(National Sentinel) Desertion: Former U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who walked away from his post in Afghanistan in 2009 and recently pleaded guilty to desertion, will not serve another day in prison, a military judge decided Friday.
The ruling, which is certain to outrage serving military personnel and veterans, also angered the Commander-in-Chief, who tweeted after the ruling that it was “a complete and total disgrace to our Country and to our Military.”
The military judge at Fort Bragg, North Carolina did give Bergdahl a dishonorable discharge, reduced his rank to private and said he must forfeit pay equal to $1,000 per month for 10 months. He made no further comments.
Military lawyers wanted stiff punishment for the admitted deserter because of wounds suffered to service members who were sent in search of Bergdahl after he left his post, fearing he had been captured instead.
Shortly after he broke a cardinal regulation for military members and abandoned his post, he was captured by Taliban forces and held captive for five years, though not much about his time in captivity has been publicized.
Following the ruling the White House had no official comment, instead referring reporters back to a statement President Donald J. Trump made several weeks ago. The president said he “expects all military personnel who are involved in any way in the military justice process to exercise their independent professional judgment, consistent with applicable laws and regulations.”
Bergdahl’s defense lawyer, Eugene Fidell, said he will now attempt to have the case dismissed, saying Trump’s comments on the campaign trail last year and again when Bergdahl pleaded guilty in October should serve as the basis for dismissal.
He said Trump had already caused one of the “most preposterous” legal situations in American history.
After Bergdahl entered his guilty plea, Trump said on the campaign trail, “We’re tired of Sgt. Bergdahl, who’s a traitor, a no-good traitor, who should have been executed.” He added that “thirty years ago, he would have been shot.”
Legal experts disagree over whether Trump’s statements as a presidential candidate who had yet to win the election can be given the same weight as statements made as president.
As to the judge’s sentence, several military experts believe that it sends the wrong message to current members of the armed forces, that desertion — which is a very serious offense — will be tolerated on some level.
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