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What Bowe Bergdahl Deserves

Bowe Bergdahl

My latest for The National Interest, “If Bowe Bergdahl Deserted, Prosecute Him,” is up.

Nathan Bradley Bethea, a former Army infantry officer who “served in the same battalion in Afghanistan and participated in the attempts to retrieve [Bergdahl] throughout the summer of 2009,” claims that “every member of my brigade combat team received an order that we were not allowed to discuss what happened to Bergdahl for fear of endangering him. He is safe, and now it is time to speak the truth. And that the truth is: Bergdahl was a deserter, and soldiers from his own unit died trying to track him down.”

This seems to be the prevailing judgment of those in a position to know the facts.

[...]

For the past four decades, we have had an all-volunteer force and we have long since come to see all who serve as heroes. The American public, which feels a twinge of guilt that others risk so much while they enjoy the fruits of freedom at home, reflexively Support the Troops. The politicians who pander to them are loathe to burst their bubble.

Considering the depths to which the popular view of the military sank as the Vietnam War drew to its end, the pendulum swinging a bit too far in the opposite direction is a problem about which I won’t complain too much. But the fact of the matter is that not every person who dons a military uniform and deploys to combat is a hero. If it turns out that Bergdahl’s former comrades-in-arms are right and he did in fact desert his post that night—getting at least six American soldiers killed as a direct result—then supporting the troops means prosecuting him to the full extent allowable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The piece has been somewhat overtaken by events. Since I wrote the piece Monday afternoon, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs has announced that the Army will indeed investigate Bergdahl.

Additionally, as Josh Foust pointed out to me via Twitter, while Bergdahl’s comrades seem to universally think that he’s a deserter and that he got a bunch of people killed looking for him, the latter, at least, is by no means a known known.

Some soldiers have also contended that the Taliban, knowing the units were out searching extensively for Sergeant Bergdahl, chose July 4, 2009, to attack another combat outpost, which was nearly overrun and several soldiers were killed. But American military officers said they saw no evidence that the Taliban started the attack on the outpost because they thought everyone would be out searching for Sergeant Bergdahl.

A second former senior military officer, who also was briefed on the Bergdahl investigation, said there was no direct evidence that diversion of surveillance aircraft or troops to search for Sergeant Bergdahl encouraged the Taliban attacks, or left other American troops vulnerable. “This was a dangerous region in Afghanistan in the middle of the ‘fighting season,’ ” the officer said in an email, adding that although the search “could have created some opportunities for the enemy,” it is “difficult to establish a direct cause and effect.”

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.

As noted in the piece, the administration and the brass have taken the right tone on this. Bergdahl absolutely deserves the presumption of innocence and due process. And it’s quite possible that the people closest to the situation, Bergdahl’s comrades-in-arms, are too emotional to render fair judgments.

My larger point remains intact, however. Not every soldier is a hero. Not even every POW. If Bergdahl indeed deserted his post, he deserves to be prosecuted, regardless of whatever hardships he endured in Taliban hands. At a minimum, he should be dishonorably discharged, losing forever the right to claim status as a veteran. If his actions led to the deaths of American soldiers, then he deserves the maximum punishment permissible under the law.

Related Posts:

About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. anjin-san says:

    Not ever soldier is a hero.

    It’s long past time we put the hero-worship of the military to bed. Members of the armed forces deserve our respect and our support (an area we are obviously failing in).

    That being said, the hero thing has gotten way out hand. Some do become heroes, and it is fitting that we honor them. Let’s leave it at that. Putting on a uniform makes you someone that has chosen to serve his country doing difficult and dangerous work, but it does not automatically make you a hero.

    My dad and my uncle both served, my uncle under the worst circumstances imaginable. I never saw any desire on either of their parts to be cast as a hero. If asked, they would reply “I did my duty, nothing more.”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 2

  2. C. Clavin says:

    Fine…you’ll get no argument from me.
    But he also deserved to be brought home.
    Period.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 4

  3. Mikey says:

    @anjin-san: I served 20 years in the military. The whole “hero” thing kind of embarrasses me. I was no hero–I worked with some heroes, guys who’d gotten Silver Stars for valor and such. Those guys did far more than I ever had the opportunity to do.

    I served honorably and distinguished myself in ways of which I am proud, but “hero?” No way.

    As far as Bergdahl goes, both James’ piece and the linked piece by Nathan Bethea are worthy reads and I agree with them both. I am glad America did not leave Bergdahl to rot in Taliban custody, and I am equally glad he now has the opportunity, should it be warranted, to face discipline. Or, if discipline is not warranted, to rejoin his family and go on with his life.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 32 Thumb down 0

  4. Mike says:

    Who wants to take bets that he will be found to have been suffering from PTSD when he went AWOL and this will justify an administrative medical chapter. No way will they court martial him. Way too controversial.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  5. Eric Florack says:

    how many died, in the effort to bring him ‘home’?

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 31

  6. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    Hey candy ass, we don’t leave our people behind.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 5

  7. mantis says:

    @Eric Florack:

    how many died, in the effort to bring him ‘home’?

    The answer to that appears very unclear at this point. We do know he was a POW. That’s enough reason to seek his return for most people. One suspects it would be for you, too, if a Republican were president.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 3

  8. James Joyner says:

    @C. Clavin: Right. I’m pretty clear on that in the piece:

    First, many critics questioned the wisdom of legitimating—indeed, perhaps incentivizing—the Taliban’s taking of prisoners by giving them a five-for-one deal. But Paul Pillar is right: we’re fighting a war in Afghanistan and, however fuzzy their Geneva Convention status, Taliban fighters captured on the field of battle are essentially enemy prisoners of war and POW exchanges are a longstanding tradition. That they may eventually return to the battlefield is less than ideal but the American combat role in Afghanistan is rapidly winding down and releasing enemy fighters is the cost of getting our man back.

    Second, some Congressional Republicans are angry that the administration did not consult with Capitol Hill as seemingly required by statute. While the administration’s “exigent circumstances” argument is laughable given that the “weeks of painstaking negotiations” on this swap certainly allowed thirty-days’ notice, the fact of the matter is that presidents quite frequently take actions in the national security arena based on their judgment, the law be damned, daring Congress to do something about it. This particular flap is unlikely to have legs, simply because of the powerful emotional appeal at stake. It’s hard to disagree with Secretary of State Susan Rice who sharply noted on ABC’s “This Week,” that “Sergeant Bergdahl wasn’t simply a hostage; he was an American prisoner of war captured on the battlefield. We have a sacred obligation that we have upheld since the founding of our republic to do our utmost to bring back our men and women who are taken in battle, and we did that in this instance.” She added, “We had reason to be concerned that this was an urgent and acute situation. Had we waited and lost him, I don’t think anybody would have forgiven the United States government.” Given the endless hearings on Benghazi, with which Rice has some familiarity, there’s little doubt about that.

