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Jordan Candler / October 31, 2017

Judge Shouldn’t Fall for Bergdahl’s Faux Apology

Bergdahl was unfairly rewarded once. The presiding judge shouldn’t add insult to injury.

The unprincipled man who “served the United States with honor and distinction,” in the tone-deaf words of Barack Obama’s national security advisor, plead guilty recently to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. This week, “Sergeant” Bowe Bergdahl made public remarks in court, where a military judge will determine his plight. Bergdahl reportedly explained to the court, “Saying I’m sorry isn’t enough. My words can’t take away the pain that people have been through. I was trying to help, and the fact that I did not breaks my heart.”

The first part is definitely true. But Bergdahl’s contention that he was “trying to help” is laughable. According to ABC News, “Bergdahl claims that he left his base to report misconduct in his unit to an officer. During two hours of questioning from his lawyers, Bergdahl talked about the physical abuse, including living in a metal cage for much of the time, being beaten and burned by his captors, and being chained spread-eagle to a bed. He was so weak at times that he couldn’t even stand up and didn’t know who he was or where he was.” What other outcome did he expect by going to the Taliban?

Bergdahl even tried to put a heroic spin on his ordeal: “When asked what kept him going for those five years of captivity, Bergdahl replied, ‘Trying to find a way to escape. Trying to gather as much intel as I could, so I could get that back out. Not letting them win.’” Yet it’s impossible to conclude heroism on his part when taking into account the remarks of Shannon Allen, the wife of Master Sgt. Mark Allen who became an unfortunate and permanent victim of Bergdahl’s callous behavior — Allen was shot in the head during an ambush, and is left with permanent paralysis, brain damage and the inability to speak.

According to Shannon: “The interactions have changed significantly. … His involvement now is much more passive. … He lost me as a wife because I have become his caregiver. … We can’t even hold hands anymore without me prying open his.”

And that’s not to mention the men who killed during the search or in related missions.

Why would Bergdahl plead guilty if he was, as he claims, merely trying to help? Probably because he’s betting on a lighter sentence. ABC notes, “The detailed account of his torture and the admission of guilt and responsibility came after a military judge ruled that President Donald Trump’s comments about Bergdahl do not mean the soldier can’t receive a fair sentencing — but that those disparaging comments, including calling Bergdahl a traitor and suggesting he should be executed, will be considered a mitigating factor in his sentencing.” Meaning a life sentence might be off the table. Bergdahl was unfairly rewarded when Obama handed over five terrorists in exchange for him. The presiding judge shouldn’t add insult to injury.

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