Bergdahl: Hero or Traitor?

By Stefan Matias Kløvning

Sergeant Robert Bowe Bergdahl, now 31 years old, went into the U.S. Army in 2008, also having served 26 days in the Coast Guard in 2006. During the time he fought in Afghanistan in mid-2009, he at one point deserted his station. He was next seen pleading for freedom in proof-of-life videos released by the Taliban-aligned Haqqani network. He was taken captive by them hours after leaving the station. He claims he tried effortlessly to escape 12-15 times during the captivity and having suffered torture, and was released in May 2014 by the prison in Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, in exchange for five alleged Taliban officials.

Obama did not inform Congress of the releases, though under law he must give a 30-day notice to Capitol Hill before any transferral of terrorists from Guantanamo occurs. He and his administration defended the action by referring to that the possibility would’ve been lost if not taken at once. Law professor Jonathan Turley said of the transferal that it obviously violated federal law, but said that the question of whether the law being constitutional was a more difficult one.

Not long after Bergdahl was captured, the Taliban offered tribal leaders to arrange a trade with U.S. forces, the release of Bergdahl for the release of fifteen of their jailed fighters, as well as an unidentified sum of money. The deal which could have let him out immediately was denied.

It has been much argued Bergdahl being a traitor, while others admire him for being so strong to have endured years of torture. One of his biggest critics is President Donald Trump himself, openly condemning both Bergdahl and the exchange. He said in a tweet in June 1, 2014, that Obama had created a “VERY BAD precedent” for the exchange, proclaiming it to be “another U.S. loss!” In August 2016 he repeated the critique, saying “We get Bergdahl, who was a traitor, and they get five of the greatest killers that they’ve wanted for eight years. We get Bergdahl – I call it the five for one trade.” In a campaign rally in October 2015 he even suggested that Bergdahl should be executed, though “You probably can’t do it, but if I win I may just have him flown back in the middle of that place and dropped, right in the middle. Let them have him, let him have them. That’s cheaper than a bullet.” He repeated this in Nov. 9 the same year, “in the old days when we were strong and wise, we shoot a guy like that.”

Bergdahl took notice of Trump’s rhetoric, and told ABC News that it would be impossible for him to get a fair trial with him in office. “We may as well go back to go back to kangaroo courts and lynch mobs that got what they wanted. The people who want to hang me; you’re never going to convince those people to change their minds,” he proclaimed. His judges also said the charges should be dismissed because Trump’s comments violated his right to due-process, but the military judge ruled against this dismissal. The sentencing hearing is scheduled to begin on October 23, and is assigned to Colonel Jeffrey R. Nance, an Army military judge.

There has been much speculation as to why exactly he left his position that night in June 2009, and it hasn’t been made fully clear, as none of the members of the unit saw him go. An army fact-finding investigation were conducted months after his disappearance, and they found that he “left his outpost deliberately and of his own free will,” according to a military official briefed on the report. His former comrades recalled that, before he went missing, that he spoke of wanting to get lost in the mountains and walking to India.
The desertion charge itself could lead to five years in prison, but if he is also charged with “misbehavior before the enemy,” it would be lifetime imprisonment. A senior U.S. defense official said in 2014 that they had not classified him as a deserter, but he plead guilty to this on 16th October this year, without having made a pre-trial agreement before the plea, according to governmental and defense sources. There is only speculation as to why he would leave his post, and what happened between he left and when he was captured. Former Pfc. Jose Baggett observed that “He walked off. He left his guard post. Nobody knows if he defected or he’s a traitor or he was kidnapped. What I do know is, he was there to protect us, and instead he decided to defer from America and go do his own thing. I don’t know why he decided to do that, but we spent so much of our resources, and some of those resources were soldiers’ lives.” Bergdahl admitted in the plea that “I left my observation post on my own. I understand leaving was against the law.” He said during the guilty plea that the reason for deserting was to report “a critical problem” in his chain of command, and that “at the time, I had no intention of causing search and recovery operations, but I understand now that my decision prompted efforts into finding me,” adding that he got lost after twenty minutes and was captured hours later. Former Army Spc. Cody Full, a former member of his battalion, objected to his excuse, explaining the military having an open-door policy for service members to voice concerns about chains of commands, so it was irrational for him to do what he did. He added that Bergdahl “literally put thousands of thousands of people’s lives at risk. Just so he could go and want to complain for whatever transgressions he thought happened or didn’t happen.”

What happened during the search? Six members were confirmed dead during the occasion, and former member of his battalion Nathan Bradley Bethea, who took part in the search, provided evidence to the Daily Beast the next day of the confirmation, tying eight soldiers’ deaths to the search, though Pentagon and Army officials had looked into the claims and said that “right now there is no evidence to back that up.” The former leader of his team was not aware of this either, and he added that the search of Bergdahl changed the mission(s) entirely. This all seems to be bad for Bergdahl’s case, with five terrorists released for one soldier, and nine U.S. soldiers sacrificed for an operation to find one lost. As an expert said, “the accusations raise some very serious violations of the uniform code of military justice of the uniform code of military justice and arguable violations that led to the loss of life of members of his own unit in their efforts to recover him.” What it all amounts to will be shown on the 23rd.

What kind of person was Bergdahl? He has been referred to as a “Renaissance man in the making” by his affiliates, he learned ballet, loved the outdoors, and took up the sport of fencing. He also liked motorcycling and learned how to sail. He was a traveler, was part of an expedition from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, and toured Europe before joining the Army. His friends said he had an “adventurous spirt and wanted to go see the world.” He was associated as “strong” by his family, having spent ten weeks working on pulling in sockeye salmon for 18-20 hours a day on a vessel in Alaska two years before he was taken captive. His former boss Dan Collins admitted “he was up to it. I am at times not the easiest guy to get along with, being a fishing boat’s captain. But I imagine I am easy compared to what he is dealing with every day now.” He is by friends and family often labeled as “polite,” “gentleman” and “sportsman.”

Did Bergdahl help the enemy? There is no direct evidence for this, but some experts suggested, based on the proof-of-life clips, that he may have developed Stockholm-syndrome for his captors, and some former comrades observed the enemy executing “very calculated, very methodical” attacks after the disappearance, suggesting that he may have given the Taliban intel. It has been claimed that he learned the languages and customs of the Afghan region, and grew a beard to show solidarity for his son, which suggests at best that he could talk with the terrorists in their own language and know their ways, and at worse that learning their customs radicalized him. According to the Rolling Stones, he denounced America’s actions in Afghanistan in a mail to his parents before leaving, saying:
“I am sorry for everything here. These people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid…
We don’t even care when we hear each other talk about running their children down in the dirt streets with our armored trucks.”
He received a response from his father exhorting him to “OBEY YOUR CONSCIENCE,” before he deserted. The Rolling Stones reports: “One man versus the wilds of Afghanistan, Bergdahl was equipped with just a knife, water, a digital camera and his diary. Barely 24 hours later, he’d be taken prisoner.” The truth of this whole event may as well all lay in his diary.
An Army Sanity Board evaluation from July 2015 claimed Bergdahl had schizotypal disorder at the time he left the post, which could indicate development of distrust, and could in theory have been a reasoning for treason if any such act were committed.
The supposition that he tried to escape 12-15 times doesn’t seem to go with the theory of him working side-by-side with the Taliban though. When he was captured after an escape attempt in Autumn 2011, which of a Taliban fighter said Bergdahl “fought like a boxer.”

Rather strangely, the army promoted Bergdahl in rank during his captivity, and were later scheduled to be promoted to the rank of staff sergeant in June 2014, the same month as his release. Why this happened is a mystery, but it could be related to the White House cover-up of the event, the members of his brigade being forced to sign non-disclosure agreements, and the Pentagon allegedly “scrambled to shut down any public discussion of Bowe.” Bergdahl’s sister, Sky, wrote in an email that “I am afraid our government here in D.C. would like nothing better but to sweep PFC Bergdahl under the rug and wash their hands of him.” Could it be to cover-up the exposition of supposed horrors caused by the U.S. military in the region purposefully executed by high-ranking members of the government? Possibly. We don’t know, but if this happened to be the case, it would be a huge scandal if exposed. Despite what seems to be rather an oxymoron if this happens to be true, Obama announced that the U.S. would pursue a “negotiated peace” with the Taliban to work for negotiations which they claim could end the longest war in American history. If both these are true, then how do they hang together? Could this story have been linked to a bigger picture about the war in Afghanistan? It could have been an attempt to escalate the regional dispute.
As we know, Trump increased the troop level in Afghanistan last month by several thousand, and focus on U.S. forces to target the Taliban. This was done in an effort for victory-by-outnumbering the Taliban, unlike Obama’s victory-by-negotiation strategy. If what the Rolling Stones reported is true, as well as the other sources provided, the Obama Administration could have tried to cover up Bergdahl disappearing, and by extension the suggested denouncing of US intervention in Afghanistan, to hide potential war crimes committed by the United States. With Bergdahl being held in captivity, he may have done something extraordinary to deserve being promoted, and still have been in contact with a U.S. Army high-ranking official to be so. The reason I called it an oxymoron that the government covered up the event and that Obama were open for negotiation with the Taliban is because of its indications. The former indicates a possibility of covering up supposed war crimes committed by the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, the latter indicates willingness of negotiation with the people fighting against these. If this is all true it could mean that they sponsored both sides of the war. As of why this could be, we would need to check out the origins of the war, which would be too much to go over here, but which I recommend doing. Essentially, it started as a causation from 9/11 to take out Osama bin Laden and as an attempt to take out the Taliban. Therefore, is the causation of 9/11 to a large degree related to this war, and there is about an endless amount of conspiracy theories about that event going around, which makes it hard to find the truth in the first place, but it’s also worth noting that the reason conspiracy theories emerge in the first place is because of too little information about the event presented. The theory presented here sounds similar to that of propaganda published by the Taliban, other radical Islamist groups and John Perkins’ theory of an American corporatocracy, none of which is my intention. The catch about propaganda is that you can never know exactly how much of it is true and how much is false if there isn’t a fully consistent overview of the situation in place, so though some statements can be easily disputed, others are more vague, abstract, or so outrageous that we don’t consider them possibilities. My theory was developed separately from theirs, but it may indicate a point in their reasoning (assuming the underlying premises have any factual value). There may be faults with both sides of the war here if this theory has any rational value at all, though some of it may not be under their control, but NB:

To make it perfectly clear, this theory has not been confirmed and may as well be mere speculation, which is why you should take it with a pinch of salt, and I’d appreciate rational critiques of the theory in the comments. This is only my attempt to connect the dots from the premises presented in the sources I have looked over, and I encourage others to do the same. This case may be part in something huge, or it may all have been just an exaggeration, but it’s apparent that some pieces are missing in this puzzle. One cannot expect to get all the answers to these questions during the hearing, but it’s expected to make the event more or less clear. There may be an update on Goldfire Media if more vital information is uncovered.

 

Sources:
http://edition.cnn.com/2017/10/16/politics/bowe-bergdahl-guilty-plea/index.html
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/10/16/bowe-bergdahl-expected-to-plead-guilty-in-desertion-case.html
http://edition.cnn.com/2014/06/05/us/questions-sgt-bowe-bergdahl-controversy/index.html
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/03/17/bergdahl-had-psychiatric-disorder-when-left-post-documents-say.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bowe_Bergdahl
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/13-things-you-need-to-know-about-bowe-bergdahl-20140602
http://edition.cnn.com/2017/08/21/politics/trump-afghan-plan-five-things/index.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_in_Afghanistan_(2001–present)
http://abcnews.go.com/US/donald-trump-condemned-bowe-bergdahl-taliban-release-beginning/story?id=50509168