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Army Will Investigate Desertion Charges Against Bowe Bergdahl

Bowe Bergdahl

Among the stronger arguments that have developed in the days since Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was released from Taliban captivity are those that have arisen due to the questions regarding how he managed to become a captive to begin with. For some time, there have been those making the argument that he deserted his post and wandered off into the Afghan wilderness, while others have gone so far as to make the unsubstantiated charge that he was somehow a collaborator with the Taliban. As CNN’s Jake Tapper notes, some of the strongest arguments about Bergdahl have come from the soldiers who served with him:

(CNN) – The sense of pride expressed by officials of the Obama administration at the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is not shared by many of those who served with him, veterans and soldiers who call him a deserter whose “selfish act” ended up costing the lives of better men.

“I was pissed off then, and I am even more so now with everything going on,” said former Sgt. Matt Vierkant, a member of Bergdahl’s platoon when he went missing on June 30, 2009. “Bowe Bergdahl deserted during a time of war, and his fellow Americans lost their lives searching for him.”

Vierkant said Bergdahl needs to not only acknowledge his actions publicly but face a military trial for desertion under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

A reporter asked Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Sunday whether Bergdahl had left his post without permission or deserted — and, if so, whether he would be punished. Hagel didn’t answer directly. “Our first priority is assuring his well-being and his health and getting him reunited with his family,” he said. “Other circumstances that may develop and questions, those will be dealt with later.”

Said Bergdahl’s former squad leader, Greg Leatherman: “I’m pleased to see him returned safely. From experience, I hope that he receives adequate reintegration counseling. I believe that an investigation should take place as soon as health care professionals deem him fit to endure one.”

Another senior Defense official said Bergdahl will not likely face any punishment. “Five years is enough,” he told CNN on condition of anonymity.

Questions surround the circumstances of Bergdahl’s disappearance. Conflicting details have since emerged about how the militants managed to capture Bergdahl. Published accounts have varied widely, from claims that he walked off the post to claims that he was grabbed from a latrine.

“We really don’t know why he left the base and under what circumstances,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said Monday. Details of that will come out, he said, adding that the Army has never classified Bergdahl as a deserter and has scheduled the soldier for a promotion next month. But the details around a soldier being taken captive “don’t matter,” he said, when it comes to the military’s response.

“We’re going to do all we can to get you back,” he said. “That’s an obligation that we have, all the people that put on this uniform.”

According to firsthand accounts from soldiers in his platoon, Bergdahl, while on guard duty, shed his weapons and walked off the observation post with nothing more than a compass, a knife, water, a digital camera and a diary.

At least six soldiers were killed in subsequent searches for Bergdahl, and many soldiers in his platoon said attacks seemed to increase against the United States in Paktika province in the days and weeks following his disappearance.

“Any of us would have died for him while he was with us, and then for him to just leave us like that, it was a very big betrayal,” said former U.S. Army Sgt. Josh Korder, who has the name of three soldiers who died while searching for Bergdahl tatooed on his back.

Many of Bergdahl’s fellow troops — from the seven or so who knew him best in his squad to the larger group that made up the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division — told CNN that they signed nondisclosure agreements agreeing to never share any information about Bergdahl’s disappearance and the efforts to recapture him. Some were willing to dismiss that document in hopes that the truth would come out about a soldier who they now fear is being hailed as a hero, while the men who lost their lives looking for him are ignored.

“I don’t think I could have continued to go on without being able to share with you and the people the true things that happened in this situation,” Korder said Monday. “Because if you guys aren’t made aware of it, it will just go on, and he’ll be a hero, and nobody will be able to know the truth.”

At least some of the correspondence sent by Bergdahl prior to his disappearance seems to create the impression that he was disillusioned about what was happening around him, perhaps even suffering from depression:

E-mails reported by the late Michael Hastings in Rolling Stone in 2012 reveal what Bergdahl’s fellow infantrymen learned within days of his disappearance: He told people that he no longer supported the U.S. effort in Afghanistan.

“The future is too good to waste on lies,” he wrote to his parents. “And 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 have seen their ideas and I am ashamed to even be American. The horror of the self-righteous arrogance that they thrive in. It is all revolting.”

Bergdahl wrote to them, “I am sorry for everything. The horror that is America is disgusting.”

