioner, without an investigation or trial? If so, stop complaining that he’s acting like a King.

      • Horace

        No matter what name you call yourself, your frantic, hair-on-fire, extreme rhetoric identifies you. Ever think about getting help?

      • Tom Kotten

        Crybaby Maxwell can’t stand the fact that our president got an American soldier back. If it turns out that Bergdal did abandon his post, he may spend a lifetime in Leavenworth prison. The goal here is that we punish our own, not leave it to other countries to apply the punishment.

        No soldier left behind. Remember that.

      • maxreallydoesneedashrink

        Maxwell Not So Smart
        Max are you just putting us on or are you really this out of it, get help man.
        I have to ask, does 5 News have a comment moderator, if so why is it that this moderator allows the comments of idiots like Max and several others ? If these remarks are allowed without any moderation then I shall open up and speak my peace which won’t be nice and I suspect will drive fools like Max crazy.

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