Army report suggests no jail time for Bowe Bergdahl

After the preliminary hearing in the case of Bowe Bergdahl and his alleged misbehavior before the enemy, it was obvious that his defense team was gearing up for a fight. At that time I wrote that his somewhat revised story as to what happened on the fateful day he walked off his post was a bit of a stretch. As it turns out, however, they may not need to worry about trying to make that case in the full Court Martial. The officer in charge of the aforementioned preliminary hearing has come out with a recommendation that Bergdahl only face lower level charges and not be sentenced to any time behind bars. (Time Magazine)

An important voice in the military is arguing that the soldier Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl should not face punitive discharge or jail time for desertion and misbehavior charges.

The Army officer who presided over Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s preliminary hearing last month recommended that the case should proceed to a lower level court martial according to Bergdahl’s lawyers, ABC News reports.

Lt. Col. Mark Visger “recommended that the charges be referred to a special court-martial and that a punitive discharge and confinement would be inappropriate given all the circumstances,” Bergdahl’s civilian attorney Eugene Fidell told the network.

Opinions among our readers have been running hot and cold on this subject every time it comes up and that’s completely understandable. The idea that we may have found a traitor among our own ranks on the field of battle is something which many of us take very personally, though whether this approached the full definition of “treason” is a matter of debate. It was certainly bad, whatever it was, and the military has to find a way to deal with it.

Still, there’s a part of me that hesitates to figuratively pull the trigger on one of our own soldiers, particularly one who was held prisoner by the enemy for five years. No matter how bad his actions, he wound up paying one heck of a price for them. True, the fact that he wound up in such a wretched condition was his own fault since he voluntarily walked away from his post and into the enemy’s clutches, but it’s still difficult to say what further justice we’re achieving by sending him off to another half decade or so in the pen.

If the Army moves forward as was already planned and they lock up Bergdahl in a Supermax, I’m not going to complain. Bad things happen in war, and if you misbehave sufficiently they can happen when you get back home as well. But seeing the report from Lt. Col. Visger I do find myself wondering if it might not be just as well to snap Bergdahl with a dishonorable discharge, remove his back pay and send him off into obscurity. Another stretch in the crowbar motel might truly be a case of figuratively beating a dead horse at this point.