When I wrote my editorial about Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in June 2014, I talked about how the White House and other government officials were hitting the Sunday morning talk show circuit to praise his release after our government traded him in exchange for five suspected terrorists who were serving time in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Officials were excited. President Barack Obama, who was joined by Sgt. Bergdahl’s parents for his statement, said “I know I speak for all Americans when I say that we cannot wait for the moment when you are reunited, and your beloved Bowe is back in your arms.”
After the trade, it didn’t take long for military personnel who were in charge of a search and rescue operation to find Sgt. Bergdahl when he disappeared from his base went to go to the media to tell their side of the story. Former Army Special Forces Officer Michael Walts, who commanded units involved in the search and rescue of Sgt. Bergdahl, told Fox News that “he was not captured. He went missing. He left on his own.”
Walts then said there were several traps left for Special Forces who were trying to locate the sergeant. Some reports showed six American soldiers being killed during the search in areas where they wouldn’t have been unless they were a part of a search and recovery mission. His fellow platoon member Cody Full said Sgt. Bergdahl once told him “if deployment is lame, I’m going to get lost in the mountains and make my way to China.” Things reached a higher level this past Monday when Sgt. Bergdahl was recommended by the Gen. Robert Abrams, the commanding general of Forces Command, for trial by general court-martial.
According to the Army Times, he is being charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy and could face life in prison. A date for the Fort Bragg, North Carolina arraignment hasn’t been announced.
On March 25, he was charged with one count of desertion with intent to shirk important or hazardous duty, and one count of misbehavior before the enemy by endangering the safety of a command, unit or place.
The issue does hit a little close to home as Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), chairwoman of the Armed Services subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, recently presented findings of the committee in which she leads.
That report noted that the Obama Administration broke the law in swapping the five Taliban members for Sgt. Bergdahl. It also said it went out of its way to hide the negotiations as they were happening. This includes the administration not giving members of Congress 30 days advance notice of any detainee transfers from the Cuban facility. She was quoted in saying “After rigorous investigation, there are still some unknowns. We still do not know if we negotiated for less than five detainees. We do not know how five was determined to be the ‘right’ number in this exchange. However, we now know to what extent this Administration is willing to go to achieve political goals.”
This was a mess from the start. Not only should Sgt. Bergdahl be held accountable, it’s time for administration officials to also be accountable for what happened. I still say it’s not a coincidence that after this prisoner swap, it appears that ISIS gained momentum as the caliphate was put into action with a momentum like never before. Unfortunately, the major news networks are caring more presidential candidates flinging mud at each other than actual news that requires further investigation and possible punishment. I was surprised that the swap ever happened and even more stunned that so many people didn’t believe Sgt. Bergdahl was a deserter. I wonder if any administration officials will be held accountable for the trade knowing what is known now.