By Anita Stewart
In one of the most politicized stories in any war time theatre involving prisoners of war, prisoner exchanges and releases, the story of Bowe Bergdahl haunted us in the spring of 2014 when his release and the subsequent prisoner exchange of Taliban members became corporate media’s story “du jour.”
Bergdahl left his unit at a remote Afghanistan outpost in June 2009 and then was captured by the Taliban aligned Haqqani network where he remained a prisoner of war for almost five years. Bergdahl was finally released on May 31, 2014 in exchange for five Taliban prisoners that were incarcerated at Guantanamo.
It was a big story then and it’s back on the corporate media radar now due to the publication and release of The Army Report which had remained in limbo on a General’s desk since October 2014. It was finally released to corporate media this past March. Now Bergdahl is being charged with Desertion and Misbehavior Before the Enemy, the latter considered a catch-all regulation that can be applied to just about any transgression, however minor.
Bergdahl faces life in prison if convicted.
Some Media And Fellow Troops Say He Is A Deserter
Stories have been published in The Daily Beast and USA Today by troops deployed in units that were near Bergdahl’s. These articles claim Bergdahl deserted his unit. Wikipedia has printed the text of an email exchange between Bergdahl and his father that was sent before Bergdahl left — which if true, is evidence that Bergdahl deserted his unit, but he did so as a ‘conscientious objector.’ His thoughts expressed in the email revealed sympathy for the Afghani people.
The politicizing continued on both sides of the aisle with the House Armed Services Committee conducting a hearing on the prisoner swap. President Obama defended the prisoner swap and made Bergdahl a hero in a speech delivered at the White House while he was accompanied by Bergdahl’s parents.
But Wasn’t Bergdahl A Whistleblower?
He had already spoken to his team leader about the repercussions of going off base while in possession of army equipment such as night vision goggles or his weapon. His team leader told him he would be in trouble and action would be taken against him if that happened. So Bergdahl left almost all of his army equipment behind. Only his compass, a thermos and a knife went missing.
Bergdahl’s attorney, Eugene Fidell said Bergdahl left his unit to report irregularities to the Commander. We do not know the details of those irregularities Bergdahl was allegedly going to report on. They have not been released to the public.
Perhaps he had witnessed war crimes or wrongdoings? If they weren’t wrongdoings, why are they being kept secret? Is Bergdahl facing recrimination from his unit’s chain of command for attempting to tell the truth to the commanding officer in the area?
Myth And Truth
One of the biggest myths in this story is that a search detail deployed to look for Bergdahl after he went missing and that troops were killed during that detail and the others that followed.
According to Fidell, there is no evidence that this ever occurred. Casualties noted from this time period appear to be caused by routine military operations in the area and not as a result of specific searches for Bergdahl.
Opinions on details of what happened differ depending on the news network reporting it. One’s own political party also seems to come to play in an opinion. This was presented as a partisan story from the beginning and even Bergdahl’s family members have been targets of the hype created by corporate media and their fans. Now the pundits have taken over and the narrative is being controlled regardless of what the truth may be.
Is Bergdahl a would-be whistleblower? Or, is he a conscientious objector? Did he truly desert his unit? Or is this a concerted effort to bury public knowledge of more potential war crimes? Will we ever know?
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