New York Times: Classified Military Report Does Not Conclude Bergdahl Deserted
The latest New York Times article on Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl contains descriptions of a classified military report on the investigation into his disappearance, and it seriously undercuts some important pieces of the right wing smear campaign: Bergdahl Walked Away Before, Military Report Says.
The headline makes the first point: Bergdahl reportedly had walked away from his post on two previous occasions, and then returned — and his unit never reported or reprimanded him for it. This strongly argues against deliberate desertion, and in fact according to the Times the classified report does not conclude that Bergdahl deserted — although it does conclude that his unit had severe disciplinary problems.
And that letter Bergdahl was supposed to have left behind when he walked off, saying he was deserting because he was disillusioned with the mission? The military’s report apparently makes no mention of such a letter.
But the report is said to contain no mention of Sergeant Bergdahl having left behind a letter in his tent that explicitly said he was deserting and explained his disillusionment, as a retired senior military official briefed on the investigation at the time told The New York Times this week.
What’s more, the report apparently pictures Bergdahl as basically a good soldier — and includes quotes praising him from some of the same soldiers you now see on cable news calling him a deserter (or worse).
And it has no mention of Bergdahl trying to get in touch with someone in the Taliban who spoke English.
Its portrayal of him as a soldier is said to be positive, with quotes from both commanders and squadmates — apparently including some of the men now criticizing him — describing him as punctual, always in the correct uniform and asking good questions. It quotes colleagues as saying that he expressed some boredom and frustration that they were not “kicking down doors” more to go after insurgents who were destroying schools.
The report is also said to contain no mention of any alleged intercepts of radio or cellphone traffic indicating that Sergeant Bergdahl was asking villagers if anyone spoke English and trying to get in touch with the Taliban, as two former squadmates told CNN this week in separate interviews that they remembered hearing about from a translator who received the report.
Has the Republican Party overreached massively with this gigantic smear campaign? Stay tuned.