On Monday, the man who Obama decided to rescue and trade Taliban prisoners for — Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl — admitted to his military judge he will be pleading guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.
“I understand that leaving was against the law,” said Bergdahl.
Back in 2009 Bergdahl walked away from his post in Afghanistan, in a remote location, which his comrades responded with an intense search and recovery mission. Not knowing he had deserted them, some of his comrades were gravely wounded in the missions to find him.
“At the time, I had no intention of causing search and recovery operations,” Bergdahl said. He now understands his action to leave the post prompted efforts to find him.
Via Yahoo: Bergdahl, 31, is accused of endangering his comrades by abandoning his post without authorization. He told a general after his release from five years in enemy hands that he did it with the intention of reaching other commanders and drawing attention to what he saw as problems with his unit.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether his defense has conceded that he’s responsible for a long chain of events that his desertion prompted, which included many decisions by others on how to conduct the searches. Despite his plea, the prosecution and defense have not agreed to a stipulation of facts, said one of his lawyers, Maj. Oren Gleich.
This indicates that they did not reach a deal to limit his punishment, and that he may be hoping for leniency from the judge, Army Col. Jeffery R. Nance. The misbehavior charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, while the desertion charge is punishable by up to five years.
It has been eight years since Bergdahl disappeared in Afghanistan and his pleas of guilt will hopefully bring this story to an end. President Obama traded Taliban prisoners for the release of Bergdahl in 2014, justifying his actions by saying, ‘the U.S. does not leave its service members on the battlefield.’
Trump suggested during the presidential campaign that in another generation a person like him would have been executed.
Bergdahl will be able to avoid trial with his pleas of guilt, however he still faces a sentencing hearing that starts Oct. 23.
His years as a captive of the Taliban and its allies could be factored into his punishment, but the hearing also will likely feature damning testimony from his fellow service members. The judge has ruled that a Navy SEAL who suffered a career-ending leg wound and an Army National Guard sergeant whose head wound put him in a wheel chair would not have been hurt in firefights had they not been searching for Bergdahl.
The defense also was rebuffed in an effort to prove that Trump had unfairly swayed the case with his scathing criticism from the campaign trail. The judge ruled in February that the new president’s comments were “disturbing and disappointing” but did not constitute unlawful command influence by the soon-to-be commander in chief.
Currently the deserter has been assigned to desk duty in a Texas Army base as his case proceeds.