Confirming earlier news reports that he would do so, today Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl pleaded guilty to charges of desertion and misbehavior in the presence of the enemy per a breaking story by CNN News. As many already know, Bergdahl was released in a prisoner swap under the Obama administration in exchange for five Taliban prisoners being held at Guantanamo.
In a story by NBC last week, questions about Bergdahl’s actions arose shortly after his return from Afghanistan. While one might think that desertion would be the most serious charge he faced, the charge of misbehavior in the presence of the enemy can carry a term of life imprisonment. For desertion, he could fact up to five years in prison.
Why did Bergdahl face this charge? Because several members of his unit were injured while searching for him, even though he had willingly deserted his post. And Bergdahl knew he was endangering the lives of his fellow soldiers when he left without any explanation. He knew they would come looking for their lost comrade, and that some of them could be injured or killed. In fact, a Navy Seal and Army National Guard sergeant were wounded in separate firefights during their search for him.
Many people criticized President Obama for making this prisoner swap, especially after reports surfaced of Sgt. Bergdahl’s misbehavior. But in one sense it was a good thing. Bergdahl, instead of being considered a captured hero, is now revealed in his true, despicable colors for all the world to see.
At first Bergdahl’s attorneys tried to claim that he could not receive a fair trial due to comments made about him by Donald Trump. But Bergdahl face a military court, not a civilian one. This argument was denied by a judge in February who ruled that while Trump’s comments on the campaign trail were “disturbing and disappointing” they did not constitute undue influence by the future Commander-in-Chief.
There has been speculation that Bergdahl pleaded guilty to the charges in hopes of receiving a lighter sentence. Instead, he should be thankful that desertion in the face of the enemy does not automatically carry a death sentence in front of a firing squad.
Bergdahl deserves justice. He also deserves the same mercy and compassion he showed for his fellow soldiers who risked their own lives to try to rescue him. Which would be – none. When his sentence is handed down, he should receive the harshest one possible. For the sake of the men and women who have sacrificed their lives in the service of our country.