    For me, this is about what now, not questioning what the administration has done up to now. It was a hard call, it’s messy, but on balance I think they did what they should have done.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 2

  9. steve says:

    He deserves a hearing. He has already been judged by those on the right, which is wrong. Let him have a fair hearing like anyone else, then he should bear the consequences, whatever those may be.

    Steve

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  10. James Joyner says:

    @steve: Right. I make it clear in the TNI piece and the OP that he deserves due process. But it’s his comrades in the unit that have judged him a deserter.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  11. C. Clavin says:

    @Eric Florack:
    Spoken like a chicken hawk that never served.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 5

  12. C. Clavin says:

    @James Joyner:
    You’re the odd man out in your tribe.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  13. Mike says:

    First he isn’t a POW. We don’t recognize AQ or the Haqqani network as a state actor which is how we justify not giving the folks in Gitmo POW status Second to prove desertion u have to prove the intent to remain permanently away which will not be easy in this case since he was kidnapped. Most likely all that could be proved under case law is AWOL

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 14

  14. C. Clavin says:

    @Mike:
    So he was AWOL like Bush?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 9

  15. Matt Bernius says:

    @Mike:

    First he isn’t a POW.

    Then what would you characterize him as — based on what is currently *proven* about the case (not speculation)? The fact is that there isn’t a particularly good term for his current condition — in part because of the overall uniqueness of the current conflict. At best he’s a hostage. But does that really change the calculus?

    Second to prove desertion u have to prove the intent to remain permanently away which will not be easy in this case since he was kidnapped. Most likely all that could be proved under case law is AWOL

    Again, what does this matter in the current calculus? There’s going to be an investigation. And if all they can prove is AWOL so be it.

    But are you going to leave an American Service person hostage because he was AWOL?

    Seriously, not understanding the thread of your arguments here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  16. Eric Florack says:

    he wasnt ‘left behind’.
    he left by himself.@mantis:
    No, we dont know he was a POW.
    he was nothing of the sort.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 38

  17. Mike says:

    He was a hostage/ kidnap victim. POWs get a special status under the GC. I think it was the right call to get him. My only point to my posts is that all the “experts” don’t have a clue what they are talking about

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 8

  18. C. Clavin says:

    @Mike:
    He wasn’t held by AQ.
    If you can’t keep the facts straight then your opinions are based on nothing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  19. Matt Bernius says:

    @Mike:
    Fair point. Though, let me point out that many of the “experts” like our own James Joyner are both policy wonks *and* have military backgrounds. Heck, in addition to being a West Point Grad and War Veteran, James teaches at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College.

    So if James thinks that it’s appropriate to approach this case through the lens of POWs (or our general approach to these situations), I tend to trust that his opinion has some grounding in fact.

    Likewise, many of the people who are splitting hairs (at least in comment threads) have *no* real military experience. I’m not saying that’s the case with you. But I can name “expert” commentors for whom the closest that they’ve gotten to the military are Tom Clancy novels.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 1

  20. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    Chuck Hagel says he was a POW. Why don’t we compare his service record to yours, then we can decide who knows what they they are talking about and who is pulling stuff out of their rear end.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

  21. al-Ameda says:

    @Eric Florack:

    how many died, in the effort to bring him ‘home’?

    You guys have already Swift-Boated Bergdahl simply because you hate the president? Bravo. I wonder how many died in protecting your right Swift-Boat Bergdahl?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 3

  22. wr says:

    @Mike: “My only point to my posts is that all the “experts” don’t have a clue what they are talking about”

    Why yes, whenever all the “experts” disagree with an anonymous internet troll who has proven himself allergic to the truth, I always trust the latter.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  23. wr says:

    @al-Ameda: No one died protecting Bit’s freedom to do anything, unless you think that Iraq and Afghanistan were somehow existential battles for the USA.

    That doesn’t mean he isn’t a loathesome racist toad who is driven by a lifetime of failure. And it doesn’t negate the sacrifice of the troops who were sent overseas. It’s just that our freedom was never at stake, despite what W said.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  24. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Dr. Joyner, you’re absolutely right in what should happen.

    But it won’t.

    The administration is already way too invested in their story to let it be challenged by those beneath them in the chain of command. He was a “prisoner of war” of a group that was never recognized as the legitimate head of a nation-state (we NEVER recognized the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan) and was never a signatory of the Geneva Accords. Likewise, the prisoners exchanged for him were also not prisoners of war, but illegal combatants being detained.

    Bergdahl was kept alive by his captors not because of any humane consideration or moral obligation, but because they decided that he had more value alive than dead. Possible explanations include he was collaborating and giving them useful information, he was good for propganda, he started out as a defector, and they recognized his value as a bargaining chip, among others. He appeared in several propaganda videos, and in the end was the reason five top leaders were freed.

    And yes, I will quite deliberately do what I normally am loath to do, and make a prediction: he will spend a bit of time undergoing medical treatment, at the conclusion of which he will be given a medical discharge. He will never be brought up on any charges. And any investigation will be cursory at best. Here’s one possible way it can play out: we’ll be told that the investigation will be postponed until Bergdahl has recovered enough to cooperate. And then it’ll be announced that he’s too traumatized by his ordeal to properly participate, so the only thing that can be done is to medically discharge him. And at that point any investigation will be meaningless.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 27

  25. Mike says:

    @C. Clavin: notice I put Haqqani as well. I freely admit it don’t know who held him but it wasn’t a country which we recognize which would give him pow status. I don’t get to sit in the debriefs like u :)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  26. Mike says:

    @wr: look at the definition of a pow under the Geneva code and look at who held him and look at our view of this group and explain how he is a pow

    James Joyner. U wrote the article, care to explain?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6

  27. Mike says:

    Should say Geneva convention not code

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. David M says:

    How do people not see the obvious downside to claiming Bowe Bergdahl wasn’t really a POW? Unless they are actually trying to make sure they are never taken seriously again…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  29. James Joyner says:

    @Mike: The Taliban is a murky case, in that they aren’t a single, amorphous group and they play by varying rules. They are not, however, al Qaeda. That is, in most instances they’re legitimate military combatants, wear identifying marks, and otherwise come under the protections of the Geneva Conventions and other applicable laws of war.

    Moreover, there’s zero question that PFC cum SGT Bergdahl, an American soldier, would qualify as a POW when captured by the enemy his country sent him to fight. What else would he be?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 0

  30. James Pearce says:

    If Bergdahl indeed deserted his post, he deserves to be prosecuted, regardless of whatever hardships he endured in Taliban hands.

    Judging from what I’ve seen on Facebook, the trial has already occurred and the verdict has already been rendered.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1

  31. Mike says:

    @James Joyner: but the us govt’s position is that the AQ and the the insurgents are unlawful combatants bc they don’t wear a distinctive uniform, carry arms openly etc and thus the GC doesn’t apply. This is how we justify indefinite detention at Gitmo wo charge and when we do charge, to charge for murder for battlefield killings which POWs cannot be charged with. Therefore Bergdahl would have to be considered a hostage or kidnap victim. Talk to ur JAG at work today, I bet he says the same. That’s the consensus in my JAG office

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

  32. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @David M: How do people not see the obvious downside to claiming Bowe Bergdahl wasn’t really a POW? Unless they are actually trying to make sure they are never taken seriously again…

    “Downside” and “upside” don’t enter into it when you’re dealing with true or false. The Taliban 1) was never recognized as the legitimate government of Pakistan, and 2) never signed on to the Geneva Accords. And the “downside” is legitimizing the Taliban.

    Was Bergdahl accorded the rights of a prisoner of war?

    reated humanely with respect for their persons and their honor
    Able to inform their next of kin and the International Committee of the Red Cross of their capture
    Allowed to communicate regularly with relatives and receive packages
    Given adequate food, clothing, housing, and medical attention
    Paid for work done and not forced to do work that is dangerous, unhealthy, or degrading
    Released quickly after conflicts end
    Not compelled to give any information except for name, age, rank, and service number

    Bergdahl wasn’t a prisoner of war, he was a hostage. His captors were kidnappers.

    But hey, it got the VA out of the news, so there’s that…

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 22

  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Mike, the Taliban are NOT Al Qaeda. The Taliban at one time, were the legitimate government of Afghanistan. How the Haqqani network fits into all this I don’t know, and I suspect our service men don’t really care. If we are fighting them, they are the enemy. If one are captured by them, I suspect one wants to get back if at all possible.

    All the hair splitting in the world does not change that fact one bit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

  34. Mike says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: As my other post stated, i misspoke when i wrote Taliban – it should have said AQ not Taliban. Really it is believed the Haqqani (sp?) network held him which isn’t a Geneva Convention recognized party either.

    I hate to shatter your world but when it comes to legal status of combatants, it isn’t hair splitting when you examine details and facts. Because the Bush administration and later the Obama administration refused to recognize AQ and enemy insurgents as a lawful fighting force under the Geneva Convention, thus denying them POW status upon capture, then when our Soldiers, Airmen etc. are captured, then don’t get the status either. This is how we are able to charge insurgents with murder when they shoot our Soldiers on the battlefield. Normally POWs get immunity for battlefield fighting.

    But don’t let a good generalization get in the way of the law and facts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 9

  35. Mike says:

    @David M: Watch don’t you try reading the Geneva Convention sometime.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6

  36. Scott says:

    They are not, however, al Qaeda.

    This is why I have a problem calling the Taliban “terrorists”. They were the Government of Afghanistan until we overthrew them. Then we stayed there and chose sides in their civil war.

    By calling them terrorists, we then limit ourselves emotionally and situationally in our dealing with them, including any kind of settlement. By calling them terrorists we put ourselves in a straighjacket.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 3

  37. steve says:

    I would not conflate AQ with the Taliban. AQ is an international terrorist organization. They use terror tactics to try to overthrow govts. and achieve their ends. The Taliban was one of the original mujahideen groups we supported to overthrow the Soviets. We funded and trained them, directly or through Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. After the Russians left Pakistan supported, trained and funded the Taliban as its chosen group to rule in Afghanistan. There are plenty of reports that they sent their own troops and air force to aid the Taliban. They then ruled Afghanistan for 5 years (expect for Massoud’s territory) until we invaded. Since then they have been fighting to regain control. These two groups are not that similar. The Taliban is a political group with support from another sovereign nation trying to regain control.

    Steve

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  38. Another Mike says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: I do not see why this post received 11 thumbs down. Check out the picture at the head of this article.
    http://spectator.org/articles/59483/amateur-hour

    Tell me that Bergdahl’s fate is not already sealed. The president does not walk arm-in-arm with the parents of a deserter.

    Gen. Dempsey’s comments about an investigation for desertion are nothing but an empty gesture.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 9

  39. KM says:

    Not every soldier is a hero.

    Disagreement with this thought is fueling a good part of this fire. When you have placed a group on such a pedestal that getting shot at work makes one a hero regardless of one’s actual record (Ft. Hood, etc) , you’ve set yourself of for failure when someone’s humanity creeps in. Soldiers are human. They lie, cheat, steal, abuse, assault, deface and yes, even defect. Putting on a uniform doesn’t magically wash away one’s negative traits. Maybe he is a deserter, maybe not. But the full-fledged hate machine going on right now is way WAY past any sort of reason. They cant even let him be a bad solider – he needs to be a traitor, an Other to push away as far as possible.

    We save our own, period. No man left behind. Bergdahl is ours to celebrate or castrate but never NEVER the enemies’. We bring home our people and then we can administer justice if needed.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 1

  40. Rafer Janders says:

    @Mike:

    First he isn’t a POW. We don’t recognize AQ or the Haqqani network as a state actor which is how we justify not giving the folks in Gitmo

    First, he is a POW. He was a uniformed American combatant captured by armed enemy fighters in a combat zone. That makes him a POW, period.

    Second, he wasn’t captured by al Qaeda, but by the Taliban.

    Third, even if we do or don’t recognize the Taliban as a state actor, that’s irrelevant to his POW status. The fighting force holding you doesn’t need to be a legitimate state actor so long as it’s an active fighting force with which we are engaged in combat (under your bizarre system, American servicemen captured by the VC or Pathet Lao in the Vietnam War wouldn’t have been POWs).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2

  41. Rafer Janders says:

    @Mike:

    He was a hostage/ kidnap victim.

    By definition, a uniformed American combatant in a combat zone can’t be “kidnapped” or “held hostage” when he’s captured by armed enemy fighters with whom his country is at war.

    Terms like “hostage” or “kidnap victim” imply that there’s something illegitimate, something criminal, about capturing a uniformed enemy fighter, when in fact under the laws of war armed forces in combat with each are absolutely allowed to capture each other’s men. There’s no crime involved.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  42. mantis says:

    Let’s review. Following 9/11 we went to war in Afghanistan and overthrew their government, the Taliban, for harboring Al Qaeda. The Taliban remained a combatant force in the war, and captured one of our soldiers, Bowe Bergdahl, and held him for five years. Republicans and military/POW groups have publicly urged his rescue for years, including advocating the very sort of prisoner exchange that secured his release.

    Now that he has been released by his captors, a significant portion of the right, represented in this thread and elsewhere, want to claim he was not a prisoner of war, motivated entirely by their partisan hatred of the president. You people make me sick.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 1

  43. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The Taliban 1) was never recognized as the legitimate government of Pakistan, and 2) never signed on to the Geneva Accords.

