I was disturbed to read that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s lawyers have requested a presidential pardon for their client. This action intended to avert his upcoming courts-martial for desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.
President Obama muddied the military justice waters from the very start. He brought Bergdahl’s parents to a Rose Garden ceremony to announce the prisoner exchange that allowed for his release. A poor choice for a national photo op considering the White House didn’t have all the facts and apparently didn’t understand the military justice system.
At the time the president’s national security advisor, Susan Rice, said Bergdahl had served “the United States with honor and distinction.”
President-elect Trump opined at the other extreme. He described Bergdahl as a “no-good traitor, who should have been executed.”
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Bergdahl’s attorney countered that Trump’s comments were threatening and prejudicial and impacted his “client’s right to a fair trial.”
These diverse views confirm that politicians should leave Bergdahl’s fate to a military courts-martial. This was Congress’ intent when they established the Uniform Code of Military Justice in 1951.
Had politics not come into play early on, leading to judicial foot-dragging, the process leading to Bergdahl’s fair and speedy trial would have already run its course.
Had Bergdahl been tried and convicted, then President Obama would have the option to pardon a convicted felon rather than a soldier who has yet to have his day in court.
As a veteran I urge the president to butt out and let the military justice system run its course.
Bill Malec, O’Fallon