Sgt. Bergdahl’s hopes of a pardon vanished on Friday as former President Obama handed off the reins of power to President Trump. Despite commuting Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning, the Obama administration refused to respond to Bergdahl’s request, according to his legal team.
In the summer of 2009, Bowe Bergdahl, according to soldiers in his unit, dropped his gear and weapon and quietly walked away from his post where he was assigned guard duty. After he was reported missing his unit began a concerted effort to search for him. During these operations to find him, six soldiers were subsequently killed. Meanwhile, Bergdahl was quickly captured by Taliban fighters, though the truth of what transpired once he deserted his post remains elusive.
What is clear is that once captured, the Taliban demanded $1 million dollars and the release of more than 20 Afghan prisoners held in Gitmo. These demands were reduced as the years passed and the Taliban continued to release videos and provide proof of life to Bergdahl’s parents, no doubt in hopes that their demands would eventually be met. Their persistence paid off.
Just a month shy of his fifth year in captivity, Bergdahl was released, being handed off to US Special Operations, in exchange for five members of the Taliban. Shortly thereafter, President Obama held a news conference at the White House Rose Garden with Bowe’s elated parents, Jan and Bob. The reaction on the Hill was negative, to say the least, with GOP congressmen questioning the President’s judgement and still others whether the swap was even legal.
Quickly becoming a political device, both sides began to pull at the corners. In addition, the press was all too happy to have a new chew toy to throw at the presidential candidates as the nation geared up for their decision in 2016. Bergdahl was a favorite talking point of Trump’s, his name and case making regular appearances throughout the campaign.
Now that Obama has left and President Trump assumes control, Bergdahl’s lawyers just might have a get-out-of-jail card for him. They have asked for a dismissal on the grounds that he won’t be able to receive a fair trial. As part of their motion, Bergdahl’s lawyers included a video exhibit which highlights more than 3 dozen instances were Trump is heard denouncing, insulting and indirectly calling for Bergdahl’s deportation and even execution.
I am a firm believer that those who live in glass houses should never start tossing rocks. I don’t know the truth behind what happened that morning in Afghanistan, nor does anyone else except Mr. Bergdahl; and no one is sure that he even fully knows. One thing is certain, no matter how you try to cut it, these tragic events leave a terrible taste in the mouth of our nation. I do not envy the judge in this case but I do hope he can look past the political rhetoric that has spewed forth from our political leadership, especially those of our current President and see this for what it is, a series of tragic events that cannot be righted, no matter what the punishment is. To quote a man who once held Trump’s new office, “I have observed that it never does a boy much good to shoot him.” Lincoln, who pardoned dozens of deserters, had seen enough killing for a hundred lifetimes and knew the last thing his wounded nation needed is one more corpse.
Trump believes that Bergdahl should have been left to die in the deserts of Afghanistan or that he should have faced a firing squad upon his return. Tough talk from a man who has never once been on a battlefield, never once experienced combat and that has never sacrificed anything substantial in his entire life. Killing Bergdahl will not bring back the lives of those six brave and heroic soldiers that were lost in combat during the weeks spent searching for him, nothing will. No matter what the judge rules in this case, justice lies out of reach. No good will come from his imprisonment or his release, just more ammunition for politicians to destroy each other’s careers with. Meanwhile, the real heroes of this story will continue to go unnoticed by our national leadership. Execute Bergdahl, throw him in a cell and lock away the key? What good would it do him, Mr. Trump and for that matter, what good would it do our nation?
Those that have seen the devastation of war have no stomach for more wasteful killing, more senseless barbarity. Death and sacrifice are more than tools for political office, they are the foundation stones our country is built on. We must always remember that the greatness that is these United States is not ours by right but bought and paid for by the sacrifice of life and limb from patriots like those listed below.
In Honor of Their Ultimate Sacrifice, We Remember Their Names:
2LT Darryn Andrews
SSG Michael Murphrey
PFC Matthew Martinek
SSG Clayton Bowen
PFC Morris Walker
SSG Kurt Curtiss
Remco (Navy SEAL Military working dog)