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Fries: Why Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl must be charged

From the Right

By Alex Fries

On May 31 of last year, Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was handed over to U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan in a prisoner swap that included five Taliban commanders previously held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Years before, Bergdahl left his army post in Afghanistan and was subsequently captured by the Taliban, held prisoner, and years later released in a very controversial prisoner exchange.

As of Wednesday, roughly 10 months after his exchange, Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is being charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. Misbehavior before the enemy, is a rare charge and generally can be brought forth if “any member of the armed forces who before or in the presence of the enemy,” in addition to other things, abandons his post or abandons his mission in other ways. The combination of charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy could result in Bergdahl serving up to life in prison if found guilty.

The prisoner exchange that ultimately resulted in Sgt. Bergdahl’s release has created quite the uproar, but not only that … while we have few details as to the specifics of Bergdahl’s capture and captivity, we have even less information on the activities of the five released Taliban fighters exchanged for Sergeant Bergdahl. With this key information missing it would be unwise to pass judgment as to why high ranking executive officials ultimately decided to agree to the exchange. However, one thing is and always will be clear to me — the United States should never negotiate with terrorists.

Considering the current situation we face today with growing terrorist groups threatening most of the Western world, the only just thing to do is to charge and sentence Sgt. Bergdahl. The reasons to me couldn’t be any clearer.

We as Americans have the benefit of living in a country protected by the greatest military the world has to offer. Everyday, brave men and women risk their lives to protect our country and all that live within it, they put themselves in harm’s way to ensure that we all can live in peace.

We as a nation cannot tolerate anyone who jeopardizes the safety of this country and those who protect it. Desertion during active combat is not tolerable. It not only jeopardizes the mission in the region, but also puts those who are in the combat zone at serious risk, and ultimately can lead to the loss of life as a consequence.

Regardless of the length of Army Sgt. Bergdahl’s captivity, it was his own actions which led to his captivity and not the result of a combat mission gone wrong. Therefore, he should face the consequences of his actions, which means facing legal charges in a court of law.

Alex Fries is a sophomore athletic training major and the president of the UNH College Republicans. Follow Alex on Twitter at @AJFriesNH.

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