Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Bowe Bergdahl and the Subsequent Silence From America

The ebb and flow of political discussions and the passionate disagreement on issues between good people with sincerely held and diametrically opposed beliefs on what is best for our nation is an intrinsic and vital part of our nation’s life blood.  That said, there are a few issues that should unite nearly all Americans in their support or scorn, as the situation warrants.  Such is my humble opinion. 

One of those “should-be” uniting issues is the disposition of military traitors. 

Last Friday, November 3rd, with little fanfare or even public acknowledgment, it was announced that military judge Colonel Jeffrey R. Nance decided that former Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl would be released from custody without having to serve any prison time at the conclusion of his court martial.  He would be stripped of his rank back to private (the lowest Army rank) and given a dishonorable discharge. 

Bowe Bergdahl was charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy after abandoning his outpost in Afghanistan in 2009; charges to which he pleaded guilty.  He then asked that his court martial be adjudicated by the judge alone rather than by a military jury.  I am sure this was done as a smart legal calculation by his lawyer, as a sitting jury comprised of his military comrades would probably be less inclined to provide a favorable outcome for Bergdahl.  Evidently this legal gambit worked.

Leading up to his court martial, military investigators found that Bergdahl willfully and with intention walked away from his unit. His actions were planned and premeditated. One soldier in his unit said that Bergdahl mailed his belongings back home to his parents before deserting. Further, Bergdahl sent an e-mail back to his parents saying that he was ashamed to be an American.

Bergdahl has said he abandoned his post because he wanted to travel to a larger base to report "a critical problem in my chain of command," though he did not specify what the problem was.  As a result of his deserting his unit, he was subsequently captured by the Taliban and remained in their custody for nearly five years.

Capt. John Billings was Bergdahl's platoon leader in Afghanistan and stated that the platoon initially searched for the then-private first class for 19 days, going nearly without food or water during the time of the search.  Retired Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer James Hatch testified that he and his dog came under fire while looking for Bergdahl. He was shot in the leg, and his K-9 partner, Remco, was shot in the face and killed.  "I thought I was dead," said Hatch, who now walks with a heavy limp after 18 surgeries. He said he was concerned because there was little time to plan the search for Bergdahl, and other soldiers knew he had willfully walked away.

Sadly there are some extreme leftists in America that have embraced Bergdahl’s weak explanation that he only meant to stroll through a dozen miles or so of hostile territory to the next military base in order that he could report on conditions in his own unit, which PFC Bergdahl found to be not to his liking.  Indeed there is even some evidence to suggest that Bergdahl intended to go over to the enemy, whom he had expected to welcome him.

Now Bergdahl was not some hapless kid whom was unwillingly drafted into the Army.  He volunteered, as do all of our current military members.  He took an oath and subsequently violated it in the worst possible way.  The crime of deserting your post in a tactical combat zone is the worst offense a soldier could commit, short of turning your own weapon against your comrades.  Even had no one been wounded or killed in the efforts to find and retrieve Bergdahl, he betrayed a most fundamental trust and thus endangered those who counted on him to do his part in their mutual defense.

Perhaps even more disturbingly, President Obama decided in May of 2014 to reportedly give up cash and to swap five terrorists in U.S. custody at Guantanamo Bay in exchange with the Taliban for Bowe Bergdahl.  This was not a POW exchange, as the military knew Bergdahl willingly walked away from his post, and therefore had classified him as a deserter and not as a prisoner of war accordingly. 
President Obama surely knew these circumstances when he arranged for the swap, and yet he decided to put further American lives at risk by trading these vile terrorists in exchange for the traitorous Bergdahl.  When asked about the wisdom of releasing these terrorists, Obama stated in a press conference, “Is there the possibility of some of them trying to return to activities that are detrimental to us? Absolutely.  There’s a certain recidivism rate that takes place.” 

One has to wonder who showed the worse judgement in critical thinking: Bowe Bergdahl or President Obama.  The fact that Obama invited Bergdahl’s parents to the White House for a public ceremony celebrating Bergdahl’s release only served to further disrespect Americans and the military members that Bergdahl abandoned, endangered, and even got killed through his treacherous actions.

Second Lieutenant Darryn Andrews, 34, died when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with a roadside bomb and a rocket-propelled grenade. Private First Class Matthew Martinek, 20, died a week later from wounds sustained in the same attack. The parents of both Andrews and Martinek told Reuters that they believe their sons died searching for Bergdahl, saying they were told this by other soldiers in the platoon.

Desertion in a combat theater during war time used to be grounds for the death penalty.  Indeed Bergdahl’s actions condemned far better men to injury and death as they searched for him.  The prosecution in Bergdahl’s court martial asked for 14 years imprisonment for the traitor instead, while he could have conceivably received a term of life in prison.  Instead, Colonel Nance inexplicably excused the actions of the traitorous Bergdahl with little more than a slap on the wrist.

Bergdahl “suffered enough” according to his lawyer.  "As everyone knows, he was a captive of the Taliban for nearly five years, and three more years have elapsed while the legal process unfolded. He has lost nearly a decade of his life" Eugene Fidell, Bergdahl's civilian attorney, said at a news conference after the proceedings.  And yet Chief Petty Officer Hatch will walk with a limp for the remainder of his life, while Second Lieutenant Andrews and PFC Martinek will never come home as a result of their search to find and secure Bowe Bergdahl.  One wonders if they and their families have suffered enough too.

The bottom line is that we must hold those that commit the most despicable acts accountable for their traitorous actions, especially in combat theaters.  “Chelsea” Manning and Bowe Bergdahl are now free to happily ever after live their pathetically dishonorable lives after committing such horrific acts of treason.  President Obama further exacerbated the situation by trading five Taliban commanders, who almost surely returned to the battle field against Americans, in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl. 

This should infuriate all Americans, as much as it angers and causes great disillusionment among those military men and women that have vowed to protect us and our nation; that have looked beyond themselves in their sacrifices of protecting something far greater.  When there is little consequence to those that commit such treason, it dishonors those that willingly put themselves in harm’s way.  It serves to only further undermine military morale and discipline.  It weakens our nation.  This is something that all Americans, regardless of our political ideologies, should agree upon.  It is something that should make all of us exceptionally angry.

Ironically, this travesty of injustice continues.

After last Friday’s announcement that Bergdahl would spend no prison time for his traitorous actions, for which he pleaded guilty, his lawyer stated that they now plan on appealing Bergdahl’s dishonorable discharge. 

Fury is too trifling a word to capture what all Americans should be feeling.