CNN has not independently verified the authenticity of the e-mails.

Spc. Cody Full, a former member of Bergdahl’s squad, tweeted this weekend that before he disappeared, Bergdahl once told him, “If deployment is lame, I’m going to get lost in the Mountains and make my way to China.”

Leatherman told CNN that Bergdahl “always looked at the mountains in the distance and talked of ‘seeing what’s on the other side.’ ”

Full noted in his Twitter recollections a story that others from Blackfoot Company relay. While soldiers were searching for Bergdahl, a platoon “came upon some children, they asked him have they seen an American. The children said ‘yes, he was crawling on his belly through weeds and acting funny a while ago,’ ” according to Full.

The platoon went to the village where the children said the American had gone. “Villagers said an American did come through the area and was wanting water and someone who spoke English,” Full shared.

Korder says he believes Bergdahl was looking for an adventure “without having anybody to answer to” when he left his post.

“He wanted to go see Afghanistan for himself without the Army stopping him or having to tell him what to do,” Korder said.

Adding to the misgivings that many are feeling about the totality of the circumstances of this story is the fact that at least six Americans are known to have died on missions that were sent out looking for Bergdahl in the days and weeks after his disappearance. These men were, of course, doing their duty but the fact that they lost their lives on a search for someone who may have walked away from his post for reasons that don’t seem to be entirely clear understandably is causing some misgivings and dampening the good feelings that one ought to expect to feel with regard to the release of an American who had been held by the enemy for five years.

Responding to these allegations, and indeed to questions that have been raised about Bergdahl’s disappearance since 2009, Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is stating publicly that the Army will investigate the circumstances surrounding Bergdahl’s disappearance:

The Army will investigate charges that rescued Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl deserted his post in Afghanistan, Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey said Tuesday.

“When he is able to provide them, we’ll learn the facts. Like any American, he is innocent until proven guilty,” Dempsey said in a post to his Facebook page. “Our Army’s leaders will not look away from misconduct if it occurred.”

A Pentagon investigation concluded in 2010 that Bergdahl had walked away from his unit before being captured by the Taliban, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. And according to The New York Times, Bergdahl left a note in his tent saying he was disillusioned with the U.S. Army and did not support the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.

Bergdahl has come under criticism from some service members and Republican lawmakers who have accused the soldier of costing American lives in efforts to rescue him in Afghanistan. They have also questioned the decision to free five Taliban militants being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison in exchange for Bergdahl’s release.

But Dempsey and other administration officials have looked to separate the rescue effort from questions over Bergdahl’s conduct.

“In response to those of you interested in my personal judgments about the recovery of SGT Bowe Bergdahl, the questions about this particular soldier’s conduct are separate from our effort to recover ANY U.S. service member in enemy captivity,” Dempsey said. “This was likely the last, best opportunity to free him.”

This strikes me as an entirely appropriate step for the Army to take. The circumstances surrounding Bergdahl’s disappearance and apparent capture have been in doubt for nearly the entire time that he was missing. Indeed, as noted above, the Pentagon had apparently concluded in 2010 that Bergdahl had indeed walked away from his unit and, after that point, there were not further serious efforts to locate and rescue Bergdahl, who was apparently being held in Taliban controlled territory near the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan at that point in any case.  The correspondence and notes that were left behind, along with the comments from his fellow unit members, certainly raise some serious questions that ought to be looked into rather than covered up. Understandably, his parents avoided addressing these concerns during the time that he was missing, but now that he is back in American care it would be wrong to simply sweep the matter under the rug. Desertion is a serious charge in the military, after all, and even if it is eventually decided that Bergdahl should not be punished because of the circumstances of his confinement, if the evidence supports the charges then they ought to be brought forward.

Understandably, this places the Administration in a difficult position. When Bergdahl’s release was announced and President Obama appeared with Bergdahl’s parents in the White House Rose Garden late Saturday afternoon, President Obama praised Bergdahl as an American solider held captive who was returned home, although he didn’t exactly take the next step of praising his actions as a soldier. That task fell to National Security Adviser Susan Rice who, in an appearance on ABC’s This Week, said that Bergdahl had ”served the United States with honor and distinction” and that ”Sergeant Bergdahl wasn’t simply a hostage; he was an American prisoner of war captured on the battlefield.” Quite obviously, if the allegations against Bergdahl are true, then Rice’s statements are patently false and amount to little more than an effort to spin the release in the best way possible.

