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Opinion: Don't judge Bowe Bergdahl, that's the Pentagon's job

Jun. 9, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Bowe Bergdahl
An image made from video released April 7, 2010, by the the Taliban shows U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl. (Site Intelligence Group / AP)
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If the evidence strongly indicates that then-Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl abandoned his post in Afghanistan in 2009, then he should be prosecuted on the appropriate charges.

If it really is that simple — that a young soldier of sound mind turned his back on his buddies in combat — he should suffer the consequences: dishonorable discharge, jail time or whatever is deemed fitting punishment.

But that remains a big “if.” For now, it’s all sound bite and political fury filling the vacuum of hard facts. News outlets and members of Congress — joined by the digital Greek chorus of social media — have only inflamed the confusion surrounding this case.

Not least, they have conflated concerns about Bergdahl’s war-zone actions with criticism about how the deal to bring him home was struck. And indeed, questions about whether releasing five Taliban leaders as part of the deal was foolish are legitimate.

So too are questions about whether the Obama administration violated legal obligations to notify lawmakers of the proposed trade. If so, then actions to hold administration officials accountable also are legitimate, even if driven more by partisan politics than fidelity to legal procedure.

What cannot be a matter of debate, however, is the Army’s — and America’s — promise to leave no warrior behind.

There are some who suggest that Bergdahl should have been left behind, heedless of the reality that the facts of the case are far from settled and he hasn’t yet had a chance to defend himself.

That’s not America. We must always bring our sons and daughters home — just as we must always ensure justice is served.

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