Report: Bowe Bergdahl To Be Charged With Desertion, Unlikely To Serve Time In Prison

Reports indicate that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is likely to be charged with desertion for leaving his post in 2009, but he's unlikely to serve time in prison.

Bowe Bergdahl

NBC News and Fox News are both reporting that Army Sgt Bowe Bergdahl, whose release last may was initially hailed only to devolve into controversy over the terms of the deal and the circumstances of Bergdahl’s initial disappearance, will be charged with desertion, but it’s unlikely he will spend any time in prison:

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held captive by enemy forces in Afghanistan for five years, will be charged with desertion, a senior defense officials tell NBC News. The officials say the charges could be referred within a week.

According to the officials, the desertion charges would be based on allegations that Bergdahl abandoned his remote outpost in June 2009 to avoid hazardous duty or important service, which are grounds for charges of desertion under the Uniform Military Code of Justice, or UCMJ. According to one senior official, Bergdahl’s actions in Afghanistan go well beyond the lesser offense of AWOL, absent without leave, because he allegedly abandoned his post “in the middle of a combat zone, potentially putting the lives of his fellows soldiers at risk.”

The charges will apparently not allege that Bergdahl left with the intent never to return. Bergdahl was reportedly captured by the Haqqani terrorist network in Pakistan. He was released in a prisoner swap for five Taliban commanders held at Guantanamo Bay in May.

While a court martial could lead to imprisonment, defense and military officials tell NBC News it is likely Bergdahl would be given consideration for the 5 years he spent in captivity and be permitted to leave the Army with a “less than honorable discharge.” If accepted, Bergdahl would be denied as much as $300 thousand in back pay and bonuses, and reduced in rank to at least Private First Class, the rank he held when he disappeared from his outpost in Afghanistan.

The Army is denying that a final determination has been made in Bergdahl’s case, but NBC is sticking with their story notwithstanding the denial so it’s safe to assume that there’s a good basis for believing it to be true. Assuming that’s the case, it’s likely to be the latest controversy in the Bowe Bergdahl saga. When Bergdahl was first released, it was treated with some degree of fanfare as the President addressed the nation from the White House Rose Garden while flanked by Bergdahl’s parents. Very quickly, though the deal came under criticism from Republicans due both to the terms of the deal that led to his release, which included the release of five men held at the Guantanamo Bay prison under the auspices of the Qatari government, and the fact that the Administration had failed to comply with a statute requiring advance notice to Congress for releasing prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. There were also lingering questions over the circumstances that led to Bergdahl becoming a Taliban prisoner, including the long-standing accusation that Bergdahl had deserted his post and even claims that he may have provided aid or intelligence to his captors. While the Army eventually cleared Bergdahl of any charges that he aided the enemy, the investigation of his possible desertion continued and, most recently, was sent to his Commanding Officer for a final determination on how to proceed. If today’s reports are to be believed, it would appear that such a determination has been made.

The penalty for desertion could be quite severe, but as noted above it’s likely that Bergdahl’s case will be resolved with a “less than honorable” discharge, loss of rank, and loss of the back pay he otherwise would have accrued during the period that he was held in captivity. All things considered, this seems like a fair outcome to me. After five years in Taliban captivity there seems to be little reason to punish Bergdahl more severely, although I’m sure many on the right will demand Bergdahl’s head for this, if only because it would serve as further ammunition against the President. That desire for revenge would seem to me to be misplaced, though. For one thing, even if it’s true that Bergdahl is guilty of desertion, that does not mean that the Administration should not have done everything possible to bring him home. Indeed, many of the same Republicans who were criticizing the President for making the deal that led to Bergdahl’s release were criticizing him months earlier for not doing more to reach a deal to get Bergdahl released, and even then the deal being discussed was basically the same on that was ultimately agreed to. Second, punishing Bergdahl further doesn’t really seem to have any purpose to it. Bergdahl seems to have suffered enough during his captivity, and indeed may not have been psychologically suited for combat to begin with. Resolving these potential charges with a plea seems like the best way to deal with this.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Military Affairs, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
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. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Steve Hynd says:

    The Army is making a strong denial, saying the reports are “patently false

    Gawker is reporting that the source for the NBC and Fox reports is “retired lieutenant colonel Tony Shaffer” who is an avowed 9/11 and Benghazi ‘truther’ who has appeared on the Alex Jones Show.

