Thursday March 26, 2015
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From the Army Times:
The Army has charged Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, officials announced Wednesday.
You know the case. As a PFC Bergdahl disappeared from his unit's outpost in Afghanistan, on June 30, 2009. He was captured by the Taliban and spent the next five years in captivity.
He was released on May 31, 2014 as the result of swapping five prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay for his freedom.
President Barack, with Bergdahl's parents flanking him, took a bow in the Rose Garden announcing the deal. Susan Rice, the President's National Security Advisor said in what CNN called "full-throated praise" of Bergdahl that he had served with "honor and distinction."
I don't know any of the details of what the Army has discovered in the course of this investigation, so I will not declare him guilty of either charge.
My knowledge of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice is limited to having it drummed into my head at Ft. Bragg in the late 1960s during Basic Training that if I fell asleep on guard duty that, under the terms of the UCMJ, very, very bad things would befall me.
That, and what I've learned from Leroy Jethro Gibbs while watching about 12,000 reruns of NCIS.
There are questions about why Bergdahl left his unit. He complained about the lack leadership in a letter to his parents (from The DailyBeast.com) in which he wrote:
"Leadership was lacking, if not non-existent. The conditions were bad and looked to be getting worse for the men that where actuly (sic) the ones risking thier (sic) lives from attack."
I am shocked that the entirety of the U.S. Army command structure didn't stop what it was doing to fully investigate the whining of a PFC far from home, probably scared out of his wits, and wishing he'd never left home.
Bergdahl did leave his unit so that's a given. But, I have questions about who was advising President Obama as the swap idea was developed and negotiated, and finally approved.
Certainly you would think that the Army chain of command knew the allegations - serious allegations - that had been raised at the time of Bergdahl's disappearance and during the period immediately following while the members of his unit were actively searching for him.
Those allegations, you would also think, were transmitted to the White House, to the Pentagon, to the State Department to the CIA, the NSA and for all I know, the AFL-CIO.
Yet, President Obama - at a minimum - allowed the plot to proceed and might have actually instructed his subordinates to press for a quicker conclusion.
We sent five prisoners - described by CNN as "mostly mid- to high-level officials in the Taliban regime" - to Qatar where they have to stay for a year.
According to the National Journal, "A defense bill that President Obama signed into law in December 2013 requires that Congress be notified 30 days ahead of releasing prisoners from Guantanamo Bay."
To the surprise of no one this side of the Andromeda Galaxy, the President ignored that law leading the then-Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca) to complain, "It's very disappointing that there was not a level of trust sufficient to justify alerting us."
That was when the Democrats still controlled the Senate.
Of the two charges against Bergdahl the more serious by far is the charge of "Misbehavior before the enemy." The long list of behaviors that fall under this section can be read HERE on the Secret Decoder Ring but the important part to me are the last 14 words of Section 899 Article 99 of the UCMJ that whomever is found guilty of violating 899.99:
"Shall be punished by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct."
I will be surprised if Sgt. Bergdahl's case goes to trial. It would not surprise me if the case were settled with a plea bargain that includes a long prison sentence (not just the five years already served with the Taliban - he put himself in that position), a loss of pay and benefits, and a less than honorable discharge.
And, may we never have to hear of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl again.
On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to the Army Times, the Daily Beast, and CNN as well as the list of behaviors forbidden under the "Misbehavior before the enemy" section of the UCMJ.
Also a rare license plate holder Mullfoto.
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