To Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl:
A Letter of Apology
I do not know you. You do not know me. It is unlikely we will ever meet one another; or, have an opportunity to get to know one another. In spite of that, I am compelled to share with you what follows.
I was and continue to be appalled by the incendiary vilifications lobbed at you and your family by the national media outlets of the United States after you were freed by the Taliban. The media, writ large, bothered not to look for a back story about your capture by the Taliban five years ago. Your fellow soldiers in your rag tag unit called you a deserter. Yet, two of the leaders of that rag tag unit were demoted and your unit was regarded as militarily sloppy and unprofessional. But, again, the media telegraphed only that which portrayed you as the villain; a deserter; anti-American; your comrades were regarded as “good guys” with the “facts”.
Add to your public abuse how the media went on to attack your family, especially your father. The “word” being passed around was that your father was a closet Taliban. That growing his long beard and learning the Afghan language of Pashto transformed your father into a sort-of enemy. The very idea your father might have actually taken those steps in order to better understand Afghan culture and to better understand how you might be suffering was lost to the press, entirely.
The firestorm into which you were catapulted was heighted by the fact that five Taliban incarcerated at Hotel GTMO were traded for your release. Sadly, the average citizen in the United States cannot sift through all the excrement that floats from such moments, because politicians like John McCain and Lindsey Graham use such moments to bolster their celebrity before their constituents. Given the remarks made by McCain and Graham, you indirectly became twice-victimized. The average citizen becomes somewhat a bobble head, what with all the lies and back and forth among media gurus and pols.
The crux of your problem, even tangentially, is how the United States media and certain politicians feel compelled to use every opportunity good or bad to grandstand once again. Worse, the unbridled irresponsibility of the press, both print and electronic, has become our national cancer; or, part of our ever-overflowing national sewer. By no fault of yours, you became the latest “celebrity” to be assaulted viciously by a press corps that cares not for the facts; but, craves the hype and the ratings the press corps hopes to gain. They lack fully any sense of integrity, going out for the kill for the thrill with heinous disregard for the damage they are creating for the lives of others.
That you as a young Sergeant in our US Military should suffer the sins and viciousness of people ill-prepared, under-informed and ravenous for the next great headline is beyond shameful. For five years you were a prisoner of war with the Taliban. Your ill-suited comrades broadcast that you had “turned to the enemy”, later determined as a lie. If in fact you in any way violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the Department of the U. S. Army will handle your situation within the parameters of that Code. As a Vietnam War Era Veteran, I am familiar with the UCMJ. It actually may be one of our finest legal guidelines in all of the United States Government.
So, Sergeant Bergdahl, I apologize to you and your family for the hideous and ungracious exposure to which you have been subjected. One must ponder this moment, because it is a sad commentary about what this nation has become as a result of a media consumed with moral turpitude and politicians who cannot learn to keep their mouths shut. Godspeed, Sergeant! Godspeed!