Military prosecutors have reached into a section of military law seldom used since World War II in the politically fraught case against U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier held prisoner for years by the Taliban after leaving his post in Afghanistan.
In order to make this writing as unique and real as humanly possible, notice the word fraught above. A quick look up illuminates for us that fraught means (1) full of or accompanied by problems, dangers, or difficulties. (2) Moreover, fraught means to be full of or expressing nervous tension and anxiety.
Observers wondered for months if Bergdahl would be charged with desertion after the deal brokered by the U.S. to bring him home. He was — as well as misbehavior before the enemy, a much rarer offense that carries a stiffer potential penalty in this case.
Bergdahl could face a life sentence if convicted of the charge, which accuses him of endangering fellow soldiers when he “left without authority; and wrongfully caused search and recovery operations.”
Observers say the misbehavior charge allows authorities to allege that Bergdahl not only left his unit with one less soldier, but that his deliberate action put soldiers who searched for him in harm’s way. The Pentagon has said there is no evidence anyone died searching for Bergdahl.
We do not feel that it will be difficult whatsoever to establish that Bergdahl in fact, caused enormous difficulties for other soldiers in his unit. Just because the Pentagon has said that there is no evidence of […] death or wounding of other’s in the search for Bergdahl — certainly does not mean anything other than that (they have no evidence).
“You’re able to say that what he did had a particular impact or put particular people at risk. It is less generic than just quitting,” said Lawrence Morris, a retired Army colonel who served as the branch’s top prosecutor and top public defender.
The Obama administration has been criticized both for agreeing to release five Taliban operatives from the Guantanamo Bay prison and for heralding Bergdahl’s return to the U.S. with an announcement in the White House Rose Garden. The administration stood by the way it secured his release even after the charges were announced.
It is overwhelming that a President and/or a Commander-in-Chief would carry on with talk of bravery, no fault of his own, with the hugging of Mr. and Mrs. Bergdahl in the Rose Garden.
The military has scheduled an initial court appearance hearing for Bergdahl on Sept. 17 at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Afterward the case could be referred to a court-martial and go to trial.
Misbehavior before the enemy was used hundreds of times during World War II, but scholars say its use appears to have dwindled in conflicts since then. Misbehavior before the enemy cases were tried at least 494 times for soldiers in Europe between 1942 and 1945, according to a Military Law Review article.
The misbehavior charge is included in Article 99 of the military justice code, which is best known for its use to prosecute cases of cowardice. However, Article 99 encompasses nine different offenses including several not necessarily motivated by cowardice, such as causing a false alarm or endangering one’s unit — the charge Bergdahl faces.
Recent prosecutions under the misbehavior charge include a Marine lance corporal who pleaded guilty after refusing to provide security for a convoy leaving base in Iraq in 2004. A soldier in Iraq was charged with cowardice in 2003 under Article 99 after he saw a mangled body and sought counseling, but the charges were later dropped.