  2. James Pearce says:

    @Steve Hynd:

    The Army is making a strong denial, saying the reports are “patently false”

    Fits the pattern. The rumors get picked up, and what the army says is ignored.

  3. NBC is sticking with their story notwithstanding the denial so it’s safe to assume that there’s a good basis for believing it to be true.

    It is?

  4. Slugger says:

    If the Bergdahl matter is settled, who can we get for tomorrow’s two minute hate? I am tired of Goldstein all the time. I mean that if this is just a low ranking enlisted guy who screwed up and gets processed by the system in some routine manner, then all the fun and excitement goes out of the case. It is even hard, not impossible, to view this as a Muslim/Kenyan plot to destroy the constitution.

  5. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Slugger: 1) It’s not settled; there are conflicting reports. Personally, I’m going to continue to hold off on opining until there’s a final answer from the Army.

    2) What’s the concern about a new Goldstein? We still have the Koch brothers to hate on. That never grows old, it seems.

  6. Jack says:

    The penalty for desertion could be quite severe, but as noted above it’s likely that Bergdahl’s case will be resolved with a “less than honorable” discharge, loss of rank, and loss of the back pay he otherwise would have accrued during the period that he was held in captivity.

    You don’t get to complain about the accommodations in the hotel you chose.

  7. Moderate Mom says:

    Is there a difference between a “less than honorable” discharge and a dishonorable discharge? If so, what’s the difference between the two? Asking, because I have no idea.

  8. Mikey says:

    @Moderate Mom: An “other than honorable” or “general” discharge (these are two different types of discharge) can be ordered administratively, while a dishonorable discharge can only occur as the result of a court martial and is considered a punitive discharge.

  9. @Moderate Mom:

    A dishonorable discharge is the equivalent of a criminal conviction, other than honorable is the equivalent of being fired.

  10. David in KC says:

    I read the NBC story and it reads very odd. The convening authority doesn’t have findings, the article 32 investigating officer does and makes a recommendation to the convening authority on whether to refer the case to a court martial (amongst other options). There may be talk of a plea bargain floating around, which is something I would expect in this type of case. But until such time as the convening authority refers it to a court martial, no decision has been made and anything that resembles the pentagon calling the shots is grounds to have the charges dismissed as undue command influence. The decision is the convening authority’s to make and his alone.

    The story from NBC and Fox is premature. If I was the trial counsel (military prosecutor) on this, I would be pissed as hell. Either someone is leaking plea negotiations or someone is talking out of turn and providing a basis for an undue command influence claim later on.

  11. Stonetools says:

    The Republican hypocrisy on this issue is breathtaking, even for Republicans. Gotta agree with Army veteran Soonergrunt over at Balloon Juice:

    Basically it comes to this: whatever Bergdahl might have been thought to have done, he’s one of ours, and we don’t leave our people behind. I’ll note that nobody on the right was saying sh1t about leaving him there while he was in Taliban captivity. They used his plight to beat the President over the head about him not caring about the military, and when Bergdahl was recovered, they immediately pivoted and attacked the President for giving up five “high value” detainees for a traitor. Well, fvck ‘em. Fvck every single G0dd@mned one of them with chainsaw on fire.

  12. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Stonetools: Basically it comes to this: whatever Bergdahl might have been thought to have done, he’s one of ours, and we don’t leave our people behind.

    Does that still apply IF Bergdahl deserted? IF Bergdahl did desert, if he chose to abandon his buddies (and, according to some reports, was responsible for the deaths of several of them killed while searching for him), doesn’t that break the bonds of loyalty and fidelity that make Bergdahl “our people?”

    IF that was the case, then the only reason I can see for us to want him back is to punish him for that betrayal.

  13. Mikey says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    IF Bergdahl did desert, if he chose to abandon his buddies (and, according to some reports, was responsible for the deaths of several of them killed while searching for him), doesn’t that break the bonds of loyalty and fidelity that make Bergdahl “our people?”

