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Article published June 13, 2014
Obama’s bad deal
Leo M. Stepanian Sr. Butler
As commander in chief of the U.S. military, the president secretively negotiated the release of five hard-core Taliban soldiers from the U.S. Army prison in Cuba. In exchange, the Taliban in Afghanistan released one U.S. soldier, Bowe Bergdahl. The president’s security adviser stated Bergdahl “was captured on the battlefield” and “had served the U.S. with honor and distinction.” That claim now appears to be a lie. The soldiers in Bergdahl’s Army unit have stated Bergdahl walked away from his post, was not in any battle, was not wounded and was not really captured. Three days before he voluntarily walked away from his unit, Bergdahl wrote his parents: “I am ashamed to be an American and the title of U.S. soldier is just the lie of fools. The horror that is America is disgusting.” As a member of the armed forces of the United States, Bergdahl is subject to the United States Code of Military Justice (10 U.S. Code 47). Desertion is defined as “any member of the armed forces who, without authority, goes, remains absent from, or quits his unit.” Absent without leave — AWOL — is defined as “any member of the armed forces who goes from his appointed place of duty.” Misbehavior before the enemy is defined as “any member of the armed forces who in the presence of the enemy runs away or abandons his place of duty.” Any violation of the code makes that member of the armed forces subject to a court martial. The penalty could be imprisonment or death. There is no dispute: Bergdahl is a deserter. Apparently the president also violated the law. The Congressional Notification Law requires the president to notify Congress at least 30 days before making a prisoner exchange. The president did not do so. I served in the U.S. Army’s l01st Airborne and Counter-Intelligence Corps. My fellow veterans in the American Legion and VFW are disgusted with the actions of the president in this matter, particularly because at least six U.S. soldiers apparently died searching for Bergdahl. Every veteran I have spoken with believes Bergdahl should be court-martialed, along with the president.