Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. Army soldier captured by the Taliban in 2009 and who, after a controversial prisoner exchange, was brought home by President Obama five years later, pleaded guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy this morning in a military court.
“I understand that leaving was against the law,” said Bergdahl, who admitted guilt without striking a deal with prosecutors, meaning his punishment will be up to a military judge when he is sentenced later this month. . . .
Bergdahl, 31, has said he walked away from his remote post in 2009 with the intention of reaching other commanders and drawing attention to what he saw as problems with his unit.
He told the judge, Col. Jeffrey R. Nance, that he now understands that his actions prompted an intensive search during which some of his comrades were seriously wounded.
“At the time, I had no intention of causing search-and-recovery operations,” he said in court. “I believed they would notice me missing, but I didn’t believe they would have reason to search for one private.”
In the days and weeks after his capture, vast U.S. resources were poured into the effort to locate him, with several units suffering casualties in the search.
The Bergdahl saga, which the Obama administration initially trumpeted as a triumph of its foreign policy, quickly became controversial as details emerged about the price the U.S. paid — five Taliban fighters held at Guantanamo Bay — for a man whose capture occurred under less-than-clear circumstances.
But despite the murky circumstances of Bergdahl’s capture, Obama national-security adviser Susan Rice took to ABC’s This Week to declare, unequivocally, that Bergdahl “served with honor and distinction.”
Bergdahl, who now faces sentencing, could spend the rest of his life in prison. It’s sorry end to a sorry episode.