    No. Even deserters are still American soldiers. They must be brought home, even if only (as you also acknowledge) to face justice.

    As I said back in June, there can still be mitigation. By public accounts, Bergdahl’s unit was a toxic place with morale problems and a shitty chain of command. That does not excuse desertion, but it can be brought in as a contributing factor to the kind of depression from which Bergdahl apparently suffered.

    And to repeat myself again: the key is to identify the guys who are most at risk and get them treated BEFORE they do something like walking off the OP.

  14. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Mikey: By public accounts, Bergdahl’s unit was a toxic place with morale problems and a shitty chain of command. That does not excuse desertion, but it can be brought in as a contributing factor to the kind of depression from which Bergdahl apparently suffered.

    For the record, let’s agree that all this is conditional. I can name a couple of commenters here who are just waiting for me to slip and miss to include that conditional and jump all over me, and I think you can name them, too.

    So yes, we have an interest in recovering a deserter. But that interest is in punishing the deserter. If the deserter is not punished in some way, then it’s worse than pointless.

    Second, if Bergdahl’s base was so bad, why was he the only one so affected? Why weren’t there other deserters? Why didn’t Bergdahl find at least one other disaffected person to sympathize with and join him?

    Third, if the point was to recover a deserter for punishment, was that worth the price paid? Five generals (or, at least colonels or other high-ranking officers) for a sergeant (who was a PFC when he went missing)? I know that our people are more valuable than theirs to us, but does that extend to a deserter? Those five leaders are now back in the field, free to cause even more problems for us.

    Fourth, the deal was a violation of existing laws regarding the release of prisoners. And the excuses offered simply doesn’t wash. There are provisions and workarounds to cover the cited circumstances; to just ignore the law should never have been an option.

  15. Mikey says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    So yes, we have an interest in recovering a deserter. But that interest is in punishing the deserter. If the deserter is not punished in some way, then it’s worse than pointless.

    As a military veteran, I can tell you an “other than honorable” discharge is a level of punishment. It’s not a BCD or DD, but OTH bars the veteran from pretty much any kind of benefit, and it will follow him around the rest of his life with negative impact. In Bergdahl’s case it would also cost him around $300,000 in back pay and benefits.

    Second, if Bergdahl’s base was so bad, why was he the only one so affected? Why weren’t there other deserters? Why didn’t Bergdahl find at least one other disaffected person to sympathize with and join him?

    The combination of factors in Bergdahl’s case is pretty rare, which I’m sure you can understand is why desertion in general is rare. Most of the time even in a crappy environment and a bad unit, at least the guys will lean on each other. By public accounts, Bergdahl was a loner type who did not seek out buddies to vent his frustrations. He may have felt his opinions would have been ill-received. But even so, good NCOs and officers will pick up on that kind of dynamic and talk to the soldier, get him counseling, something. Whether this happened, I don’t know, but public accounts I’ve seen do not indicate it was done.

    Third, if the point was to recover a deserter for punishment, was that worth the price paid? Five generals (or, at least colonels or other high-ranking officers) for a sergeant (who was a PFC when he went missing)? I know that our people are more valuable than theirs to us, but does that extend to a deserter? Those five leaders are now back in the field, free to cause even more problems for us.

    Fourth, the deal was a violation of existing laws regarding the release of prisoners. And the excuses offered simply doesn’t wash. There are provisions and workarounds to cover the cited circumstances; to just ignore the law should never have been an option.

    If our principle is “no one gets left behind,” that must extend to deserters as well. Obviously there are plenty of people who don’t consider the exchange of five prominent Taliban for Bergdahl “worth it,” but that’s pretty much irrelevant now because it’s done and we have to deal with whatever the consequences are.

    The law in question, IMHO, isn’t Constitutional, it is an improper infringement by Congress on the executive branch. It’s also unenforceable, and even if it were enforceable, Congress wouldn’t do anything besides make the appropriate noises and then let the President do what he wants anyway, as they always do.

