Army May Investigate Desertion Charge Against Bergdahl

Gen. Martin Dempsey

Gen. Martin Dempsy, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Tuesday the Army may still charges that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was captured by Taliban forces after he deserted his post in Afghanistan five years ago.

Gen. Dempsey told reporters that U.S. military leaders “have been accused of looking away from misconduct” but said “it’s premature” to assume they would do so in Sgt. Bergdahl’s case.

In what the White House is calling a “recovery,” Sgt. Bergdahl was freed Saturday after nearly five years of captivity by the Taliban in Afghanistan in exchange for the transfer of five former Guantanamo Bay prison detainees to Qatar.

Military officials have said Sgt. Bergdahl was captured after he voluntarily walked off his post in eastern Afghanistan. According to first-hand accounts from soldiers in his platoon, Bergdahl, while on guard duty, shed his weapons and walked off the observation post with nothing more than a compass, a knife, water, a digital camera and a diary.

E-mails reported by the late Michael Hastings in Rolling Stone in 2012 reveal Bergdahl no longer supported the war effort. “The future is too good to waste on lies,” one e-mail read. “And life is way too short to care for the damnation of others as well as to spend it helping fools with their ideas that are wrong … I am sorry for everything. The horror that is America is disgusting.”

Pentagon officials on multiple occasions knew where Sgt. Bergdahl was being held captive in Afghanistan, but opted to not launch rescue missions to save a “deserter,” it was reported on Monday.

President Obama on Tuesday defended his decision to bring Sgt. Bergdahl home, saying he “seized an opportunity” and was acting as any president should at the end of a war.

In a separate statement distributed to the media, Gen. Dempsey said Sgt. Bergdahl is innocent until proven guilty and that the Army will get the facts when Sgt. Bergdahl is able to provide them. In the meantime, the Army will continue to care for him and his family.

“[T]he questions about this particular soldier’s conduct are separate from our effort to recover ANY U.S. service member in enemy captivity,” Gen. Dempsey said. “This was likely the last, best opportunity to free him.”

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