Should we be angry at Bowe Berghdal?


WASHINGTON, June 4, 2014 — It is becoming clear that the Obama Administration and the Defense Department have sold America a bill of goods with regards to the Bowe Bergdahl homecoming story.

The official story was that Bergdahl was abducted by Taliban forces in Afghanistan, but more and more evidence suggests that he willfully abandoned his post and exposed himself to capture.

The media narrative is that objections to the secret negotiations leading to Bergdahl’s release are pure partisan politics. However, in the military community, a smoldering rage is growing as the facts surrounding Bergdahl’s disappearance emerge.

READ ALSO: Is Bergdahl a hero, traitor or victim?

The Obama Administration has avoided clarity in explaining those facts. In response to reporters’ questions about Bergdahl’s possible status as a deserter, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Monday, “We would characterize him as a member of the military who was detained while in combat.”

National Security Advisor Susan Rice returned to the airwaves unchastened from her experience last time, when she spread non-information about events in Benghazi. This time she observed that Bergdahl “served the United States with honor and distinction.”

Evidence suggests that Rice’s comments about Bergdahl are as un-anchored in fact as her comments about Benghazi.

Army Major Michael Waltz, a commander of Special Forces in Eastern Afghanistan during Bergdahl’s disappearance, told McClatchy News, “He just walked off after guard duty and wandered into the nearby village.”

Despite a gag order from the Defense Department, one of Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers told reporters that Bergdahl had written a desertion note and left it behind for them. In it, he had called his battalion commander a “conceited old fool” and his peers an “army of liars, backstabbers, fools and bullies.”

The New York Times described the account:

Sometime after midnight on June 30, 2009, Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl left behind a note in his tent saying he had become disillusioned with the Army, did not support the American mission in Afghanistan and was leaving to start a new life. He slipped off the remote military outpost in Paktika Province on the border with Pakistan and took with him a soft backpack, water, knives, a notebook and writing materials, but left behind his body armor and weapons — startling, given the hostile environment around his outpost.

The men in Bergdahl’s platoon are exposing Bergdahl’s disappearance for what it was; they are outraged at the false narrative the White House and the media have been dispensing.

READ ALSO: CommDigiNews Hour: June 6, 6:30pm EDT – Bergdahl – Carney – Normandy – Father’s Day

“Yes, I’m angry,” Joshua Cornelison, a former medic in Sergeant Bergdahl’s platoon, said in an interview. “Everything that we did in those days was to advance the search for Bergdahl. If we were doing some mission and there was a reliable report that Bergdahl was somewhere, our orders were that we were to quit that mission and follow that report.”

To make matters worse, Bergdahl’s desertion triggered efforts to locate and rescue him that probably claimed the lives of other soldiers.

Pfc. Matthew Martinek and Lt. Darryn Andrews were members of Bergdahl’s unit in the 501st Infantry Regiment who were killed in an ambush that may have been staged in response to the search for Bergdahl. Cody Full, a member of Bergdahl’s platoon describes him as detached from his comrades and not focused on the mission. Full says that Bergdahl speculated on the possibilities of a trek from the mountainous region they were camped in to India and ultimately, perhaps even China.

Bergdahl’s attitude prior to his departure are summed up in an email he sent to his parents.

“Life is way too short to care for the damnation of others, as well as to spend it helping fools with their ideas that are wrong. … I am ashamed to even be American”.’

Nathan Bradley Bethea, also part of the 501st, writes convincingly of the consequences of Bergdahl’s desertion:

Make no mistake: Bergdahl did not “lag behind on a patrol,” as was cited in news reports at the time. There was no patrol that night. Bergdahl was relieved from guard duty, and instead of going to sleep, he fled the outpost on foot. He deserted. I’ve talked to members of Bergdahl’s platoon — including the last Americans to see him before his capture. I’ve reviewed the relevant documents. That’s what happened.

Bethea doesn’t support the Defense Department’s whitewash of Berg’s desertion or their claims that the search for Bergdahl cannot conclusively be connected with casualties related to it:

His disappearance translated into daily search missions across the entire Afghanistan theater of operations, particularly ours. The combat platoons in our battalion spent the next month on daily helicopter-insertion search missions (called “air assaults”) trying to scour villages for signs of him. Each operations would send multiple platoons and every enabler available in pursuit: radio intercept teams, military working dogs, professional anthropologists used as intelligence gathering teams, Afghan sources in disguise. They would be out for at least 24 hours. I know of some who were on mission for 10 days at a stretch. In July, the temperature was well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit each day.

Among the incidents that Bethea connects to the intense search for Bergdahl are the mass attack by Taliban forces on Combat Outpost Zerok on July 4, 2009. Veterans of that attack believe that the Taliban received intelligence that a large number of 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry based there were out on patrol searching for Bergdahl’s whereabouts, thus the outpost was particularly vulnerable.