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Second,

    To elaborate on this point and this point only, it has been my impression that Bergdahl had some mental health issues. My knowledge of this case is limited in the extreme by what we hear from the press and I refuse to speculate on it further in any way shape or form. I’ll leave that to the blowhards on TV and radio.

  17. Mikey says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I recall that also–in fact I remember wondering why he’d been allowed to enlist in the first place, given his previous difficulties:

    Before he became a Taliban prisoner, before he wrote in his journal “I am the lone wolf of deadly nothingness,” before he joined the Army, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was discharged from the Coast Guard for psychological reasons, said close friends who were worried about his emotional health at the time.

    The Coast Guard could only confirm Bergdahl had been discharged 26 days into basic training, but generally such entry-level separations are administrative and given to trainees who exhibit severe problems adjusting to the military.

  18. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Mikey: OK, I see the OTH discharge as a form of punishment. A very valid point.

    The particulars of Bergdahl’s case are, of course, still not fully known. But the possibility of mental health issues I don’t see as an exonerating factor, but a mitigating factor. If he was so messed up as some allege, then yeah, he should never have been allowed into the Army, let alone assigned where he was — and there should be some serious scrutiny on how he ended up there.

    But, it’s still alleged — fairly credibly, to the point where it can’t be casually dismissed at this point — that other troops died as a direct consequence of his actions. That is something that can not be swept under the carpet.

    I still tend to think that “desertion” is an action where the deserter deliberately chooses to sever the bonds of loyalty between him and the Army, and forfeits the obligation to “leave no man behind.” The man in question chose to be left behind; as I said, the only reason I can see to enforce that bond on an unwilling man is to hold him accountable for his breach of that obligation. And later regrets aren’t, to me, sufficient to restore that bond.

    Finally, if the law in unconstitutional (and I agree it’s debatable, but hardly clear), I really don’t like the idea that the way to address that is to simply ignore it when it becomes relevant. I’d rather it be challenged, openly, ahead of time.

  19. Mikey says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    But the possibility of mental health issues I don’t see as an exonerating factor, but a mitigating factor.

    Same here.

    But, it’s still alleged — fairly credibly, to the point where it can’t be casually dismissed at this point — that other troops died as a direct consequence of his actions. That is something that can not be swept under the carpet.

    That’s something the Army will have to determine. Public reports to this point don’t really clarify, although they don’t include anything that would lead me to think the Army is connecting A to B that way. We may yet see something different, though–even this long after Bergdahl’s return, there’s a great deal we don’t know.

    I still tend to think that “desertion” is an action where the deserter deliberately chooses to sever the bonds of loyalty between him and the Army, and forfeits the obligation to “leave no man behind.”

    Simply put: the military doesn’t see it that way. There isn’t really much to say beyond that.

    Finally, if the law in unconstitutional (and I agree it’s debatable, but hardly clear), I really don’t like the idea that the way to address that is to simply ignore it when it becomes relevant. I’d rather it be challenged, openly, ahead of time.

    I agree that would be ideal, but so far (and by “so far” I mean “the entirety of America’s history as a nation”) it’s been done the way Obama did it: skirting the law and Congress bitching but doing nothing of substance.

  20. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I still tend to think that “desertion” is an action where the deserter deliberately chooses to sever the bonds of loyalty between him and the Army, and forfeits the obligation to “leave no man behind.”

    Which is why you are in charge of nothing but typing silly comments from the confines of your mother’s basement.

  21. gVOR08 says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Innocent until proven guilty.

  22. anjin-san says:

    @gVOR08:

    Innocent until proven guilty.

    You’ve forgotten the prime directive. Attack Obama, by any possible means.

  23. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @C. Clavin: @gVOR08: @anjin-san:

    For the record, let’s agree that all this is conditional. I can name a couple of commenters here who are just waiting for me to slip and miss to include that conditional and jump all over me, and I think you can name them, too.

    Can I frickin’ call it, or what?

  24. Slugger says:

    To rephrase my earlier remarks:
    It looks to me that a low-level enlisted man broke some laws. However, he did not lead any strikes against US forces, did not reveal any state secrets, plant a bomb under the Statue of Liberty, or carry a briefcase bomb to a White House meeting. So what is all the excitement? It sounds to me that what he is alleged to have done is worse than a Vehicular Homicide/DUI but not a lot worse. Is this another Ebola style media generated nothingburger?