None of this is to say that it was wrong for the Obama Administration to enter into a deal to get Sgt. Bergdahl home. President Obama was correct on Saturday when he made reference to the nation’s commitment to the safe return of soldiers help prisoner in war, a commitment that is seared in American memory in many respects thanks to the legacy of the Vietnam War. With the U.S. committment in Afghanistan coming to an end, it was time to work to bring Sgt. Bergdahl home. None of that should obscure the fact that there are legitimate questions about this young man and how it is he actually happened to end up in Taliban custody. That is something that most assuredly should be investigated and, if the evidence warrants it, charges should be brought. The American people, Sgt. Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers, and the men w ho died looking for him deserve nothing less than the truth.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Mike says:

    No way is the Army gonna charge this guy with AWOL or desertion. They might administratively chapter him out of the Army (my bet is with an honorable discharge). What general is going to risk his next star and refer this case to court-martial? Any general who does so will never get confirmed for promotion again.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  2. CB says:

    The thing that I get hung up on is that men were killed and resources were diverted in the name of finding him. That can’t just slide. On the other hand, we’ve sent guys into the meat grinder for far worse reasons than finding a soldier who had a crisis of conscience and/or confidence. My gut says give him ‘time served’ and a quiet discharge.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5

  3. Ron Beasley says:

    As they should but they should also look a PTSD factors. In WWII and even in Korea there were periods of intense combat followed by periods of relatively quite. Iraq and Afghanistan were 24/7 combat and that along with multiple tours takes a mental toll. Even during the Vietnam war you would not have multiple tours unless you volunteered.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  4. beth says:

    @CB: We sent him over there, we deemed him fit to serve. If he cracked up for whatever reason, we still owed it to him to try and find him. It’s tragic that people got killed but would you feel the same way if he was physically wounded, instead of mentally wounded. and deaths occurred while soldiers were searching for him? We are far from knowing the whole story here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 3

  5. beth says:

    Quite obviously, if the allegations against Bergdahl are true, then Rice’s statements are patently false and amount to little more than an effort to spin the release in the best way possible.

    And I would say to you – if he had been physically wounded would you have said the same? It’s quite possible he suffered a mental breakdown – he wouldn’t be the first to have that happen in a war zone. Does that make his service dishonorable?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 5

  6. CB says:

    @beth:

    In no way do I disagree. We absolutely should have gone after him, and if prisoner exchanges were the best way to get it done, so be it. Like I said, soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan for far less noble reasons than rescuing a lost brother. I just don’t think his actions should be without repercussion, which they obviously weren’t. Again, I say time served and a discharge.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  7. C. Clavin says:

    This is entirely appropriate…and I would be troubled if it didn’t happen.

    However it must be said that the half-term quitter/loser from Wasilla is way off base.
    Her position…like Jenos’s is that we should have left this guy in the clutches of the Taliban…because…well who the f’ knows.
    Anti-American views/30 day notification of Congress/Obama
    None of it makes any sense at all.
    Luckily the adults are running things and not Palin or Jenos.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

  8. @beth:

    Not necessarily, but Rice’s unequivocal statements were quite simply not a reflection of reality

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 9

  9. stonetools says:

    Prediction: it will be found that he did indeed abandon his post, but that he was suffering from some kind of mental breakdown at the time. His proposed desertion plan :

    1. Abandon his gun, uniform, post.
    2.Walk across hundreds of miles of Taliban-infested territory.
    3.Cross into Pakistan , walk across Pakistan
    4.Enter India
    5.????
    6.Success!

    That is the desertion plan of a madman. There will be an investigation, a quiet discharge and a course of mental health treatment. I note a lot of folks bellowing about how wrong the deal was never spent a day in the military and were in favor of making a deal as late as February.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2

  10. beth says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I would say they absolutely reflect the reality of soldiers at war and the many things that can and do go wrong.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

  11. Modulo Myself says:

    There’s something so hysterical in the conception of a soldier having the same problems with a war that everyone else has as that of suffering from depression, or worse, ‘disillusionment’. Like the guy was so crazy he looked at the mountains with wonder AND he wanted to learn the language of the people he was there to help.

