OPINION – First, let us set something straight. Neither you nor I know the circumstances that led to the capture and subsequent imprisonment of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl by a group affiliated with the Taliban.
There are stories on both sides of the issue that have been blown out of proportion for political purposes and are not rooted in truth.
We don’t know, for example, that Bergdahl was a deserter; we don’t know if, indeed, the unit he was attached to was poorly managed to the point of endangering the soldiers who were members of it; we don’t know if he was captured while relieving himself; we don’t know if he went AWOL, only to be subsequently captured by this group.
At this point, it really doesn’t matter what we think. Bergdahl is in custody of the U.S. Army, receiving treatment at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, a U.S. military hospital in Germany, after spending five years in captivity. When he is released, he will receive further treatment at a military hospital in Texas before being reunited with family.
Meanwhile, military investigators will determine what transpired and if Bergdahl should be charged with any crimes against the U.S. Army, which is how it should be.
What we also know is that Bergdahl is the last U.S. military member held captive by the Taliban or groups associated with it.
There is, however, considerable hypocrisy and out-and-out lying that has surrounded this entire event.
Liberals have marked it as a show of resolve and strength in behalf of the administration, while dodging the thorny issue of why the detainee base at Guantanamo Bay is still in operation after campaign promises to close it.
Conservatives, from John McCain to Allen West, who originally called President Obama weak for not negotiating Bergdahl’s release, are now condemning him for exchanging five Taliban members who were being held at Guantanamo Bay to secure his freedom.
In fact, in February McCain, who had full knowledge of the negotiations, supported the idea. Now, however, since fellow conservatives have tried to use the exchange for political advantage, he has changed his story, toeing the party line to put the President in the ugliest light possible.
The result, of course, is that the court of public opinion has already tried and convicted Bergdahl, thanks to the conservative propaganda machine headed up by FOX News, which has embarrassed itself beyond the norm with its outrageous reporting on this story using specious sources, rumor, and innuendo to build its case.
If you are like me, you have followed this in the news or on the multitude of websites that have published cyber-tomes about it, trying to influence public opinion either in favor of or against what transpired. The comments attached to these pieces have been telling, however, as one side looks at it as a reason to impeach the President and the other uses it to prop up his image.
What I have found most interesting, however, is the fact that those who identify themselves as current or former members of the military have pretty much expressed the “no one left behind” philosophy, with the proviso that now it is up to the military investigators to decide what to do next.
Look, we are not naive enough to believe that everybody who has ever donned the uniform has done so honorably. There’s simply too much evidence to the contrary. The heroism and good works of the overwhelming majority have been scarred by those who have tarnished the military reputation.
But, as far as Bergdahl is concerned, this is a matter of military justice, which is quite different than civilian justice, and not a matter for the people’s court.
The security of those rights is why the military is supposedly sent into harm’s way.
We cannot allow politics to interfere with the wheels of justice, otherwise we would have hangings on the Capitol steps every four years, and we cannot give in to mob mentality and jeopardize the entire framework upon which our freedoms are built.
I understand that the courts, whether civilian or military, don’t always make the correct or popular decision, that sometimes justice and the law are at opposing ends, but nothing is foolproof, nothing is perfect.
Already, Bergdahl’s family is receiving death threats, all because some politicians decided to politicize this incident, which is shameful.
The more I read about this, the more certain I am that none of us are in a position to either defend or condemn Bergdahl. We simply have not had a good filter for the truth here, which is what justice is supposed to be based on instead of political positioning.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem too many are interested in finding the truth these days.
No bad days!
- Navajo code talker Samuel Holiday, 90, gets surprise honors; Marine Corps League Dixie; STGnews Videocast
- ON Kilter: How stubborn our propensities, what pain they bring
- Perspectives: Freeing the prisoner in my skull-sized kingdom
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.