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Military Deserter Bowe Bergdahl Pleads Guilty
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Summary: Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl has pled guilty to desertion.

On Monday, disgraced soldier Bowe Bergdahl pled guilty to misbehavior and desertion. In 2009, he had left the army without being dismissed; and while fleeing, he was captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan. In 2015, President Barack Obama’s administration negotiated his rescue by exchanging five detainees from Guantanamo Bay. The move was met with some opposition, but Obama said the U.S. did not leave soldiers behind.

  
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Bergdahl, 31, stood in front of a judge on Monday and pled guilty, according to CNN. He explained that he had deserted his post in order to reach the base where he had been dispatched. He said that there was a problem with the chain of command but did not specify what.

“I left my observation post on my own,” Bergdahl said. “I understand leaving was against the law.”

Hours after Bergdahl disappeared, the Taliban captured him. He said during Monday’s hearing that he had attempted to escape 12-15 times and that he had been tortured for years. The torture he endured included being chained to a bed and locked in a cage.

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Bergdahl was released in 2014 in a prisoner swap for five Taliban leaders who were held at Guantanamo Bay. Bergdahl was at first considered a hero upon his release until it was discovered that he had been captured only because of his own recklessness.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, then-Republican candidate Donald Trump said Bergdahl should’ve been shot for abandoning his post.



“In the good old days, he would have been executed,” Trump said.

Bergdahl’s lawyers used the new president’s words as a defense, saying that Bergdahl could not get a fair trial because of Trump’s condemnation. However, a military judge said that the charges would not be dismissed, and Bergdahl chose to do a trial by judge instead of a jury. Bergdahl told ABC News in 2016, that he did not believe he could get due process after Trump’s comment.

“We may as well go back to kangaroo courts and lynch mobs. They got what they wanted,” Bergdahl said. “People who are to the point of saying, ‘Yeah, just shoot him’ — you can never convince those people to change their minds.”

Judge Army Colonel Jeffery R. Nance said that Bergdahl could face the maximum penalty which is life in prison. The Washington Post said that this punishment is rarely used but was in place to stop service members from “running away, surrendering or otherwise endangering fellow troops’ safety through disobedience, neglect or intentional misconduct.”

Bergdahl told the judge that when he ran away, he did not believe anyone would search for him. In fact, thousands were deployed to help find and free Bergdahl, and the search resulted in injuries and high cost.

“I understand that leaving was against the law,” Bergdahl said. “I believed they would notice me missing, but I didn’t believe they would have reason to search for one private.”

A sentencing hearing date has been set for October 21 in Fort Bragg. According to The Washington Post, the hearing could consist of testimony from servicemen who were injured searching for Bergdahl, who was examined by a doctor and found to have the mental disorder known as schizotypal personality disorder.

What do you think of Bowe Bergdahl? Let us know in the comments below.



 

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