Bowe Bergdahl is not to Afghanistan what Dieter Dengler is to VietnamQatari officials brokered a deal for an exchange of prisoners of war. The US repatriated Bowe Berghdahl. The Taliban received five hardened terrorists previously held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Some may think this a fair trade, one of ours is easily worth five of theirs. But there are several other issues to consider in this deal.
First, it is against a long-standing policy to negotiate with terrorist organizations. The Taliban is not a sovereign state nor a recognized government entity. They are a religious extremist group not unlike racial extremist groups such as the KKK, La Raza, or the Black Panthers. They are on par Germany’s Nazi Party, both a religious and racial extremist group. Like those groups, the Taliban is also an extreme left-wing group that prefers an oligarchy to a representative republic.
Bowe’s survival in captivity is likely due, in part, to his alleged acceptance of the Taliban’s extreme version of Islam. However, our nation’s first amendment protects Bergdahl’s right to practice his religion of choice. What should come into question is how well he kept the Code of Conduct. Given the Taliban’s ideology and penchant for beheading “infidels,” we have to question Bowe’s fidelity.
It is obvious that Bowe is not Dieter Dengler. Dieter Dengler is a hero and a national treasure, though he’d likely resent that title. Dengler, the only Vietnam POW to successfully escape (from Laos, to top it off), died in 2001 at the age of 62 from Lou Gherig’s Disease.
Several who knew Dengler describe him as fiercely patriotic and loyal to the United States, the country that gave him the opportunity to achieve his greatest aspiration, to fly.
Dieter held true to the Code of Conduct:
ARTICLE I: I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.At this time, we cannot confidently say the same of Bergdahl.
ARTICLE II: I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist.
ARTICLE III: If I am captured I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and to aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.
ARTICLE IV: If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners. I will give no information nor take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades. If I am senior, I will take command. If not, I will obey lawful orders of those appointed over me and will back them in every way.
ARTICLE V: When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number, and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country or its allies or harmful to their cause.
ARTICLE VI: I will never forget that I am an American, fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.
Bergdahl’s capture is suspect. He claims he got separated from his unit and was captured. Yet some of those in his unit debate those claims, stating he left his post, leaving the rest of his squad vulnerable. That violates the US Army’s First General Order: “I will guard everything within the limits of my post and quit my post only when properly relieved.” Some allege he willingly surrendered to the Taliban though he still had the means to resist, a violation of Article II of the Code of Conduct. Others allege Bowe acted strangely and appeared empathetic towards the Taliban.
Six US Soldiers were killed in action attempting to rescue Bergdahl.
A statement attributed to Bergdahl draws his patriotism into question:
I am ashamed to be an American. And the title of US soldier is just the lie of fools. I am sorry for everything. The horror that is America is disgusting.These are not the words of a warrior or patriot.
Bergdalh has yet to be charged with any crimes. As with anyone kept in enemy captivity, he will likely be fully debriefed by intelligence and counter-intelligence officials. Likely, there will be an investigation. Should charges be filed through an Article 31 investigation, Bowe could face a court-martial in the future. However, only the future knows if enough evidence exists and if those responsible for these probes and investigations will find it. Until then, all we have are unanswered questions and lurking suspicions.