Military to charge Bergdahl with desertion, misbehavior before the enemy

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

WASHINGTON – Military officials are set to charge Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy for leaving his post in Afghanistan before being captured and held captive for five years, according to Bergdahl’s attorney and a congressional source.

The charges are scheduled to be announced at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The decision comes nearly a year after Bergdahl returned to the United States as part of a prisoner exchange and since the Army began a formal investigation into his disappearance from his unit in eastern Afghanistan in June 2009.

The Army concluded its investigation into the circumstances of Bergdahl’s capture in December. Until now, it has been in the hands of Gen. Mark Milley, head of U.S. Army Forces Command, who made the decision. Several U.S. military officials CNN has spoken with suggested privately that the process took longer than expected.

Ahead of Wednesday’s announcement, officials said Milley only had a few choices. Though the sense had been that Bergdahl must be held accountable for his actions, there had been little appetite for a lengthy term in military confinement given the five years Bergdahl was held by the Taliban.

Bergdahl, who’s now 28, was taken by the Haqqani terrorist network. But the circumstances of Bergdahl’s departure from his base and how willingly he left have not been clear.

Some members of Bergdahl’s platoon have criticized him, labeling Bergdahl a deserter.

“I was pissed off then, and I am even more so now with everything going on,” former Sgt. Matt Vierkant, a member of Bergdahl’s platoon when he went missing on June 30, 2009, told CNN last year. “Bowe Bergdahl deserted during a time of war, and his fellow Americans lost their lives searching for him.”

Bergdahl was freed in May when President Barack Obama agreed to swap five Taliban prisoners who had been detained in Guantanamo Bay to secure Bergdahl’s freedom, sending those detainees to Qatar.

Obama announced Bergdahl’s release to fanfare in the White House Rose Garden, flanked by the Army sergeant’s parents, Bob and Jani Bergdahl. His hometown of Hailey, Idaho, had planned a parade to celebrate Bergdahl’s homecoming but later canceled that celebration amid security concerns stemming from the unanswered questions surrounding his disappearance and the resulting controversy over his release.

After returning to the United States, Bergdahl had been on active duty at an administrative job at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. There, the Army assigned Bergdahl a “sponsor” to help him adjust to life in his new post. Upon returning, Bergdahl refused to meet with his parents — and months later, Army officials had said he was communicating with them but still had not met them face to face.

The five figures the United States exchanged to secure Bergdahl’s release were Khair Ulla Said Wali Khairkhwa, Mullah Mohammad Fazl, Mullah Norullah Nori, Abdul Haq Wasiq and Mohammad Nabi Omari. They were mostly mid- to high-level officials in the Taliban regime and had been detained early in the war in Afghanistan because of their positions within the Taliban, not because of ties to al Qaeda.

The detainee swap for Bergdahl has become increasingly controversial in recent weeks after a report published by the office of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said one of the 17 intelligence agencies operating under its umbrella had judged that a prisoner released in the exchange had since contacted the Taliban.

By Eric Bradner, Barbara Starr and Ed Lavandera for CNN

4 comments

  • ANOTHERBOB

    Thank goodness Obama traded five Taliban terrorists to get him back. It’s an honor to get this deserter back home safe and sound.

  • miles (dave)

    as far as i can tell he was held as a prisoner, maybe you guys know why he left but id say if he left for anything less than to fully throw the united states under the bus, then we did need to get him back, i also dont know if the price we paid was worth it (i guess that depends on the level of his crime)

    id say if he left for things like, the fighting got too stress full for him, or he wanted to go sight seeing, or he had a hooker to go see. all of these things are disgraceful but they still warrant getting him back (its important to illustrate the brotherhood even to one who had slipped a lot.)

    and even if he did leave to go full abandonment to the united states to support the enemy and it just didnt turn out well for him… well even then he still needs precise justice and a trial the facts need to be heard and judged and a informed decision made. this may have been able to have been done while he stayed locked up in iraq but i think the chances of that are slim, he probably needed to have a voice in his case, in most situations as far as i can tell we needed him back. the only thing i question is the price we paid and im not sure it was or was not a good price

Comments are closed.