Recently I overheard a conversation between two Army Officers that went something like this:
“You know how Obama looks like he doesn’t want to be there when awarding Medals of Honor? It’s like one week it’s cut retirement and benefits, but the next week some old guy from Vietnam is getting the Medal hung around his neck. Then the next week it’s expand operations in Iraq against ISIS and indefinite deployments. Then it’s charge the deserter so people won’t dwell on continued force cuts.”
Currently the FORSCOM Commander, GEN Abrams son of GEN Creighton Abrams, is the Officer who inhereted GEN Milley’s preferred charges against Bergdahl.
LTC(R) Allen West (forced into retirement in lieu of court martial for an alleged war crime) considers the case corrupted by undue command influence: http://www.allenbwest.com/2015/10/bowe-bergdahls-trial-is-here-and-heres-why-obama-hopes-you-wont-notice/
There is a better analysis of the charges laid against Bergdahl here: http://dailysignal.com/2015/12/15/sgt-bergdahl-goes-to-trial-what-happens-next/
What this means is that unless there is evidence, real honest to God evidence, that Bergdahl’s story is complete bull, he is likely to either receive a slap on the wrist or be found not guilty.
Desertion: That the accused absented himself from his unit, organization, or place of duty (easy enough by his own account); That such absence was without authority (also easy from other testimony); That the accused, at the time the absence began or at some time during the absence, intended to remain away from his unit, organization, or place of duty permanently (this one is HARD to prove) and; That the accused remained absent until the date alleged (tricky, he might claim POW status for the time absent as he could not return of his own free will).
Misbehavior before the enemy: That the accused was charged by orders or circumstances with the duty to defend a certain command, unit, place, ship, or military property (easy from testimony of others in unit); That, without justification, the accused shamefully abandoned, surrendered, or delivered up that command, unit, place, ship, or military property and (possibly hard as Bergdahl’s story is that he was justified by the command climate, but unit testimony could erode this defense); That this act occurred while the accused was before or in the presence of the enemy (tricky, the defense might make the prosecution prove that there was an enemy which has a very specific meaning in military law, it was a combat deployment with an assigned mission and multiple known enemy networks).
The defense does not have to prove innocence, they only have to prove reasonable doubt. If Bergdahl’s story can’t be demolished by the prosecution then the “desertion” charge will be difficult to stick. If the prosecution can’t demolish Bergdahl’s story about the command climate then they can’t make the “without justification” wording go away for the misbehavior before the enemy charge.
I’m not a lawyer, don’t even play one on TV. But right now the evidence available to me makes this look like a crap shoot for the prosecution.
Getting back to the opening paragraph of this post, Obama wins either way. If Bergdahl is convicted and the public goes “yay!” then Obama wins. If the verdict is “not guilty” and the public goes “boo!” then Obama has his hands clean. If the verdict is “guilty” and the public goes “boo!” and codepinko whack jobs protest all over the place then Obama still has pardon authority. In short, this is perfect political theater as the outcome can’t hurt the President.