    I have no problem with believing he left his post. But the hate pouring in on him, and the dehumanized questions, is incredible. Everyone who is not paid to do so believes the same shit he did! He ‘cracked’ in the same way people ‘crack’ when they quit their jobs one day. It’s like the mind of half of America is basically that of a child trying to appease some vicious authority figure with protestations of the only emotion they know: hate.

    And that people blame some 22 year-old private for the diversion of resources, whereas if you have authority it’s a ‘tragic responsibility’ for which you will receive speaking fees and applause from men who need advice on impotence and climbing the ladder, in that order, is just another charming facet of America. If you didn’t give a shit about the rip-offs and scams and murder that went on in Iraq and stirred the insurgency, you shouldn’t about what happened with Bergdahl.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 2

  12. Jack says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Quite obviously, if the allegations against Bergdahl are true, then Rice’s statements are patently false and amount to little more than an effort to spin the release in the best way possible.

    Can Rice EVER tell the truth? She’s as bad as Jay Carney.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 9

  13. CB says:

    @Jack:

    Political entity is political?? NO WAY.

    Hypocrisy mongering is like patriotism (and media criticism)…the last refuge of scoundrels.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  14. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:
    But no where near as bad as Ari Fleischer…or the guy that worked for Reagan and laughed at AIDS victims.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

  15. stonetools says:

    Apparently, GOP strategists arranged for certain soldiers to give interviews telling the world how angry they were about the Berghdal deal:

    “Yes, I’m angry,” Joshua Cornelison, a former medic in Sergeant Bergdahl’s platoon, said in an interview on Monday arranged by Republican strategists. “Everything that we did in those days was to advance the search for Bergdahl”…

    “He wouldn’t drink beer or eat barbecue and hang out with the other 20-year-olds,” Cody Full, another member of Sergeant Bergdahl’s platoon, said in an interview on Monday also arranged by Republican strategists. “He was always in his bunk. He ordered Rosetta Stone for all the languages there, learning Dari and Arabic and Pashto.”

    Okay, but they are soldiers who were there, and they’re just giving the facts, right?

    The furious search for Sergeant Bergdahl, his critics say, led to the deaths of at least two soldiers and possibly six others in the area. Pentagon officials say those charges are unsubstantiated and are not supported by a review of a database of casualties in the Afghan war…

    A review of the database of casualties in the Afghan war suggests that Sergeant Bergdahl’s critics appear to be blaming him for every American soldier killed in Paktika Province in the four-month period that followed his disappearance.Mr. Cornelison and Mr. Full both said they wanted to see Sergeant Bergdahl court-martialed as a deserter. “I’m not going to speak on the political, but I think that now that he’s back, he needs to be held accountable,” Mr. Full said.

    Mr. Cornelison echoed Mr. Full. “I won’t get into the politics, but now that he’s back he needs to be held 100 percent accountable,” he said. “For putting myself and 29 other people in my platoon in hell for 90 days.”

    Not that this couldn’t be predicted: As we noted yesterday, Cody Full, one of the soldiers provided to the Times by those GOP flacks (he’s already made the rounds on Fox News, as well), has spent the last few weeks on Twitter castigating “libtard[s]” and decrying minimum wage hikes.

    Karl Rove and the Swift Boaters would have been proud. Gotta say the Republicans, as usual, are just a bit savvier and more professional than the Obama Administration when it comes to the game of political spin.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

  16. Franklin says:

    @Ron Beasley: Good point. It certainly bothers me deeply that people may have died for a deserter, but even if he ‘deserted’, what was his mental condition?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  17. Paul L. says:

    @stonetools:
    It is not that the Republicans,are just a bit savvier and more professional . It is the Democrat narrative/spin that “Angry Members Of Bergdahl’s Platoon” need to STFU and quit “Swiftboating” Bergdahl is not going to work.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 13

  18. MikeSJ says:

    @stonetools:

    I’m surprised this doesn’t get more attention – at least to me Bergdahl clearly had a mental breakdown.

