Bowe Bergdahl: Hero Or Villain?

Bill Cowan Fox News Contributor
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Recently-released Afghan POW Bowe Bergdahl is now on his way home.

Oops! Did I say POW? Perhaps I meant, ‘guest of the Taliban.’

Bergdahl reportedly began crying last week when he realized he was in the presence of fellow Americans, as he was being flown away from the Pakistan border where he had just been released into U.S. custody. But it’s dubious whether he was crying when he abandoned his post at OP Mest in Paktika Province, Afghanistan, in 2009 and wandered down a road in a nearby village. According to local children he asked them which way to go to find the Taliban. They told him and he went. Bergdahl, by all accounts, was a deserter. He wasn’t taken on a battlefield, engaged with the enemy. In fact, when he left his base he only took some water, a compass, and a knife. His weapon and other combat essential equipment were right there in his room where he left them.

Pete Hegseth, CEO of Concerned Veterans for America and himself a decorated combat veteran, pulled no punches when he labeled Bergdahl a deserter on Sunday morning’s “Fox and Friends.” While others in the White House, Pentagon and media were still rallying around the euphoria of Bergdahl’s release, Hegseth threw in another dose of reality — Bergdahl cost the lives of other Americans — fellow soldiers who were killed in the relentless search for him and his captors.

Some insight into Bergdahl came in 2012 when Rolling Stone quoted emails he is said to have sent to his parents prior to abandoning his post — emails that suggest he was disillusioned with America’s mission in Afghanistan, had lost faith in the U.S. Army’s mission there and was considering desertion. Bergdahl told his parents he was “ashamed to even be American.”

Ashamed? Really? One wonders if he was equally ashamed of some of the men who lost their lives looking for him. A fellow soldier on the same base as Bergdahl when he deserted wrote, “We lost good men trying to find him. PFC Matthew Michael Martinek, Staff Sgt. Kurt Robert Curtiss, SSG Clayton Bowen, PFC Morris Walker, SSG Michael Murphrey, 2LT Darryn Andrews, were all KIA from our unit who died looking for Bergdahl. Many others from various units were wounded or killed while actively looking for Bergdahl. He failed his brothers. Now, sons and daughters are growing up without their fathers who died for him.”

One would hope that the Pentagon will be challenged by Congress to answer the question of  how many American servicemen were killed or wounded in missions searching for Bergdahl. If they get an honest answer perhaps they can forward it to him.

Bergdahl’s true story will likely get only partial play as the administration and the Obama-friendly mainstream media struggle to describe him as a hero who underwent an extremely difficult experience while trying to explain how we were the winners in this five-for-one swap. The details of the swap and five who were handed over will dominate the news and it’s possible Bergdahl will quickly become a side issue. But it shouldn’t. Bergdahl’s betrayal of his fellow soldiers and indeed America itself are worthy of close scrutiny.

In saying the timing was right to strike a deal and get him back, Defense Secretary Hagel stated “This was essential to save the life of Sergeant Bergdahl.”

What he was really saying was, ‘with the VA, Shinseki, and Jay Carney issues we’ve had a bad week. Let’s throw some good news up on the wall and see if it will stick.’ But it won’t. It’s not good news, no matter how the White House and the Secretary try to paint it. By every reasonable account Bergdahl was a traitor. The trade for his release is a slap in the face to every honorable serviceman and woman who has sacrificed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.  We’ve now traded a disreputable deserter for five seasoned, hardened terrorists who in all likelihood will re-engage their efforts against America.

Obama, Hagel and others involved in this ‘swap’ will likely be enjoying themselves at an upscale coctail party somewhere and Bergdahl will likely be sipping one of Boise’s finest brews out in Idaho when the true price is paid for the ‘swap’ — the taking of another American man or woman, soldier or civilian, by terrorists who hope to gain the release of some of their own. If this administration is still in power, there are plenty of candidates at Gitmo waiting to be traded off.