Tag Archives: Bowe Bergdahl

Bergdahl gets off too lightly

Count me as one American who believes Bowe Bergdahl deserves to serve time in prison.

I had given the one-time U.S. Army Ranger the benefit of the doubt when he was returned to U.S. custody after being held captive by the Taliban for five years. He came home after the Obama administration negotiated for his release from the hideous conditions under which the Taliban kept him.

Then came questions about the nature of his “capture.” Did he go willingly into enemy hands?

Bergdahl admitted to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. Yep, he did it all of his volition.

Today, the judge hearing the case spared Bergdahl prison time. He ordered him to receive a dishonorable discharge that, of course, will stay with him for the rest of his life.

It’s not punishment enough for what he has admitted to doing.

Bergdahl faced a potential life term in prison for the misbehavior charge. I don’t know that he actually deserved to spend his entire life behind bars. However, the former Army sergeant did put his men in danger when they went looking for him. What’s more, he deserted his unit that had been placed in harm’s way to fight the monstrous enemy force that supposed “captured” him.

I do not dismiss the terrible conditions under which Bergdahl was kept by the Taliban. However, it does not lessen the betrayal he committed against the men with whom he was serving.

I believe the judge today made a mistake in leveling such a light sentence against Bowe Bergdahl. May this deserter thing long and hard for the rest of his life about what he did.

Bergdahl admits it: He’s a deserter

We no longer need to attach the word “alleged” in front of Bowe Bergdahl’s crime.

The U.S. Army sergeant has entered a guilty plea to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. He had been captured by the Taliban in 2009 and was held for five years somewhere in Afghanistan.

The desertion charge carries a five-year prison sentence; the misbehavior charge is something quite a bit more severe and Bergdahl faces a potential life term in prison.

What should the military court decide? He needs to serve a significant prison term. A lifetime? I’m not sure about that.

Deserter fesses up

He did expression contrition. He knows he did wrong. He has paid quite a price being held captive by a terrorist organization.

Speaking of which, I was critical at the time of Bergdahl’s release that the Obama administration declined to call the Taliban what they are: a terrorist outfit. That gave the administration license to negotiate with the Taliban to secure Bergdahl’s release.

Should he have remained in Taliban custody? No. The Obama team said its mission to ensure that no American gets left on the “battlefield.” I get that.

However, he now has admitted to deserting his Ranger unit. And, no, he doesn’t deserve to be executed, as Donald J. Trump bellowed before he became the commander in chief.

Prison time? Yes.

Trump damages due process


Donald J. Trump proved beyond anyone’s doubt that political candidates can — and do — say anything without regard to the consequences to certain cherished American principles … such as, oh, due process.

While running for president, Trump condemned a U.S. Army sergeant as a “rotten traitor.” The man in question is Bowe Bergdahl, who is set to be court-martialed in the spring on charges that he walked off his post in Afghanistan before he was captured by Taliban terrorists.

He was held captive for five years. Then he was released in a prisoner swap with U.S. officials.

I am not going to make an assertion about Bergdahl’s guilt or innocence. I wasn’t there. Neither was Trump. Or anyone other than the Taliban terrorists and Bergdahl. That didn’t prevent Trump from issuing a blanket campaign-stump conviction of the young man.

Moreover, as the New York Times wondered in an editorial published today, the rants of the future commander in chief likely have put Bergdahl’s right to a fair trail in extreme jeopardy.


As the Times stated: “Sergeant Bergdahl is charged with desertion and misbehavior in front of the enemy; a guilty verdict could result in a sentence anywhere from no jail time to life. But how can he get a fair trial in the military justice system when the next commander in chief has proclaimed his guilt and accused him of treason?

“The short answer is he can’t.”

The Army has charged Bergdahl with desertion and he could be sentenced to prison for the rest of his life if he’s convicted.

Trump’s proclamation of guilt of one of the men who soon will be under his command speaks to his utter disregard for the rule of law and of the due process that is accorded to all criminal defendants.

The Times suggests that President Obama might grant Bergdahl a pardon to allow him to “rebuild his life” and avoid what it calls a “questionable” prosecution. The Times states that Bergdahl had a pre-existing mental condition when he enlisted in the Army, which granted him an enlistment waiver.

Given the poison that the next commander in chief has inserted into this pre-trial discussion, the current commander in chief ought to take a hard look at a pardon.

Trump’s rhetorical recklessness only demonstrates his unfitness for the job he is about to assume.

Hey, the Taliban really are terrorists!


