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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 6/8/14

The Demonization of an American Soldier

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Who you gonna believe, a senator protecting her committee prerogatives, a senator fearful of losing his Senate seat, or the President and his leadership team, who are responsible for the life of an American soldier?

The New York Times, which earlier used the term, "demonizing" to describe opponents of Obama's rescue action, offered a report on the platoon in which Sgt. Bergdahl (pictured above) served:

"The platoon was, an American military official would assert years later, 'raggedy.'

"On their tiny, remote base, in a restive sector of eastern Afghanistan at an increasingly violent time of the war, they were known to wear bandannas and cutoff T-shirts. Their crude observation post was inadequately secured, a military review later found. Their first platoon leader, and then their first platoon sergeant, were replaced relatively early in the deployment because of problems.

"But the unit -- Second Platoon, Blackfoot Company in the First Battalion, 501st Regiment -- might well have remained indistinguishable from scores of other Army platoons in Afghanistan had it not been for one salient fact: This was the team from which Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl disappeared on June 30, 2009."

After Bergdahl's disappearance, he spent five years in captivity, held by the Taliban in the mountains of Afghanistan.

On May 31, he was turned over to the U.S. army in exchange for five Taliban prisoners who had been held since 2002 in the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

How the sergeant (promoted from the rank of private during his captivity) was captured by the Taliban is unclear. But, for the moment, that does not matter. The army will determine, through its own legal system, what placed this particular soldier in the control of the Taliban.

At the moment, Sgt. Bergdahl is under medical care, preparing to return home to his parents in Hailey, Idaho. The military justice system will have to determine what comes next for Sgt. Bergdahl.

For now, this nation can rejoice that our last remaining soldier held by enemy forces, is finally free.

As for the 30-day stipulation requiring congressional notification, congressional leaders, including Senator Feinstein, are well aware, as The Nation magazine recently wrote:

"The administration's legal authority to move the men who've been cleared for release is much clearer than it appears in the Bergdahl swap. According to the National Defense Authorization Act passed last year, the secretary of defense needs only to notify Congress of any prisoner transfers thirty days beforehand."

Secretary of State John Kerry defended the prisoner exchange against political and media criticism. Appearing Sunday on the CNN program "State of the Union", Kerry said...

"...that he felt confident the five Taliban detainees freed in a swap for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl posed little risk to Americans, adding that Qatari officials were not the only ones monitoring them -- and that while the five might be able to return to the battlefield, 'they also have the ability to get killed doing that.'

"Mr. Kerry, in some of his first public remarks on the exchange, struck a decidedly tough tone, dismissing as 'baloney' the suggestion that terrorists would have new incentive to kidnap Americans. ...

"Broadly defending the swap, Mr. Kerry said that it would have been 'offensive and incomprehensible' to leave Sergeant Bergdahl in the hands of people who might torture him or 'cut off his head.'"

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James Wall served as a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois, from 1999 through 2017. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine. Many sources have influenced (more...)

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