The Spectacle Blog

Why Bergdahl Must Be Court-Martialed

By on 6.4.14 | 12:20AM

The deal to free Bowe Bergdahl for five top Taliban officials would have been hard to swallow if Bergdahl had been an exemplary soldier. That the evidence suggests that Bergdahl deserted his unit makes it far more odious. Under the circumstances, Bergdahl should be court-martialed. But over at the Business Insider, Armin Rosen makes the argument that Bowe Bergdahl won’t be subject to court-martial upon his return to the U.S. 

Rosen cites JAG lawyer and South Texas College of Law Professor Geoffery Corn who told Rosen that a prosecutor would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Bergdahl “quit his unit with an intent to remain absent permanently — and he had to have that specific intent.”

Well, let’s see here. His fellow soldiers tell us that Bergdahl left a note indicating he no longer supported the American mission in Afghanistan, that he was leaving to start “a new life,” and left behind his weapons and body armor. How’s that for a specific intent to remain absent permanently?

Now Corn is on firmer ground when he argues that the Pentagon never formally classified Bergdahl as a deserter. Well, why not? Was it just incompetence or was it the result of political interference from the Obama Administration? Whatever the circumstances, it certainly shouldn’t preclude the military from pursuing court-martial proceedings against Bergdahl. Of course, if Bergdahl is court-martialed, his JAG lawyers will most certainly bring up that point and the military court will certainly weigh that as a factor in the outcome of that proceeding. 

If court-martial proceedings aren’t initiated against Bergdahl, it tells us that the Pentagon doesn’t consider desertion a serious matter, won’t listen to the concerns of those who have spoken about Bergdahl’s acts, nor care for the state of military morale. It would also indicate that the six soldiers who perished while looking for Bergdahl died for nothing.

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