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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Bowe Bergdahl already lived through hell, he shouldn’t go to prison for life

In June 2009, Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl voluntarily walked off his base in Afghanistan. He claims that he walked off in order to gain an audience with higher officials in the army so that he could inform them of the bad leadership that he felt posed a threat to the safety of his fellow soldiers.

Bergdahl was freed in May 2014, , but he now faces a life sentence in prison.This is unjust and unwarranted.

The then-23-year-old decided that the most effective course of action would be to leave his base, forcing the army to launch a search effort. Bergdahl imagined that upon returning to his base, he would be forced to answer to very high-ranking officers, thus granting him his long-sought opportunity to express his concerns about the issues with his situation.

Bergdahl wasn’t an ignorant soldier by any means. In fact, many in his squad described him as being extremely dedicated to the Army. He would frequently go out of his way to make sure he was familiar with Army protocols — he was said to always be reading, and refused to participate in many of the “shenanigans” his squad found themselves wrapped up in.

That’s not to say Bergdahl never attempted to socialize with his peers. For example, he bought himself a smoking pipe, not because he’s a smoker, but because he could use it as a tool to bond with his squad by taking part in the social ritual of a group smoke break.

Unfortunately, Bergdahl’s plan went south almost as soon as he tried to implement it. He was quickly picked up by the Taliban, and would remain in their custody for the next five years before finally being released in 2014. During those five years, Bergdahl was subject to extreme forms of torture and humiliation. He spent countless days strapped to a bed in complete darkness. He was constantly in fear for his life; it wasn’t uncommon for Taliban soldiers to point their loaded guns at him or make death threats right to his face.

Ultimately, the U.S. got Bergdahl back home in exchange for five members of the Taliban. However, upon arriving home, Bergdahl was met not with open arms, but by scowls and animosity. Many, including Donald Trump, have expressed disgust toward Bergdahl and referred to him as a traitor. He’s currently facing a trial by court-martial with the possibility of life in prison.

Bergdahl made a stupid decision when he was just 22—he walked off his army base in an attempt to make his voice heard. Unfortunately for everyone involved, the worst-case scenario happened, and he was picked up by the Taliban. He spent five years being tortured and paid the price for that one mistake. Is it really fair to throw him in prison for the rest of his life after everything he’s been through? If so, it would seem that we released five members of the Taliban just so we could have the privilege of punishing Bergdahl ourselves. 

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