Bowe Bergdahl deserted his post in 2009 and allegedly sought out the Taliban before being captured and held for almost five years. He pled guilty but will not face prison time.
In 2014, the Obama administration struck a controversial deal with the Taliban, trading five high-ranking enemy combatants in return for Bowe Bergdahl's release. At the time, President Obama held a Rose Garden press announcement, alongside Bergdahl's parents. National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, later worked the Sunday morning talk show circuit and said repeatedly that Bergdahl had served with "honor and distinction," a claim refuted in the military's own intelligence analyses.
Though allowed to return to duty, Bergdahl was later charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, to which he pled guilty. Worse charges, that carried the potential of a death penalty sentence, were not filed. On Friday, November 3, Bergdahl was sentenced and received no jail time for his actions.
Here are five fast facts about the Bergdahl case.
1) Bowe Bergdahl was spared prison time and instead sentenced with a dishonorable discharge, a fine forcing him to pay back wages he had earned, and a loss of his rank. Bergdahl was promoted to a Sergeant after his capture and release, so his loss of rank is not that significant. A dishonorable discharge is akin to a felony conviction, meaning that not only will Bergdahl lose access to military benefits, such as healthcare through the VA, but he will also lose his right to keep and bear arms and, in some states, even the right to vote.
2) Six American soldiers died and others were injured searching for Bergdahl after he deserted his post. It is estimated that over 1,000 American troops participated in the search, which lasted upwards of 45 days. Six of those servicemen were killed in action on these search and rescue operations. Their deaths were presented by the prosecution as a justification behind their proposed 14-year prison sentence. Prosecutors argued that had Bergdahl not deserted his post, these men would not have died.
3) Another casualty of the search for Bowe Bergdahl was a Navy dog named Remco
. The dog's handler, Navy Seal James Hatch, took the stand during Bergdahl's trial and openly wept while recalling the circumstances surrounding Remco's death. Remco was shot in the head by a militant from point blank range, just inches away. Hatch also took a shot to his lower body.
4) At least one of the five terrorists released from the military prison in Guantanamo Bay to get Bergdahl released was caught
trying to rejoin the fight against America and connect with terror cells in Qatar.
5) President Donald Trump had previously issued statements calling Bowe Bergdahl a traitor on the campaign trail. Bergdahl's legal team attempted to get the charges against their client thrown out due to these prejudicial comments from the Commander in Chief, however the Judge ruled that since the comments were made prior to Trump's election, they were not admissible.
6) It is unclear whether military prosecutors will choose to appeal the sentencing, though given President Trump's opinion on the matter, it is certainly possible that an appeal is forthcoming.
As more information is released surrounding this case, we will publish further updates.