    Completely irrelevant. In the Vietnam War, for example, the Viet Cong was not a legitimate government (unlike the NVA) nor a signatory to the Geneva Accords. However, they were a fighting force we were in armed combat with, and American prisoners captured by the VC were considered to be POWs. Here, for example, is an article from Stars and Stripes (which seems to be more of an authority on the subject than any anonymous Internet troll) describing the plight of several Americans held as POWs by the Viet Cong:

    http://www.stripes.com/news/soldier-who-stood-firm-against-viet-cong-captors-inspired-fellow-pows-earned-medal-of-honor-1.249628

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  44. C. Clavin says:

    What we are seeing right now is a Republican party that endorses both torture and the abandonment of our POW’s. That’s the bottom line. And it’s despicable.
    I’m not clear on how any intelligent being could, in good conscience, vote Republican.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

  45. Rafer Janders says:

    @Mike:

    Watch don’t you try reading the Geneva Convention sometime.

    Um, why don’t you?

    Convention (III) relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949.

    Part I. General Provisions

    Art 4. A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:
    (1) Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict, as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.

    Or, in short, if you are a soldier in the US Army, and you have “fallen into the power of the enemy”, you are a POW.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  46. mantis says:

    Tell you what, let’s just take back the combat pay of all the servicemen and women who served in Afghanistan. They weren’t fighting a real war anyway.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  47. Rafer Janders says:

    @steve:

    The Taliban was one of the original mujahideen groups we supported to overthrow the Soviets. We funded and trained them, directly or through Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

    Actually, not quite true. The Taliban arose only AFTER the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, we had nothing to do with them during that war since they didn’t exist at the time (though some members of the Taliban had previously belonged to other groups that we had supported).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  48. Mike says:

    @Rafer Janders: Might have been true in Vietnam but the Bush admin specifically rejected the view that AQ, insurgents, and unlawful combatants were a lawful fighting force which was the justification which allowed for the use of torture, indefinite detention, charging for acts on the battlefield such as murder and the like. The admin was warned that if we took this view then our Soldiers would be subject to the same. Guess what?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  49. Mike says:

    @Rafer Janders: This was the long held belief until the Bush administration’s twisted view in 2001 when they turned this analysis on its head. Not every Soldier gets POW status.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  50. Rafer Janders says:

    @Mike:

    Talk to ur JAG at work today, I bet he says the same. That’s the consensus in my JAG office

    Man, you have some really bad lawyers in your JAG office. The position of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and of most legal scholars expert in the laws of war, is that the conflict that began with the US invasion of Aghanistan was an “international armed conflict” and that therefore the Geneva Conventions apply. Whether or not a guerrilla or resistance force is itself a signatory to the Geneva Conventions is entirely irrelevant, as all prisoners captured by an armed force during that conflict are held to be under the protections of Third Geneva. (If not, that would be a gaping and entirely foreseeable loophole).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  51. Rafer Janders says:

    @Mike:

    This was the long held belief until the Bush administration’s twisted view in 2001 when they turned this analysis on its head.

    Well, they were wrong, and that view has since been decisively rejected by legal and military authorities, including the Supreme Court in its Hamdan decision and every international non-partisan legal expert.

    Not every Soldier gets POW status.

    Again, false:

    Art 4. A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:
    (1) Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict, as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.

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  52. Rafer Janders says:

    @Mike:

    Might have been true in Vietnam but the Bush admin specifically rejected the view that AQ, insurgents, and unlawful combatants were a lawful fighting force

    First, the Bush regime and its rather, uh, creative legal reasoning is no longer in power. Second, they were wrong.

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  53. Rafer Janders says:

    @Mike:

    Might have been true in Vietnam but the Bush admin specifically rejected the view that AQ, insurgents, and unlawful combatants were a lawful fighting force

    The Viet Cong and the Pathet Lao were not considered “lawful fighting forces” either by the US military or by the ARVN. Nevertheless, both we and they considered that our servicemen captured by the VC/PL were POWs.

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  54. Mike says:

    @Rafer Janders: Two different issues. The US Gov’t’s position over the last 13 years and the Red Cross and International position. I have my personal views which is he deserves POW status and the Gitmo detainees should get the protections of the GC. The problem is that the US Gov’t position all along has not followed this and the international communities’ beliefs. Don’t confuse the two. THat’s the problem that the US is in right now. We can’t pick and choose. That is what the service JAG Corps have been warning the administrations about – once you choose to allow torture or not afford protections under the GC, the same goes for our folks.

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  55. rudderpedals says:

    @Mike: I’m not sure we have to stay married to the Bush administration’s legal malfeasance. His successors can, and should, revert to the Convention’s customary reading.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  56. Rafer Janders says:

    @Mike:

    Not every Soldier gets POW status.

    Mike, please read through Third Geneva and highlight the portions that prove your point that a uniformed soldier captured by the enemy is somehow NOT a POW, notwithstanding the plain meaning of Article 4(A)(1).

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  57. Mike says:

    @rudderpedals: I agree and hope we don’t stay married to it – it was a bad call and hasn’t gotten better with age.

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  58. Rafer Janders says:

    @Mike:

    The problem is that the US Gov’t position all along has not followed this and the international communities’ beliefs. Don’t confuse the two. THat’s the problem that the US is in right now. We can’t pick and choose. That is what the service JAG Corps have been warning the administrations about – once you choose to allow torture or not afford protections under the GC, the same goes for our folks.

    That’s true, and that’s a good point. But whatever we say, the plain meaning of Third Geneva is there in black and white, and as a signatory we are legally bound to it , whether we deny it or not (and even as a non-signatory, the Taliban are bound to Common Article 3). Under the plain meaning of Article 4, Bergdahl, and any other American serviceman or servicewoman captured in Afghanistan, is a POW.

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  59. steve says:

    You should read the commentaries that go along with the formation of the Conventions and its updates. They clearly understood the problems with having irregulars involved in wars, especially after the resistance fighters participation against the Axis. The intent was that those people be treated as POWs. Still, I am not sure why our refusal to treat some combatants as POWs should influence how we decide to treat our soldiers taken as prisoners. As a corpsman, I took care of POWs from Nam. We didnt distinguish between their being held by Cong or NVA.

    Steve

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  60. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Bergdahl was kept alive by his captors not because of any humane consideration or moral obligation, but because they decided that he had more value alive than dead. Possible explanations include he was collaborating and giving them useful information, he was good for propganda, he started out as a defector, and they recognized his value as a bargaining chip, among others. He appeared in several propaganda videos, and in the end was the reason five top leaders were freed.

    What does this have to do with the topic at hand? Additionally, one needs look no further than the story of one of the most celebrated *POWs* of recent years — John McCain — to see an example of an enemy government clearly “keeping him alive” for reasons other than humane considerations or moral obligations.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_McCain#Prisoner_of_war

    They *beat* McCain, *didn’t treat his injuries*, *attempted to repeatedly use him for propaganda purposes,* and *attempted to use him as a bargaining chip.*

    None of that changed the fact that McCain was *still* a POW.

    Seriously, Mike brings up some interesting arguments (at least to me as a lay person). This line of thought however makes no sense.

    Perhaps it would help if you could address how changing Bergdahl’s status from “POW” to “Hostage” would change any calculus.

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  61. Mu says:

    They might be able to prove is that he absented himself for a time, not sure how long, from his last duty until the Taliban or whoever captured him. This makes it AWOL or attempted desertion maybe, but since he was obviously prevented from returning by forces outside his control my guess is that you couldn’t charge him with a continuing case of desertion/AWOL, and statues of limitation apply.

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  62. C. Clavin says:

    @Mu:
    Hell, George Bush was AWOL and Republicans appointed him President.

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  63. Mike says:

    @steve: Steve – i agree with you. I think Bergdahl should be treated as a POW but this goes against the US’s position for the past 13 years. Yet another reason Bush’s positions concerning torture, Gitmo, insurgents, the Geneva Conv etc… were so problematic (at the least if not criminal). Obama continued some of these policies and viewpoints.

    Mu is correct – no way would a desertion charge stick under military case law. AWOL yes, desertion no – not with his being prevented from returning.

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  64. Todd says:

    This story is just another indictment of our current media environment. I have no idea what really happened when Private Bergdahl disappeared … and neither do 99.99% of the people who have offered their opinion about it recently (and that includes those who were in his unit … they can make a more educated guess than most, but none of them knows anything for sure). None of that matters though, I’ve seen friends who I would normally consider to be reasonable and fair minded take to their Facebook pages and call for this guy to be strung up … based solely on stories they’ve read in the “news”. And given our political landscape, nothing at all is going to change their minds. It will either be proven that he did exactly what they think he did, or it will be “proven” that the Obama administration “covered it up”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  65. Donald Sensing says:

    Why Bergdahl will not be tried for desertion

    That six soldiers died looking for Bergdahl and many others were wounded is bad, but it is irrelevant to the legal case. There may be some legal issue regarding use in a court martial of what Bergdahl says in his debriefings, since he will not have been advised of his rights under Article 31, UCMJ (basically, the Miranda warning). But my guess is that the intelligence people are far more interested in grilling Bergdahl about the Taliban than protecting statements for use in court.

    Besadies, the elements of proof for Article 86, desertion, almost certainly cannot be met here by an Army prosecutor. Explanation why at the link above.

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  66. Matt Bernius says:

    @Donald Sensing:

    That six soldiers died looking for Bergdahl and many others were wounded is bad, but it is irrelevant to the legal case.

    Beyond statements made in interviews by certain ground level people, has their been any actual proof to back up this particular claim?

    As James noted in the main body of the article, on closer inspection, the jury seems to be currently out on this particular claim (that many keep repeating as settled fact):

    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.
    [source]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  67. Mikey says:

    @Matt Bernius: It would probably be difficult to establish any kind of causal link, unless someone can show a team/platoon/whatever went out on missions specifically constituted to search for Bergdahl and soldiers who were part of those missions were killed.

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  68. Mike says:

    @Matt Bernius: I don’t think evidence of people being injured or killed looking for him would be admissible in an AWOL or desertion case even in sentencing

    While it may be fun for some to mention in order to inflame the public, not sure it makes a difference in a criminal case.

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  69. mantis says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    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.

    I’m pretty sure he was responsible for the 1000+ deaths in Sumatra that September too. Some may say it was the earthquake, but that’s just a coverup.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  70. dennis says:

    @Mike:

    Okay, Mike.

    The Taliban, for all intent and purpose, was running Afghanistan when we invaded in 2001. Just because WE (and that is the collective) didn’t recognize the Taliban as the governing body doesn’t make it so. From http://www.cfr.org:

    The Taliban is a Sunni Islamic fundamentalist group that ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001, when a U.S.-led invasion toppled the regime for providing refuge to al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

    Saddam Hussein and the Iraq military forces were also scattered to the winds by U.S. forces. Not even touching the fact that it was an outlandishly STOOPID move to not include the Iraqi generals in the rebuilding of the country, getting what we got, U.S. service members, for the most part, were treated as POWs. From http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Freedom-for-7-American-POWs-2655443.php: (Excuse the run-on sentence!)

    The battle lasted about 15 minutes. Nine U.S. soldiers were dead. Those captured by the Iraqis would become the war’s best-known soldiers. One, Pfc. Jessica Lynch, would be rescued from a local hospital April 2.

    Five others — Johnson, Hernandez, Hudson, Riley and Miller — became prisoners of war until Sunday morning, when they were found, along with Chief Warrant Officers David Williams and Ronald Young — two captured crew members of an Apache attack helicopter — by U.S. Marines in a house north of Baghdad.

    In their first interviews after being freed, the former prisoners described a harrowing journey through the Iraq war — from their ill-fated missions and capture through an arduous imprisonment where death often seemed around the corner. Speaking aboard a C-130 transport plane evacuating them from Iraq, they alternated between tears and smiles and hollow gazes as they told their stories.

    So, Bowe Bergdahl was captured by a government enemy force with whom the U.S. was engaged in combat, which made him a prisoner of war. Imagine the Taliban not releasing him, using as a reason that he might “return to the theatre of battle.” OF F*****G COURSE HE WOULD RETURN TO THE FIELD OF BATTLE! That’s the Creed of the American Fighting Man. Oh, but it’s okay only if you’re an American, right?

    We illegitimately Americanize everything as though American “democracy” (used ever so lightly, with a taste of salt) were applicable to every corner of the globe, delegitimizing other people’s cultures and norms. Okay, I’m stopping, ‘cuz I’m about off on a tangent …

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  71. dennis says:

    Apologies for jumping on top of the pile after everyone else pretty much buried Mike for his comment.

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  72. Mike says:

    @dennis: We recognized Iraq’s soldiers as POWs for a while – then at a certain point after the fall of the gov’t and the disbanding of the Army, armed insurgents were not POWs and were unlawful combatants and not afforded POW status which is why they were prosecuted for shooting at US and Iraqi forces. POWs can’t be prosecuted for shooting on the field of battle; unlawful combatants can. This is the issue at Gitmo for many of the detainees – if they were POWs then they could not be prosecuted for many of their acts (the Cole and UN bombing excluded of course)

    Bergdahl was not captured by a force that the US, at the time or since, recognized as an enemy force – we considered them criminals/unlawful combatants who were unworthy of the protections of the Geneva Convention and did not get POW status upon capture – we did give them many of the protections of the GC based on customary international law and norms but we never gave them POW status or combatant immunity.

