Bowe Bergdahl should not face any jail time, Major General Kenneth Dahl said. The Army sergeant accused of desertion appeared in a standing-room-only courtroom at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio on Friday. Bergdahl walked away from his post and was held captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan for six years. He was released after President Obama negotiated a deal with the terrorist group to trade the soldier for five Gitmo detainees.
Major General Kenneth Dahl argued that Bowe Bergdahl walked off his post to get the attention of a general so he could fully express the leadership problems within his unit. Dahl also claimed that the Army sergeant felt the problems were so significant that his platoon was being placed in danger. The attorney admitted that the perceptions by the accused deserter were “completely off the mark,” MSN reports.
Bergdahl had developed an elaborate plan to walk away from his post and travel on foot to a forward operating base about 19 miles away, the major general maintained during the court hearing. Bowe allegedly expected to arrive at the base while a search for him was underway, therefore creating a “PR event” to get the nearby general to listen to his concerns, Dahl added.
“He felt it was his duty to intervene,” Dahl said after saying that the Army sergeant was a loner who wanted to help others.
The major general also said he does not think Bergdahl should receive any jail time or go to prison, the New York Times reports.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Bergdahl planned for weeks to abandon his Army post, a military prosecutor stated during the court martial hearing. The soldier walked off his post in June 2009 and was released only after President Obama swapped five Taliban detainees at Gitmo for Bergdahl, 29, in 2014.
In March, military prosecutors charged Bowe Bergdahl with misbehavior before the enemy and desertion. The ruling from the Friday Article 32 hearing will help determine if court martial charges will be levied.
During the hearing, Department of Defense staffer Terrence Russell testified about the conditions under which Bergdahl was held. Russell, who helped debrief the soldier after the Taliban trade, said the accused deserter was subjected to the worst POW conditions an American soldier has had to endure since the Vietnam War. Bergdahl was “skin over bones” by the end of his time with the Taliban, Russell said.
The sergeant was treated like a “dirty animal” and was beaten with copper and rubber hoses, Russell said Bergdahl stated during the debriefing. The Defense Department staffer also said the soldier was was kept in a cage and had uncontrollable diarrhea for years. The accused also allegedly attempted to escape multiple times and was allegedly free for nearly nine days after one of the attempts. Russel claims that Bergdahl did the best he possibly could under the circumstances.
“They don’t know what the facts are. Nobody knows Sgt. Bergdahl’s story. I hope someday the world gets to understand how difficult Sgt. Bergdahl had it,” Russell added.
Many Americans have been quick to point out that Bowe Bergdahl would not have been subjected to such harsh conditions if he had not neglected his duty and walked away from his post.
A Fort Sam Houston family nurse practitioner testified that Bergdahl’s physical injuries are consistent with being kept in crouched conditions for an extended period of time. Bergdahl also reportedly suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
During the cross-examination of a witness, it was noted that an Army psychiatric board diagnosis deemed Bergdahl to possess a “severe mental defect.” Prior to joining the Army, the accused deserter had received a psychological discharge from the United States Coast Guard.
Military prosecutor Margaret Kurz argued that Bowe Bergdahl should face a court-martial because his decision to walk off his post prompted a lengthy and dangerous search and rescue mission. The soldier’s attorney claims his client never intended to desert and said the soldier should be treated like anyone else who went on a one-day AWOL stint.
Do you think Bowe Bergdahl should be charged with desertion and possibly spend the rest of his life in a military prison?
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