Dishonorable discharge, no jail time:
Bowe Bergdahl received a dishonorable discharge from the US Army but will avoid prison time for desertion and misbehavior before the enemy after abandoning his outpost in Afghanistan in 2009, a military judge ruled Friday.
The judge also ruled that Bergdahl’s rank be reduced from sergeant to private. Additionally, he will be required to pay a $1,000 fine from his salary for the next 10 months.
“Sgt. Bergdahl has looked forward to today for a long time,” Eugene Fidell, Bergdahl’s civilian attorney, said at a news conference after the sentence was announced.
“As everyone knows he was a captive of the Taliban for nearly five years, and three more years have elapsed while the legal process unfolded. He has lost nearly a decade of his life.”
The sentence is effective immediately, except for the dishonorable discharge, which Bergdahl is appealing, according to Fidell.
And, of course, Twitler played a role in the sentencing:
One of the mitigating factors in his sentencing were disparaging comments by President Trump as a candidate and while in office. Nance ruled Monday that while Bergdahl can get a fair trial despite the remarks, he would consider them in his sentencing.
As a candidate, Trump denounced Bergdahl and the Obama administration’s agreement to get him back from the Taliban. On Oct. 16, 2015, for example, Trump called him “a rotten traitor” and suggested he should be shot or dropped from an airplane.
“In the old days he’d get shot for treason,” the president told a crowd of supporters. “If I win, I might just have him floating right in the middle of that place and drop him, boom. Let ’em have him. … I mean, that’s cheaper than a bullet.”
More recently, Trump declined to comment on Bergdahl’s case, telling reporters, “I think people have heard my comments in the past.”
Even those comments were seen by Nance as “unlawful command influence,” writing in his ruling, “The plain meaning of the president’s words to any reasonable hearer could be that in spite of knowing that he should not comment on the pending sentencing in this case, he wanted to make sure that everyone remembered what he really thinks should happen to the accused.”
The most pressing issue for me regarding this is who in command is going to pay the price for allowing a guy who washed out of the Coast Guard into an Airborne unit with a waiver to enter the Army and then deployed him despite knowing that he should not be deployed. Because that’s a big damned problem, and also exposes a key flaw in the all volunteer Army- when you need to ramp up the number of soldiers quickly, quality control gets thrown out the damned window.