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  73. dennis says:

    Is anyone else banging his/her head through the wall every time you read Mike’s posts referencing Al Queda? Cuz it’s driving me fukn nuts …

    Dude!!! Everybody just finished explaining to you, AD-FUKN-INFINITUM, that the Taliban is NOT Al Queda!

    /rant off

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  74. dennis says:

    @Mike:

    We recognized Iraq’s soldiers as POWs for a while – then at a certain point after the fall of the gov’t and the disbanding of the Army, armed insurgents were not POWs and were unlawful combatants and not afforded POW status which is why they were prosecuted for shooting at US and Iraqi forces.

    That’s because Abu Musab al-Zarquawi gathered up a bunch of mostly-Syrian (IIRC) fighters, titled themselves “Al Queda in Iraq” (AQI) and began terrorist operations. If YOU”D recall, the U.S. made a general distinction between AQI, the Saddam Fedayeen (paramilitary force under Uday Hussein), and the scattered organized military, all fighting against the U.S. invasion.

    Bergdahl was not captured by a force that the US, at the time or since, recognized as an enemy force – we considered them criminals/unlawful combatants who were unworthy of the protections of the Geneva Convention and did not get POW status upon capture – we did give them many of the protections of the GC based on customary international law and norms but we never gave them POW status or combatant immunity.

    Okay. The first part of your sentence is irrational. Anyone shooting at you is an enemy force. As for who comprised that enemy force, see my first response to your post. As far as I remember, the overarching debate over who deserved GC protections was largely about AQI. But feel free to correct me if I’m mistaken.

    As an exercise in thoughtful back-and-forth, let’s consider the situation if it was reversed – a foreign power invading the U.S. Do you think it would be proper for that foreign invader to label Billy Bob and Rakeem and ‘nem “criminals” who didn’t deserve Geneva Convention protections? If you are honest, you’ll say no. Because Billy Bob from Alabama, and Rakeem from Compton, would automatically become Our Tribe against foreign invaders, and we would accept any combat action they committed against the barbarian hordes.

    So, we have to ask ourselves myriad philosophical questions BEFORE we cross the Rubicon and invade someone else’s country. And I don’t see this sober introspection coming from the Right side of the aisle a la McCain, Graham et al.

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  75. Matt Bernius says:

    @Mikey:

    It would probably be difficult to establish any kind of causal link, unless someone can show a team/platoon/whatever went out on missions specifically constituted to search for Bergdahl and soldiers who were part of those missions were killed.

    I agree.

    What I’m specifically looking for is whether or not anyone has attempted to produce/analyze Bergdahl search missions and their casualty reports. So far all I’ve seen is speculation and recollection of what happened at the time.

    To be clear: I have no problems associating injuries and casualties from those missions with Bergdahl. It’s just you first have to do the due diligence to verify that association. Simply saying X men died in the search for Bergdahl without actual evidence is to repeat speculation.

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  76. Mikey says:

    @dennis:

    As far as I remember, the overarching debate over who deserved GC protections was largely about AQI. But feel free to correct me if I’m mistaken.

    The determination to apply GC protections to Taliban fighters, but not al Qaeda, occurred in February 2002, 13 months before the invasion of Iraq and nearly three years before the emergence of AQI.

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  77. dennis says:

    @Mikey:

    Thanks, Mikey; I stand corrected. My memory on all that is kinda murky, seeing as I was GW Bush cheer-leading the damned thing.

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  78. Mike says:

    @dennis: You are asking me what I want vs. what the reality is. I didn’t make the distinction – the Bush admin did – i didn’t say it is correct – it is what it is – the problem with splitting hairs like this is when it happens to our folks. It isn’t my policy – it is the US Gov’t’s. The fact is that the US gov’t has never acknowledged the Taliban, AQ, the Haqqani network, and the multiple other groups as lawful fighting forces worthy of POW status. Again, don’t argue with me whether it was the right call or not – it was/is the US position and now makes it problematic for Berghdahl.

    Does it really matter for Berghdahl – no b/c those holding him wouldn’t abide by the GC anyway. I am just glad we got the guy back.

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  79. Rafer Janders says:

    @Mike:

    Bergdahl was not captured by a force that the US, at the time or since, recognized as an enemy force –

    False, false, false. This has now been explained to you many many times above, but let me try and slow it down for you:

    If. They. Are. Shooting. At. Our. Military. In. A. War. Then. They. Are. An. Enemy. Force.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  80. Rafer Janders says:

    @Mike:

    It isn’t my policy – it is the US Gov’t’s. The fact is that the US gov’t has never acknowledged the Taliban, AQ, the Haqqani network, and the multiple other groups as lawful fighting forces worthy of POW status.

    Jesus Christ, you idiot, stop conflating these very different groups. The US does, indeed, recognize the Taliban as an armed enemy force and states that the Third Geneva Convention is applicable to the treatment of American and Taliban prisoners in Afghanistan. Period, case closed.

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  81. Rafer Janders says:

    @Mike:

    it was/is the US position and now makes it problematic for Berghdahl.

    No. There’s nothing “problematic” for Berghdahl regarding his POW status. Are you being deliberately obtuse?

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  82. Rafer Janders says:

    @Mike:

    The fact is that the US gov’t has never acknowledged the Taliban, AQ, the Haqqani network, and the multiple other groups as lawful fighting forces worthy of POW status.

    Not a fact. You’re very confused. Straight from the Defense Department:

    Geneva Convention Applies to Taliban, not Al Qaeda

    By Jim Garamone
    American Forces Press Service

    WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2002 – President Bush said the United States would regard the Geneva Conventions as applying to Taliban detainees under U.S. control — but not Al Qaeda detainees.

    Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said today the United States would continue to treat all detainees humanely and in accordance with standards set by the Geneva Conventions.

    Bush’s decision does not materially change the way all detainees will be treated by the United States nor does it confer prisoner of war status on Taliban members. U.S. officials will continue to call both Taliban and Al Qaeda members “detainees.”

    Afghanistan signed the Geneva Convention of 1949. U.S. government lawyers determined the convention applies to Taliban captured since the war on terrorism began.

    http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=43960

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  83. Mikey says:

    @dennis: No worries. I had to look it up to get the dates right myself.

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  84. Mikey says:

    Perhaps apropos to the current discussion:

    White House Changes Tune on Bergdahl, Says He Was a ‘Prisoner of War’

    During the five years of Bergdahl’s imprisonment, despite discussing his case in several public briefings, State Department and Defense Department officials made sure not to refer to Bergdahl as a “prisoner of war.” The reason, according to a senior administration official at the time, was that U.S. policy dictated that the rules of treatment for “prisoners of war” under the Geneva Convention did not apply to the conflict with al Qaeda and the Taliban. There was concern that if the U.S. called Bergdahl a “prisoner of war,” the Taliban would say its soldiers in U.S. custody were “prisoners of war,” as well, and would demand Geneva protections.

