Death or Other Such Punishment
I realize that the Court Martial has not even started yet, so this is putting the cart before the horse, but let’s play a “What If” game…
Bowe Bergdhal may be shown to have committed Desertion, define by the Uniform Code of Military Justice as follows:
(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.
Now look, on the surface of this, the Army clearly has their reasons to believe that Bergdahl deserted. I still believe that the reason he was crying when recovered had little to do with being happy about the PLRI “releasing” him back to the US, but that’s my belief. I have dozens of questions, including how did his Dad know that he didn’t speak English anymore? But put all that aside for the moment, and presume that he is going to be convicted by the Court Martial.
What SHOULD the punishment be? Put yourself in the place of the Trial Court for an omnipotent moment and make the ruling. How do YOU punish Bowe Bergdahl?