    All the hate pouring out of the right wing is simply more Obama hatred. If Dubya was still president there wouldn’t be a peep about this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  19. stonetools says:

    @Paul L.:

    So I guess you believe these select members of Bergdahl’s platoon “just happened” to start speaking up about him, out of the goodness of their hearts?
    And that its just pure happenstance that Pajamas Media and other right wing blogs moved from attacking Obama for his failure to conclude a hostage deal to launching attacks on the character of the hostage within hours, if not days, of the deal being announced?
    Nowhere has the Administration called for members of Bergdahl’s platoon to STFU. One person who has criticized them is retired Army veteran Soonergrunt here. You might want to take it up with him.

    I don’t know if SGT Bergdahl voluntarily walked off his camp and surrendered to the enemy or not. Just because a few fellow Soldiers in his unit say that doesn’t make it so. The most powerful communication system in an Infantry company is what we used to call “S-5–rumor control.” I’ve never been in a unit that wasn’t essentially a knitting circle with automatic weapons. Young Soldiers, for whom boredom is an almost constant companion (punctuated by moments of sheer terror) can give the most catty junior high school girls’ clique a run for their money. That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily wrong, but I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in it without some corroboration. So I’ll hold off judgment on that. It’s also been brought up that he supposedly sent some emails to one or more people expressing doubts about US military actions. So did I. So have a lot of guys who then went out and did the very best they could do for their buddies and their country. It’s irrelevant anyway.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  20. Paul L. says:

    @MikeSJ:

    All the hate pouring out of the right wing is simply more Obama hatred. If Dubya was still president there wouldn’t be a peep about this.

    Channeling the extremist antiwar left/
    I suspect Dumbya was still president we would not have traded 5 “Political Prisoners and torture victims” for a “POW” “because he does not care about the troops he turned into mass murderers of innocents directly and from the IEDs they caused”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 7

  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Not necessarily, but Rice’s unequivocal statements were quite simply not a reflection of reality

    And in time, we may get a clearer picture of just exactly what that reality was. Or not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  22. C. Clavin says:

    @Paul L.:
    If you drop the fever-swamp-rant for a second I think you’ll realize what was meant…that Dubya would have done the same thing…and the wing-nuts prone to fever-swamp-rants wouldn’t have made a peep.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  23. Paul L. says:

    @stonetools:

    One person who has criticized them is retired Army veteran Soonergrunt here. You might want to take it up with him.

    Banned from Balloon Juice for calling out Angry Black Lady for saying that a Presidential Election is just like discovery in a legal case as to why Romney should release all his tax returns.

    Nowhere has the Administration called for members of Bergdahl’s platoon to STFU.

    The Democrat noise/outrage/smear machine has:
    GOP Strategists Arranged Interviews With Angry Members Of Bergdahl’s Platoon

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 8

  24. C. Clavin says:

    @Paul L.:
    So you equate Grenell’s business partner who claims to be a Democrat…the Democrat moise/outrage/smear machine???
    I think it’s pretty clear what happened….and it’s not what you say.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  25. beth says:

    @Paul L.: Where in that article does it tell them to STFU? It merely points out that a Republican strategist and his Democratic associate are helping book these soldiers’ media appearances. It doesn’t make any conclusions as to the accuracy of their claims or whether they should even be saying them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  26. Paul L. says:

    @C. Clavin:
    @beth:

    You understand the Narrative being pushed that the Rethugs should not have gotten the “Swiftboating” members of Bergdahl’s platoon any media access.

    They should be ignored and silenced like Climate Change Deniers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  27. stonetools says:

    @Paul L.:

    Wow, the Democrats have a noise/outrage machine? Do tell. All I’ve got to say is, Its about time!

    Don’t like Soonergrunt? Then how about Balloon Juice mate and Persian Gulf War vet John Cole:

    You try to tell someone to enlist for a sh!tty war that if they get captured, we might not do anything to get them because they sent some emails that pissed off the National Review or their dad is a long hair. We brought Bergdahl back because we don’t leave guys behind. It’s the same reason we repatriate remains of airmen found in Viet Nam whose bodies have just been found 40 years later. No one gets left behind, and we owe a debt to all soldiers and their families to bring them home. Period. It’s why we wear dog tags and have DNA samples. No one, if possible, gets left behind. These armchair commandos have heard of the Tomb of the Unknowns and the Old Guard, fer f&ck’s sake? That’s the lengths we go to to honor our dead, missing, and unidentifiable.

    It’s just that f&cking simple.

    And btw- Bergdahl spent more time in uniform and in combat than Limbaugh, Kristol, Theissen, and hundreds of these other mother f&%kers combined. End of story.

    (Er, edited to make SFW)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  28. stonetools says:

    Can you take my comment out of moderation, please. I made the mistake of trying to quote John Cole…:-)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  29. stonetools says:

    @Paul L.:

    Its clear that Grenell’s PR firm was behind the disgruntled soldiers getting out their message:

    The New York Times reported on June 2 that “Republican strategists” arranged for the paper to interview soldiers who served with Bergdahl and have animosity towards him because they believe he is a deserter.

    One of the soldiers quoted in the article, Cody Full, sent out a tweet thanking Grenell “for helping get our platoon’s story out.”

    Buzzfeed reported that Grenell’s partner at his firm, Brad Chase, confirmed that they were behind the public relations campaign (Grenell also sent out a tweet explaining his firm offered “pro bono services” to the soldiers). Chase disputed the Times’ characterization of his firm as “Republican strategists” because he is not a Republican.

    But a radio producer who booked one of the soldiers told Buzzfeed that Grenell was their point of contact for the appearance. Two other reporters confirmed to Media Matters that Grenell put them in contact with the soldiers.

    David Zucchino of the Los Angeles Times, who posted an article late Monday quoting Bergdahl’s critics, said he had reached out to Grenell, who personally helped him contact Evan Buetow, a member of Bergdahl’s platoon.

    The New York Times’ Helene Cooper, whose article identified the source of her interview subjects as “Republican strategists,” said she was contacted on Sunday with information on former platoonmates of Bergdahl who wanted to talk to the paper.

    On June 1, Grenell appeared on Fox News’ America’s News Headquarters to attack the decision to make the prisoner swap and cited the concerns of one of the soldiers in question.

    On the June 2 edition of PBS’ Charlie Rose, CBS national security correspondent David Martin said the former soldiers are “using a public relations firm” to push their version of events surrounding Bergdahl and that it is “a coordinated effort” which is “being organized by a public relations firm.”

    Again, I know of no Administration or official Democratic source calling for the “silencing” of anyone. Sounds like typical Conservative victimhood claiming here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  30. CB says:

    @Paul L.:

    I haven’t really seen anyone saying his platoon mates should STFU either. The point is that they’re (GOP) blatantly using this as a political cudgel, which is fair game, I guess. It’s unseemly and disgusting, but that’s politics. Whatever.

    The broader point here that is getting lost is that it doesn’t matter one iota what he did or said in uniform, or how he got himself caught. You go in for him, no questions asked, and you get him back.

    I’m willing to bet these braying asses has a yellow support our troop sticker on each of their vehicles. All to often, that’s where the support begins and ends: on a bumper sticker.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  31. anjin-san says:

    @ Paul L.

    silenced

    I’m surprised that Obama’s goon squad has not been to your house yet, you are on our list of people to silence.

    For that matter, I am surprised that you were not swept up in the mass arrests that took place shortly after Obama became President.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  32. Paul L. says:

    @anjin-san:
    @CB:
    Shorter Van Jones STFU Swiftboaters

    Soldiers “mysteriously” trashing Bergdahl because Republican operatives are orchestrating a smear campaign.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  33. Grewgills says:

    @Paul L.:
    So, following your logic, whenever you call out someone for partisan bias in what they are saying you, Paul L, are trying to shut that person up. Am I understanding you correctly?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  34. Tyrell says:

    Hopefully this soldier has a lot of information that will be useful in the war against these terrorists.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  35. wr says:

    @stonetools: Apparently no one in the world has read Going After Cacciato.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  36. Eric Florack says:

    I commend you all to reading Ralph Peters comments

    http://m.nationalreview.com/article/379481/why-team-obama-was-blindsided-bergdahl-backlash-ralph-peters

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  37. Barry says:

    @beth: “Prediction: it will be found that he did indeed abandon his post, but that he was suffering from some kind of mental breakdown at the time. His proposed desertion plan :

    1. Abandon his gun, uniform, post.
    2.Walk across hundreds of miles of Taliban-infested territory.
    3.Cross into Pakistan , walk across Pakistan
    4.Enter India
    5.????
    6.Success!

