Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl remains a mystery. He pleaded guilty Monday to abandoning his post in Afghanistan in 2009. Bergdahl was rescued in 2014 after 5 years as a prisoner of the Taliban when President Obama offered 5 terrorist prisoners in exchange for Bergdahl’s release. It remains uncertain how Bergdahl will be sentenced.
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The maximum sentence for misbehavior in front of the enemy is life in prison. The desertion charge could carry a sentence of 5 years.
Bergdahl’s release in May of 2014 was highly controversial. Many believe the men and resources used to search for Bergdahl were wasted. Others believe more conspiratorial theories that suggest the efforts to rescue Bergdahl indicate he was engaged in espionage collection when he was captured. The Obama administration went so far as to say Bergdahl had “served with honor and distinction.”
The Army hasn’t been so willing to forgive. As Fox reports, “The U.S. Army said Bergdahl asked to enter his plea before the military judge, which brings the saga closer to an end eight years after Bergdahl’s disappearance in Afghanistan set off search missions by scores of his fellow service members.”
Army Col. Jeffery R. Nance, the judge responsible for sentencing, will decide on Oct. 23.
Reports about Bergdahl’s time in captivity have painted a confusing picture. At times, he was clearly a prisoner. He was tortured and held in captivity. Yet other reports indicate he willingly converted to Islam, befriended his captors, and even gained their trust. Some witnesses said he was treated as an equal, and allowed to carry a firearm.
If true, it mocks the efforts made to save him. This summer, Fox writes, a “judge ruled that a Navy SEAL and an Army National Guard sergeant wouldn’t have wound up in separate firefights that left them wounded if they hadn’t been searching for Bergdahl.”
Bergdahl dismisses the criticism. “We may as well go back to kangaroo courts and lynch mobs that got what they wanted,” Bergdahl told a documentary film maker. “The people who want to hang me, you’re never going to convince those people.”