Short Takes – Treachery Rewarded?

Opinion

Deep within the hidden recesses of the Pentagon, lurks a nondescript DoD group called the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency, the lead agency apparently, for interviewing recovered, rescued or deserter prisoners of war, and other captives.

Among their latest achievements, is realizing the fall out gathered from interviews (interrogations?) of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. A lead representative of that group,Terrance Russell, gave evidence at Bergdahl’s sentencing that the deserter/traitor provided a “gold mine” of useful intelligence about the militants who held him captive for years in Pakistan. Well, so did Mata Hari!

Russell testified that Bergdahl’s decision to abandon his post in 2009 produced an unintended consequence, by revealing the tactics used by the Taliban, their methods of imprisoning captured soldiers and, presumably, their own interview techniques. As a result, military doctrine on how to avoid capture and evade, and escape if captured, was updated.

I wonder at what point, after Bergdahl’s return in Obama’s infamous trade deal, did the “interrogations” of Bergdahl cease and the thrust change to “interviews” by Russell’s JPRA group?  Because of the seriousness of Bergdahl’s offense any interrogations would be under Miranda warning as criminal. So, who decided to cease ‘Interrogations’ for criminal offenses in favor of ‘interviews’ simply to update military doctrine on escape and evasion? Has justice really been served? I ask because in my twenty-one years career as a military CE/CI/Criminal investigator, we had to be sensitive to the direction any investigation could take. In Bowe Bergdahl’s case, his desertion directly caused the deaths and injuries of other US soldiers.

Russell, whose group produces training and doctrine materials, testified that “Bergdahl’s debriefing added to lessons taught to US troops and allied militaries,” adding that Bergdahl still has intelligence that has yet to be collected that could still help troops in Afghanistan. Of course, now it’s too late. Bergdahl will be on the run hiding from the retribution that will seek him out.

I’m not faulting Terrance Russell or his information collection group for doing their jobs. His work helps keep military field doctrine up to date. It’s a necessary element of theater survival that all troops need to know. Russell’s enthusiasm for doing his job properly is also revealed when he said:  “can you give him to me now? I need him now. I needed him three years ago,” “The fact I can’t get that information is wrong.” Russell testified that he had debriefed more than 120 American captives, more than any other US official….Source: Washington Post. 31Oct17 .  

The defense appeared to use testimony from Russell and a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst, to suggest that there is a national security interest in showing Bergdahl leniency. US

Army Col. Jeffery R. Nance, the presiding judge, apparently thought that Bergdahl’s potential punishment, life imprisonment, was simply too much for this army snowflake as he had already suffered enough under the Taliban.

So, the rehabilitation of Bowe Bergdahl, who pleaded guilty Oct. 16 to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy begins. However, there is another unintended consequence: the resentment remains and will fester. How does injustice match resentment? By what remaining Obama values are soldiers to be assuaged of Bergdahl’s crimes? When did mistreatment by the enemy mitigate justifiable punishment of an offenders true crimes? Don’t you wonder too?

Remember, freedom is the goal, the Constitution is the way. Now, go get ‘em! (08Nov2017)

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