Bowe Bergdahl, whose desertion led to multiple casualties of fellow servicemen, will not serve any jail time. He was dishonorably discharged and is now a free man.
With up to a life sentence on the table, the prosecution asked for 14 years.
“Sgt. Bergdahl does not have a monopoly on suffering as a result of his choices,” said Maj. Justin Oshana, a prosecutor. “The difference is, all the suffering stems from his choice.”
Eight years ago, Bergdahl left his post and was subsequently captured by the Taliban. In 2014, President Obama swapped five Taliban prisoners locked up in Guantanamo Bay for Bergdahl, citing his unwillingness to leave service members on the battlefield.
The judge in the case cited President Trump’s comments. The sentencing had been delayed when the President said last month he couldn’t talk about the case, “but I think people have heard my comments in the past.”
Those comments included this Tweet:
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl should face the death penalty for desertion – five brave soldiers died trying to bring him back. U.S. has to get tough!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 26, 2015
The light sentence in this high-profile case represents the first time Tweets by a public official were cited in sentencing.
A psychiatrist testified that Bergdahl suffers from schizotypal personality disorder, a condition that could have prohibited his ability to understand the consequences of his actions. The prosecution countered with Bergdahl’s own words. He had attempted to explain his actions as a way to draw attention to problems with his unit. He felt a missing soldier alert would play out negatively.
He said missing soldier alert goes “all the way up to Army command, it goes to Air Force, it goes to Marines. … It goes to every high point and everybody finds out about it.”
In closing arguments, defense attorneys argued that Bergdahl already had suffered enough confinement during five years of brutal captivity by Taliban allies. They asked the judge for a dishonorable discharge and no prison time. Their argument for leniency also cited harsh campaign-trail criticism by Donald Trump and Bergdahl’s mental disorders.
Capt. Nina Banks, a defense attorney, said it wouldn’t be justice to rescue Bergdahl from the Taliban “only to place him in a cell” now.
“Sgt. Bergdahl has been punished enough,” Banks added. “Sgt. Bergdahl paid a bitter price for the choices that he made.”
On Friday, traitorous Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who left his post and wandered into Taliban territory, only to be taken prisoner and held for years, then exchanged for Taliban terrorists by President Obama, received no prison time. That freedom came despite the fact that Bergdahl’s desertion apparently led to the deaths of six Americans who went searching for him. The judge did give Bergdahl a dishonorable discharge, and reduced him to private while giving him a $10,000 fine. Bergdahl had already pled guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, and could have gone to prison for life.
The rationale for the sentence is unclear, but the judge in the case had commented on it previously: he had stated that he would take into account President Trump’s negative comments about Bergdahl when considering sentencing. Col. Jeffrey Nance stated, “I will consider the president’s comments as mitigation evidence as I arrive at an appropriate sentence.” According to The New York Times:
A judge has ruled that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl — who abandoned his post in Afghanistan in 2009, leading to the deaths of 6 fellow soldiers and a military dog sent to find him — will serve no time in prison for his desertion.
Bergdahl, who apologized earlier this week to the families of the men who died, said his intent on June 29, 2009 was never to desert but rather to walk to a base 18 miles away to report problems he saw within the leadership command of his unit. He was instead captured almost immediately by Taliban and, he says, tortured at their hands until then-President Obama traded several known terrorists held in Guantánamo Bay for his release.
Bergdahl to get dishonorable discharge, lose rank, forfeit pay in addition to getting no prison time
The judge ruled that Bergdahl to get dishonorable discharge, lose rank, forfeit pay in addition to getting no prison time.
Bergdahl, walked off his base in Afghanistan in 2009 and was held by the Taliban for five years, pleaded guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.
This makes absolutely no sense. It’s as if he’s being treated like the victim. His decision to get abandon his post, get captured by the Taliban, and put American service members in harm’s way deserves more than the 14 years the prosecution wanted. That he’s getting out of this with a slap on the wrist is unfathomable.