Charlie Savage and Andrew Lehren over at The New York Times wrote a really interesting article yesterday, Can Bowe Bergdahl Be Tied to 6 Lost Lives? Facts Are Murky. Through this whole thing, I’ve tried to stay away, because it is more of a technical matter. I’ve never been in the military and I don’t know much about how wars are run. What’s more, the Republicans are playing their usual outrage game by pretending that these five Taliban prisons of war were really “terrorists.” But I have had my suspicious about Bergdahl.
The main thing I’ve thought is that Bergdahl deserves the presumption of innocence. If it turns out that he did nothing wrong, will Fox News later have weeks of blanket coverage about how they were wrong? But more than that, the complaints I hear sound like soldiers who had a problem with Bergdahl before this incident. And I really wonder about military pride that so many soldiers are willing to speak anonymously on this subject that they may know little or nothing about. Don’t they think that the military has the ability to deal with this young man if he did anything wrong without fueling political operatives who are using the incident for their own purposes?
The Times article goes into what is the most damning allegation against Bergdahl: that six other servicemen lost their lives looking for him. The article treads lightly on the subject, but it is clear the the situation is totally different from what has been portrayed in the media. What most people think is that Bergdahl went missing so a search and rescue operation was launched and six people died as a result. That’s not it at all. More or less, Bergdahl’s detractors are just blaming him for all the deaths that happened in the two months after his capture.
It seems that Bergdahl was culpable in as much as orders were given, “Go do reconnaissance in that area, and pay attention for any signs of Bergdahl too.” Well, people fighting in a war get killed. And that seems to be what happened here. Blaming Bergdahl for their deaths is far less reasonable than blaming George Bush. The fact that this idea has come from anonymous soldiers makes me come back to the original idea that some people just didn’t like this guy. And that in itself could have caused him to desert, if that is in fact what he did.
Add to that, the reporting by Democracy Now! Reporter: Bowe Bergdahl’s Fellow Soldiers Questioned Afghan War More Than He Did. This is information from five years ago, but at that time, other members of that unit were quite vocal about their criticism of the mission. Even if true, it doesn’t absolve Bergdahl, but it certainly points to the fact that there were morale problems in the unit and perhaps in the entire theater of operation.
In the end, what we should be doing is what we should have been doing all along: moving forward slowly and carefully. All the allegations against Bergdahl are as helpful as all the speculation about what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Maybe Bergdahl was abducted by space aliens and then returned to the Taliban. Who can say? But at least in this case, I’m sure the Army will get to the bottom of it. And all the ranters and anonymous sources don’t really help.
H/T: Susie Madrak