Bergdahl weeps on witness stand for soldiers wounded when looking for him

Convicted deserter Bowe Bergdahl offered a tearful apology to those service members who were wounded when they fruitlessly searched for him after he left his post.


Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl teared up at his sentencing on Monday as he apologized to service members who searched for him after he deserted his outpost in Afghanistan in 2009.

"My words can't take away what people have been through," Bergdahl, 31, told an audience at his court martial that spilled into an overflow room. "I am admitting I made a horrible mistake."

Bergdahl pleaded guilty October 16 to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. His lengthy testimony began after the presiding judge rejected his attorneys' request to dismiss the case over President Trump's criticism of him during his campaign for the White House.

He was captured by the Taliban hours after he walked off his post. At the sentencing hearing, soldiers who looked for Bergdahl have described the grueling, dangerous conditions they endured. Last week, one former Navy SEAL sobbed on the stand as he described the firefight in which his K-9 partner was killed.

Bergdahl said when he initially left his post, "I was trying to help and knowing it didn't breaks my heart," he said. "It was never my intention for anyone to be hurt."

Bergdahl said he made several attempts to escape his captors, each leading to conditions worse than those he tried to escape. During one escape attempt, he fell off a cliff and injured his hip and shoulder so badly it still hurts him, he said. He ate grass until he got sick and spent days looking for water.

When they found him, Taliban soldiers ripped out his beard and hair and kicked and spat on him. When he returned to captivity, they put him in a cage with his legs and arms shackled. He spent four years in there.

There is no doubt that Bergdahl suffered when he was held prisoner.  This fact is not in dispute.  The question facing the board is how much they should take that into account when weighing his sentence.

If you were to put Bergdahl's crimes on one side of the scale and what he suffered on the other side, I daresay that the negligence and cowardice he displayed before the enemy would weigh heavily against him.  In fact, to my mind, it's a no-brainer.  The board will probably reduce his sentence from life in prison, which is the maximum, but not by much.  Twenty or twenty-five years seems about right.  Given all we know, that would be a gift.

Not being mentioned in all these stories about the Bergdahl court-martial is the way he was embraced by the Obama administration when the administration effected his release, even going so far to say he served "honorably."  The administration thought it had a political win, but as the entire story came out, it's clear that it made a horrible deal just to get back a deserter. 

That kind of stupidity and naïveté was the hallmark of the Obama administration foreign policy. 

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