Consider this an open letter to CIA director John Brennan.

Dear Mr. Brennan:

You need to rethink your cockamamie notion that the Taliban is not a terrorist organization. Now!

Have you heard the news? The Taliban exploded a bomb in a park in Lahore. It killed 65 Christians who were gathered there. Most of the victims were women and children.

Attack aimed at Christians

Let’s see. The attack occurred on Christianity’s holiest holiday. The Taliban actually stated it that it was targeting Christians. The victims were defenseless against the attack.

I do believe, Mr. Director, that the act committed today constitutes a bona fide act of terror. It was aimed precisely at non-combatants and its aim now is to put other such individuals or groups of individuals on notice that they may be next.

This is worth bringing up because of the exchange negotiated with the Taliban that brought about the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who’d been held by the Taliban for five years after he walked off his post in Afghanistan.

I’m sure you recall that White House press flack Josh Earnest said the United States “negotiated” the release because it doesn’t consider the Taliban to be a terrorist organization. We don’t “negotiate with terrorists,” Earnest told us.

Fair enough.

Except that the Taliban for decades has terrorized women and children. Yes, it has resorted to violence against those who oppose its repression.

Now we have this incident of terror in the park in Lahore, Pakistan.

It was committed by the Taliban. The group sought to terrorize innocent people.

If this is not the action of a terrorist organization, then no such organization exists anywhere on the planet. We all know that’s not the case.

The Taliban needs to be treated as the terrorists they are — and always have been.


Taliban aren’t ‘terrorists’?


Let us hit the reset button for a moment.

When the United States secured the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who’d been held captive by the Taliban for five years, the rationale was that the Taliban aren’t a “terrorist organization.” That’s what the White House press flack, Josh Earnest, said about the negotiation that led to Bergdahl’s release.

Our policy has been that we don’t negotiate with terrorists, Earnest said. Since the Taliban isn’t a terrorist outfit, well, that gave our side the opportunity to secure Bergdahl’s release from captivity in Afghanistan.

Then we awake this morning to news that at least 20 people have been killed in a terrorist attack at a Pakistan university.

Who took responsibility for the tragedy? The Taliban!

Someone has some explaining to do.

Many of us out here haven’t bought the notion that the Taliban is anything but a terrorist organization. The ultraconservative extremists have been terrorizing Muslim women for longer than any of us can remember. They’ve been denying citizens of Pakistan and Afghanistan access to education. How do they do that? By killing them.

Isn’t that the ultimate form of terror?

It appears to be time for President Obama’s national security team to take another look at how it defines the Taliban.

They got it wrong about this monstrous organization.

Bergdahl may be POTUS’s most stinging embarrassment


Barack Obama’s presidency is just about set to head into the home stretch.

I believe history over time will judge the Obama presidency well, even as many Americans now worry about the terror threat that, frankly, has been with us all along.

There likely will be a singular embarrassment, though, for the president that he might have to explain.

U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is facing a court-martial on two critical counts: desertion and endangering his unit. Bergdahl was the subject of a prisoner exchange in which our side gave up five Taliban fighters in exchange for Bergdahl, who’d been held by the Taliban for about five years.

Once Bergdahl came out, he was honored by Barack Obama in a White House ceremony that included his parents. The president spoke of how the U.S. military “never leaves comrades behind.” He spoke of Bergdahl as a hero.

Well, a military court is going to decide whether Bergdahl abandoned his post in Afghanistan and whether his conduct put his fellow soldiers in danger.

I’ve sought to withhold judgment on Bergdahl, preferring to let the court decide his guilt or innocence.

If the court-martial convicts him, then the president will have to explain to Americans the reason for giving him such a hero’s welcome. And, of course, there’s the issue of negotiating the release of five known Taliban terrorists — which is what they are, no matter that the administration refuses to label the Taliban as a “terrorist organization.”

This court-martial will be worth the nation’s attention.


Bergdahl may prove to be biggest mistake

Bowe Bergdahl is accused of deserting his post and his comrades when he was captured by the Taliban.

The Army sergeant then was released in a five-for-one swap: five Taliban senior officials for one American soldier.

Bergdahl came home, went to the White House and was hailed as a “hero” by President Obama.

No matter how this matter plays out — if Bergdahl is acquitted or convicted — the episode might stand as one of the president’s most embarrassing moments.


It is my fervent hope that one day the president — even if it’s after he leaves office in less than two years — will explain to Americans whether he harbors any regret regarding the now-overblown reaction to Bergdah’s release.

