Tuesday, January 27, 2015

MAJOR UPDATE: Sgt. Bergdahl in the News Facing Many Possible Charges

Sgt. Bergdahl in undated photo (shortly before he was released)

Original Post Follows this Update (January 27, 2015): I should have known that the initial news yesterday was not definitive. What follows is a major update from the Department of the Army. It offers a more definitive and clearer picture on the subject of options and possible charges that SGT. Bergdahl faces over the next few weeks. A few highlights:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Army and Pentagon officials said Tuesday there has been no decision on what, if any, criminal charges will be filed against SGT. Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier who left his post in Afghanistan and was held by the Taliban for five years before being released in a prisoner exchange.

Gen. Mark Milley, head of U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, NC, has a broad range of legal options, including various degrees of desertion charges. A major consideration is whether military officials will be able to prove that Bergdahl had no intention of ever returning to his unit — a key element in the more serious desertion charges.

The case is also fraught with politics.

Some members of Congress and former members of Bergdahl's unit criticized the Obama administration for trading someone they considered a deserter for five top Taliban commanders held at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

If Bergdahl is severely punished, that trade could be called into question again. On the other hand, some believe that five years in Taliban captivity is punishment enough. 

Possible charges and possible punishments (continue at the link – it’s quite extensive): 

The original post: this story warrants a review of the case thus far and comes from here:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -  Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who disappeared from his base in Afghanistan in 2009 but was released last year in a prisoner swap with the Taliban, will be charged with desertion, according to NBC.  The television network, citing senior defense officials, said the charges could come within a week.

My thoughts on this up to this point:

There are times when some start to think: the GOP-Rightwing can’t sink any lower as they always surprise us (again) with their nadir as they wallow in their own self-imposed muck. Nothing about the GOP-Right seems to shock the conscience or incense the soul any longer. That list is very long and for the history book. Examples:

  1. Their blatant hatred for Mr. Obama ever since January 20, 2009 when he took office.
  2. Their anger about his birth right and birth place and birth certificate.
  3. Their hatred for the ACA (Obama-care) as they apparently root for citizens not to get good health care, especially in the sates that support the GOP the most – a fact.
  4. Their allegiance and near total fealty to the NRA even after thousands die each year from guns further saying “we are losing our rights and Obama for coming to get our guns.”
  5. Now the release of and current status of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.  
It should have been, and was for a day or so, a moment of American unity and joy. The release of a soldier held captive by the Taliban for 5 years was great news. He was coming home for the price of exchanging five Taliban prisoners from Gitmo. Then, true to form, the GOP-Right’s machine got a fresh supply of gas and oil and the proverbial shit hit the fan.

That brief moment of unity have way to another GOP-Right opportunity to mount another frontal assault against President Obama and then to Mr. Bergdahl himself — and leading the pack and I truly mean pack is the entire FOX so-called “news” network (that I call FAUX Nitwork). 

Comments like: Bob Bergdahl (Sgt. Bergdahl’s father) looks and talks like a Taliban and he even learned Pashto. He is so un-American.”

Then we had the talk of desertion:

1.  Sgt. Bergdahl is a deserter (although never charged but soon may be).
2.  Hang him.
3.  Skip his recovery, try him now.
4.  Toss the UCMJ, bring on the lynch mob.
5.  The Taliban should have kept him.
6.  We should have let him rot in captivity.
7.  Give him back we don’t want him here.
8.  We are now dealing with terrorists and he is one.
9.   Obama shows again how weak he us he's an enemy appeaser,
10.  Impeach Obama now.  
11.  Damn the facts, full stream ahead and burn the bastard.
12.  Bring the guilty bastard in, give him a fair trial, and then hang him.  

I even heard someplace (can’t recall where): “Bergdahl should be executed for desertion” and some even have said they hope “it will come to pass in a Ted Cruz Administration.” (I still can’t stop laughing at that one).

This has been a sample of some of the more tepid comments from the GOP-Rightwing at various levels and stages leading up to where we now.

The unspoken rule of American politics, and especially since 9/11 and two major wars, plus the other military actions around the globe. has been that the military is off-limits for criticism.

Naturally, the GOP-Right loves soldiers as long as they’re dying silently, but they have not much use for them once they become Veterans and start seeking services or new programs of assistance. But leave that aside.

Respecting and honoring the military has been the one truism of American politics almost forever. If any soldier is held captive, bringing him or her home alive has always been the sworn duty and code and incumbent upon the Commander-in-Chief. In this case, the current CINC acted correctly.

However, if  Bergdahl is charged with any crime (e.g., desertion as now seems to be the case), so be it. He has to face the music on that charge will hold him accountable.

The bottom line is simple: We got one of our own and that was the right thing to do … let the facts and chips now, fall where they may, after that fact.

Now a few facts to wrap this up at this point for now:

What is desertion? In military terminology, desertion is the abandonment of a duty or post without permission (i.e., a pass, liberty or leave) and is done with the intention of not returning.

In contrast, Unauthorized Absence (UA) or Absence Without Leave (AWOL) refers to a temporary absence without permission or approval (i.e., a pass or verbal).

According to the Pentagon, more than 5,500 military personnel deserted in 2003–2004, following the Iraq invasion and occupation. That number had reached about 8,000 by the first quarter of 2006.

Another report stated that since 2000, about 40,000 troops from all branches of the military have deserted, also according to the Pentagon. More than half of these served in the US Army. Almost all of these soldiers deserted within the United States. There has only been one reported case of a desertion in Iraq.

The Army, Navy, and Air Force reported 7,978 desertions in 2001, compared with 3,456 in 2005. The Marine Corps showed 1,603 Marines in desertion status in 2001. That had declined to 148 by 2005.

The punishment if found guilty of desertion – a historical look:

Before the Civil War, deserters from the Army were flogged. After 1861, tattoos or brands were used. 

The maximum penalty for desertion in wartime still remains death, although this punishment was last applied to Army Private Eddie Slovik in 1945.  

No U.S. serviceman has received more than 24 months imprisonment for desertion or missing movement in the post-September 11, 2001 era.

I have to ask: What penalty does the GOP Rightwing want and advocate now?   

My view: I strongly believe that if SGT. Bergdahl is found guilty that he should receive mercy, and if necessary, a pardon from the President. He has suffered enough. Then we need to close the file.

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