Bowe Bergdahl was released by the Taliban this week after close to five years in captivity. However, back home in the United States, a new trouble is brewing among those who believe the Army Sergeant is a traitor who purposely left his post in Afghanistan to join the Taliban.
Bergdahl was released this weekend from the Taliban after American officials agreed to swap detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay.
As he moves to Germany to receive medical treatment and debriefing, Bergdahl is being attacked by many military members and veterans as well as some conservatives who believe he is a traitor rather than a hero.
Shortly after his release was announced, the Army Times’ Facebook page came alive with debate over Bergdahl’s responsibility in the capture. In June 2009 he laid down his weapon and abandoned his base in Afghanistan, leading to his capture by the Taliban.
Many commenters painted Bowe Bergdahl as a traitor, including Stephen Kirouac who said he was a “dirtbag.”
“He is a dirtbag that now should spend the next 20yrs+ in Leavenworth… his fellow soldiers were affected by his actions, he is a sympathizer and deserves to be tried for desertion,” wrote Kirouac, who identified himself as a company commander at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Others have accused Bergdahl of trying to join the Taliban, though critics say these claims were just propaganda from his Taliban captors.
Some see the criticism as a front for a political attack. On the left-leaning Daily Kos, member Drill Sgt K wrote:
I think the reasons [negative comments] are two fold: first that he was released under Obama’s watch. That irked them to no end. second, he was released due to negotiations and not a massive deadly assault into another nation – like with bin Lauden.
These right wing nuts feel they have the Sgt. pegged as a “traitor” because the Taliban said he was helping them. That he is a “deserter” because the Tailban said he had walked away from his post…or gone out drinking…or left the FOB to use a makeshift latrine…or go AWOL for a few days. That he is a “collaborator” because he appeared in several (4) videos produced by the Taliban instead of fighting to the death or escaping.
It seems that the Taliban is a more reliable source of information about a US Soldier than the US Military which has stated:”The Taliban are known for lying and what they are claiming [is] not true” and “I’m glad to see he appears unharmed, but again, this is a Taliban propaganda video. They are exploiting the soldier in violation of international law.”
There have been red flags about Bowe Bergdahl for several years. A Rolling Stone article published in 2012 painted him as a troubled soldier who grew disenchanted about the Army and his mission in Afghanistan. The article indicated that he had a vigilante complex and may have left his post to seek out the enemy himself.
But whatever debate there may be about Bowe Bergdahl being a traitor, it seems highly unlikely any action would come of it. His released was hailed by President Obama and is seen as a victory, making any chance of a court marital slim at best.