Killed in this attack were Privates First Class Aaron Fairbairn and Justin Casillas. Bethea identifies six other soldiers whose deaths can be connected by circumstances involved in the search effort for Bergdahl.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Dempsey told the Associated Press that U.S. military leaders “have been accused of looking away from misconduct” but said “it’s premature” to assume they would do so in Bergdahl’s case. This suggests that an investigation is by no means off the table. Many in the military community are calling for a court martial proceeding against Bergdahl.

Eugene R. Fidell, an expert on the Uniform Code of Military Justice, said it’s important to remember that it’s “completely discretionary” as to whether commanders decide to prosecute reported violations. An official preliminary report of violations must be prepared, although he notes that in Bergdahl’s case, “there’s certainly enough already known to suggest that an act of desertion was committed.”

One of the looming questions is why, in light of the obvious nature of Bergdahl’s willful departure, did the Pentagon give him a promotion to the rank of sergeant in his absence?

Another consequence of Bergdahl’s conduct is the release of five dangerous detainees at Guantanamo. There are already reports that the former detainees, closely associated with al Queda, are roaming freely in Qatar. The security agreement with regard to the five was clearly not stringent, and they will continue to be a threat to our national security.

The legitimacy of Obama’s actions in the prisoner swap is open to strong question.

But should you be angry at Bowe Bergdahl? He may very well have abandoned his post. And he has paid dearly for that. But should we have abandoned Bergdahl as we leave Afghanistan?

This appears to have been yet another unilateral action by an imperial president, violating existing laws and the Presidential Oath of Office. Obama’s previous scandals are already a pile of possible high crimes and misdemeanors resembling a pile of Jenga blocks. He’s playing a game fraught with hazards and dangers to a society organized around the rule of law, not the rule of men.

Congressional inquiry that can lead to impeachment is long overdue, but impeachment is not just a matter of high crimes and misdemeanors. It is a political game.

The political will to impeach this president is not sufficient to spur Congress to fulfill its responsibility.

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  • Marie Smedberg

    If all this is true, jail time is in order. I hope the investigation produces accurate information and is not based on administration lies. That said, best to leave Susan Rice at home.

    • michaelnoaka

      Considering who is the Commander-In-Cheat and the pathetic state of the Defense department I wouldn’t expect to learn the truth about this turn-coat for at least a dozen years. Besides the 6-14 service men who were killed as a result of this desertion we will never know the names of all the heroes who gave their lives to apprehend these 5 monsters who are now free to mass murder again and for what? Wasn’t it Election Eve when Obama announced his latest “accomplishment”?

  • John

    At least six men died because of his actions, would you tell their mothers, “should you be angry with Bowe?”

  • elaine williams

    Bergdahl looks really healthy in the video of the exchange. Wonder what the urgent health concern was that propelled Obama to act too swiftly to notify Congress.

  • Davis Goodman

    Evidence of letter/note?

    • DerangedMuppet

      your government already shredded it, I’m sure… But we have EYE/CHARACTER WITNESSES

  • DerangedMuppet

    abandon him? no. even though reports that after he left, he was in a town looking for Taliban that speak English… But to give up 5 TOP MINDS of the Taliban to do as they wish so long as they “stay in the country”?!? INSANE! 0bama needs to be removed and thrown in jail for aiding and abetting! They are NOT done attacking us! They stand AGAINST our very being! People need to get a clue AND REMEMBER WHAT THESE GUYS ARE CAPABLE OF! And WHY these 5 specifically, when there’s plenty of others that were nowhere near the status of these guys?!?!

  • yepster

    Deserter,Trader,Collaborator,Muslim enough said ,,,Hang Him High,and and IMPEACH BARRY the Muslim Lover and Protector.

  • Mariana225

    Isn’t it time to take a second look at the ‘accidental’ death of Michael Hastings, the reporter who was being investigated by the FBI for his investigation of Bergdhal’s desertion? Hastings’ automobile inexplicably got out of control and crashed, killing Hastings, and his wife, friends, and relatives do not believe that he would have driven at such high speeds. Another mysterious death to add to one man’s desertion.

  • Mariana225

    Maybe I watched too many detective programs, but one of the basics that an investigator looks for is consistency (or the lack of) in a suspect’s ‘story’. A story which changes each time the suspect is questioned is unquestionably an indication that the suspect is lying and he/she is guilty. How many times has Obama’s story changed? First he claimed that Bergdahl’s health was so poor his life was at risk. The video of his release showing Bergdahl walking on his own and looking fine disproved this lie, so Obama claimed that the Taliban had threatened his life. The Taliban stated that they treated him well, that Bergdahl taught them to play badminton, etc., and that he was allowed to walk freely and even carry a weapon. So, Obama had to change the story again. How many different tall tales are we going to tolerate?