Ed Driscoll

Bowe Bergdahl Charged With Desertion

“American soldier and former Taliban captive Bowe Bergdahl has been charged with desertion for allegedly walking off his post in Afghanistan in 2009, Bergdahl’s attorney told ABC News today,” Yahoo reports:

President Obama called it a “good day” when Bergdahl was freed, but critics, including some high-ranking Republicans, loudly denounced the deal, likening it to negotiating with terrorists. Also, lawmakers complained that Congress had not been consulted about the exchange, as they said the law requires.

After Bergdahl’s dramatic return to the U.S., the Army launched an investigation into whether the soldier willfully left his post in Afghanistan before he was taken by the Taliban in 2009, as some Afghan war veterans alleged.

As we noted back at the time, the MSM performed quite a hatchet job on Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers when they came forward with details of his alleged desertion, reverting to Vietnam-era smear-the-troops form. In the Washington Examiner, Byron York wrote that all of these leftwing attacks could have been avoided, if the Obama White House had simply been straight with the American public for once:

So why did the White House send National Security Adviser Susan Rice to the Sunday shows to claim that Bergdahl “served the United States with honor and distinction”?

It wasn’t necessary. Rice, speaking for the White House, could have said something to the effect that “Bowe Bergdahl is a troubled young man who made a terrible mistake. Nevertheless, he is an American soldier, and the United States wants him back. The president had a difficult decision to make in balancing the release of the Taliban detainees with this country’s longstanding policy of not leaving U.S. forces behind in a war zone, no matter the circumstances.”

That would not have quieted the controversy over the Taliban trade; critics would still maintain it was a terrible precedent and will increase the danger to America and its allies around the world. And it would not have quieted the controversy over the administration’s decision not to inform Congress about the Taliban release, as specifically required by law. Lawmakers — including some in the president’s party — would still complain about that.

But it would have denied the administration’s critics a devastatingly effective argument. First, President Obama himself appeared with Bergdahl’s parents in rare Saturday remarks in the White House Rose Garden. And then Rice — who had been asked specifically about the circumstances of Bergdahl’s disappearance — said, “He served the United States with honor and distinction.”

In another Sunday appearance, on CNN, Rice suggested Bergdahl had been “captured … on the battlefield” — a claim backed up by none of Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers with him the night he disappeared. The military fully investigated the Bergdahl case in the months after he disappeared in 2009. The investigation reportedly concluded that he had willfully abandoned his post.

And today’s news appears to very strongly confirm those allegations.

By the way, at the risk of playing the “I question the timing” game, the right shouldn’t let the reappearance of Bergdahl in the headlines allow them to take their eyes off of more current news at the intersection of the Obama White House and the Middle East, specifically, the collapse of Yemen and the looming horrific “deal” with Iran.

Update: As Allahpundit writes at Hot Air, “The deeper point of the Bergdahl swap, as Sean Davis reminds us, was to create a pretext for starting to empty Gitmo:”

Anyway, exit question: What are the odds that Obama will pardon Bergdahl? Seems hard to believe he’d take even more heat over this fiasco by letting him go free after he’s been credibly accused by so many soldiers not only of deserting but of indirectly costing several troops their lives during the ensuing search. But then, we already know that O’s in the “WGAF” phase of his presidency; letting Bergdahl go will anger people, but he can spin it with some nonsense about how poor Bowe’s suffered enough, how it’s time to move on, etc. Which, for the White House, it is. The sooner they can put this clusterfark behind them and move on to the next clusterfark, the better.

And with an administration insane enough to “negotiate” with Iran, there will be loads more of those to come.