Bergdahl A Deserter? It Does Matter

Jon E. Dougherty writesIn a recent post at The Federalist, senior editor David Harsanyi noted that, based on recent reports from Fox News and NBC News, it appears as though the Defense Department is set to charge Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl with desertion: Leaving his post in Afghanistan in 2009 “in the middle of a combat zone, potentially putting the lives of his fellow soldiers at risk.”

For the record I was deployed to Afghanistan from October 2009 to September 2010; I arrived in-country after Bergdahl “went missing,” but remember hearing some scuttlebutt regarding the incident shortly after arriving from some guys who were there when it happened.

I tell you this because I want you to know – and I want Mr. Harsanyi to know – that what I am about to say is extremely biased, but it is a bias based on knowledge, experience and training.

In his piece Mr. Harsanyi writes:

It Doesn’t Matter That Bergdahl Is A Deserter

According to reports, Bowe Bergdahl will be charged with desertion based on allegations that he abandoned his post in 2009 “in the middle of a combat zone, potentially putting the lives of his fellow soldiers at risk.” And though there is a range of penalties available for prosecuting him—some are justifiably harsh—NBC News reports that Bergdahl will likely be offered a softer sentence due to the five years he spent in captivity. Bergdahl may avoid prison, be permitted to leave the Army with a “less than honorable discharge,” lose his $300,000 in back pay and be stripped of his rank.

Bergdahl the Deserter

Bergdahl the Deserter

There are many aspects to this case that matter. And some matter more than they should.

First, if the Army moves forward, we’ll probably find out a lot more about the intricacies of the deal that saw President Obama swap five high-level members of the Taliban without notifying Congress. We may even see the media seriously asking if Obama ignored the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act. The law requires that the president give Congress 30 days’ notice before releasing anyone from Guantanamo. He did not. The administration claims that Bergdahl’s ill health and threats against the soldier’s life gave the president the power to circumvent Congress. But from most reports, Bergdahl seemed to be in decent-enough health when he returned. So what was his health like? Was his life in imminent-enough danger to justify ignoring the law?

The precedents we set in this case are more important than Bergdahl’s desertion. And these issues should have been thoroughly investigated when Obama was using the family as a photo-op. It’s not only important to figure out if national security decisions are being driven by political expediency, but whether prisoner swaps put American lives in danger in the future.

Read more at – The Federalist

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