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  85. Rafer Janders says:

    @Mikey:

    There was concern that if the U.S. called Bergdahl a “prisoner of war,” the Taliban would say its soldiers in U.S. custody were “prisoners of war,” as well, and would demand Geneva protections.

    The author of that article betrays a fundamental understanding of the laws of war and of the Third Geneva Convention specifically. Taliban prisoners are already afforded Geneva protections and always have been.

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  86. Ken says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Bergdahl was kept alive by his captors not because of any humane consideration or moral obligation, but because they decided that he had more value alive than dead. Possible explanations include he was collaborating and giving them useful information, he was good for propganda, he started out as a defector, and they recognized his value as a bargaining chip, among others. He appeared in several propaganda videos, and in the end was the reason five top leaders were freed.

    I know what you mean – this is *exactly* what the phrase “tragedy of the commons” was invented to describe. Sadly, all the leftists here will probably downvote this just because they don’t know what the phrase means

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  87. Mike says:

    @Mikey: where did I hear that before. Oh yes, my postings.

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  88. Mike says:

    @Rafer Janders: I guess i will just keep obtusing it up – feel free to apologize anytime:

    Some experts said the Obama administration’s sudden use of the term “prisoner of war” for Bergdahl has greater implications for U.S. policy on the treatment of detainees, especially the Taliban.

    “It rips open an issue that we’ve put aside for 10 years, which is that some of the people we have imprisoned could be entitled to some Geneva protections,” said Eugene Fidell, a professor of military law at Yale University. “The Obama campaign was critical of the Bush administration going in, but the actual changes in how the Obama treated these guys as opposed to the Bush administration are few.”

    The Bush administration decided in 2001 to classify militants captured on the battlefield as “enemy combatants” who were not entitled to protections and privileges afforded to “prisoners of war” under the Geneva Conventions, which the U.S. has signed but the Taliban has not. That allowed the Bush administration to create the prison at Guantanamo Bay and various other prisons around the world, and keep the prisoners out of the eye of international observers.

    “It rips open an issue that we’ve put aside for 10 years, which is that some of the people we have imprisoned could be entitled to some Geneva protections.”

    “One of the interesting issues of Article 4 of the Geneva Convention deals with if you were to deem somebody as a prisoner of war, the United States government would be obligated to pay them a monthly stipend,” said White House press secretary Ari Fleischer in February 2002. “The United States government would be obligated to give the al Qaeda or the Taliban detainees, the al Qaeda terrorists in Guantanamo musical instruments. Those would be obligations imposed upon a government under the prisoner of war aspect of Article 4 of the Geneva Convention.”

    The Obama administration continued the policy of not giving the Taliban or al Qaeda detainees Geneva Convention “prisoner of war” protections, and when Bergdahl was captured in 2009, it was careful not to use the term “prisoner of war” to refer to Bergdahl.

    In 2013, when asked if the Taliban at Guantanamo Bay were “prisoners of war,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki refused to answer. “I think that’s a pretty broad question, so…I just don’t have anything for you on that,” she said.

    At Monday’s press briefing, Psaki called Bergdahl a “prisoner of war” for the first time but said the captured Taliban were not.

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  89. James Pearce says:

    @Ken:

    Sadly, all the leftists here will probably downvote this just because they don’t know what the phrase means

    Nah, we’ll just downvote it because it’s Jenos and, well, he’s mostly hackish.

    Never thought I’d see the day when hippies were defending the honor of POWs and right-wingers were accusing “the troops” of grave misconduct. That’s Obama’s America for you, I guess.

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  90. Mike says:

    Janders and Dennis – care to comment on the story Mikey cites to? Thought so.

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  91. David M says:

    @Mike:

    The article saying that yes, he was a POW?

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  92. dennis says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Jesus Christ, you idiot, stop conflating these very different groups

    Ah. I see I’m not the only one frustrated …

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  93. Mike says:

    @dennis: The groups are the same with respect to the GC classifications as the article Mikey cites to summarizes. We don’t know exactly who held Bergdahl the entire time – doesn’t matter b/c none of the folks who held them were considered a high contracting party recognized by the US (unless the Gov’t of Pakistan held him at some point which would be its own issue). But keep beating that drum – and buy a shirt with sleeves.

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  94. dennis says:

    Sadly, all the leftists here will probably downvote this just because they don’t know what the phrase means

    Doug, JJ, Steven, et al. The gloves are off, so you may want to not monitor for a little while. Because I’m going to be putting a couple people on blast in just a li’l bit …

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  95. Rafer Janders says:

    @Mike:

    Janders and Dennis – care to comment on the story Mikey cites to?

    The article that concludes thusly?:

    Ken Gude, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, said there’s no conflict between calling Bergdahl a “prisoner of war” and maintaining that prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are not. U.S. soldiers qualify for Geneva protections, he said, because they meet the criteria of a “prisoner of war”: They wear uniforms, are clearly marked as combatants, and are part of an army that follows the laws of war. Members of the Taliban meet more of those criteria than others imprisoned at Guantanamo but not all, he said.

    Ken Gude is correct. Bergdahl was a POW, irrespective of the status of the Taliban or of Guantanamo prisoners, exactly as I laid out above when I quoted from the relevant Third Geneva definition of what constitutes a “POW.”

    Thought so.

    Once again, you thought wrong.

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  96. Rafer Janders says:

    @Mike:

    doesn’t matter b/c none of the folks who held them were considered a high contracting party recognized by the US

    Once again, THAT. DOES. NOT. MATTER.

    And once again, here’s the definition of what constitutes a POW re a captured US soldier:

    Art 4. A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:
    (1) Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict, as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.

    Bergdahl was (a) a member of the armed forces of (b) a Party to the conflict who (c ) fell into the power of the enemy. He is therefore ipso facto a POW.

    That’s it. That’s all. Whether the Taliban itself is a signatory to the Convention is irrelevant, as the only criteria necessary and specified is that the service member is captured by “the enemy”, which the Taliban is.

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  97. Rafer Janders says:

    If you disagree, stop just stupidly asserting things and direct us to the chapter and verse cites in the actual text of the Convention laying out how a uniformed soldier captured by the enemy is not in fact a POW. Be specific. Show your work.

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  98. Mike says:

    Its not my work. its the US Gov’t’s position for the past 13 years until, apparently, today.

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  99. David M says:

    @Mike:

    I’m not sure an administration’s legalistic definition of who is or is not a POW matters outside a courtroom. In the real world, he was a POW.

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  100. mantis says:

    @Mike:

    Its not my work. its the US Gov’t’s position for the past 13 years until, apparently, today.

    It has not been the US Govt position that US soldiers captured in Afghanistan are not POWs. You will not find anyone at the Pentagon claiming that, but feel free to try.

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  101. Mike says:

    @mantis: pentagon doesn’t make that call. The civilian govt does

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  102. mantis says:

    @Mike:

    OK, who in the civilian government announced that position?

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  103. dennis says:

    @Ken:

    First, I’m no leftist. You — no — WE all should stop lumping each other into neat little labels that really don’t apply since I’m sure, all of us are more complex than that. Well, with the exception of Jenos and Florak. Even SD shows a rare complexity of thought every now and then.

    Second, I understand the Tragedy of the Commons very well. From an essay I wrote April 2013:

    Abstract

    Garrett Hardin’s The Tragedy of the Commons is an essay that explains how the exercise of individual rights and the pursuit of self-interest in a society lead to the diminution of that society as a whole. Hardin describes society as the “commons;” that temporal/spatial area in which we share a common existence. Hardin explains that our shared existence and shared commons contract with an increasing population. As the population increases, the common becomes more complex with increasing competition for resources and space. Hardin’s The Tragedy of the Commons addresses the population dilemma, correlates it to environmental concerns and proffers non-traditional remedies for sustaining environmental resources and space.

    Garrett Hardin’s “The Tragedy of the Commons:” Is It Still Valid Today?

    Hardin draws our attention to the problem of an ever-increasing human population and its infringement upon the environment. He recalls J. Wiesner’s and H. York’s conclusion regarding the nuclear arms race: “. . . this dilemma has no technical solution.” (Wiesner & York, 1964) Hardin defines “technical solution” as “. . . one that requires a change only in the techniques of the natural sciences, demanding little or nothing in the way of change in human values or ideas of morality.” (Hardin, 1968) In that definition, Hardin gives way to the idea that addressing the problem of population expansion and its subsequent environmental impacts requires hard moral decisions and a change in contemporary thought on how moral issues are confronted.

    How does Hardin’s conclusion remain relevant and valid today? Hardin describes our society as a “complex, crowded, changeable world.” (Hardin, 1968) In The Collapse of Complex Societies, Joseph Tainter raises two components in understanding the nature of complex societies: inequality and heterogeneity. Tainter explains that over time, inequality decreases as heterogeneity increases. (Tainter, 1988) Inequality and homogeneity, as functions of time and space, have direct input and impact on the use of the commons: the more diverse populations partake in the commons, the less inequality thrives.

    The conflation of population growth and environmental resource consumption speaks to societal complexity, particularly to Hardin’s premise: “. . . in a finite world . . . the per capita share of the world’s goods must steadily decrease.” (Hardin, 1968) This raises questions that are relevant for today. Who partakes in the commons and by what means? Who doesn’t partake in the commons, and by what means are they excluded? As populations increase and societies become more complex, who shares in the commons’ resources and to what extent? How do rational, self-interested parties make society more complex, as their self-interested actions contract the temporal-spatial nature of the commons? Hardin decries individual self-interest as it negatively impacts the commons and suggests we must choose to reasonably limit our freedoms or face destruction of the commons. (Hardin, 1968)

    For a less-technical description of the relevance of Hardin’s essay, we need look only at the current discussion on gun control erupting in the U.S. Opponents of gun control raise the question of individual rights to gun ownership afforded under the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Gun control advocates raise the issue of societal safety, and in particular, the safety of our children. The issues directly translate to 1) freedom in the commons to gun ownership and 2) freedom in the commons to live secure from the fear of random gun violence. Both sides of the issue cause the commons to contract in ways that, probably, neither side has considered.

    Is Hardin’s The Tragedy of the Commons valid today? Yes, it is. Apart from local cultural impacts on the nation’s commons, the impacts of international rational, self-interested actors on the global commons hold the same relevance and concern that Wiesner and York expressed nearly a half-century ago. The manner in which we address climate change, famine, water shortages, energy production, and many other global issues will have tremendous impact on the contraction or expansion of the commons, who partakes in it, and under what conditions.

    I’m always open to criticism of my ideas and opinions, so have at it.

    If the belief that the richest country in the world has a moral obligation to ensure basic health care to its citizens; ensure equal protections of civil rights under the law; guarantee a temporary assistance for struggling families; or to enact environmental protections that safeguard the ecosystems that support our environments; if these things make me a leftist, than I guess I’ll wear it as a badge of honor.

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  104. dennis says:

    @Mike:

    Janders and Dennis – care to comment on the story Mikey cites to? Thought so.

    Alright, Mike.

    First, just because the administration had a “policy” of not referring to Bergdahl as a POW (a dubious claim, of which I’d like more proof) does not mean you and the other biters can extrapolate that to mean he’s a deserter or a hostage.

    Second, by GC definitions, Bergdahl was classified a POW, something which others have pointed out to you with documented proof, which you daftly ignored, several times.

    Third, from http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=43960

    Geneva Convention Applies to Taliban, not Al Qaeda

    By Jim Garamone
    American Forces Press Service

    WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2002 – President Bush said the United States would regard the Geneva Conventions as applying to Taliban detainees under U.S. control — but not Al Qaeda detainees.

    Fourth, from Yahoo! News:

    Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal on Wednesday urged Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s critics not to “judge” him until all the facts are in and sharply defended the extensive and risky search efforts that claimed the lives of some of his fellow soldiers.

    “We did a huge number of operations to try to stop the Taliban from being able to move him across the border into Pakistan,” McChrystal told Yahoo News in an exclusive interview. “And we made a great effort and put a lot of people at risk in doing that, but that’s what you should do. That’s what soldiers do for each other.”

    “We’re going to have to wait and talk to Sgt. Bergdahl now and get his side of the story,” he said. “One of the great things about America is we should not judge until we know the facts. And after we know the facts, then we should make a mature judgment on how we should handle it.”

    Asked whether he would have made the same prisoner swap, McChrystal replied: “We don’t leave Americans behind. That’s unequivocal.”

    Now, please, be so kind as to stop spewing your inanity all over the place. It’s getting to be kind of head splitting.

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  105. CarriesGunz says:

    I want to thank Jenos for explaining the tragedy of the commons. I never was able to figure that one out by myself and you ivory tower elites should listen to hims and maybe learn something.

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  106. Matt Bernius says:

    Umm, guys, pretty sure that @Ken was one of a couple parody/ironic postings in this thread.

    I suggest dialing the outrage meter down a bit.

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  107. dennis says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    Oh, okay. Sorry. By the time I hit Ken’s post, Mike had already had me bouncing off the ceiling, so … yeah.

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  108. Old Joe says:

    @Eric Florack:

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