This matter is troubling on at least two levels.

One is that we gave up five known terrorists — and I will refer to the Taliban as “terrorists,” even though the White House won’t go there — for one soldier.

The other is that we negotiated with the terrorists, despite our stated policy of “never negotiating” with terrorist organizations.

Bergdah’s future remains undecided. I hope we learn that he didn’t actually commit an act of desertion. I hope we can learn that it was some sort of terrible error on his part, and that he left his post and that he blundered his way into Taliban captivity.

No matter how it turns out, the young man appears to be far less heroic than when he was set free.

And the president of the United States should feel embarrassed.


Another 'czar' might emerge in Washington

It’s been some time since we’ve heard the term “czar” kicked around Washington, D.C.

But here it comes again, this time in the form of legislation that creates a “hostage czar” who would coordinate efforts to gain the release of Americans held hostage abroad.


U.S. Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., has proposed the Warren Weinstein Hostage Rescue Act, named in honor of the man killed early this year in a drone strike on a suspected al-Qaeda compound.

Allow me this one request for the legislation: no negotiating with terrorists, please.

Delaney said this: “Hostage rescue is incredibly complex and multiple agencies have a role in the process, which at times has complicated our ability to act efficiently.”

So, he wants to create a hostage czar to coordinate those efforts.

It’s at best a symbolic gesture. It could prove fruitful, but only if it maintains a policy of refusing to negotiate with terror organizations to gain the release of these captive Americans.

I know what you’re thinking: Hey, we “negotiated” with the Taliban to obtain the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl; we released five Taliban officers in exchange for Bergdahl. Isn’t that “negotiating with terrorists”? Well, I believe the Taliban is a terrorist organization, but the White House doesn’t call it such — so, technically, the U.S. government didn’t negotiate with a terrorist outfit to gain Bergdahl’s release.

In hindsight, it looks like a mistake because (a) the Taliban comprises terrorists and (b) Bergdahl now is facing desertion charges.

Still, the Weinstein Hostage Rescue Act should be free of language that allows us to negotiate with any recognized terrorist outfit.

Sgt. Bergdahl's life is getting complicated

U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s life got mighty complicated the day he disappeared from his post in Afghanistan and was held by Taliban terrorists.

He was repatriated in 2014 amid cheers to those who were glad we were able to recover one of our fighting men.

Now the young man’s life is getting decidedly more complicated. This story might not end well for Sgt. Bergdahl.


The Army has accused him of desertion and with misbehavior before the enemy. The desertion charge carries a five-year prison sentence if he’s convicted; the misbehavior charge comes with a life sentence if he is found guilty.

All of sudden, just like that, the man once considered a near-hero must prove to the military that he didn’t join the enemy willingly and deserted his post, abandoned his comrades and in effect shirked the duty he took an oath to perform.

The Army is going to send this case to an Article 32 hearing, which is equivalent roughly to a grand jury proceeding. There it will be determined Bergdahl’s case goes to court martial.

I would hate for Bergdahl to be convicted of either charge. If he is, then, well … the young man needs to be punished.

His life, no matter if he spends it behind bars or is acquitted, has become far more complicated than he ever imagined.

Where have you gone, Sgt. Bergdahl?

Bowe Bergdahl has disappeared, more or less, from the public’s sights.

You might remember the name. He is the U.S. Army sergeant who had been held captive for a couple of years by the Taliban. Then he got released in exchange for five prisoners who were being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — or more specifically, at the U.S. Navy detention center set up there.

Some of the former prisoners reportedly returned to the war against the United States and one of them is believed to be a leader in the Islamic State terrorist group that has been beheading captives.

Bergdahl’s release became the subject of much discussion by Americans. Why were we negotiating with terrorists? Was the price too great to pay for a single U.S. soldier? Did Bergdahl give away too many secrets to his captors? Did he abandon his post and, in effect, desert the Army?

It’s the final question that seemed to cause the most angst among Americans who thought the government paid too much to gain the release of a soldier who they believe wasn’t worth bringing home.

Well, he was returned to U.S. hands, went into seclusion, then went home to Idaho to be with his friends and family and has returned to active duty.

The Army brass said it would investigate the entire sequence of events and determine whether Bergdahl did what the critics said he did.

I’m still waiting.

Meanwhile, the nation’s attention has been pulled in so many directions, I cannot keep track.

Crises erupt here, there — and everywhere.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s story still hasn’t been told. If it meant so much at the time of his release to learn all the details of his captivity and his return to freedom, then it still ought to matter.