I have to admit, I am shocked that Sgt Bergdahl is going to have his “day in court,” and I think it’s safe to say that this could be considered a Christmas gift to the men who spent 45 days in the desert looking for him when he went AWOL in Afghanistan. The year was 2009, and one day Bowe came up missing. It was later determined that he wandered off, and as such, the consequences of his actions include being court- martialed for desertion, with the possibility of spending the rest of his life in Leavenworth.
I remember when he was “found” in 2014, or rather was part of a highly controversial prisoner exchange, and what a strange experience it was. I was standing in line in the bank as the news was being broadcast. At first I was ecstatic that he had been released, and hoped that he was okay. However, as footage began to be shown of Bowe in “captivity” during the next few days, my joy evaporated. He was just way too “comfy” with the enemy, yet I still wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. I wanted to believe that he had been “flipped,” and I know that one of the things I learned while living in Iraq is that the process of psychological warfare and breaking someone can cause a soldier to appear to have become a sympathizer, or worse, a collaborator. This is especially true if he is alone and has no brothers with which to band.
It needs to be remembered that six soldiers lost their lives while looking for their “brother,” and all the interviews I have seen have indicated that those who returned from the search and rescue detail believe Bowe is guilty of treason. For them, a desertion conviction may very well seem light weight. It is also disturbing that we gave up 5 jihadists for Bowe, and I question if that was wise.
I also must admit I did not expect him to stand trial. Literally hundreds of officers have been fired by the present administration, and when the Army made public that they are proceeding with the court martial, I wondered what will happen to the careers of the officers who pressed for it against a tide of pernicious political correctness.
To add to the strangeness of it all are Bowe’s comments about himself. Interestingly, there are over 25 hours of interviews with him that are on film, something that would make me nervous if I were his JAG lawyer. Then there’s the blog, wherein he talks about his motives for leaving his post.
“I was trying to prove to myself, I was trying to prove to the world, to anybody who used to know me … I was capable of being what I appeared to be,” Bergdahl says. “I had this fantastic idea that I was going to prove to the world I was the real thing.”
And what, pray tell would that be? I don’t claim to know what happened in the boy’s brain, but I do truly hope that he gets a fair trial, something about which his former “captors” would cringe. Why? For no other reason than to uphold the rule of law in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner