As much as the White House might wish it would, the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap scandal simply refuses to die.

Last year, the U.S. government released 5 Taliban terrorists in exchange for the life of Bowe Bergdahl, a man who most of the country—and all of his colleagues—believes deserted his post in Afghanistan in 2009. Since then, administration officials have been on offense, defending their actions before Congress, members of the media, and the families of soldiers who kept their posts under fire.

The swap was only half the scandal. Soon after the swap went down, Bergdahl and his parents were invited to the White House for a very public visit, and Susan Rice rode the TV circuit to proclaim that Bergdahl had served honorably and had earned his rescue.

Not so fast, though. New information coming from some of Bergdahl’s platoonmates suggests that then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen knew in 2009 that Bergdahl was at least suspected of desertion—which means that it’s likely the White House knew then, too.

Fox News reports on conversations platoonmate Sgt. Matt Vierkant says he had with Mullen:

After pulling security duty for the chairman, who was doing a swing through Afghanistan in December 2009, Vierkant, along with Evan Buetow and Cody Full, said they met informally with Mullen and about eight other soldiers. After a pep talk about the mission, the three said Mullen asked the squad leaders and platoon leadership to take a break.

“He sat down with all the lower enlisted guys and the team leaders and basically he said, ‘Hey, what do you want to know…You got any questions? He’s like, I’m an open book. Let’s just have a little question and answer session,” Buetow explained.

“So Matt asked him, you know Bergdahl deserted, what’s going on with that? And Admiral Mullen said, ‘Yes, we know all the circumstances surrounding Bergdahl walking away from the OP (outpost,)and we’re still working on getting him back, figuring out where he is and kind of figuring out that whole situation.’”

This account was backed up by a third platoon mate, former Specialist Cody Full. The men were split on whether Mullen singled them out because of the Bergdahl connection or whether it was a chance meeting, but they emphasized that at the time, they appreciated the fact that Mullen seemed to speak candidly and openly.

Catherine Herridge of Fox News explains why this is significant: in 2009, Mullen reported directly to President Obama and then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. If he knew about the alleged desertion, he would have sent that information up the chain of command—straight to the Oval Office, making the administration’s claims of honorable service suspect at best.

Mullen hasn’t offered much comment on this new information, saying only, “[f]rom the moment Sgt. Bergdahl went missing, the U.S. Military was focused on finding him–as it does with any serviceman or woman who goes missing. The exact circumstances were not known then, nor did they drive our decisions. We do not leave our people behind.”

If I were a betting woman, I’d bet that this ends less than favorably for the Obama Administration.


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