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Bowe Bergdahl Tag

Bowe Bergdahl will serve no jail time for deserting his Afghanistan post in 2009 leaving other soldiers endangered, a military judge concluded Friday. Bergdahl will instead be dishonorably discharged and required to surrender "pay equal to $1,000 per month for 10 months," Politico reported.

Sources have told The Associated Press that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the man rescued from former President Barack Obama in exchange for Taliban members at Gitmo, is expected to plead guilty to charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy to avoid a trial. Obama showed off Bergdahl and made a big deal of his exchange deal with the Taliban, but it didn't take long for news to surface that Bergdahl actually deserted his post in Afghanistan and put other soldiers in danger.

Military deserter Bowe Bergdahl was hoping for a pardon from President Obama which never came. Now that President Trump has taken office, Bergdahl's lawyers are claiming he can't be guaranteed a fair trial due to Trump's prior criticism of him. The Hill reports:
Bergdahl lawyers press for dismissal after Trump inauguration Lawyers for former prisoner of war and Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl made good on their promise to call for his case to be dismissed based on President Trump’s campaign comments against him, filing a motion on Inauguration Day.

Bowe Bergdahl, the deserter who tried to join the Taliban only to be taken captive by them, has been sitting down for a series of interviews with filmmaker Mark Boal and that are available via podcast.  In these interviews, Bergdahl describes escape attempts, the Taliban's weakness for sweets, and their curiosity about whether or not Obama is gay. The New York Post reports:
Bergdahl said he saw his first chance at escape soon after his abduction in Afghanistan’s eastern Paktika province, when a water delivery temporarily distracted his captors. He managed to slip off the chains binding his hands and feet and unlatched the flimsy wire holding the door to his cell closed. He was free for only 15 minutes, running barefoot over rocks and climbing onto a roof and covering himself in mud to hide, he said in audio used by the podcast. He was caught in moments and hauled back into his cell, where men beat him with a rubber hose. They then blindfolded him and moved him to a new home, in what he now believes was North Waziristan in Pakistan, he said.
In a later attempt to escape, Bergdahl was longer than fifteen minutes; he managed to evade capture for seven days.

Bowe Bergdahl, who reportedly left his post to go look for al Queda, was charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.  Today, it was announced that Bergdahl will face a court martial and a possible life sentence. CNN reports:

U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will face a military court on charges of desertion and endangering fellow soldiers, the U.S. Army announced Monday.

Gen. Robert Abrams, the commander of U.S. Army Forces Command, ordered the court-martial on Monday, breaking with the U.S. military officer overseeing Bergdahl's preliminary hearing who recommended that Bergdahl be referred to a special court-martial and face no jail time.

Abrams on Monday ordered Bergdahl's case to a general court-martial, which means Bergdahl could face life imprisonment if convicted of "misbehavior before the enemy by endangering the safety of a command, unit or place."

Earlier this year, we covered the charges that Bowe Bergdahl faced; these included desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.  He was facing a possible dishonorable discharge and life in prison.  Amy wrote at the time:
Last year, the United States released 5 high-profile al Qaeda commandos from the Guantanamo Bay detention facilities in exchange for the release Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Bergdahl was captured by militants after he allegedly deserted his base in Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan. The exchange embroiled the Obama Administration in scandal—why did we trade dangerous prisoners for the freedom of a deserter?—and the public quickly began to demand answers about what consequences should and would rain down on Bergdahl’s head.
You may recall the outrageous pomp and circumstance with which Obama shared the news of this swap with the American people (despite knowing at the time, as General McChrystal later revealed, that Bergdahl was a deserter): Even after it was revealed that Bergdahl was a deserter (at best), Obama continued to defend his decision to trade five top Taliban leaders for him, saying "we leave no soldier behind."

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.

