That's false. According to copious reporting on the matter, Bergdahl deserted. Before he left his unit in the middle of the night, the New York Post reports, he sent his parents an email detailing his views of the COIN operation: "I am sorry for everything here. These people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid ... I am ashamed to be an American. And the title of US soldier is just the lie of fools ... The horror that is America is disgusting." His father emailed back, "OBEY YOUR CONSCIENCE."
Apparently, that's what he did. And he has paid a terrible price, no doubt. The Taliban are less than gracious hosts -- even to self-hating Americans.
Wishing no further suffering on Bergdahl or his family, isn't it legitimate to make distinctions between soldiers who truly are "captured on the battlefield" and those who place their comrades in danger by deserting? At least six Americans were killed searching for Bergdahl. As a member of his battalion told The Daily Beast: "Bergdahl did not 'lag behind on a patrol,' as was cited in news reports at the time. There was no patrol that night. Bergdahl was relieved from guard duty, and instead of going to sleep, he fled the outpost on foot. He deserted."
Even if Bergdahl had been a Medal of Honor winner, the exchange of five Taliban leaders for him would have been questionable. Such deals make kidnapping American soldiers more likely. The administration assures us that the Qatar government will enforce a travel ban on the five for a year. A year is nothing. And it's extremely doubtful that the Wahhabi, jihadist-supporting government of Qatar will keep strict tabs on the group.
The greatest offense here may not be to our security but to our intelligence. The White House has attempted to present this trade as some sort of victory. The president held a Rose Garden ceremony to tout his accomplishment in bringing home an American fighting man. Rice claims that Bergdahl served with "honor and distinction."
Either they are lying and hoping few will learn the real story about Bergdahl, or they really believe that such a misguided fool was honorable. Which, I wonder, is worse?