  25. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Slugger: The allegation is that he deserted his post in a time of war. He not only endangered the lives of his buddies, but there are reports that as many as six other Americans were killed while out on missions searching for him. If that is also true, then he is responsible for those deaths.

    So, by your metaphor, that’s six counts of “homicide.”

  26. Mikey says:

    @Slugger:

    Is this another Ebola style media generated nothingburger?

    No, what he did was gravely serious. It was an offense against good order and discipline, it put lives at risk, and it could have resulted in a valuable intelligence acquisition by the enemy.

  27. Anjin-San says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13

    Yes jenos, you’ve another imaginary triumph. Another notch for the ol’ gun belt.

    Here’s a thought. Stop being an utterly predictable knee jerk partisan. Maybe then people will stop treating you like one.

  28. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Anjin-San: Jesus Christ. I just predicted not only would you be an a-hole, but precisely how you would demonstrate said a-holity (OK, I didn’t name you by name, but you were certainly on my list), and you have the sheer a-holeness to call me “predictable?”

    Hey, look! You just blew up your latest irony meter! Good thing you buy them in bulk, huh?

  29. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I see the Wichata Whineman is still on the line.

  30. anjin-san says:

    Personally, I’m content to let appropriate military authorities, who are actually competent to judge Bergdahl, do just that. The reason this case is still on the radar is that the right sees it as an opportunity to go after Obama. They don’t give a rat’s ass about Bergdhal. This is why you see pissants whos experience with combat is limited to watching war movies saying things like

    doesn’t that break the bonds of loyalty and fidelity that make Bergdahl “our people?”

  31. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @anjin-san: Oh, what a surprise. annie is going to bravely and nobly and courageously not offer an opinion, but will express his dismay that I do. No problems with other discussing it, doesn’t care that it’s all conditional and theoretical, but doesn’t like that I do.

    I suppose, after all this time, you’ve grown accustomed to the stench of your own hypocrisy.

    And why don’t you tell us all some more how Wilson’s face was “unmarked” after the Brown shooting? That was just awesome.

  32. Mikey says:

    @anjin-san: Whether Bergdahl deserted, and what level of punishment he will receive if he did, are questions for the properly appointed authorities in his case, that’s certain. Insofar as some on the right are trying to use this to club Obama over the head, they are being irresponsible and petty. But it’s not necessarily a bad reflection of a person for them to ask the question Jenos asked. Most of the time it springs from a simple lack of understanding. 99.9% of them get a figurative lightbulb over their heads when it’s properly explained: even if a soldier decides to break fidelity with us, we do not break fidelity in return.

  33. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    not offer an opinion

    I guess you missed the part where I offered my opinion:

    I’m content to let appropriate military authorities, who are actually competent to judge Bergdahl, do just that.

    This is my opinion on the matter. Soldiers should be judged by soldiers. People who try to make hay off matters like this are jerks. Whatever else Bergdhal did, he put himself in harms way for his country. You and I can’t say the same.

    Are you really as stupid and immature as you seem to be? Please, tell us this is just an act.

  34. anjin-san says:

    @Mikey:

    it’s not necessarily a bad reflection of a person for them to ask the question Jenos asked. Most of the time it springs from a simple lack of understanding.

    Jenos is not searching for knowledge or a deeper understanding of the issues. He wants to trash Obama, and he wants to annoy liberals. That’s the extent of his game. It’s all he has. That’s why he says things like

    Personally, I’m going to continue to hold off on opining until there’s a final answer from the Army.

    Then spews about how Bergdhal is a deserter, “six counts of homicide”, and “not one of us”, all the while hiding behind chickenshit crap like “this is conditional”. It’s why he is prattling nonsense about how Bergdhal was exchanged for “Five generals”

  35. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Mikey: I feel I should apologize. annie here is one of those I alluded to in my “conditional” statement. He’s one of the self-appointed “Jenos cops” who watches for me to make comments and immediately starts attacking me, trying to drive me off this site. It’s become his primary function — note he didn’t address the topic at hand until you addressed him.

    And on that topic, I’m still hung up on the desertion/fidelity angle. A deserter has declared, by their own actions, “I don’t want to be connected with the rest of you.” At that point, my instinctive response is a bit of the “fine, you don’t want our help, you’re on your own.” Recovering a deserter is, in all likelihood, pulling someone back in who doesn’t want to be pulled, and the only benefit I see is in punishing the deserter. This serves as a demonstration of just how seriously taken the oath of loyalty the deserter has broken.

    But if, say, the deserter regrets the decision and wishes to return, then I can see efforts expended (in this case, measured in lives) to recover the deserter. But again in that case, the deserter should be willing to accept punishment, as a sign of penance indicating that they do truly regret their betrayal.

    (And yes, I’m veering a bit towards religious language. It’s the readiest example I can find that has similar emotional and spiritual and other intangible concepts.)

    I understand how it’s easy to feel sympathetic towards Bergdahl. (Again, I’m basing my comments on the assumption that he did, indeed, willingly desert his post. If it comes out he didn’t, then all this is moot, but then we’d have nothing to discuss.) But I have to question does he deserve sympathy? If he choose to walk away from his freely-assumed obligations, then he should be held accountable for that decision. If for no other reason than to make certain that others considering evading similar obligations understand that there are serious consequences for doing so.

  36. Mikey says:

    @anjin-san: I’m not naive as to Jenos’ sometimes-trolling habits. But in this instance he has asked some valid questions and I’m not in the habit of inferring things not obviously present in a comment (in fact I make a great effort to avoid doing so). And he has addressed me respectfully.

    So until all that changes, I’ll keep conversing. If Jenos proves my extension of good faith was misplaced, well, at least maybe some lurkers have benefited.

  37. Mikey says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: I hear where you’re coming from. Let me try to clarify a bit more.

    First, understand a situation like Bergdahl’s is extremely rare. Not many troops desert, and many of them end up turning themselves in and accepting their punishment. They don’t get captured. The ones who have been captured in the past have usually been classified as POWs and repatriated at the end of the conflict. Of course in Bergdahl’s case this was unlikely. He was classified as “missing-captured” for the duration of his confinement (beyond the first couple days of DUSTWUN). So any effort to get him back was destined to be unusual, to say the least.

    So we get to the part about who holds up the bond of fidelity, and as I’ve said, the military will hold it up even if an individual soldier decides to walk. We don’t give up on anyone–in fact, we’re still looking for guys in Vietnam, 40 years after that war ended. (I understand the major difference is we are looking to repatriate a serviceman’s remains, but the principle adheres in any instance.) That principle helps direct our actions even if the circumstances of an individual’s disappearance are murky.

    Whether Bergdahl is deserving of sympathy: I believe he is for the time he could have been helped, but wasn’t. Of course I don’t believe that sympathy should insulate him from punishment for what was a very serious violation, but at the same time I understand the principle of mitigation is at work and some responsibility does rest with a chain of command that failed him. So yes, he should be punished, with whatever level of punishment those in control of his case determine is appropriate.

  38. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Mikey: Sounds like we aren’t that far apart, really. I never served, so I don’t understand on a gut level the kind of loyalty we’re talking here, but I do understand it enough to know I was right to never even attempt to make that kind of commitment.

    What has always stuck with me is how many troops who were serving with Bergdahl at the time who’ve come out and said he’d deserted, and the details on how many were killed in looking for him. And how those claims haven’t been really challenged. Oh, there have been attacks on the character of those saying he deserted, and the like, but nothing challenging the details of it — saying that he was kidnapped, that he was on assigned duty or authorized to leave the base when he was grabbed — nothing. Obviously absence of proof is not proof of absence, but it’s… I guess I’d say indicative.

    But we both agree that there aren’t enough facts to say anything conclusive. And we might never know.

    And this might come across as a bit bomb-throwing, but we can’t ignore the political angle here. The Obama administration is invested in him not being a deserter. They traded five very high-level Taliban leaders for him, Obama had a big press event with his parents, and National Security Advisor Susan Rice declared that Bergdahl had “served with distinction.” That’s a fairly healthy plate of crow to have to eat if there is strong evidence that he deserted…

  39. Mikey says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Well, I know a couple of combat veterans who feel they should have just left him with the Taliban, and I can understand why they feel that way. But at the same time that’s why we guide by principle instead of emotion, or at least do our best to (I say “we,” but I retired from the military in 2006…it’s hard to stop…lol).

    But we both agree that there aren’t enough facts to say anything conclusive. And we might never know.

    Yeah, we might not. It just means the Army doesn’t have enough to make a clear determination. It’s frustrating, certainly, especially for those directly affected.

    And this might come across as a bit bomb-throwing, but we can’t ignore the political angle here. The Obama administration is invested in him not being a deserter.

    They’re going to have to deal with whatever determination is made. Personally, I think they deserve great credit for working out a deal to get him back alive, but they tried to blow it up into this huge PR thing before they knew all the details and it came back to bite them. Too much chicken-counting and not enough forethought.

    That said, I’m not buying what some on the right are pushing in asserting the administration is trying to squash a determination of desertion, or whatever. That would be worse than a PR screw-up by many orders of magnitude, and they’re just not that stupid.

  40. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Mikey: Personally, I think they deserve great credit for working out a deal to get him back alive, but they tried to blow it up into this huge PR thing before they knew all the details and it came back to bite them. Too much chicken-counting and not enough forethought.

    I’ll go along with some credit, but not great — it was, in my opinion, a really bad deal. Kind of like when Israel trades 1,000 Palestinians for 1 Israeli. But those deals do reaffirm one prejudice of mine — “one of our is worth a lot of yours, and you are admitting it.”

    That said, I’m not buying what some on the right are pushing in asserting the administration is trying to squash a determination of desertion, or whatever. That would be worse than a PR screw-up by many orders of magnitude, and they’re just not that stupid.

    I think they are. Or, at least, they are blind enough in some areas. They were totally blindsided by criticism of the deal — they apparently literally couldn’t conceive that some might think it was a bad deal. These are also the same people who put out that plan to tax 529 college savings plans, and were flabbergasted when they got pushback from that.

    I’m not saying that I buy into the scheme you put forward, but I find it plausible.

  41. anjin-san says:

    @ Mikey

    I’ll just note that while Jenos has trotted out his seldom used “adult in the room” voice on this thread, he continues to refer to other commentators by annoying little names such as “annie” that he has made up – behavior most of us had outgrown by the time we were 15. It’s also rather disingenuous that a notorious threadjacker complains bitterly when anyone other than himself goes off topic.

  42. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @anjin-san: Oh, annie… “I picked a fight with Jenos, and he cawwed me a mean name!” Did I hurt your widdle feewings or something? Gonna sue me for deliberate infliction of emotional distress?

    And it apparently escaped your notice, but I used my “adult voice” before you showed up, and dropped it only for you. Go ahead and make an argument that you deserved better.

    I think I understand it. You have your prejudiced view of me, and it just kills you to admit that I don’t fit into your little stereotype, so you try to bait and push me until I fit your misconception.

    I’ll pass, thanks. But I have decided on one thing. As long as you keep acting like that, I will either ignore you or treat you as you treat me. When (well, if) you start using a “grown-up” voice, then I’ll reconsider.

    Don’t see that happening any time soon, though.

    And you’ve done wonders at showing your “superiority” and “exposing the true Jenos” on this thread. Very impressive, sport.

    But don’t worry. The sun’ll come out tomorrow…

  43. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I picked a fight with Jenos,

    Where did I “pick a fight” with you? You addressed me on this thread, not the other way around.

    I will either ignore you

    Your oft-repeated threat to collect your marbles and go home. By all means, back up your talk with action for once.

    he cawwed me a mean name!” Did I hurt your widdle feewings or something?

    Ah, so you are back to your 15 year old voice. It rings much more true that you attempts to be an grown up. Adults refer to others in the manner they wish to be referred to. If you can’t manage that, there is really no reason to go further here.

  44. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    a “grown-up” voice

    Kinda funny how you continually plagiarize me. Can’t come up with your own material? 🙂