Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s actions in Afghanistan constituted the “ultimate betrayal”—and he deserves to be charged with desertion, his former Army roommate told a charged congressional panel Wednesday.
“Bowe Bergdahl needs to be charged with desertion,” said retired Spc. Cody Full, who served in Bergdahl’s unit, listing off a series of violations he said the sergeant should be investigated for. “Countless people looked for him when he went missing, putting their own lives on the line for him…Knowing that someone you needed to trust deserted you in war and did so on his own free will is the ultimate betrayal.”
Full didn’t hold back on his apparent disdain for Bergdahl, striking at the former prisoner’s integrity. The military creed should be “leave no honorable man behind,” Full said, implying that Bergdahl didn’t fit the bill and shouldn’t have been rescued by U.S. special forces after walking off his post in 2009 and being captured by the Taliban.
Witnesses arranged by the Republican-led House panel testified that Bergdahl’s decision to leave his base in Afghanistan endangered lives, and possibly cost them. Mike Waltz, a former Army special forces commander in Afghanistan, testified that the search for Bergdahl allowed the Taliban to lure soldiers into traps.
“My men were lured into ambushes, including an Afghan home rigged with explosives, a car bomb that was primed to explode, and other types of deadly traps,” Waltz said. “All of my men, me included, were absolutely furious and resentful, frankly, that a fellow American soldier had put us into this position.”
Also testifying before Congress was Andy Andrews, the father of deceased Lt. Darryn Andrews, who said Bergdahl’s decision to leave his base in Afghanistan was a “contributing factor” in Andrews’s death.
Bergdahl was released May 31 after the Obama administration agreed to free five Taliban detainees held in Guantanamo Bay. Full and others involved in the search for Bergdahl after he went missing have said military service members died looking for him.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Bergdahl hearing quickly became polarized, with Democrats cautioning that the facts of Bergdahl’s capture were not yet clear and Republicans using testimony discrediting Bergdahl as a way to criticize the Obama administration’s decision to trade five Taliban prisoners for him.
“It may take months until we know what transpired,” said Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL). “I’m a bit perplexed when some members of Congress have already decided the facts of this case…I would ask what kind of military court of justice we have where members of Congress play judge and jury.”
Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR), appeared outraged when he arrived at the committee hearing, a sentiment that many of his fellow party members seemed to share.
“I find it offensive and insulting that this administration, up to and including the president, would cite the principle of leaving no man behind to justify [the prisoner exchange],” Cotton said. “When we made those promises to each other, we didn’t promise that we would exchange five stone-cold Taliban soldiers for each other, nor would any soldier want that to happen.”