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Monday, June 09, 2014

Bowe Bergdahl's Hometown Reaction

Random thoughts on the Bowe Bergdahl story...

Every loudmouth on talk radio or talk TV who is claiming they know that, in captivity, Bergdahl converted to Islam or joined the Taliban is lying. They don't know any of that. Hearing it from another loudmouth is not evidence.

Everyone who was urging President Obama to "Bring Bowe Home" over the last few years who now says it wasn't worth it is a hypocrite -- including John McCain.

Every Reagan-loving Republican who spews nonsense about never negotiating with terrorists needs a refresher in the presidency of their hero.

Every person of both parties going after Obama for releasing five prisoners from Guantanamo should look up how many prisoners Bush released from the same facility -- well over five hundred. And everyone who thinks five-for-one is lopsided, should check this chart).

Why isn't there more discussion of Bergdahl possibly having mental health issues? We know that thousands of soldiers have returned from war with post-traumatic stress disorder. Logically, there must be plenty of them suffering from that condition before they get to the "post-" stage.

We knew, based on a Rolling Stone article more than two years ago, that Bergdahl had walked away from his unit. Yet this is a new revelation for many uninformed yet over-opinionated people, some of whom have actually called for his execution. Do you know how many US soldiers have been killed for going AWOL since the Civil War? Exactly one -- Private Eddie Slovik (memorably played by Martin Sheen in a 1974 TV movie) during World War II.

If Bergdahl is convicted of desertion, the maximum penalty he could face is five years in prison. Considering he's just spent five years imprisoned by the Taliban, there's no way the US military will throw him in jail -- he will essentially be given credit for time served. The worst punishment they might assess is to dishonorably discharge him and reduce his rank back to private.

If Bergdahl's intent was to join the Taliban, why did he escape from them twice (which resulted in his being kept in small metal cages)? It seems to me his intent was to get the hell out of Afghanistan by any means necessary. Which should be the policy for every American.

Bergdahl's hometown of Hailey, Idaho, has cancelled plans to an event to celebrate his return. Not because people in Hailey have turned on him, but because the town of 8,000 can't handle the crush of media and protesters and general idiots who will turn up to ruin it. By idiots, I mean the kind of people who have written death threats and other nasty e-mails to Bergdahl's parents. The kind who watch Bill O'Reilly go after Bowe's father, Bob Bergdahl, because he hasn't shaved since his son was taken prisoner and thus has a long beard. The incredibly myopic O'Reilly sees that as a sign that Bob is Muslim -- a claim he's never made about the right-wing overly-whiskered stars of "Duck Dynasty."

Yesterday, I spoke with Tony Evans, a reporter for the Idaho Mountain Express, who knows the people of Hailey. Listen to what he told me about how the town feels about the Bergdahls (then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes).