Friday, June 6, 2014

Desertion, Treason and Traitorous Opportunism: a Sergeant Bergdahl Primer

[A note from MeanMesa: This little blog has been on hiatus for a couple of weeks.  In terms of excuses, the summer weather has arrived in New Mexico which means that the garden had to be ushered and prodded into its "full steam" growing season with some serious weeding, fertilizing and irrigation repair; MeanMesa has been dedicating some time to teaching Fourth Way students; and, for excitement GOOGLE has been reporting a series of attempts to penetrate Short Current Essays password access -- all, happily, handily foiled by the search engine's mighty security algorithms. Now that these matters are one again in hand for a while, and the days here are routinely reaching the 90's F every afternoon, it's clearly blogging time again!]

Desperately Searching for the Clown Car's Wheels
The hill billies are restless, and November is approaching.

With the IRS scandal, ObamaCare and the Issa Benghazi adventure novel all smoldering in the ash can of public opinion, the reactionary political hacks had already found themselves languishing in "flaming panic" mode by the moment the Afghan POW's recovery was announced. Even all the uber expensive think tank "doo-dads" which had been so painfully prepared to spring on the exhausted US electorate in the mid-term election campaigns had long ago officially metamorphosed into the larval "toothache" phase as outdated "wraiths" -- long lost, gaseous issues that the GOP's base of hill billies and bigots could not dependably recall even while sober.

All this left the "secret strateegery" bucket in the clown car disturbingly empty.  In such eerie doldrums -- void of any recent inflammatory prospects -- Murdoch's "paid by the minute" pundits had begun breathlessly reporting the capture of stray dogs and broken fire hydrants.

Amid all these discouragingly [for the media, at least...] becalmed waters of the "news cycle," Sergeant Bergdahl was suddenly aboard an armed US Army helicopter after being held for five years of captivity by the Haqqani network apparently somewhere in Western Pakistan.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, US Army [image WIKI]
Instantly, the "word" came down from the oligarchs' for all those with microphones to re-frame the matter to further promote mistrust of the government and Obama hatred.  Within minutes dozens of right wing political operatives [i.e. GOP/tea bag Senators and Congressmen] had frantically purged tweets and statements lauding Bergdahl's heroism and demanding his rescue from their web sites.

Even grumbling, geriatric Republican "war expert," John McCain, ordered the tatters of his burned out political air craft carrier to "full flank reverse," directly contradicting his previously publicly stated support for such a prisoner exchange.  McCain's "top deck traveling companion," Southern Belle Lindsey Graham, was so shaken by the phone call's new orders that he suffered his famous "fainting vapors."

In the media's "fact free" world the chicken coop emptied almost as quickly.  Within seconds Bergdahl was a treasonous deserter, his mother and father were hand wringing hippies and the "Negro in the White House" had, well, done it again.

Fortunately, there is little prospect for all this carefully manufactured onslaught of "feathers and fog" to ever gain much traction with voters who can accurately answer what day of the week it is. Nonetheless, MeanMesa thought it might be fun to examine some of the unreported elements of the story a little more closely.

Reaffirming the title of this post, the coarsest of the suddenly uber-righteous "arm chair spectators" watching Bergdahl's case unfold instantly roared forth with humorously self-pious assertions of "desertion" and "treason."  Although the vibrating pretense that their voices were the equivalent of a military judge didn't seem to bother them, MeanMesa thinks that such grave matters are better founded on some actual fact.

UCMJ Article 85: How To Be A Deserter

This is an important question.  AWOLs face imprisonment when they are returned to their abandoned military commands, but deserters can face firing squads.  Naturally, the idea of actually shooting someone offers an irresistible attraction to the tea bags.  Further, the right wingers have -- of late -- been officially relieved of any onus of honoring due process, judicial or Constitutional decisions by their pastors and coaches. They have been "juiced" to the point from which they "feel" their emotional opinion is far more legitimate than a court ruling -- even, in this case, more legitimate than a military tribunal's findings.

We can see evidence of this anarchic development in everything from outlawing Constitutional abortions to legislatively obliterating the right to vote for registered voters.  Berdahl might be guilty of desertion, but that guilt or innocence will not be established by the burping and bellowing of ancient war mongers like McCain or effeminate phonies such as Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity.

Let's have a look at Article 85.


“(a) Any member of the armed forces who—

(1) without authority goes or remains absent from his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to remain away therefrom permanently;

(2) quits his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to avoid hazardous duty or to shirk important service; or

(3) without being regularly separated from one of the armed forces enlists or accepts an appointment in the same or another one of the armed forces without fully disclosing the fact that he has not been regularly separated, or enters any foreign armed service except when authorized by the United States Note: This provision has been held not to state a separate offense by the United States Court of Military Appeals in United States v. Huff, 7 U.S.C.M.A. 247, 22 C.M.R. 37 (1956), is guilty of desertion.

(b) Any commissioned officer of the armed forces who, after tender of his resignation and before notice of its acceptance, quits his post or proper duties without leave and with intent to remain away therefrom permanently is guilty of desertion.

(c) Any person found guilty of desertion or attempt to desert shall be punished, if the offense is committed in time of war, by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct, but if the desertion or attempt to desert occurs at any other time, by such punishment, other than death, as a court-martial may direct.”

Guide Note: The offense of Desertion, under Article 85, carries a much greater punishment, than the offense of AWOL, under Article 86. Many people believe that if one is absent without authority for greater than 30 days, the offense changes from AWOL to Desertion, but that's not quite true.

The primary difference between the two offenses is "intent to remain away permanently." If one intends to return to "military control," one is guilty of "AWOL," under Article 86, not Desertion, under Article 85, even if they were away for ten years. The confusion derives from the fact that, if a member is absent without authority for longer than 30 days, the government (court-martial) is allowed to assume there was no intent to return. Therefore, the burden of proof that the accused intended to someday return to "military control" lies with the defense.

A person who is absent for just a day or two, then apprehended, could still be charged with the offense of Desertion, but the prosecution would have to show evidence that the accused intended to remain away permanently. [special emphasis added]

Read the original article here.  Following this part of the article's discussion is another section titled "Elements."  These are also worth understanding.  Each of the "elements" provides additional parameters for a court's martial decision making process with regard to the severity of both guilt and sentencing.  The link to Article 86 [cited in the quoted material] deals with the same issues when the charge is AWOL - "away without leave."

Thanks to the utter bankruptcy of the American domestic media as it obediently broadcasts the current "collection" of "reported" -- and suspiciously convenient -- conjectures about the Sergeant's current legal status with the Army, just about any "narrative" one might desire can be fabricated in the utter void of information at this point.  These delightfully incendiary, special "narratives" have been oozing forth in an uncontrollable and unavoidable tidal wave in hopes of producing increases in listener and viewer ratings.

Before this wonderful opportunity, the toothpaste and pharmaceutical corporations, faced with the famous "consumer summer attention malaise," had begun to explore alternate media buys while the proselytes of the multitude of strange, hybrid religions prevailing here rushed forward to pronounce their vacuous "moral judgments." 

Now, let's take a look at "treason."

UCMJ Article 106a: What It Takes 
to Commit Espionage [Treason]

Let's have a look at Article 106a.



“(1) Any person subject to this chapter who, with intent or reason to believe that it is to be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation, communicates, delivers, or transmits, or attempts to communicate, deliver, or transmit, to any entity described in paragraph (2), either directly or indirectly, anything described in paragraph (3) shall be punished as a court-martial may direct, except that if the accused is found guilty of an offense that directly concerns (A) nuclear weaponry, military spacecraft or satellites, early warning systems, or other means of defense or retaliation against large scale attack, (B) war plans, (C) communications intelligence or cryptographic information, or (D) any other major weapons system or major element of defense strategy, the accused shall be punished by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct.

(2) An entity referred to in paragraph (1) is—

(A) a foreign government;

(B) a faction or party or military or naval force within a foreign country, whether recognized or unrecognized by the United States; or

(C) a representative, officer, agent, employee, subject, or citizen of such a government, faction, party, or force.

(3) A thing referred to in paragraph (1) is a document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, note, instrument, appliance, or information relating to the national defense.


(1) No person may be sentenced by court-martial to suffer death for an offense under this section (article) unless—

(A) the members of the court-martial unanimously find at least one of the aggravating factors set out in subsection (c); and

(B) the members unanimously determine that any extenuating or mitigating circumstances are substantially outweighed by any aggravating circumstances, including the aggravating factors set out under subsection (c).

(2) Findings under this subsection may be based on — (A) evidence introduced on the issue of guilt or innocence; (B) evidence introduced during the sentencing proceeding; or

(C) all such evidence. (3) The accused shall be given broad latitude to present matters in extenuation and mitigation.

(c) A sentence of death may be adjudged by a court-martial for an offense under this section (article) only if the members unanimously find, beyond a reasonable doubt, one or more of the following aggravating factors:

(1) The accused has been convicted of another offense involving espionage or treason for which either a sentence of death or imprisonment for life was authorized by statute.

(2) In the commission of the offense, the accused knowingly created a grave risk of substantial damage to the national security.

(3) In the commission of the offense, the accused knowingly created a grave risk of death to another person.

(4) Any other factor that may be prescribed by the President by regulations under section 836 of this title (Article 36).”

Read the entire article  here.  As was the case with the previous citation from the UCMJ, this site also contains "Elements" to be considered by the court martial during its deliberations establishing both guilt and sentencing.  These are worth reviewing.

With both of these UCMJ codes in mind, we can now explore the plausibility of either set of criminal conditions being found in the case of Sergeant Bergdahl.

A Closer Look at Bergdahl's "Plan"

Of course MeanMesa has no special information about the Sergeant's motives or intentions beyond the snippets being "alleged" or "reported," and, clearly, at this point those must be considered suspect.  Nonetheless, there remains a substantial amount of quite credible information which might, hopefully, provide the basis for a few "reasonably founded" conjectures of our own.

An Afghanistan Map showing Bergdahl's location when captured
MeanMesa Graphics

The map [above] is important when we consider the possibilities of Sergeant Bergdahl's motives and intentions prior to the time he was captured. The twenty year old knew where he was and what all surrounded that location in Eastern Afghanistan.  The smaller inserts on the map are also relevant.  The small map [upper right corner] shows the position of the Paktia Province -- the site of Bergdahl's post at the Mest-Malek forward base -- with respect to the country of Afghanistan. The small map [lower left corner] shows a rough description of the areas along the Pakistan - Afghanistan border with the highest concentration of Taliban militia.

[The link addresses to both small maps are listed at the bottom of the graphic.  Sorry for the inconvenience.]

One of the widely varying accounts of events leading up to Bergdahl's disappearance describes a note left in his quarters informing his platoon members that he intended to walk to India. Alternate accounts suggest that Bergdahl asked his direct commander "if it would be alright to leave the compound with his rifle and flak vest."  In that "story" his request was denied, at which point he left the rifle and vest, departing with only a knife and a back pack.

All of these accounts are interesting for one wishing to understand the soldier's thoughts. Bergdahl was very aware of the likelihood that a single American soldier would be either attacked or captured should he venture outside the compound at Mest-Malek. Berdahl also had to be quite aware that "walking to India to start a new life" would have been almost impossible from he would begin such a journey in Eastern Afghanistan.

Further, Bergdahl had a working understanding of the nature of his Taliban opponents.  His idealism would not have altered his experience in this case.  The man had no misconceptions about the nature of his enemies and the probable treatment he would receive at their hand should he be captured.

In terms of collaborating with that enemy the story still doesn't gel. Bergdahl was a low ranking non-commissioned soldier and, hence, not likely to hold secret information which could have been an advantage to the Taliban.

The point here is not particularly reassuring, but the implications remain unavoidable. MeanMesa must conclude that Bergdahl was not "functioning rationally." Yes, the young man was disillusioned with what he had seen in Afghanistan and somewhat disheartened by the mind set of his fellow platoon members, but a rational man would not have arrived at such an obviously unrealistic plan.

We are telling the story of an idealist 20 year old from Idaho, but we cannot attribute Bergdahl's incontrovertibly bad judgement to idealistic inebriation. We are looking a case of "gears slipping" in a young man stationed in the middle of a combat zone. Idealism can quietly coerce a man to bravely take chances with unlikely odds, but we cannot conveniently blame idealism for a man apparently pursuing essentially suicidal choices of action.

At this point we can also compare Bergdahl's situation in Afghanistan with a that of a soldier stationed elsewhere.  If that station were in, say, Missouri, there would be a real possibility that an AWOL or deserted soldier could find surrounding social/cultural conditions where he could continue to live fairly comfortably, "fit in" and even pursue a relatively normal life.  This would even be the case, albeit to a somewhat lesser degree, if the soldier were stationed in, say, Germany or Korea, but in Afghanistan those opportunities would be far less available.

Even the prospects of an American soldier abandoning his station by AWOL or desertion in the midst of Kabul would be generally unrealistic and unworkable.

The constant and over use of the term "post," as in "abandoning his post," in the comments of the suspiciously inspired critics of the soldier is also somewhat misleading. The idea of "abandoning one's post" deals with abrogating the direct responsibilities of guard duty -- a very serious infraction in a war zone.  Bergdahl was not on duty when he left Mest-Malek.

Again, the point here is that Bergdahl would have unquestionably been aware of all of this. Yes, he had learned the local language, but no, he still would not have "fit in."  Ever.  He could not have had a job, a car, an apartment, a girl friend or even the freedom to move around in an occupied country.

Now, we get to the "Traitorous Opportunism" Part

First, to validate such an aggressive title ["Traitorous Opportunism"MeanMesa must ask: "Exactly what else could we call the all out rampage to skew the issues at hand, permanently contaminate any possible future jurors and gin up an antagonistic 'moral outrage' before any of the facts have been determined?" The "Traitorous Opportunism" is not directed at Bergdahl, it is directed at the oligarch driven right wing reactionary press.

However, with this "big picture" in hand, we can now look at faux-reports of the Sergeant's plan for leaving Mest-Malek and abandoning the US Army.  We can begin with these excerpts from a New York Times article which MeanMesa found helpful and illuminating.

Bowe Bergdahl’s Vanishing Before Capture
 Angered His Unit

JUNE 2, 2014

WASHINGTON — Sometime after midnight on June 30, 2009, Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl left behind a note in his tent saying he had become disillusioned with the Army, did not support the American mission in Afghanistan and was leaving to start a new life. He slipped off the remote military outpost in Paktika Province on the border with Pakistan and took with him a soft backpack, water, knives, a notebook and writing materials, but left behind his body armor and weapons — startling, given the hostile environment around his outpost.

That account, provided by a former senior military officer briefed on the investigation into the private’s disappearance, is part of a more complicated picture emerging of the capture of a soldier whose five years as a Taliban prisoner influenced high-level diplomatic negotiations, brought in foreign governments, and ended with him whisked away on a helicopter by American commandos.

The release of Sergeant Bergdahl (he was promoted in captivity) has created political problems for the Obama administration, which is having to defend his exchange for five Taliban detainees held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, but it also presents delicate politics for Republicans who are attacking, through surrogates, America’s last known prisoner of war.

. . . 

Sergeant Bergdahl slipped away from his outpost, the former senior officer said, possibly on foot but more likely hiding in a contractor’s vehicle. “He didn’t walk out the gate through a checkpoint, and there was no evidence he breached the perimeter wire and left that way,” the ex-officer said.

It was not until the 9 a.m. roll call on June 30 that the 29 soldiers of Second Platoon, Blackfoot Company, learned he was gone.

“I was woken up by my platoon leader,” said Mr. Cornelison, who had gone to sleep just three hours before after serving watch from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. “Hey Doc,” his platoon leader said. “Have you seen Bergdahl?”

Platoon members said Sergeant Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, was known as bookish and filled with romantic notions that some found odd.

“He wouldn’t drink beer or eat barbecue and hang out with the other 20-year-olds,” Cody Full, another member of Sergeant Bergdahl’s platoon, said in an interview on Monday also arranged by Republican strategists. “He was always in his bunk. He ordered Rosetta Stone for all the languages there, learning Dari and Arabic and Pashto.”

The soldiers began a frantic search for Sergeant Bergdahl using Predator drones, Apache attack helicopters and military tracking dogs. The most intense search operation, leaked war reports show, wound down after eight days — well before the deaths of six soldiers on patrols in Paktika Province in late August and early September. But, complicating matters, some soldiers contend they were effectively searching for 90 days because of clear orders: If they heard rumors from locals that Sergeant Bergdahl might be nearby, they should patrol the area.
. . .

[The New York Times article includes copious reference to "angry" soldiers who claim that Bergdahl's absence caused additional casualties among troops sent to search for him.  So far, these allegations are not borne up when the records of combat operations in the region are scrutinized, and they represent examples of the premature, opportunistic "opinion driven" condemnation of the soldier.]
. . .

A review of the database of casualties in the Afghan war suggests that Sergeant Bergdahl’s critics appear to be blaming him for every American soldier killed in Paktika Province in the four-month period that followed his disappearance.

Mr. Cornelison and Mr. Full both said they wanted to see Sergeant Bergdahl court-martialed as a deserter. “I’m not going to speak on the political, but I think that now that he’s back, he needs to be held accountable,” Mr. Full said.

Mr. Cornelison echoed Mr. Full. “I won’t get into the politics, but now that he’s back he needs to be held 100 percent accountable,” he said. “For putting myself and 29 other people in my platoon in hell for 90 days.”

Rear Adm. John F. Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said that there was a larger matter at play: The American military does not leave soldiers behind. “When you’re in the Navy, and you go overboard, it doesn’t matter if you were pushed, fell or jumped,” he said. “We’re going to turn the ship around and pick you up.”

Read the entire New York Times article  here.  

So far as fabricating alternate "backgrounds" for Bergdahl, a literal horde of second tier print media and blogger pounding the keyboards in their mother's basement rushed to fill the void. Embarrassed national press and media networks had tried bravely to achieve some sort of credibility by mass producing their own best "guesses," but the curious public could see the empty, out of control "story spinning" in futility as it tried desperately to "anchor" itself with  a palatable tidbit of flimsy ideology.

The somewhat "less than noble" New York Post "coverage" is a great example. While there might be some actual substance behind this story left somewhere on the city editor's floor, every sentence carries an awkwardly visible "second message."

The bizarre tale of America’s last known POW

By Michael Gartland

May 31, 2014 | 11:24pm

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the last known American POW, was freed after five years in captivity — an ordeal that began and ended in Afghanistan under a shroud of mystery.

The Taliban turned over Bergdahl Saturday morning to US special forces in exchange for five notorious Islamic militants who had been held at Guantanamo Bay and will be sent to Qatar, where they will stay for a year under the terms of the trade.

At least one of the prisoners, ranking Taliban leader Khairullah Khairkhwa, had direct ties to Osama bin Laden.

Bergdahl was picked up by helicopter in western Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border.

After climbing aboard, the 28-year-old Idahoan, trying to communicate with his rescuers over the roar of the rotors, scrawled “SF?” on a paper plate — asking his rescuers whether they were special forces.

“Yes,” one of the men shouted. “We’ve been looking for you for a long time.”

The Army infantryman — himself nicknamed “SF” by his comrades for his gung-ho interest in special-forces tactics — began to weep.

Bergdahl’s parents, who had lobbied continuously for his ­release, had not seen him by Saturday night, but intimated that he faces an arduous recovery from his ordeal.

Bergdahl is speaking in what appears to be Pashto, said his dad, Bob Bergdahl. It was not clear whether his son can still even speak English, Bob said.

When the father spoke to his son — for the first time in five worried years — it was to say both in Pashto and English, “I am your father, Bowe.”

“We will continue to stay strong for Bowe while he recovers,” said his mom, Jani.

The search for Bergdahl began soon after he went missing on June 30, 2009, in the same rugged wilds of southeastern Afghanistan where NFL player-turned-Army Ranger Pat Tillman was killed.

Bergdahl’s mysterious disappearance from the small military outpost there and the subsequent revelation that he was in enemy hands prompted questions that still linger.

Soon after the capture, Taliban commander Mulvi Sangeen claimed a drunken Bergdahl was snatched while he stumbled to his car in the Yousaf Khel district of Paktika.

The US military called that a lie, and in one of the videos taken during his captivity, Bergdahl himself said he was captured while lagging behind a patrol.

But in the weeks before his capture, Bergdahl had made murky statements that suggested he was gravitating away from the soldiers in his unit and toward ­desertion, a member of his platoon told Rolling Stone.

As a teen, the home-schooled son of Calvinists took up ballet — recruited to be a “lifter” by “a beautiful local girl,” Rolling Stone reported, “the guy who holds the girl aloft in a ballet sequence.” The strategy worked: Bergdahl — who also began dabbling in Budd­hism and tarot card reading — soon moved in with the woman.

Even as a teen, he could fire a .22-caliber rifle with precision.

At age 20, he traveled to Paris and started learning French in hopes of joining the French Foreign Legion.

His application was rejected, and he was devastated, the magazine reported.

Bergdahl would drift for years, working mainly at a coffee shop near home. He briefly considered moving to Uganda to help villagers being terrorized by militias before deciding on a different ­adventure.

Bergdahl’s dream was to help Afghan villagers rebuild their lives and learn to defend themselves, his dad told the magazine.

“I’m thinking of joining the Army,” he told his folks after ­already having signed up.

“The whole ‘COIN’ thing,” Bob [sic -- "Bowe"] explained, referring to America’s strategy of counter-insurgency. “We were given a fictitious picture, an artificially created picture of what we were doing in ­Afghanistan,” the dad said.

Bowe Bergdahl would detail his disillusionment with the Afghanistan campaign in an email to his parents three days before he went missing.

“I am sorry for everything here,” he wrote. “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.”

Bergdahl also complained about fellow soldiers. The battalion commander was a “conceited old fool,” he said, and the only “decent” sergeants, planning to leave the platoon “as soon as they can,” told the privates — Bergdahl then among them — “to do the same.”

“I am ashamed to be an American. And the title of US soldier is just the lie of fools,” he concluded. “I am sorry for everything. The horror that is America is disgusting.”

Bob Bergdahl responded in an email: “OBEY YOUR CONSCIENCE!”

One night, after finishing a guard-duty shift, Bowe Bergdahl asked his team leader whether there would be a problem if he left camp with his rifle and night-vision goggles — to which the team leader replied “yes.”

Bergdahl then returned to his bunker, picked up a knife, water, his diary and a camera, and left camp, according to Rolling Stone.

The next morning, he was reported missing, and later that day, a drone and four fighter jets ­began to search for him.

Weeks of searching turned into months. The military pushed his parents and fellow soldiers to sign nondisclosure agreements. But before everyone signed, a comrade from his unit publicly called on Facebook for Bergdahl’s execution as a deserter.

Propaganda videos of his captivity — which featured Bergdahl denouncing American foreign policy — were released.

At least once, in 2011, the prisoner, looking more haggard, fought back and tried to escape.

“He fought like a boxer,” a Taliban fighter told Newsweek.

Why Bergdahl was captured in the first place remained a mystery by the time high-level US government talks began in 2012 regarding a trade for his release.

“Frankly, we don’t give a s–t why he left,” one White House official said at the time. “He’s an American soldier. We want to bring him home.”

There was fierce debate over exchanging him for the five Taliban combatants. Sen. John McCain, himself a former POW, once described the five as “the five biggest murderers in world history,” according to Rolling Stone.

Read the original New York Post article here.

There are additional, slightly different accounts of Bergdahl's last night at Mest-Malek. For example, the hastily prepared WIKI article describes it this way. [Excerpted. Read the entire article here. ]

Bowe Bergdahl
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Captivity and release

Bergdahl went missing on the night of June 30, 2009, near the town of Yahya Kheyl in Paktika Province. Accounts of his capture differ. In a video, Bergdahl stated that he was captured when he fell behind on a patrol. Taliban sources allege he was ambushed after becoming drunk off base; U.S. military sources deny that claim, stating, "The Taliban are known for lying and what they are claiming [is] not true." A Department of Defense spokesperson said, "I'm glad to see he appears unharmed, but again, this is a Taliban propaganda video. They are exploiting the soldier in violation of international law." Other sources said Bergdahl walked off base after his shift or that he was grabbed from a latrine.

General Nabi Mullakheil of the Afghan National Police said the capture occurred in Paktika Province. Other sources say that he was captured by a Taliban group led by Maulvi Sangin, who moved him to Ghazni Province. He was held by the Haqqani network, an insurgent group affiliated with the Taliban, probably somewhere in Pakistan.

Bergdahl was a private first class when captured; he was promoted in absentia to sergeant on June 17, 2011.

Possible desertion

A Pentagon investigation in 2010 concluded that there was "incontrovertible" evidence that Bergdahl walked away from his unit. Bergdahl wrote emails to his parents that he was disillusioned by the war effort and bothered by the treatment of the Afghan people by the American soldiers. He said in his email he was ashamed to be American. According to The New York Times, a military investigation showed that on the night he went missing, he left a note in his tent that said he was leaving to start a new life. The letter said that Bergdahl wanted to renounce his citizenship. However, Senator Saxby Chambliss said that a classified file on Bergdahl that Chambliss read did not mention Bergdahl leaving a note.

Progressive THINK PROGRESS cited a FOX NEWS article on Bergdahl.  The inclusion of the following excerpt serves two purposes -- first, as a revelation of exactly how rancid the FOX reporting became once the oligarchs commanded Murdoch to "unleash" his pundits, and second, as an example of cooler heads reviewing the release more objectively. [Read the entire THINK PROGRESS article  here. ]

As mentioned earlier, the FOX "mouth junk" team had to hire part time contractors to get Murdoch's endless tomes of bitter bile out onto the air waves.

Fox Contributor Says Bowe Bergdahl’s Dad Claimed The White House For Islam

Fox News contributor and former GOP congressman Allen West believes he has uncovered a nefarious plot by recently rescued American POW Bowe Bergdahl’s father to claim the White House for Islam.

After President Obama announced on Saturday that Bergdahl had been freed, Bergdahl’s father, standing by Obama’s side in the White House Rose Garden, said his son might be having difficulty understanding English, and, according to the New York Times, “said ‘bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim,’ a common Arabic phrase meaning ‘in the name of God, most gracious, most compassionate,’ and then spoke a few words in Pashto, a language of Afghanistan.”

Referring to this event, West — last seen claiming the Obama administration focused its attention on finding missing Nigerian girls to distract from Benghazi — on Monday claimed he had a “bombshell” to report:

Clare Lopez is a former CIA operations officer, a strategic policy and intelligence expert with a focus on Middle East, national defense, WMD, and counterterrorism issues, and a friend of mine.

She emailed me this morning a very poignant analysis that only someone knowing language and Islam could ascertain. She wrote:

“What none of these media is reporting is that the father’s (SGT Bowe Bergdahl’s father Bob) first words at the WH were in Arabic – those words were “bism allah alrahman alraheem” – which means “in the name of Allah the most gracious and most merciful” – these are the opening words of every chapter of the Qur’an except one (the chapter of the sword – the 9th) – by uttering these words on the grounds of the WH, Bergdahl (the father) sanctified the WH and claimed it for Islam. There is no question but POTUS knows this.”

Lopez is a senior fellow at Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy, a DC-based right-wing think tank that’s responsible for promoting all kinds of crazy anti-Muslim claims and conspiracy theories. This is a great example of the pipeline described in the 2011 Center for American Progress report Fear, Inc: The Islamophobia Network in America: “Experts” like Clare Lopez provide highly questionable analysis to uninformed pundits like Allen West, who then pass this information on to their credulous audiences.

For anyone wishing to review the war making fatwah of Pope Urban II from 1095 AD which launched the blood drenched Crusades between a superstitious, illiterate Europe and the Ottoman Empire, just follow this link.  Warning: this isn't really ancient history. Pope Urban II sermon - 1095 AD at Clermont

A Few Conclusions

When the right wing's "emergency escape" dirigible must be inflated to this shocking level, we are watching the final days of the clown car. We have watched one "pregnant, think tank" scandal after another be trotted out for the consumption of the information challenged derelict base, but happily, the trending is toward either exhaustion, confusion or simply apathy -- an outcome we have been patiently awaiting for what seems like years.

In this particular case the extremely bad taste of the pitiful, frenetic right wing incendiaries is wafting up as if from a land fill on a hot afternoon.  This stuff is not merely "more of the same." This stuff is truly, unquestionably, undebatably grotesque.  The furor and hair tearing over the Sergeant Bergdahl case has reached a new low -- a low so low as to be exquisitely arcane.

There is no telling from which think tank or super PAC the infestation originated, but it doesn't require too much intellectual effort to discern the purpose and intention driving it.

1. Portray President Obama as incompetent or possibly corrupt.  The bizarre, road weary "Muslim thing" isn't entirely "out of traction" yet, either.

2. Generate as much mistrust in the function and intention of the government as possible.

3. Constantly aggravate the deep seated American Xenophobic fears as much as possible.  You know, fear against blacks, browns, reds, women, Muslims, Chinese, college students, sick people, poor people, Northerners, Westerners, windmills -- you name it.

4. Squelch any festering hope that things might possibly improve. Boost anxiety and dread at every opportunity.

The oligarchs couldn't care less about Sergeant Bergdahl or Afghanistan. What they want the most is our desolate acceptance of the world they envision for our future. These billionaires are the most comfortable when they have "edged" vast parts of the American public into a state of desperate willingness to sacrifice anything -- anything at all -- to sustain their racism and hatred of Obama. Of course, they could care less about race -- we are all serfs to them.  They only find racism conveniently useful as a part of their larger plan.

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