So says the New York Times and other liberals about Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. The Times says that the Army will have "a tough time explaining why it's worthwhile to prosecute a soldier that the Army recruited despite 'significant concerns about his psychological state' and who endured years of torture and privation during his captivity. As a general matter the American military has good reason to punish service members who desert. However, it should exercise discretion in extraordinary cases. Sgt. Bergdahl's is certainly one."
The Times acknowledges that Bergdahl is probably guilty of the charges but apparently believes that because of what he suffered at the hands of his captors, prosecuting him is just not fair.
"But trying him for desertion and misbehaving before the enemy - for allegedly engaging in misconduct that endangered his unit - stands to accomplish little at this point. A conviction would most likely deprive a traumatized veteran of benefits, including medical care, which he will probably need for years. A dishonorable discharge would make it harder to rebuild his life as a civilian."
That reasoning is so flawed that it is simply unbelievable to me. Bergdahl would never have suffered the torture and privation if he had not intentionally left his unit and gone out alone seeking refuge with the enemy. It was his choice after becoming disgruntled with the Army and the war. He wrote home about his intentions and was advised by his father to follow his heart. He didn't leave because he was mentally ill. He left because he didn't want to be in the Army anymore.
The Times cites other military members as having "a deep animosity for him. Some called him a coward and argued that he put troops in Afghanistan in harm's way as they devoted significant resources and energy to searching for him. This anger is understandable."
They conveniently left out the fact that 6 American soldiers died while on missions to find him. They believe Bergdahl has suffered enough, deserves his benefits even though he deserted, and should not receive a dishonorable discharge. They don't say he's innocent - they say what he did shouldn't matter.
What about those six men who lost their benefits when they lost their lives? They lost their ability to build their lives as civilians because they're dead - because they had to go out looking for Bergdahl. What about them and their families? Don't they deserve some justice?
I got to thinking last night, while watching news reports about Bergdahl, that something was odd about Obama's actions in this whole thing. They day the deal was made with the Taliban and Obama released five Taliban commanders from Guantanamo Bay for Bergdahl, there was a celebratory news conference in the Rose Garden at the White House featuring the President with his hands all over Bergdahl's attractive mother and his father speaking Arabic to his son.
A few days later, after some men who were in Bergdahl's platoon went public about Bergdahl's desertion, White House staff went on the defensive about the swap. NBC's Chuck Todd spoke about it:
“They did not expect this backlash on Bergdahl himself,” Todd reported on NBC’s “Today.” I’ve had a few aides describe it to me as we didn’t know that they were going to ‘swift boat’ Bergdahl. And that’s a reference to that political fight back in 2004 over John Kerry’s military service.”
Swift boat Bergdahl? These guys tell the truth about him (as did John Kerry's former military teammates) and Bergdahl is being swift boated? They had to do something. Obama's deception of the American people was becoming evident.
If Bergdahl's release was so wonderful why did the President not go meet his plane when he landed, with a full camera crew? Why did they fly him into the country secretly and not tell anyone where he was going until he was there? Why has the President of the United States not once acknowledged the six soldiers who died while out looking for Bergdahl?
Why? Because the Obama administration knew that the deal he made was flawed and illegal (he did it without the approval of Congress) and he knew from the beginning that Bergdahl was a deserter. And once the details about Bergdahl became public the American people (the thinking ones at least) were disgusted with the President's actions.
Should Bowe Bergdahl be prosecuted for desertion and misbehaving before the enemy? This eight year military veteran believes he should be prosecuted to the full extent of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Desertion is a crime against the UCMJ for a reason. If Bergdahl's lawyer wants to use mental illness as a defense - that's his option. But for the six men who died looking for him, for the guys in his unit he left behind to continue fighting, for the welfare of the United States Army and the entire military, for a US President who deceived the American people, and for the military veterans who expect all military members to live up to the oath that they voluntarily take - this court martial must take place. Period.