Central View: Taliban Tales are stranger than Fiction
Returning soldier, Bowe Bergdahl, is being tried in the Court of Public Opinion by a Jury of his Peers — the men in his military unit who, following Bergdahl’s apparent desertion, then had to risk their lives searching for him. Moreover, Bergdahl is being vilified by the families of those soldiers who may have been killed or wounded during the search for Bergdahl. Thus far, the “evidence” against Bergdahl is so compelling that his hometown cancelled Bergdahl’s homecoming celebration.
Islamist SOP is to interrogate captives for tactical intelligence, followed by beheading. American captives are expensive to feed. They attract the attention of intelligence satellites and armed drones. That the Haqqani-Taliban kept Bergdahl alive for five years raises lots of questions. That the Pentagon never officially accorded Bergdahl POW status and yet Bergdahl was still promoted from Private to Sergeant raises even more troubling questions.
But, rather than rush to judgment, consider that fear of beheading is a powerful inducement to cooperation. As Christ said to Simon Peter, “Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.” (Luke 22: 61, NLT). Even so, recall our POWs in North Vietnam suffered horrible tortures and still refused to sign statements or make films damning the United States.
Yes, Bowe Bergdahl volunteered to serve in our armed forces; however, he apparently volunteered to remove his uniform, volunteered to leave his American brothers-in-arms, and then sought out the enemy. For that, Bergdahlcould be tried under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).
If the Pentagon brass merely direct an “informal” Article 15-6 investigation, that will suggest the Obama White House intends for Bergdahl to receive a slap on the wrist. If, however, an Article 32 investigating officer is appointed, the Pentagon would indicate serious concern about Bergdahl’s five years with the Taliban. An Article 32 investigator could recommend: No action at all or Courts-Martial, ranging from Summary (relatively minor) to Special (serious) to General (very serious).
When U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss (R) was shown Bergdahl’s classified file, Chambliss saw no evidence that the members of Bergdahl’s unit had ever been interviewed by an officer investigating Bergdahl for going AWOL or for Desertion. This suggests the investigating officer was either incompetent or someone in the Pentagon purged Bergdahl’s file of incriminating evidence — a covert form of “witness tampering.”
L’affaire Bergdahl poses a moral gut-check of a military establishment that already lied about the death of NFL star, Pat Tillman, that said the Ft. Hood massacre was “work-place violence,” and tried to cover up the “friendly fire” death of USAF Lt. Laura Ashley Piper and 25 others whose helicopter was shot down in northern Iraq by two USAF F-15 fighters.
Ironically, whatever Bergdahl’s fate, “ghosts” will write him a best-seller and a screen play. Bergdahl, currently cared for by dozens of doctors, will go on to tell his Taliban Tales on the lucrative lecture circuit. His comrades, who served loyally in combat, but fewer than the 20 years required for military retirement, will toil away at their day jobs and then line up at the VA in hopes of, someday, getting to see a doctor. Go figure.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, and the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame. He was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.
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