    That is the desertion plan of a madman. ”

    You forgot step 2.5/3.5 – walk through hundreds of miles where you stand out like a sore thumb, the locals are paranoid and suspicious, and they treat captives very, very harshly (and then kill them).

    It’s pretty much like a US soldier/Marine in the Pacific Theater of WWII deserting through strongly Japanese-held territory. It’s more a way of committing suicide than anything else.

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  38. Barry says:

    @Jack: “Can Rice EVER tell the truth? She’s as bad as Jay Carney. ”

    Has she? Seriously.

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  39. Another Mike says:

    President Obama has said that he had an obligation to get Bergdahl back even it he was a deserter. I am a conservative and agree with this in principle. The question is what price would have to be paid. This is why Congress has to be included in the discussion and agree to the release of Taliban commanders.

    I believe Bergdahl is a deserter. I do not know whether he was a defector. He may have been a person who was fascinated by the Afghanistan people and culture, and want to experience it up close. It seems that he thought the American people and culture were lame, except for himself, of course.

    What disturbs me is the fact that he could be promoted while missing. It seems obvious that he would be facing some kind of charges upon return based upon the circumstances of his disappearance. The Army does not promote soldiers facing adverse actions. I believe there is an Army regulation that requires all favorable personnel actions be blocked. How could he have been promoted? All promotions should have been suspended until final disposition of his absence.

    Why did President Obama appear arm-in-arm with the parents of a probable deserter. Parents who seem to hold the same unfavorable view of our country as their son.

    This Bergdahl affair is very disturbing to be as an Army veteran. It looks like it may be disturbing for a majority of mu fellow citizens.

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  40. beth says:

    @Another Mike:

    Why did President Obama appear arm-in-arm with the parents of a probable deserter.

    It’s called compassion. Look it up – It can be found in the dictionary but obviously not in your heart.

    ETA – seriously, what the hell is wrong with you people?

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  41. Grewgills says:

    @Another Mike:

    It seems obvious that he would be facing some kind of charges upon return based upon the circumstances of his disappearance. The Army does not promote soldiers facing adverse actions. I believe there is an Army regulation that requires all favorable personnel actions be blocked. How could he have been promoted? All promotions should have been suspended until final disposition of his absence.

    That would seem to run contra to your belief that he was a deserter wouldn’t it? It would certainly seem to indicate that the army did not think that he was a deserter.

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  42. Another Mike says:

    @Grewgills: Sorry, I do not follow your comment. Whether I think Bergdahl is a deserter or not, he is still innocent until convicted. Until the matter was settled, no favorable personnel action should have been allowed. This is just normal Army policy.

    I agree that the Army did not officially consider Bergdahl a deserter. There is no way that someone under suspicion for an offence under the UCMJ could be promoted. This is simply not done. If Bergdahl was cleared, he could subsequently be given his promotions, but probably not the back pay.

    The scandal here is that Bergdahl was not considered AWOL or a deserter. This has to be explained to the American people. It flies in the face of what is know about Bergdahl’s disappearance. Questions need to be answered.

    I read the 21 Jun 2012 article by Michael Hastings in Rolling Stone. Even at that time negotiations were underway with the Taliban for Bergdahl’s release. Even then the plan was to hand over five Taliban for him. Hastings mentioned that Bergdahl was getting all his normal promotions, and the Army was treating him as any other POW.

    The debate is whether all this is as it should have been. I do not think so. Bergdahl should be punished for what he did. It is a matter of justice.

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  43. Grewgills says:

    @Another Mike:

    Sorry, I do not follow your comment.

    If the army policy is as you state and I am assuming that it is, then if the army thought the accusations of Bergdahl deserting or going AWOL had merit they would not have gone ahead with the promotions. Therefor it seems like the army didn’t think the accusations had merit.

    It flies in the face of what is know about Bergdahl’s disappearance.

    The thing is we don’t know much about Bergdahl’s disappearance. We have heard some hearsay about it, that is it. Saying that we know these things is more than a stretch. Questions need to be answered and all this talk of knowing he did x, y, or z absent proof needs to stop.

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  44. al-Ameda says:

    Clearly, those on the Right are determined, in the absence of facts, to smear Bergdahl, in the hope that this prisoner-release transaction will damage the president.

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