Convicted U.S. Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl’s convictions for desertion and misbehavior before the enemy were vacated by a federal judge on Tuesday over a technicality.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton ruled that the military judge who’d presided over Bergdahl’s case, Judge Jeffrey Nance, had failed to disclose that he’d applied for an executive branch job as an immigration judge in the Trump administration, according to Fox News.
This constitutes a possible conflict of interest, Watson argued, because of negative remarks then-GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump had made about Bergdahl prior to Nance later applying for a position within his administration.
Recall that during the 2016 presidential election, Trump called Bergdahl a “dirty rotten traitor,” prompting a clapback from his lawyers.
Donald Trump calls Bowe Bergdahl a ” dirty rotten traitor”https://t.co/BO9QZ9FgF2
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) August 21, 2015
“We cannot permit Mr. Trump’s outrageous comments to go unanswered. Sergeant Bergdahl’s defense team will be keeping track of Mr. Trump’s public statements. No American should have to put up with this kind of unprincipled behavior, especially from a person seeking public office,” his lawyers said at the time, as reported by Politico.
“Mr. Trump must stop vilifying this young man, who suffered five years of brutal captivity at the hands of the Taliban and deserves to be judged on the basis of evidence rather than slander from someone who has never worn our country’s uniform,” they added.
Dovetailing back to the present, Walton “said a reasonable person could question the judge’s impartiality under the circumstances,” Fox News notes.
“This case presents a unique situation where the military judge might be inclined to appeal to the president’s expressed interest in the plaintiff’s conviction and punishment when applying for the immigration judge position,” Walton wrote.
Critics were displeased by the ruling:
Traitors get to walk now I guess
— Heresjohnny217 (@Heresjo01495264) July 26, 2023
Bergdahl is a piece of shit who got 6 soldiers kill attempting to find him.
— Jacob Robinson (@JayDubyaRob) July 26, 2023
Good job Obama. Trading this worthless American traitor for five of Obama’s Muslim brothers.
— Trump Soldier (@slamm2023) July 26, 2023
This POS was a deserter. Plain & simple This pos fed judge has not business interfering with military justice. This is total BS
— WD Collinsworth (@Collinswor18516) July 26, 2023
This is just another slap in the face of our true veterans of the Afghanistan war, both alive and dead. Trump is being charged for treason while this guy walks free. In my opinion, he should’ve been executed for desertion during war time.
— The guy your mom warned you about (@br549theguy) July 26, 2023
The good news for those who want to see Bergdahl face justice is that this ruling “could lead to a second trial before a new judge,” according to The New York Times.
As previously reported, Bergdahl disappeared from the base while overseas in Afghanistan in June of 2009. It was later learned he’d been captured by the Taliban and held/tortured.
“He has said he was tortured and beaten during his five-year captivity, spending months chained to a bed or locked in a cage while his health deteriorated. He has also said that he was completely isolated and told he would be killed and never see his family again,” CNN notes.
In May 2014, then-President Barack Hussein Obama brokered a deal whereby Bergdahl was released back to the U.S. in exchange for the release of five Taliban prisoners.
The deal prompted massive backlash, especially when several of his former military compatriots came forward accusing him of desertion.
They “claimed that he had been trying to join the Taliban and that five to seven Americans had died searching for him,” the Times noted.
We lost 6 soldiers looking for this POS that was traded for what is now the leaders of ISIS. You just can’t make this stuff up. https://t.co/lJglEugGcr
— Donna Sentz (@donnawnts2no) September 9, 2021
“The sense of pride expressed by officials of the Obama administration at the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is not shared by many of those who served with him: veterans and soldiers who call him a deserter whose ‘selfish act’ ended up costing the lives of better men,” CNN reported following the 2014 prisoner exchange.
“I was pissed off then, and I am even more so now with everything going on. Bowe Bergdahl deserted during a time of war, and his fellow Americans lost their lives searching for him,” former Sgt. Matt Vierkant, who’d been a member of Bergdahl’s platoon prior to his disappearance, said at the time.
But there’s more.
“According to firsthand accounts from soldiers in his platoon, Bergdahl, while on guard duty, shed his weapons and walked off the observation post with nothing more than a compass, a knife, water, a digital camera and a diary,” CNN reported at the time.
“At least six soldiers were killed in subsequent searches for him, according to soldiers involved in the operations to find him. The Pentagon was not able to provide details on specific operations in which any soldiers killed during that time were involved.”
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