The drama surrounding the official prisoner swap in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has left a lot of Americans wondering just what happened in the days leading up to Bergdahl's going AWOL and eventual capture by the Taliban back in 2009. Sgt. Bergdahl is now on trial on counts for desertion and misbehavior before the enemy; if convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison. His attorneys, however, aren't prepared to go down without a fight. Defense counsel is planning to argue that Bergdahl couldn't be a deserter because it was never his intention to desert. Instead, they say Bergdahl simply wanted to leave and go to the closest forward operating base to lodge a complaint against his unit. Bergdahl's platoon mates' response? One man says its "asinine." Watch:

Last year, the United States released 5 high-profile al Qaeda commandos from the Guantanamo Bay detention facilities in exchange for the release Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Bergdahl was captured by militants after he allegedly deserted his base in Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan. The exchange embroiled the Obama Administration in scandal---why did we trade dangerous prisoners for the freedom of a deserter?---and the public quickly began to demand answers about what consequences should and would rain down on Bergdahl's head. Today, finally, the Army announced that Bergdahl has been charged with one count each of desertion and "misbehavior before the enemy." If convicted, he could face life in prison. More from CNN:
The Army concluded its investigation into the circumstances of Bergdahl's capture in December. Until now, it has been in the hands of Gen. Mark Milley, head of U.S. Army Forces Command, who made the decision to charge Bergdahl. Several U.S. military officials CNN has spoken with suggested privately that the process took longer than expected. Ahead of Wednesday's announcement, officials said Milley only had a few choices. Though the sense had been that Bergdahl must be held accountable for his actions, there had been little appetite for a lengthy term in military confinement given the five years Bergdahl was held by the Taliban. Bergdahl, who's now 28, was taken by the Haqqani terrorist network. But the circumstances of Bergdahl's departure from his base and how willingly he left have not been clear. King said he couldn't offer those details on Wednesday, and that they're being treated as evidence for the upcoming proceedings against Bergdahl. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Arizona, called the charges an "important step" on Wednesday.
Of course, it wouldn't be politics if we didn't leave the charges to the lawyers and dive into the electoral consequences of one of the Administration's most controversial decisions.

Berg-dog. Club Gitmo. Feeling so...ISIS right now. Every year, the city of Tampa, Florida gathers at the Gasparilla Pirate Festival to soak in a little sun, a little more music, and one too many of those gigantic frozen margaritas. Not exactly the best venue to discuss pressing issues of foreign policy, but still---you'd expect the attendees to have at least a basic awareness of the things that threaten their country at any given moment. Or would you? Maybe not after today. Fox News' Jesse Watters traveled down to Gasparilla to see just how many attendees he could coax into revealing a rudimentary grasp on current events. The results will not shock you. From Fox News Insider:
“Do you think [the administration] should keep Gitmo open or close it?”
“Open, so we can have fun.” “Club Gitmo?” “You know it!”
No. Surely not.
“Do you know what ISIS is?”
“Being alone.”
This is real. This is a thing that is real that has happened and if I have to deal with it, then so do you. Watch:

Now this is interesting. The General Accounting Office has just issued a report concluding that the Department of Defense broke the law in the Bergdahl-Taliban swap (h/t @JakeTapper). It has to do with the requirement of congressional notification prior to transferring a detainee at Gitmo. Bowe Bergdahl was swapped for 5 high level Taliban Gitmo detainees with no notice to Congress. Here's the Summary of the GAO report:
The Department of Defense (DOD) violated section 8111 of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2014 when it transferred five individuals detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the nation of Qatar without providing at least 30 days notice to certain congressional committees. Section 8111 prohibits DOD from using appropriated funds to transfer any individuals detained at Guantanamo Bay unless the Secretary of Defense notifies certain congressional committees at least 30 days before the transfer. As a consequence of using its appropriations in a manner specifically prohibited by law, DOD also violated the Antideficiency Act.
The full report is here, and concludes as follows:
Our opinion in this matter rests upon the Secretary of Defense’s responsibility to comply with a notification condition on the availability of appropriations to transfer individuals from Guantanamo Bay. This opinion does not address the Secretary’s decision to transfer the five individuals in this case as part of DOD’s efforts to secure the release of an American soldier. However, when DOD failed to notify specified congressional committees at least 30 days in advance of its transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to Qatar, DOD used appropriated funds in violation of section 8111. As a consequence of using its appropriations in a manner specifically prohibited by law, DOD violated the Antideficiency Act. See 31 U.S.C. § 1341(a). DOD should report its Antideficiency Act violation as required by law.
So what? Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch says the penalties are pretty significant:

The other day we noted how the father of Johnny "Mike" Spann reacted with dismay to the Taliban-Bowe Bergdahl swap. Mike Spann, a CIA officer and former Marine, was the first American killed in the Afghanistan war, during an uprising of prisoners in Northern Afghanistan. We have covered the story many times over the years. It is one of heroism, of small groups of special forces and CIA officers who operated in conjunction with Northern Afghanistan ethnic warlords to rout the Taliban long before there was a sizable U.S. ground presence. One of those warlords was Uzbek General Abdul Rashid Dostum, who wrote a memorial to Spann and erected a monument (featured image). General Dostum is back in the news as he's running for Vice President of Afghanistan [the runoff election is today], and as ethnic warlords once again are seen as the key to fighting the Taliban as the U.S. winds down. Oh, and General Dostum is on Twitter. The uprising that led to Spann's death included not only so-called American Taliban John Walker Lindh (now in prison in the U.S.), but also one of the 5 Taliban leaders exchanged for Bergdahl. We've previously featured Spann's daughter Alison, and all her great accomplishments. Alison was recently interviewed on Fox News (via Instapundit) and echoed her grandfather's dismay at the swap:

If Hillary Clinton becomes the Democratic presidential nominee in 2016, her Republican opponent had better show part of this clip. I'm surprised it isn't being talked about more, because it is positively Obaman in its offensiveness and duplicity, and its contempt for the listener. It also comes across as insincere and unconvincing, but that never stopped Obama either: Let's contemplate that in print:
These five guys are not a threat to the United States. They are a threat to the safety and security of Afghanistan and Pakistan. It’s up to those two countries to make the decision once and for all that these are threats to them. So I think we may be kind of missing the bigger picture here. We want to get an American home, whether they fell off the ship because they were drunk or they were pushed or they jumped, we try to rescue everybody.
Hillary must think the American people have forgotten why we went into Afghanistan in the first place. Maybe they have; after all, what difference does it make? It happened so long ago---twelve and a half years, and even longer ago by the time the 2016 election rolls around---that a great many of the voters to whom Hillary expects to appeal would have been little children back then.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, along with Defense Department General Counsel Stephen Preston, appeared Wednesday before the House Armed Services Committee for a hearing to address The May 31, 2014 Transfer of Five Senior Taliban Detainees. The agreement to release those five detainees when the U.S. arranged to recover Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl from captivity has sparked controversy since those details became known. Another point of contention has been the Obama administration’s decision not to notify Congress of the exchange in advance.  Both of these were areas of focus that received much attention in Wednesday’s hearing. Hagel provided some insight into the negotiation process of the exchange at the start of the hearing in his prepared opening remarks, explaining that the opportunity came about quickly and many of the details had not been clarified until merely days before the exchange took place. This, he indicated, influenced the decision not to notify Congress in advance.  In addition, Hagel explained, there were concerns about potential leaks that could derail the process.
As the opportunity to obtain Sergeant Bergdahl’s release became clearer, we grew increasingly concerned that any delay, or any leaks, could derail the deal and further endanger Sergeant Bergdahl. We were told by the Qataris that a leak would end the negotiations for Bergdahl’s release. We also knew that he would be extremely vulnerable during any movement, and our military personnel conducting the hand-off would be exposed to a possible ambush or other deadly scenarios in very dangerous territory. And we had been given no information on where the hand-off would occur.
This sparked criticism from both sides of the political aisle. From the Wall Street Journal:

The polling is pretty consistent that the public is not buying Obama's spin on the trade of 5 senior Taliban Gitmo detainees for alleged deserter Bowe Bergdahl. CBS News reports:
Just over a week after U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was freed by the Taliban, a CBS News Poll shows 45 percent of Americans disapprove of the deal that saw him released in exchange for five Taliban militants, while 37 percent approve of it. About one in five do not have an opinion. Views differ by political party: most Republicans disapprove of the deal, while just over half of Democrats approve. Among those who have served in the military, 55 percent disapprove of the prisoner swap. Most Americans -- 56 percent -- say the U.S. paid too high a price to secure Bergdahl's release. Among veterans, that figure rises to 65 percent. Republicans and independents say the deal cost the U.S. too much, while Democrats are more divided: 42 percent think the terms of the agreement were reasonable, but almost as many -- 39 percent -- say the U.S. paid too high a price.
Pew Research further finds: