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Nate Jackson / November 3, 2017

Disgraceful: Bergdahl Walks Free

“Bergdahl paid a bitter price for the choices that he made”? So did the men killed and wounded after his disgraceful desertion.

Former U.S. Army PFC Bowe Bergdahl (don’t buy the phony promotion to sergeant) is going to be a free man with only a dishonorable discharge, reduction in rank and forfeiture of back pay for deserting his unit while in Afghanistan in 2009. He recently pleaded guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, and the judge, Army Col. Jeffery R. Nance, issued his decision today. At least three and some say six soldiers were killed in ambushes while searching for Bergdahl as he rotted in a Taliban prison. Barack Obama then traded five of the most dangerous Taliban detainees at Gitmo for the America-hating Bergdahl, all while Team Obama insisted Bergdahl served “with honor and distinction.”

“Sgt. Bergdahl has been punished enough,” insisted Capt. Nina Banks, a defense attorney. “Sgt. Bergdahl paid a bitter price for the choices that he made.”

So did the men killed and wounded after his disgraceful desertion. For example, Master Sergeant Mark Allen suffered a head injury during one search mission leaving him unable to walk or speak.

Moreover, as Ed Morrissey argues, “Bergdahl’s Taliban captivity was entirely Bergdahl’s doing. All this does is make a dishonorable discharge the only consequence of desertion, which basically makes the action its own punishment.”

Bergdahl last week apologized in court, saying, “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.”

Our own Jordan Candler asked the right question: “Why would Bergdahl plead guilty if he was, as he claims, merely trying to help? Probably because he’s betting on a lighter sentence.” Well, it looks like the judge fell for Bergdahl’s faux apology. Instead of a maximum life sentence, or even the 14 years prosecutors sought, Bergdahl is now a free man.

Worse, there appears to be an effort on Nance’s part to “mitigate” comments made by President Donald Trump, if not outright rebuke the commander in chief. While campaigning for president, Trump repeatedly called Bergdahl a “traitor” who “should have been executed.” On Oct. 16, he declined further comment, saying, “They’re setting up sentencing, so I’m not going to comment on him. But I think people have heard my comments in the past.”

During a hearing, Nance declared, “I will consider the president’s comments as mitigation evidence as I arrive at an appropriate sentence.” Letting Bergdahl off with an effective slap on the wrist was thus a slap in the face to Trump. That’s not justice; it’s petty political retribution, and Nance should be ashamed.

Today Trump said, “The decision on Sergeant Bergdahl is a complete and total disgrace to our Country and to our Military.” He’s absolutely right.

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