Three and a half months have come and gone and the Pentagon has offered no clarity on what happened to alleged Army deserter and Taliban collaborator Bowe Bergdahl. Fellow soldiers and other critics fear the military’s now-delayed investigation is shaping up to be a whitewash. The case has become a political powder keg for Barack Hussein Obama.
NY Post Since he traded five imprisoned Taliban leaders for Bergdahl, the US Government Accountability Office has declared the swap illegal, and nearly two dozen House Democrats have joined Republicans in officially condemning the move for making “Americans less safe.” In addition, the Taliban deal appears to have encouraged the Islamic State to put up American hostages as trade bait to free other terrorist detainees, namely “Lady al Qaeda” Aafia Siddiqui.
Obama in May presented Bergdahl as a hero in announcing his release in a Rose Garden ceremony featuring Bergdahl’s mother and father. The next day, his national-security adviser added another coat of varnish when she proclaimed the AWOL soldier “served the United States with honor and distinction.”
His platoon mates, however, say he did nothing of the kind. “Bergdahl is a deserter, not a hero [and] needs to answer for what he did,” said former Army Sgt. Evan Buetow, who served with Bergdahl and was present the night he vanished from his Afghan post. Like Buetow, more than 60% of respondents to a recent Military Times survey believe that Bergdahl should be court-martialed for walking off his post in 2009 and costing the lives of six fellow soldiers who died searching for him.
But a senior Army official told me court-martialing Bergdahl would “make the president look bad.” In spite of damning evidence against him, the official expects Pentagon brass to separate him from the military with a less-than-honorable discharge, sparing Obama total embarrassment.
In a sign Bergdahl may indeed get off with a slap on the wrist, the Army has delayed its AR 15-6 investigation into his disappearance — a development that Bergdahl’s attorneys see as helpful to their client.
The Army investigator, Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, was supposed to submit his findings to brass last month but has asked for an extension. The probe was limited to a 60-day window, which ended Aug. 15. There’s no longer a deadline attached, which means the investigation could drag out past the November election.
Dahl last month interviewed Bergdahl at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, in what his lawyer described as an “entirely nonconfrontational” meeting.
Critics doubt Dahl has the skills to conduct a proper interrogation. “No general does this. They have no training,” said the Army official, who requested anonymity upon describing Dahl as a “yes-man.”
If there’s any doubt this case is politically sensitive, consider that Buetow and five other platoon mates have hit roadblocks shopping an explosive book portraying Bergdahl as a “premeditated” deserter who aided the Taliban. An editor reportedly turned them down because Republicans “are all over Bergdahl and using it against Obama.”
Buetow, who was team leader of Bergdahl’s unit, says they’re not trying to politicize the issue. They just couldn’t stay quiet after Obama made him out to be a war hero.
“We’re just trying to tell the truth,” he said in an interview published last month. “It’s not my fault this would make Obama look bad.”
The evidence against 28-year-old Bergdahl is overwhelming. Here’s a bill of indictment:
- Before slipping away, Bergdahl shipped much of his gear, including a personal computer, back home to Idaho.
- In e-mails to his parents, excerpted in Rolling Stone, he complained he was “ashamed to even be American” and was “sorry for everything here,” adding: “These people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid, that they have no idea how to live.”
- When he left his outpost near the Pakistan border, he left behind his body armor and weapon and only took with him water and a backpack with a camera, notebook and writing materials — bizarre, given the hostile territory around his post.
- He left a farewell note in which he stated he was deserting and explained his disillusionment with the war, according to The New York Times; other reports say he sought to renounce his American citizenship.
- Within 24 hours, the Taliban confirmed they had picked him up, whereupon he expressed his displeasure with his countrymen and “wanted to accept Islam,” two Afghans who were Taliban commanders at the time told NBC News.
- Bergdahl converted to Islam during his captivity and declared himself a “mujahid,” or warrior for Islam, according to secret military documents obtained by Fox News.
- Soon after his rendezvous with the Taliban, the improvised explosive devices the enemy used to attack US convoys became more accurate and lethal. “IEDs started going off directly under the trucks; they were getting perfect hits every time,” Beutow recalled, suggesting Bergdahl shared military intelligence with his captors.
- Bergdahl had a history of leaving his post and most likely walked away on his own free will, concluded an initial investigationconducted by an Army officer in July and August of 2009. The Military Times first revealed the findings of his 35-page classified military report in June.
- The Pentagon never classified Bergdahl a POW during his five years in captivity.
- The president may think Bergdahl deserves a parade, but retired Army Sgt. Jordan Vaughn, who went on some 50 dangerous missions searching for Bergdahl, told Fox that “He belongs in shackles for what he did.”