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Mark Caserta: Bergdahl deal was no bargain for US

2 Apr

But a great deal for the Taliban

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Free State Patriot Editor – Mark Caserta

Apr. 02, 2015 @ 12:01 AM

Desertion on the field of battle has always been considered a loathsome deed. Besides being a blatant act of cowardice, it violates the military oath of enlistment and compromises the safety of others. And as any military person will tell you, a soldier must be able to trust his brother- or sister-in-arms with his or her very life.

Last week, the Army announced that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier who slipped away from his Afghanistan patrol base in 2009 and was held in captivity for five years by the Taliban, will now be charged with desertion and misbehavior. If found guilty of endangering the safety of a command, unit or place, Bergdahl faces life imprisonment.

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I don’t propose to usurp a military court’s decision by prejudging Bergdahl’s guilt or innocence, even though members of his own platoon have stated publicly they fully believe the soldier deserted them.

I do propose to deal with the terms, conditions and consequences of his return.

While it’s just to presume Bergdahl’s innocence until he’s proven guilty, it’s also prudent to be cautious about prematurely including him in the honored list of brave men and women who have proudly demonstrated their loyalty to our country.

Many recall the president’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice going on various Sunday talk shows claiming Bergdahl served his country with “honor and distinction.” And then there was President Obama publicly embracing Bergdahl’s parents in the Rose Garden while allowing Robert Bergdahl to deliver a message to his son, “Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim,” an Arabic phrase considered by some to be a major pillar of Islam. It means, “In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate.”

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But perhaps most disparaging is the insipid way the White House chose to handle Bergdahl’s return.

Bergdahl was a soldier who had reportedly expressed his disillusionment with the Army and his country and acted on it by leaving his post and possibly collaborating with the enemy. Logic would suggest any trade would be a fair and equitable one. But not only did Obama choose to return to the Taliban five of their most senior officers, he broke the law in doing so.

An independent review by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office declared the president indeed broke the law in authorizing the release of five Taliban detainees held by the U.S. in exchange for Bergdahl without giving Congress 30 days’ notice.

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And now intelligence suggests that three of the five released detainees are attempting to re-engage in militant activities, possibly against the U.S.

It was clear from the outset that any charges against Bergdahl would be extremely embarrassing for the White House given its early stance.

Nevertheless, the rush to honor Bowe Bergdahl’s military service before the facts were known dishonors the service of those who have defended our country with valor. And the inept decision to trade five Taliban leaders for his return has placed our nation at risk.

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Once again, poor judgment and skewed values will place Barack Obama on the wrong side of history – at our nation’s detriment.

Mark Caserta is a conservative blogger, a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.

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