Late Monday night, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, posted a note on Facebook regarding the swap of five senior Taliban commanders for SGT Bowe Bergdahl. Dempsey addresses the accusations that Bergdahl may have deserted his post in Afghanistan, but allows that any investigation will depend on what Bergdahl says. If that’s the case, there will be no true investigation. Dempsey also fails to acknowledge the six Americans who were killed during searches for Bergdahl.
In response to those of you interested in my personal judgments about the recovery of SGT Bowe Bergdahl, the questions about this particular soldier’s conduct are separate from our effort to recover ANY U.S. service member in enemy captivity. This was likely the last, best opportunity to free him. As for the circumstances of his capture, when he is able to provide them, we’ll learn the facts. Like any American, he is innocent until proven guilty. Our Army’s leaders will not look away from misconduct if it occurred. In the meantime, we will continue to care for him and his family. Finally, I want to thank those who for almost five years worked to find him, prepared to rescue him, and ultimately put themselves at risk to recover him.
Points of emphasis added. Surely Gen. Dempsey could have acknowledged that among the Americans who risked their lives to find Bergdahl are six who paid the ultimate price.
When a US troop faces accusations of criminal wrongdoing, they are subjected to prosecution under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). The UCMJ does not, contrary to Gen. Dempsey’s note, depend solely on the words of the accused. Is Dempsey indicating that the soldiers who served alongside Bergdahl and now accuse him of desertion will not be heard?
The US military conducted an investigation of Bergdahl’s actions in 2010, and concluded that Bergdahl was a deserter who was no longer worth the effort and risk it would have taken to rescue him by force. Bergdahl’s own writings and actions before he disappeared show pre-meditation based on his anti-American beliefs.
The deal to release the five Taliban commanders to Qatar is looking worse and worse. The Taliban 5 are free to move anywhere they want within Qatar, a country that hosts significant American bases and military personnel, and which is gearing up to host the World Cup in a few years. Qatar is under corruption investigation on the World Cup capture, by the way. It’s a country that, while allied to the US, can be bought.
The Taliban 5’s nation-sized house arrest only lasts for one year, so they will be free to return to Afghanistan at the same time Obama has ordered the drawdown of US forces there to be finished. So the Taliban gets its five commanders back to the battlefield at the same time Obama is abandoning it.