The Administration’s defenders are out in force trying to stave off the flood of rage against the White House for the Taliban-Bergdahl exchange.
According to the Associated Press,
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Wednesday it is unfair to the family of released captive Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl to leap to conclusions about his behavior in uniform.
“We don’t do that in the United States,” Hagel told reporters at a NATO defense ministers meeting. “We rely on facts.”
I agree it would be unfair if a few news stories constituted a final judgment about Bowe Bergdahl and the worthiness of the exchange of five Taliban prisoners. But it doesn’t constitute such a judgment.
Rather, the White House put the Bergdahl release front and center as a propaganda blitz to show us how well they treat the soldiers. (Translation: Ignore the VA Hospital stories!)
Hagel said the Army will review the circumstances surrounding how Bergdahl left his unit and was captured by the Taliban, and added, “It’s not my place as a former sergeant in the Army to decide who’s worthy of being a sergeant and who isn’t.”
OK, but I don’t think there would have ever been an investigation if soldiers and others, even Republican strategists, hadn’t spoken up and publicized the complaints. If it hadn’t been for these accusers and complainers, there would have been nothing but the White House’s message to discuss. I doubt anyone would be promising to “review” circumstances.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Tuesday that the Army might still pursue an investigation, and those results could conceivably lead to desertion or other charges.
Lots of things are unfair in life, but that doesn’t mean they are wrong or avoidable. Yes, Bowe Bergdahl is a legally innocent man right now. He has not been charged with any crime yet. But crimes start with reports from witnesses.
We had Obama’s initial witness about Bergdahl at his White House Press Conference. We heard Susan Rice and others claim he served honorably. But this is a free country. People are legally permitted to contradict the government’s story. I’m sure this process is painful for the soldier’s parents. But that doesn’t mean we are ethically able to skip the process and accept the White House’s version of events at face value.