Deserter? Officials Say Bergdahl Left Base Without Permission Before and Returned Prior to Being Captured by Taliban
Conservative talking heads have been up in arms ever since President Obama traded five Guantanamo Bay detainees for POW Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, calling the returned soldier a “deserter” and a “traitor.” Now, officials say that Bergdahl left the base before and returned unharmed, noting that they have “no indication that he intended to leave permanently.”
Although there is no doubt Bergdahl left his base without permission, officials say that Bergdahl left the base at least once before without approval and returned unharmed.
The Pentagon has launched a new investigation into his disappearance but Bergdahl may face punishment upon his return to the US.
Chairman of the Joints Chiefs Army General Martin Dempsey wrote “the questions about this particular soldier’s conduct are separate from our effort to recover ANY U.S. service member in enemy captivity. This was likely the last, best opportunity to free him.”
Dempsey adds “as for the circumstances of his capture, when he is able to provide them, we’ll learn the facts. 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.”
Of course, many have already convicted the soldier in their minds.
Nathan Bradley Bethea, a former officer who served with Bergdahl, wrote “he is safe, and now it is time to speak the truth. Bergdahl was a deserter, and soldiers from his own unit died trying to track him down.”
Still, it’s unclear if the Army would be willing to court martial a man who spent five years as a prisoner of war.
Former Army judge advocate Greg Rinckey said “there’s going to be an investigation, I’m sure. But do I expect to see a court martial? No.”
Military law expert Eugene Fidell doesn’t expect a court martial either. “I don’t think they’ll do that in this case. Unless something comes to light that suggests that he was a turncoat or joined the other side or assisted the other side in some way, there is no public indication that any of those things are true in this case.”